Archive for December, 2010

36 hours or so in KL

currently sitting at an AirAsia gate lounge at kuala lumpur airport before connecting to our final Emirates flight from Singapore to Brisbane. we get in 12.40 am Friday.

having this time in KL has been worth it. Chance to celebrate our 30th wedding aniversary (actually on 13th), see some inner city sights via an excellent monorail service, explore/endure the massive and bustling Butak Bintang shopping precinct, enjoying the hotel’s wonderful hospitality @ facilities,experience having your feet massaged at a Malaysian fish spa (unreal!), lounging around the pool and having 12 hours sleep
(yes!) on our first night – unbelievable !

these two weeks have been a time of great blessing, education and awareness-raising — for which we thank God!

It’s raining!

We’re waiting at Allenby Bridge waiting to cross into Jordan – and guess what: IT’s RAINING!

A rarity in such a dry, barren land

Masada, Qumran … & an amazing Dead Sea swim

Today was our last full tour day as a group – and one of the best.

We headed off @ 8 am to Masada – World Heritage listed ancient Jewish fortress high atop a mountain plateau not far from the western shores of the Dead Sea.

Prior to this we stopped at the sycamore tree in Jericho climbed by Zaccheus.

Masada was amazing – this huge mountaintop palace/fortress dating back 2000 years and the final ‘holdout’ of the Jews at the time of the Jewish revolt of 70 AD. Incredible ruins and a somewhat daunting cable car ride up there .

After another kibbutz lunch it was off to Qumran; site of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery by two Bedouin shepherds about 50 years back. To be so close to some of the caves was so special – considering that this discovery of ancient Essene scrolls of around the time f Christ predates what had been the oldest known Old Testaments by about 900 years!

Heading back to Jericho, we stopped for a swim in the Dead Sea – that was just so special: saltiest water imaginable, heaps of mud and the lowest spot on Earth (about 400 meters below sea level). A great experience!

Just got back from or tour party celebrating a final meal together at a local authentic Arabic restaurant here n Jericho.

Reflecting – this tour has been massively more profound in it’s Arabic influence than ever imagined it would be. Let’s face it, 5 of the nights were spent in the palestinian West Bank

So tomorrow morning come 8 o’clock the homeward journey begins, though not looking forward t catching a 3 am fight from Dubai on Tuesday morning . I pray the day is not too taxing. I pray also for the peoples of this Holy Land – Jew, Arab and Christian alike.

This tour has really brought home to me the realities and challenges for these three Abrahamic faiths and peoples

The opportunity to pilgrimage through these parts is something I so thank God for.




By the Mediterranean — & great lunch


Another special day – teeny dampener being a constant runny nose from the incessant hay fever — and I have one Polaramine left.

Today was a break from visiting sites that were in a real sense “holy”. Checking out from or Nazareth base of the past two days we set off for the Mediterranean coast – to the old city of Akko (Accre) where we explored excavated ruins and underground tunnels dating back to the times of the crusades. Really enjoyed this – our foot journey took us out to a street with a great frontage to the Mediterranean. We enjoyed freshly squeezed orange juice.

From there we drove through Haifa before lunching at this amazing arabic roadside restaurant. Nothing flash from the outside but we had an absolute feast. Plate after plate of various Middle Eastern salads, fresh hummus (I finally like the stuff) and magnificent freshly baked flatbread — and that was all before main course! What a treat!

After this we drove south toasted Tel Aviv, stopping at Caesarea and the spread-out ruined of ancient Roman fortress, palace fr Herod, Hippodrome, ampitheatre and more right by the sea – very impressive! Even managed to dip my feet int the Mediterranean.

On to Jericho where we’re staying at a really nice hotel in the mddle of the desert and a great view from our 9th floor room. Glad we’re actually staying, for on arrival, reception had no record f us coming. Oops! So we all lined up for coffees ad drinks at the bar.

I’ve surprised myself how naive I’d been in appreciating how ‘Arabic’ so much of the Holy Land is. Of all the major cities we will have visited by tour end – Amman, Bethehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth and Jericho – the only one significantly Jewish will ave been Jerusalem, and even then – West Jerusalem. This tour has been SUCH an eyeopener!

Before dinner at our hotel , many of us enjoyed a really nice soak in the spa as well as a ‘float’ in a pool filed with Dead Sea water. A weird experience – as will be the Turkish bath I’m consdering for tomorrow; our final full day.

I’ll sleep well tonight, giving God thanks for the wealth and diversity f experiences ad insights to date



Galilee —- with pictures?

Today (yesterday by the time I have the umpteenth attempt at posting this with pictures) was or Galilee day. Jesus spent much of his life and certainly most of his ministry in or around Galilee’s shores. The lake provided a really peaceful setting for the day. Wherever our group went we were never far from it’s shores.

An early highlight was a boat ride out onto the Lake itself. I’ll remember thus experience for a ling time; no only for how peaceful the waters were (after some early gusts subsided), not only for the Australian flag being flown& anthem played but mst significantly because this was the context in which Jesus called his first disciples, showed his lordship over the wind and waves, waled on the water and so on. A great event!

From here we viewed the remains – remarkably intact of a 1st century Galilean fishing boat found 20 or so years ago. In amazing condition – and amazing lengths taken by archaeologists and restorers to bring it to this condition. Bought a polo shirt as a reminder that I too have sailed on Galilee.

A lunch stop at yet another kibbutz offered a genuine Lebanese fish lunch (sorry – Chicken for me) before our afternoon was spent visiting churches on three special sites:

Where Jesus is said to have fed thousands from just a few fish and bread loaves
Where Jesus lived and ministered in and around Capernaum – some amazing ruins, including Peter’s house
The Mount of the Beatitudes – we read/ heard these as a group.

Before all that we stopped at a slightly- commercialized (sadly) Jordan River baptismal site – perhaps of the sort Jesus was baptized in. I even took off my shoes and stepped into the edge of the Jordan until two huge water eats (otter size) started coming for me – and kept doing soonto dry land. The attack of the killer otters!?@#

To round off the day 14 of us headed down the road to a really nice restaurant – where I’ll remember ordering what turned out to be this huge chicken pizza (not labelled such in the menu), being sandwiched against a wall all night – couldn’t really get out AND a few from group detecting the 23+ spelling mistakes on the menu. That said, we ARE a great group and it will be sad when we part ways on Monday.



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