Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Dec 17, 2006

Section 3 Egypt: Images Only

Section Two: Images Only

Part Two: Israel, Egypt, Jordan & Turkey

Section One: Images Only

Part Two: Israel, Egypt, Jordan & Turkey

Section Four: Jordan
(Associated Images: 01Treaury, Petra; 02 Ancient Mosaic Map of Middle East, Madaba; 03 Roman Forum, Jerash; 04 Crusader Fort, Kerak ; 05 Cross, Mt. Nebo)

Since our group in Jordan consisted only of two of us, we were able to interact with our driver/tour director. A Christian in a Muslim-majority country, he told us some difficulties he encounters in interacting with his Muslim friends. In love with a woman in Holland, he had difficulty making up his mind to marry her, and moving to another country. Also he was concerned about his elderly mother, who lived with him.

In Jordan, we visited the famous ancient rose city of Petra, ancient mosaic map of Middle East at Madaba, Roman ruins at Jerash, and Amman and crusader fortresses at Kerak and Shobak. Also we visited Mt. Nebo where Moses is believed to have breathed his last.

Part Two: Israel, Egypt, Jordan & Turkey

Section Three: Egypt
(Associated Images: 01 Pyramids, Giza; 02 Great Pyramid of Cheops & Sphinx, Giza; 03 Temple, Luxor; 04 Temple, Karnak; 05 Ramses II Temple, Abu Simbel)

We enjoyed our Egypt trip the most. From the moment we finished immigration formalities upon our arrival at Cairo airport till our departure for Amman, at the end of this portion of our travels, the local organizers took care of everything. They handled our luggage, as well as check-ins and boarding passes for domestic air travel. All entrance fees, the Light and Sound Show at Gizza, horse-carriage rides, and felucca excursion on the Nile were included. Even our tips were paid for except for the tips for our tour director, and the local driver at Cairo. Most of all, our tour director was very knowledgeable, courteous and helpful.

In Egypt, we visited the pyramids at Saqqara and Giza, and ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman, tombs and temples at Edfu, Karnak, Komo Ombu, Luxor, Memphis, as well as those at Abu Simbel and the Island of Philae, which were rescued by the UNESCO from being drowned by the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. Also, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo we saw the vast treasures of King Tut, including his condom!

Part Two: Israel, Egypt, Jordan & Turkey

Section Two: Israel
(Associated Images: 01 Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem; 02 West "Wailing" Wall, Jerusalem; 03 Fortrss, Masada; 04 Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth; 05 Crucifixion Site, 12th Station, Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem)

During the eight days we spent in Israel, we traveled through the length and breadth of the country. Starting from Tel Aviv, we drove north along the Mediterranean coast, through Haifa (target of several rockets during the recent conflict with Lebanon), up to Akko, only about 11 miles from the border with Lebanon. Then we drove east through Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee, and along its northern, eastern (through Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967) coast to its southern junction with Jordan River. In this region we were as close as five miles to the border with Syria. Next we drove south along Jordan River, which marks the border with Jordan, established in 1967. In this region we could see some Jordanian border posts. Finally, we drove along the western coast of Dead Sea to the Le Meridien resort at Ein Boqeq, about 10 miles south of the ancient fortress of Masada.

During our travels we passed through or by some Muslim areas as well as some autonomous Palestinian territories like Jericho. At one place we could see the massive and heavily fortified wall Israel has built to keep Palestinians away from its territories.

At times, we read newspaper reports of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. But we did not personally come across any untoward incident involving Palestinians. But we were told that Palestinians from the autonomous areas were not allowed to drive into Israeli cities.

When some of us expressed desire to go to the Bethlehem, Gabriel Wilhem, our Jewish driver/tour director told us that he was not allowed to drive into Palestinian areas. But he agreed to drive us to an Israeli check point, where we will have board a vehicle to be driven by a Palestinian guide. He also told us that the situation in Bethlehem had been tense and discouraged us from going there. We took his advice, and dropped the idea of going to Bethlehem.

Gabriel took us shopping at some Muslim establishments in Jerusalem, and Muslim falafel stands at a couple of places. But some of his statements smacked of prejudice against Muslims.


In Israel, we visited we visited many Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites. They included Dome of the Rock (where Abraham agreed to obey God’s command to sacrifice his son, and where, according to what Muslims believe God took Prophet Muhammad on his Mystical Night journey from Mecca), Western Wall (Believed by the Jews to be a remnant of their ancient temples), Masada (The ancient hill fortress, where around 67 BC the 967 rebellious Jewish men, women and children defended themselves to the last person against 150,000 Roman legionnaires), Basilica of the Annunciation (Where Gabriel heralded the birth of Jesus, (Mount of Beatitude (Where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount), and Via Dolorosa (The path cross-bearing Jesus followed from the site of his condemnation to his crucifixion and burial/resurrection). Also we saw the Roman and Crusader ruins at Caesarea and Acre, enjoyed a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and floating in the Dead Sea.

Dec 14, 2006


Part Two: Israel, Egypt, Jordan & Turkey

After we left home on October 4, we spent most of the next 65 days sightseeing in India, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey.

I have already sent you a report on our travels in India. This report covers Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, where we spent 22 days starting November 14. It is composed of four brief sections:

1. General
2. Israel
3. Egypt
4. Jordan

Section One: General
(Associated Images: 01 Tel Aviv; 02 Bahai Temple, Haifa; 03 Feluccas Ride on the Nile, Aswan; 04 Light & Sound Show, Giza; 05 Egyptian Bazaar, Istanbul; 06 Nile Cruise, Luxor to Aswan; 07 Horse Carriage Ride, Petra; 08 Elephant Ride, Kaziranga)

Taxing Taxis

Normally when traveling abroad, we have pre-arranged transfers from and to airports and train stations, even when we are not joining an organized group tour. But this time our travel agent persuaded us to hire a taxi by ourselves at Istanbul and Tel Aviv. Now after our experiences at both places, we have decided to stick to our usual policy, especially in a country where we are likely to have difficulty communicating with taxi drivers.

With incomplete address of our hotel, the taxi driver we hired at Istanbul Airport had difficulty locating it. He tried to leave us first at a different hotel, and several minutes later by the roadside, claiming that road to the hotel had been blocked. When we refused to go along with his attempts to dump us, he did finally find our hotel.

Next day, outside the Egyptian Market, some taxi drivers demanded as much as 30 Turkish Liras for a trip back to our hotel for which we had paid only 9 Turkish Liras three hours earlier.

Inside the Tel Aviv Airport Arrival Hall, at 3:00 a.m., we were confronted by taxi drivers who demanded as much as 250 New Israel Shekels (NIS) for the 22-kilometre ride to the city. At the Taxi stand outside the Arrival Hall, we found a taxi for 130 NIS.

Lost & found

Upon arrival at our Tel Aviv hotel, we discovered that I had left my laptop in the trunk of our taxi. When we called the taxi company, we got a recorded message asking us to call after 8 a.m.

The laptop had all the pictures from our travels in Northeast India and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Also, Kundan had kept some of her jewelry in the pocket of its case. We were afraid we had lost all that. But our anxieties were soon allayed, as we saw the taxi driver bring the laptop back to us!

We were not that lucky in Jerusalem, when Kundan lost her prescription sunglasses, at Yad-Vashem Holocaust Museum and I lost my wallet to a pickpocket just outside the garden believed by some to contain the cave where the body of Jesus Christ was kept after his crucifixion. I lost $95 in cash, $40 in Traveler’s Checks, a blank check, my Driver’s License, and other miscellaneous things. Fortunately, the Traveler’s Checks were replaced in a matter of few minutes, when six days later I had the opportunity to visit the American Express office at Aswan in Egypt.

Organized Tour

Our travels in Israel, Egypt and Jordan were a part of an organized group tour entitled Lands of the Prophets offered by Insight Vacations ( It consisted of three separate country-specific tours, each with its own tour director. It included between-country (and some within-Egypt) transfers by air.

In Israel, we are a group of only seven individuals, of whom I was the only male person. Two of this group were with us also in Egypt, where the total number was 17, including one honeymooning modeling couple from Australia. In Jordan, our group consisted of only Kundan and I, and we traveled there by a Mercedes car.


The highlights of our travels included our visit to the beautiful coastal city of Tel Aviv and its waterfront promenade. It was the best of all waterfront promenades we have seen so far. Also we enjoyed the picturesque Bahai Temple & Gardens in Haifa, the felucca (traditional sailboat) ride on the Nile at Aswan, the light-and-sound show at the pyramids of Giza, and shopping in the old Egyptian “Covered” Bazar in Istanbul.

Home, Sweet Home

During 65 days of our travels, we visited 32 cities, and 86 sites of historical, religious, scenic or tourist interest. Our travels involved 23 flights, 89 automobile trips, seven boat excursions, two train journeys, two horse carriage jaunts, and one elephant ride.

After living out of suitcases for 65 days, and after sleeping in 28 different beds, we were glad to return home and sleep in our own bed!