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August 5th, 2004 - The Orientalist

About August 5th, 2004

Israel - West Bank 01:08 pm
For two weeks I have been in Israel and the West Bank, but mainly in
Jerusalem. Jerusalem for one, once you get their you feel like their is nowhere else to go afterwards, you feel like you have reached the center of the world. Secondly, you don't want to leave because, you feel like your witnessing history, and who knows maybe the day you leave is the day the messiah decides to show up. Now my journey to Israel consisted of a snap decision, taken at 9pm before the night I left. Laura, this British girl and myself just decide to leave the next morning on the 6:30 AM bus to the border. A big group from the hostel decided to make it an epic night, we headed out to the Cairo Jazz Club, then spent the early hours sitting smoking Hooka in a back ally Cairo Cafe. At 6:30 we were off and we arrived at the border around 2pm. Now every traveler that has crossed into Israel has a story, normally about how many hours they were held up for and how cute the people who work their are. I, to my dismay found that i do not look very treating in the eyes of Israel and got would have been cleared in half an hour had it not been for Laura. Laura you see has family in Israel but decided not to mention that because it involves a whole long line of questions as to where they live and what they do. She also did not have a return ticket or any money on her, so as far as i could tell the police were not so much concerned that she posed a threat to the country but rather that she
simply did not posses the life skills needed to handle the country, Which was untrue. The border guard kept asking (insert Isrealie accent here) 'what will you do? No money? where will you stay? No money?", and so on. In the end they gave her a two week visa, which i
saw as a test run of her ability to survive in the country, and me a
one month visa as opposed to the standard two month visa, simply because as far as i could tell for associating with her. Well we made it into Israel and headed off to Tel Aviv following a disasteris attempt at hitch-hiking to Jerusalem. Anyways I will end my Israel update here, simply because i have been working madly on a much larger one. But i worry it has become way to epic, and that i have begun to think of it as my magna opus of my travel updates, lets just say I am on draft 3. As for me I am back at the Dahab hotel. I am doing very little know, and nursing my sunburn.

The Israel Visa Stamp 01:29 pm
Whenever somebody mentions they are traveling to Israel somebody else
inevitably says, 'make sure you don't get your passport stamp' like you
have never heard this before and they belong to some important Middle East Think Tank. For those who have never said the sentence 'I am going to Israel', this is referring to how some countries like Syria won't let you into their country if you have an Israel stamp in your passport. So Israel will just stamp a piece of paper which they place inside your passport. This is all fine and good if you happen to be flying into the country but if you are crossing on land this advice means nothing. Although at the Egypt/Isreal border Israel will not stamp your passport the Egyptian border guard, could not care less. So inside your passport is a stamp that says a bunch of things in Arabic and Taba. As a result, any Syrian or Saudi who knows a little bit about geography will know that crossing from Taba means crossing into Israel. Although your passport will make it look like you left Egypt and vanished into international thin air. My advice, ask for as many Israeli border stamps as the border guards will dish out, then ask your country for a fresh passport when you travel to countries that are at war with Israel.
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