Flipping Coins and Border Crossings...
Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
61Trip End Jan 10, 2008
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Those of us camping out at Wadi Rum all got the bus to Aqaba which was only about 30 minutes away. Once we got to Aqaba, which is on the border with both Egypt and Jordan, the guy from Holland (called Hyo) could not decide whether or not to go to Egypt or Israel. In the end he tossed a coin to decide his fate - and it told him to go to Israel. I then thought screw it, I'll do the same thing as from what I heard spending a whole month in Egypt was way too long. So again we tossed the coin and it also told me I was going to Israel!
So before I knew it we caught a taxi to the Israeli border at Eilat. We were pretty much the only people waiting however security here was extremely tight. After getting my bag thoroughly checked I then came to the much dreaded interrogation which is standard treatment for those of us lucky enough to have visited Syria, one of Israel's (many) enemies. Luckily the questioning only lasted about 20 minutes but it was not a good feeling to be interrogated, even if it was by an extremely attractive 18 year old wearing a black bra under a white shirt.
After the questioning they made us wait approximately an hour before handing us back our stamped passport. An hour is not too bad, I have heard of people having to wait 6 or 7 hours at the border if they have been to Syria, Lebanon or Iran.
Upon receiving back my passport I realized they had stamped the actual passport instead of putting the entrance visa on a separate piece of paper. This now meant that I could not return to Syria on my current passport nor could I visit in the future Lebanon or Iran. I was a bit annoyed about it and my decision to visit this country on the flip of a coin, however I was very much looking forward to seeing Jerusalem. I had mixed feelings about visiting Israel, as I really disliked Israel due to a combination of factors which I won't go into detail on. Hopefully my time in this country will help me to make a better judgment about it.
Upon arrival you could immediately tell you were in a different country. The compulsory military service for the citizens of Israel meant that a majority of the 18/19 year olds are currently serving in the military, which means they must carry an M16 machine gun with them at ALL times. The bus from Eilat to Israel was half filled with teenagers carrying M16's, a very crazy introduction to this country! Security was the other huge difference in this country, the first day alone saw 2 full bag checks to make sure I wasn't carrying anything undesirable.
The hostel I am staying at is in the heart of the Palestinian or Muslim section of Jerusalem, and therefore everyone speaks Arabic and the foods and wares on offer are very similar to what I am used to from previous countries. I plan to stay in this country only 5 days before going to Egypt so we will see how we go. To be honest I have no idea what to see here as I did not plan to come here ever so I will try and get the low-down on the things to see and do.
NB: No photos for this entry
P.S. My best photos from my time in Jordan can be found here.