Thursday, November 2, 2017

Touring Middle East 5: Crossing Jordan and Full Moon by the "Sea"

After spending 2 nights at Petra, we crossed the Jordanian border into the Palestinian-administered West Bank via Allenby Bridge (or King Hussein Bridge as the Jordanians call it) without much fanfare. This is no longer the most hostile border to cross (after the peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel a couple decades ago) but traces of hostility remained with both sides still heavily armed and the no-man's land between the 2 countries stretching a couple kilometers with only a narrow road for authorized vehicles to cross with signs warning against mines along the way.

As we passed checkpoint on the Jordan side, our passports were returned to us without any stamp of exit (curiously so). And on the Israeli side we were given an entry card instead of a chop on the passport to avoid any issue in travelling to other Arab countries in the future. This is just to show how the touchy geo-politics crept into trivial matter like border crossing, and it's even more complicated for locals with more restrictions imposed on them. (for example Allenby Bridge is off-limit for Israeli citizens whilst for West Bank Palestinians this is the only path if they need to travel aboard since they were barred from using the airport in Israel)

We spent a good part of the afternoon touring Jericho, before exiting West Bank (and went through yet another security checkpoint) and made our long journey up north to the town of Tiberias by the Sea of Galilee. There we spent a few nights staying at a seaside resort called Nof Ginosar operated by a Kibbutz, the co-operative-like community unique in Israel. We were travelling during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot so the place was packed with families vacationing. The rooms and facilities are basic but decent and adequate (think Residence Inn as opposed to Ritz Carlton) but I love the comfortable surrounding with parks and green space, plus a beach and promenade right by the Sea of Galilee.

We arrived on the evening when we traditionally celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, so after dinner some of us had a make-shift celebration at the beach with lanterns and mooncakes we brought from home with the full-moon clearly seen in the cloudless sky. Felt blessed having a bite of familiar flavor right by the calm Sea of Galilee thousands of miles away from home.

Nof Ginosar:

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