Friday, June 26, 2009

wifi galore

My router died while I was away.  It served me for about two years before goofing off.  What happened?  If I connect the router to the cable modem the thing shuts down.  That makes it worthless.  My backup router’s wireless doesn’t really work so I ended up spending my $50 commute bonus on a new router.

The new router is from TP-Link, the leader in China, as it proudly boasts on the box.  Not to be confused with D-Link.

Checking whether I had picked the right channel, I did a scan to see whether I remembered correctly which one to choose.  I recalled channel 6.  Looks like channel 5 is better.  No, 5 is not a channel I should be using in the US, but Chinese router lets me do what I want.  In my situation, it probably is for the common good.


Monday, June 15, 2009

i am special

Israel gives me special treatment. It's like a lover who at first
doesn't want me and now doesn't want me to leave... kind of... sort of.

I initially had no problems getting in, heading to the West Bank, or
getting back into Israel. After visiting Jordan, things got more

Coming back from Jordan I was held up for 20 minutes as they checked
my documents. No questions, and allegedly "no problem."

Leaving Tel Aviv's airport was a bit more complicated. At the passport
check before getting to check in, I was passed along to a more senior
guy who asked me about by travels to Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco,
checking the dates on my passport as he listened. He also asked why I
went, who I traveled with, and whether they were traveling with me or
in the airport.

Afterwards, he directed me to a specific x-ray machine, which then led
to an inspection which as basically if j had a camera in one bag and
why I decided to buy the one guide book that I had ("Jerusalem and the
Holy Land" by Eyewitness Guides from amazon, if you are curious) as
well as why and from where. That was it. Odd.

After checking in, I got to go through the second security checkpoint.
Once again, I got the special treatment - lane no. 1. The lane wasn't
open, but they were happy to open it just for me, x-ray my stuff, and
then ask me to unpack most of it so they could check for explosives.
None found.

I am finally through all of this and waiting at the gate. I wonder how
much of this PMA had to endure with his new passport...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

day 9 - back to israel

I'm writing this entry while sitting on the floor of an Egged bus. We
got a cab back to the Aqaba/Eilat border for 20JD, which is much
better than the 60 we paid to get to Petra (my bad). The border
crossing there was as dead as it was the first time we crossed. We
only saw one other party the entire time. After passing through eight
stations (four on each side), we were eventually able to get through.
For some reason the Israelis spent literally 20 minutes inspecting my
passport, but the only comments were "no problem" and "Have a good
time. Welcome to Israel."

We then skipped multiple offers for taxi rides back to Eilat so that
we could hike back to the main highway where we could catch the bus,
and catch the bus we did. 140 of the 157.20 shekels on the bus fare
and standing room only for us. Ok, I took a seat on the step at the
back of the bus.

day 8 - petra

Final day at Petra. Three days was probably bit much, but definitely
worth the excursion. It's been a great trip so far, but sadly it's
beginning to wrap up. After today, we are headed back to Israel and
then back to the states shortly thereafter.

I was initially writing this entry from somewhere mid-mountain behind
the ampitheatre. There were a ton of unescavated tombs and stuff up
there that made for good exploring. Surprisingly, Petra wasn't totally
overrunby tourists. Yes, there were definitely quite a few, but not on
the same scale as sights in Egypt, Europe, or the US. Given that and
it's size (only about half is on the main drag), it should be ok for a

Friday, June 12, 2009

day 6/7 - petra

I'm chillin in Petra right now facing "The Monastery," which is like a
bigger and less ornate "Treasury" that most of you should recognize
from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. So far this has been the
highlight of the trip. Magnificent ruins, great hiking, and the
freedom to explore - Petra's got it all. It puts to shame most ruins
that I've seen outside of
Egypt. We planned to spend three days here, but clearly we cover more
ground than the Lonely Planet authors. We may be out of here tomorrow
to check out Amman.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

red sea @ eilat

day 5 - red sea

Today was mostly a travel day to get to Eilat, where we can cross over
to Jordan and hitch a ride over to Petra. Eilat is a funny town,
serving as Israel's port on the Red Sea. Scattered around the same
gulf are Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. The highlights here are the
Red Sea and the reef. The other highlight is that this seems to be the
spring break type destination for Israelis and features tons of
hotels, including what seems to be it's own version of the Las Vegas
Strip - complete with picture cards with pics of scantily clad women.

We arrived with no lodging set up, but we were able to find a room at
the hostel here without issue. The place seemed a bit dead with most
areas running at what seemed like 10% capacity.

Anyway, I'm gonna cut this update short. We're aiming to catch sunrise
over Jordan and the Red Sea tomorrow morning. (-;

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

day 4 - dead sea

Today was a light walking day. We walked two miles to the bus station
where we hopped on the 486 which too us to Masada, this fortress atop
a mesa where the Jews resisted the Romans many years ago. For a "must
see" attraction, I thought there was more left of the structures to
see, but it was interesting to see how formidable this fortress was.

Afterwards, we hopped on another bus that took us to Ein Gedi Beach on
the Dead Sea. Based on the pictures I had seen I expected obnoxious
crowds, so I was pleasantly surprised that there were only about 20
people there. It's not the nicest beach, but the attraction is the
water, not the beach itself. I have to say that it was a pretty neat
experience. The water is so salty that it was tough trying to stand or
sit in the water. Even my legs floated! I also managed to take some
near pics from the water. (-; The only downside is that the water
itself can be gross. It tastes awful, and when it dries it leaves some
sticky residue everywhere. My cameras, my bags, and my clothes are now
gross. Still, it has definitely been the highlight of the trip so far.

Monday, June 08, 2009

day 3 - bethlehem

Today was a light day. We got up, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast,
walked 2 miles to the bus station, caught a bus to Bethlehem... ok.
Not to Bethlehem, but to the checkpoint near Bethlehem. For those who
don't know, Israel has been erecting this huge wall around the West
Bank. It's like the Berlin Wall or the Great Wall of China. It's
concrete like the Berlin one, but tall like the Chinese one. Length
wise, somewhere in between. After passing the wall, we negotiated our
taxi fare into town (15 shekels, down from an absurd 100). The Church
of the Nativity was interesting, as it is where Christ was allegedly
born and it is also the oldest church (established in the 4th
century). Afterwards, we wandered around town a bit before finally
walking back to Jerusalem. It was a fine walk. We mostly did it for
shits and giggles, but it was neat finding our way back and it also
gave us some good photo ops of the absurd wall. It was also cool as we
got closer to town and we finally got our first glimpse of the Old City.

Tomorrow we check out the Dead Sea area. Should be a good time!

border control

chillin in the west bank


Sunday, June 07, 2009

day 2 - jerusalem... all of it

22 hours after arriving, we are done with most of Jerusalem. We
checked out all the main sights in the Old City and did some wandering
off the beaten path. We explored the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion.
We walked to the bus station and back. We checked out New Jerusalem.
We saw some random sights in between. We skipped the Archaelogical
Site because we already saw most of it from where we were walking (and
walked back to cover the part we didn't realize we were passing). We
climbed the ramparts of the city wall - and got yelled at once and
asked to leave another time) We ate dessert twice. We visited the
Wailing Wall
twice (for different lighting). We walked Via Dolorosa at least five
times. I've been identified as Japanese, Mexican, Filipino, and
Chinese. We went through the Damascus Gate at least four times (round
trip). We went through the Jaffa, Zion, Dung, and St. Stephen's Gates.
We walked by the New Gate and both sides of the sealed Golden Gate. We
checked out the rooftop walk through the common entrance and left
through some winding stairs through some Orthodox Jew community. We
saw where Christ fell with the cross, where he was betrayed, where he
ate dinner, where he died, and where he was laid to rest. We saw a
large rat. We saw lots of feral cats. We helped several tourists
navigate. We were checked out by some Israeli chicks with guns. Oh
yes... and we did jump shots.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

the rock

western wall

kunefeh dessert. yum!

$1.25 falafel dinner

Friday, June 05, 2009


the north coast

Flying over Lake Erie right now. Actually, passing by Cleveland. The
commercial/industrial development/decay along I-90 and Euclid Ave is
like a scar on the earth when looking at it from the air.

Nuclear power plants spotted so far: 2

Saw the one by Detroit and the Perry plant that I got a nice view of
from my old apartment. Based on the flight, I should also be able to
catch the one by Wilkes-Barre, PA that I'd pass whenever traveling
between New Haven and Cleveland.

Clearly the in flight entertainment isn't keeping my eyes busy. I
frown at the pay movies, but I like the option of listening to some
albums from Weezer, White Stripes, Smashing Pumpkins, and NIN. It
ain't all bad! (-:

still tracking I-90


Just passing over Souix Falls. I remember getting gas here once. Wow.
They just asked the passengers to sit down with a tone of urgency.

Fun. Turbulence.


I'm in the air almost to Billings. One of the neat things (in my mind)
is looking out the windows and see the places I've been. Ever after
taking that ridiculous drive across the entire length of I-90, there's
a ton more places along the route from Seattle to
Chicago, Cleveland, and NYC that I've seen on the ground. Granted,
most of that drive was exceptionally boring, but at the very least I
can take comfort knowing that what took me a day to drive we have
covered in an hour and a half. (we're flying past Billings right now)

By the way, exit row and personal entertainment system means good
times. (-:

Thursday, June 04, 2009

packing list

(from memory...  I just realized that I'm assuming that pants will dry overnight)

Note:  No boots, no water bottle.

1 Floppy hat
1 pair of sunglasses that I'm about to buy


3 pairs of socks
4 pairs of lightweight cotton boxers
1 cotton undershirt

1 synthetic tee
1 pair of jammy pants

1 pair of togs

1 dark linen shirt
1 dark synthetic tee
1 dark long sleeve tee

1 pair of jeans
1 pair of dark linen pants
1 pair of dark linen shorts

2 x 2oz contact lens solution
1 contact lens case
2 pairs of contact lenses
1 razor
1 half used bar of soap
1 oz of face wash
0.5 oz of face lotion
1 albuterol inhaler
Some diarrhea meds from YALE
3oz of shampoo from corporate housing
2 pairs of contact lenses
2 single use bottles of body wash
1 toothbrush
10 yards of floss
1.5 oz of toothpaste
1 pair of glasses

Canon Digital Rebel XT
6GB CompactFlash card
4GB CompactFlash card
Cheapo Sigma 18-135mm? lens with polarized filter
1 spare battery
Rebel battery charger
Canon Powershot SD-something
2GB SD card
Powershot charger (I won't bring this if PMA has his)
Lens cleaning solution
Lens cleaning wipes
Latex glove
1 dented iPhone
iPhone charger
Apple power adaptor
Generic power adaptor

Crumpler camera bag
Jansport day pack with water pouch
Some medium size bag that I'm about to buy

Random crap:
Random drawstrings for laundry lines
1 credit card hidden in the camera bag
1 credit card hidden in the regular bag
1 credit card hidden in the daypack
1 book...  maybe Nudge

four year old stamps... ugh...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

packing list