What is it Really Like in Palestine?

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Ramallah

For most people, Palestine is a bit of a mystery and knowledge of it comes directly from what the media shows them. Any good traveller has learned that a healthy serving of skepticism is good when dealing with media portrayals of a place. It’s always better to find out what a place is like for yourself. With that in mind, I started on my way to find out what it is really like in Palestine.

Introduction to Area A of the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The official UN label for the area, including the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem has been the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) since 1999. My journey started in Jerusalem, where I caught a public bus to the bus stop closest to an Area A border. Area A consists of pockets of land throughout the West Bank that include the cities of Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho and parts of Hebron. It is the only part of the West Bank that is under full Palestinian control, yet it accounts for less than 20% of the area of the West Bank. I was crossing over close to the Palestinian capital of Ramallah.

Upon entering the border area, things started to feel very ominous. It was like all development had stopped at an imaginary line several hundred metres before the border. The area was desolate until a huge watchtower came into view. I could see a large red sign with writing in Hebrew, Arabic and English;

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Area A Border

This road leads to Area ‘A’ under the Palestinian Authority The entrance for Israeli citizens is forbidden, dangerous to your lives and against the Israeli law

I was expecting to get my passport checked as I walked past the tower. No one asked to see it. There was a security guard stationed near the gate size hole in the wire fence behind the tower, but he was not stopping anyone going through. That fence seemed to mark the start of a kind of no man’s land that ran until a five metre high concrete wall with another watchtower. That is where I entered Palestine.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Area A Border Wall With Watchtower

What it is Really Like in Palestine – Getting to the Capital, Ramallah

To say that things were crazy on the other side of that wall would be a massive understatement. This was especially noticeable after spending minutes walking across a desolate space between fences. There were cars and people everywhere. I really had no idea where to go next, so I just started walking up the road. A local by the name of Ramek approached me. His English wasn’t too good, but he was eager to assist me. He helped me find a shared taxi, or ‘servees’ heading to Ramallah, where he also happened to be going.

Shared taxis in Palestine are actually minivans that seat around 16 people. In the van, Ramek tried to talk to me but it was very hard for us to understand each other. He did give me his phone number in case I needed anything while I was in Ramallah. I was surprised at how empty Ramallah seemed, but that could’ve been because it was afternoon during Ramadan. And also because it was fairly hot.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Quiet Town Centre Ramallah

Exploring Ramallah

I was quite surprised to find that many take away food places appeared to be open, even though it was day time during Ramadan. Maybe they stayed open in case people wanted to buy food for the ‘break fast’ meal in the evening. During my wanderings, I found a street lined with carts. Like old-timey wooden carts. The carts were mostly full of fruits that vendors were trying to sell. Almost every vendor said, “Hello, welcome to Palestine!”, as I walked past.

A few of them also enquired as to where I was from and asked if I would like to buy their fruit. I think they wanted to talk to me more than they wanted to sell me fruit. As soon as I stopped to talk to them, there was no further mention of buying goods from them. They seemed more interested in how much I liked Palestine. In less than a few hours in Palestine, I had come to the conclusion that Palestinians were very friendly and curious people.

Stars and Bucks

While walking near the town centre, I thought I saw a Starbucks logo. I had to do a double-take as I was sure that Palestine did not have Starbucks. Or many of the big chains like McDonald’s. Unfortunately, McDonald’s opened in Palestine several months after I was there. Which is crazy because they have so much good food there that I can’t understand why they would want to eat that rubbish. Anyway, back to the fake Starbucks.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Stars and Bucks K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Stars and Bucks in Ramallah

It seems that lack of access to some foreign brands has prompted Palestinians to come up with their own, better versions. Yes, better! Stars and Bucks is a chain in the country that could almost be mistaken for Starbucks if you’re not paying attention. Upon closer inspection, it is more of a sit-down-and-eat kind of cafe, as opposed to Starbucks’ focus on drinks. They even sell Starbucks-esk merchandise such as tumblers and mugs.

Area D

When in the planning stages of my trip to Palestine, I had started speaking to a local by the name of Moe. As he explained to me later, his name was actually Muhammed and one of his brothers was also called Muhammed, due to the naming conventions in the area. That is why he chose to go by Moe. Moe had invited me to meet him at the hostel that he worked at, Area D Hostel. This is a reference to the administrative areas that the West Bank has been divided into. I mentioned earlier that Area A is completely under Palestinian control. Area B is effectively Palestinian land under Israeli security control and Area C, which accounts for most of the West Bank, is completely under Israeli control.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Occupation Article

Meeting Some Locals

The idea is that Area D is a safe place outside of all of the political division that can be used as a base for exploration of the real Palestine. I was planning to check in to the hostel on arrival, but Moe said we could organise that later. It was time for tea and a chat first. Who was I to argue? Moe introduced me to an interesting group of people. One of them was a Dutch woman who also worked at the hostel. She had visited Palestine a year beforehand and loved the locals so much that she decided to return and live there.

The others were just passing through, but also commented on how much Palestine had surprised and impressed them. We all sat around chatting and sipping tea well into the early hours. At that point, Moe suggested that I needn’t bother checking in and should instead stay at his place. Ramallah felt very serene and peacful as we walked back to Moe’s place in the middle of the night.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Mosque Near Area D

Planning a Trip to Nablus

Once back at Moe’s place we chatted more over mint tea, made with mint that Moe grew in a pot on his balcony. I had thought until that point that I wasn’t a fan of mint, but it seems having it fresh makes a world of difference. During our chat, Moe has asked if I was interested in seeing Nablus, his home town. He advised me that he had a friend in the city and he would ask him to show me around the city. Considering that I’d only just met Moe, I felt super appreciative that he was going out of his way to make my stay in Palestine awesome.

What is it Really Like in Palestine – Nablus

Moe’s friend in Nablus said that he would be available after 11 am to show me the city. I got myself to the transport station near the town centre and got a servees to Nablus. Most of the driving was done in 30 minutes. Then we hit traffic coming into Nablus. For a relatively small city, it seemed to have a whole lot of traffic!

Moe had given me his friend Majed’s number to call when I got into the city. The servees driver called him for me. He told Majed exactly where he was dropping me off so he knew where to meet me. In Palestine, you can just ask any random person on the street to call someone for you and they will do it. How lovely is that?

Meeting Majed

I was a little overwhelmed by the massive amounts of noise coming from the traffic and wasn’t quite sure exactly where I was meeting Majed. Luckily, as a confused looking foreigner, I stood out a bit and Majed was able to spot me fairly quickly. He greeted me with, “Welcome to Nablus!”, and it was clear to me that he was very proud of his town. As we moved away from the busy main street, I was surprised at how quickly things became more spaced out and quiet. It wasn’t long before we were in the old town.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Nablus Old Town K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Old Town Nablus Alleyway

What It Is Really Like in Palestine – Wandering the City

Majed advised that Nablus was one of the oldest cities in the world. He believed that it could have been settled nearly 10,000 years ago. It certainly felt very old while walking through it. Majed also said that the city was often reffered to as the Damascus of Palestine. What was amazing about the town was that despite the extreme heat of the day, the covered alleyways were quite cool. As we walked around, it felt like Majed knew almost all of the shop keepers.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Nablus Town Centre Clock Tower K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Nablus

He stopped for a small chat at quite a few of them and almost every one of them gave me a little treat from their shop. Some of them even wanted photos.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. New Friends in Nablus

After the walk around town, Majed took me back to his place where I met his mother, sister and six year old niece, Aya. Aya took an instant shine to me and was excited to practice her English. She proudly said, “How are you?”. Then we munched on an insanely delicious Palestinian sweet called Knafeh Nabulsieh. Yes, it was during Ramadan, but children and non-muslims are not required to fast for Ramadan. As long they don’t eat in front of someone who is fasting, it’s all good.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Knafeh Nabulsieh

From what I could gather, it’s made with white cheese, pastry and sugar syrup. Majed assured me that the Nablus version of sweet was the best. In fact, Nablus is where the sweet originated. Majed later told me that Aya had asked if I could join the family for their ‘break fast’ feast that night.

Ramadan ‘Break Fast’ Feast

We walked to Majed’s sister’s house on the other side of town for the meal. It was around sunset time and Nablus is in a valley between two hills. That made the view quite striking.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. View of Nablus

Aya rushed up and hugged me as I walked in the door. She then spent the time before dinner pointing out each new relation as they walked in the door. Unfortunately she didn’t quite know the English words for all of them, so I had to help her out. She would then tell me the Arabic equivalent of the word.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What Is It Really Like in Palestine. Ramadan 'Break Fast' Meal

Majed’s mum and sister were constantly trying to stuff me with food and drink. They relayed, through Majed, that they wanted to make sure that I was looked after as their guest. I was so looked after that I’d probably gone up a clothes size!

Leaving Palestine

On my way out of Palestine, I had decided to make a short stop to try to procure a mini Palestinian flag. I was close to giving up because all the shops I’d tried only had full size flags. I finally came upon a shop that had a whole display full of the exact flag that I wanted.

When I asked the shopkeeper how much it was, he asked me why I wanted it. When I told him that I try to grab a small flag in each country that I visit, his face lit up and said, “For you, it’s free”. He also offered me some tea, but I had to continue moving.

One Last Palestinian Adventure

My last adventure in Palestine actually started in Jerusalem. A friendly Palestinian/Israeli local who owned an ATV had offered to take me ATVing. After going up and down some hills in Israeli controlled Area C of the West Bank, we ended up on the top of a hill overlooking the little town of Bethlehem at night.

K in Motion Travel Blog. What It Is Really Like in Palestine. A Hill Overlooking the Little Town of Bethlehem

They say that it’s people that make a place worthwhile. With all the Palestinians that offered me help and made me feel more than welcome while I was in their country, Palestine quickly became one of my favourite countries in the world. It’s sad that it’s so misunderstood. I think everyone needs to visit to find out what it is really like in Palestine for themselves.

You may also be interested in –
Southern Israel
Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel
Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel

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Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Certificate

Last week I took part in the Planeterra Trek Challenge with some of the Nomads Giving Back team. Our goal was to each walk/run/hike the 65 kilometres, or 85,000 steps, to Everest Base Camp. Virtually of course! I’m normally pretty active, so I thought I had it in the bag, but there were some things conspiring against me. Let me take you on a journey through the ups and downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge.

Monday 21st September – Day 1 of the Planeterra Trek Challenge

I woke up excited and ready to get right into the challenge. There was only one problem; the weather. It seemed that nature had other ideas. Some storms had developed overnight and it was raining heavily. There was even a bit of thunder and lightning.

I hoped that maybe the storm would dissipate by the afternoon, so I could get out and do some walking. That did not happen. In fact, it seemed to be getting worse as the day went on. Needless to say, I didn’t get to do any walking for the first day of the challenge. But there’s always tomorrow, right?

Tuesday 22nd September – Day 2

Once again, I woke up excited to get my challenge started. Once again, nature had other ideas. The storm was still going strong. I was hoping that it wouldn’t cause me to lose another day. Luckily, the rain started to abate around midday and I seized the opportunity to get outside.

As there were still some dark clouds hanging around, I decided to start with a relatively easy flat walk along a river in my district. That way I’d be close to home if the rain started again.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Shing Mun River

Although it is a natural river, the course of the Shing Mun River (城門河) and it’s tributaries were altered in the 70’s when land was reclaimed for housing. That means that the banks are artificial, with paved walking and bicycle paths all along their courses.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. River With Boats

The Shing Mun River also seems to be full of jumping fish.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Day 1 Steps

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Day 2 Stats

15,326 steps
– 69,674 to go

11.74km
– 53.26 to go
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Wednesday 23rd September – Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge Day 3

After half a day that was almost dry, the rain came back again. I thought the day might be another washout, but there was a short window in the evening where I was able to get some steps in.

I also use an app called Sweatcoin which allows me to earn Sweatcoins for my steps. It generally records steps at a lower rate than my fitness app, but earning coins that can be redeemed for goods is still pretty cool, none-the-less. If rewards for exercising interest you, check out the app here.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Day 3 Sweatcoins Earned

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Day 3 Stats

8.96 Sweatcoins
– 23.74 Sweatcoins accumulated

11,173 steps
– 58,501 to go

9.13km
– 44.13km to go
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Thursday 24th September – Day 4

Rain was still looming, so I headed back to the river again. When I made a short detour into town, a drunk rat ran into my foot. Okay, maybe it wasn’t drunk, but it was certainly acting like it. After it ran into my foot, it slowly zig-zagged across the road before just hanging out on the edge of the opposite footpath.

Back at the river, there was a mural depicting various things to be seen and activities that take place in the district. One of those activities in Dragon Boating.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Horse Mural K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Dragon Boat Mural

On any given day the chances of seeing someone practicing on the river is high.

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Day 4 Stats

14.86 Sweatcoins
– 38.6 Sweatcoins accumulated

13,819
– 44,682 to go

10.56km
– 33.57 to go
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So by the end of day 4, I had completed just over 30kms, or 40,318 steps. That meant I was a little under halfway to the 65km/85,000 step goal. It wasn’t quite where I wanted to be by that point. I wasn’t worried though. I still had 3 days left!

Friday 25th September – Day 5

This was always going to be a tricky day to get some steps in as I had a training day to attend. Obviously, I was tired when I was done and wasn’t going to attempt anything but a flat urban walk. It was of course pretty uneventful, except for the helicopter rescue that I witnessed. You see, I was walking near the base of a hill called Lion Rock, which is a bit of an icon in my city. It can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Lion Rock from Kowloon

Helicopters flying around is something that has been sporadically happening since protests broke out last year, so I initially ignored it. Until I realised it was hovering right near the ‘Lions Back’. I knew straight away what a helicopter hovering over a hill meant. It appeared to lift three people up before flying off. I couldn’t help but think how lucky we are to have a service like this. It has no doubt saved many lives.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Day 5 Steps

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Day 5 Stats

11.33 Sweatcoins
– 49.93 Sweatcoins accumulated

13,524 steps
– 31,158 to go

9.5km
– 24.07 to go
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53,842 steps down, 31,158 to go! Finally over half-way!

Saturday 26th September – Day 6

I had big plans for a hike this day. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling sick and wasn’t really capable of doing anything but resting. And binge-watching some TV shows.

Sunday 27th September – Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge Day 7

I was still feeling unwell when I woke up, but I was also determined to finish the challenge. With nearly 25 kilometres left to finish, it was not going to be easy. Luckily, I live right near Lion Rock, so that was the target for the day.

Things started off well and the trail was surprisingly empty, despite it being a weekend day. This could’ve been because there was a strong chance of rain.

The rain held off until I was about three-quarters of the way up. This was disappointing because the mist obstructed the normally awesome views from that point.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Misty City View

There was a possibility that the mist could clear by the time I got to the top. I realised once I got within sight of the Lion’s Head that was not going to happen. It had actually gotten worse.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Misty Lion's Head

As you could imagine, by the time I got to the top, there was no view at all. Here’s what it should’ve looked like –

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. View From Lion Rock.

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Day 7 Stats

22 Sweatcoins
– 72 Sweatcoins Total

30,695 steps
– 84,537 Total

23.82km
– 64.75km Total
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Final Total – 84,537 steps or 64.75km and 72 Sweatcoins earned!

Considering I lost so much time to weather and illness, near enough is good enough for a victory photo, right?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Ups and Downs of the Planeterra Trek Challenge. Victory Photo 'On the Top of Mount Everest'

That’s totally me on Mount Everest. Or that’s me photoshopped on Mount Everest, courtesy of The Top Of Mount Everest. Who can really know for sure?

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Planeterra Trek Challenge

K in Motion Travel Blog. Planeterra Trek Challenge

Recent world events have affected almost everyone. Many of us have been left in uncertain positions due to government/school/business closures. The impact for some has been more devastating than it has for others. Especially for those in areas that have relied on tourism as their major income source. Of course, it can be really easy to get discouraged in times like these and I’ve got to admit that some days are worse than others. I’m lucky to have access to some of the best hiking trails in the world, so I’ve decided to put them to good use by joining the Planeterra Trek Challenge.

What is Planeterra?

Planeterra is a non-profit organisation that’s all about social enterprise in tourism. They are committed to positively impacting local communities and helping them derive sustainable income from tourism. In other words, they work to ensure that tourist money spent in communities goes to improving those communities. That starts from the grassroots by employing youth and empowering disadvantaged groups, such as women.

They believe in using tourism as a tool for wealth distribution. Planeterra’s Projects are currently running on all seven continents and in 51 countries. The projects are aimed at being the catalyst for change by empowering disadvantaged groups, like women and youth, preserving culture and protecting the environment. You can find out more about Planeterra and what they do on their website. They can also be found on Instagram,
Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook

What is the Planeterra Trek Challenge?

The Planeterra Trek Challenge is an event set up to fundraise for Planeterra projects in areas that have been affected by recent global changes. These projects include rebuilding community tourism in the places most adversely affected by tourism lockdowns. Myself and some fellow Nomads Giving Back have come together and we are planning to trek 65 kilometres to Everest Base Camp in the mountains of Nepal. Oh, did I mention virtually?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Planeterra Trek Challenge. Somewhere in Nepal

Obviously, we can’t make it to Nepal right now. Our plan for completing the challenge is to do our individual ‘treks’ in our own backyards. For me, that means climbing hills in ridiculous humidity and heat. For others, it means running around suburban streets in the cool of autumn. Our team of five is located all around the world, from Australia to South America and Asia. We each aim to do 85,000 steps in the week starting on Monday the 21st of September and ending on Sunday the 27th.

Want to help?

We’d be ever-grateful for any support that you could offer. You can support us by making a donation to our team via my fundraising page. Your donations will be matched, up to CA$25,000 by the Planeterra Foundation’s Founder Bruce Poon Tip. Can you help Planeterra reach its next milestone of $50,000?

We’d also love it if you could share this post with everyone you know. It’d even be cool if you could share it with people you don’t know. Any social media shares will be greatly appreciated! The more people that we can reach, the more help we can offer to those that need it the most. Doesn’t that sound like something that would be great to be a part of?

Encouraging comments are also welcome. I’m sure that spending a week climbing hills in 30°C temperatures at 80% humidity probably isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. It’s definitely not mine! So if you’d like to offer motivational quotes in the comments below, I welcome them. I mean, I’m sure I can do it. It’s just nice to hear other people say it, you know?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Trek Footprint

Follow the Story

During the week of the trek, I will endeavour to document the journey with fitness app screenshots, photos of scenery and funny anecdotes. There may even be videos. Some of them might end up on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. There will also be a round-up post of the whole Planeterra Trek Challenge next week. Keep an eye out for it.

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Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel

In the north of Israel, where it touches the Mediterranean sea, there is an amazing amount of history and nature to see. After exploring Galilee and it’s many religious sites along the Jesus Trail in Northern Israel I continued on to check out some historic and natural places to see in Northern Israel.

Three Faiths Lookout at Mount Precipice

Just 10 minutes out of Nazareth you will find yourself at the Three Faiths Lookout on the peak of Mount Precipice.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Three Faiths Lookout

If the name sounds familiar, it’s the hill where an angry mob tried to throw Jesus off. Legend has it that he then leaped 9 kilometres over to Mount Tabor, which gave rise to its Arabic name Jebel al-Qafzeh (mount of the leap).

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Mount Precipice Plaque

The peak offers awesome panoramic views of the Jezreel Valley below. It would probably be quite amazing at sunrise and sunset.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Jazreel Valley From Mount Precipice.

Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel – Haifa

Haifa in Northern Israel is a beautiful port town looking out on to the Mediterranean Sea.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. View over Haifa Port

One of the main attractions in the town, besides the sea, is the Baha’i Gardens.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Red and Purple Flowers at Baha'i Gardens

These gardens are set on several levels, with many places for quiet contemplation.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Waterfall at Baha'i Gardens

They even have a place for worship.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Place of Worship at Baha'i Gardens

You could easily spend an hour wandering around the gardens.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Baha'i Gardens Path

The best part is that despite their obvious beauty, the gardens were quite void of people. Which was lovely!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Baha'i Gardens

Another attraction is the Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) Monastery on Mount Carmel. Just down the road from the gardens.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Monastery Ceiling

Its current incarnation was opened in 1836 by the ‘Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel’, commonly known as the Carmelites.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Inside Stella Maris Monasery K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Stella Maris Monastery Interior

The history of the place is both sad and amazing. I’m not going to give too much away, but you can see some of it for yourself when inside.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Stella Maris History Under the Altar

And even outside you can find a memorial to those who helped defend the Carmelites.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Napolean Memorial at Stella Maris in Haifa

Historic Places to See in Northern Israel – Old Akko

Just 20 minutes north of Haifa is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements on Earth. It has been known by many names throughout its history but is currently known as Acre. When it was founded in the Bronze Age, it was known as Akko.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Akko Old City Waterfront Wall

It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and there are many ruins to be found around town.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Old Akko City

There’s even an old partially intact battlement with canons overlooking the sea.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Old Akko Battlement

Most people head to the Old Akko Market to get a little taste of yesteryear. The narrow, twisting and turning paths of the Market could easily lead you astray if you let them. Or you could just end up finding some really delicious food.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Old Akko Market

If you manage to find your way through the market, you might end up at the waterfront.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Whale at the Waterfront in Akko

There are a few overpriced restaurants near the waterfront, but if you keep walking past them, you can enjoy a view of Haifa Bay.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Haifa Bay

Natural Places to See in Northern Israel – Rosh Hanikra

Less than half an hour north of Akko is the beautiful coastal town of Rosh Hanikra. It’s set on cliffs high above the Mediterranean Sea. It is also on the Israeli border with Lebanon. But don’t think that means you can get a glimpse of Lebanon while you’re there. Given the animosity between Israel and Lebanon, the border is a no-go zone patrolled by UN peacekeepers.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Lebanon Border.

That means the big white fence marks the start of the buffer zone between the two countries instead of the actual border. Not far from there, you can find a steep cable car that descend to the Rosh Hanikra Grottoes.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Rocks Near Rosh Hanikra Grottoes

The area is known for its striking white cliffs and rock faces that are regularly kissed by the Mediterranean Sea. Over time, the power of the water caused caves to develop at the base of the cliffs.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Rosh Hanikra Grotto

You can walk around inside the caves and have a look around. There are several different caves, but the water is always amazingly blue.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Rosh Hanikra Cave

Even as the caves get darker, you can still marvel at the blue waters.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Dim Cave at Rosh Hanikra K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Dark Cave at Rosh Hanikra.

Natural Places to See in Northern Israel – The Golan Heights

The area spanning 1800 square kilometres east of the Sea of Galilee is known as the Golan Heights. Due to the fact that the area has been internationally recognised as Israeli occupied Syrian land since 1967, you could say you’ve been to Syria if you visit. Of course that’s not the main reason to visit. The place is scenically amazing.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Banias Waterfalls Sign

Firstly, there are the Banias Waterfalls in the Hermon Stream Nature Reserve. They are the biggest falls in Israel. The stream that creates the waterfalls is fed by glacial water from Mount Hermon, on the border of Lebanon and (occupied) Syria. Yes, glacial water! Isn’t it beautiful?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Hermon Stream.

There are four trails in the Reserve that contain natural and historical wonders. If you just want to see the falls, you can access them from the trail that starts at the Waterfalls Car Park.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Hermon Stream Trail

If you like hiking downhill, then you’ll love going to the falls. Just remember that you’ll need to walk back up that hill to get back to the car park. The site of the falls makes it all worth it though.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Banias Waterfalls

Natural Things to See in Northern Israel – Mount Bentai

A short distance from the Hermon Stream Reserve is a dormant volcano called Mt Bentai.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Mount Bentai Sign

You might be thinking this is just another hill, but it’s definitely a bit different! Firstly, there’s no climbing required. You can drive almost all the way to the top. Secondly, They have pizza.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Pizza Sign

Of course, the view over into Syria is pretty amazing too.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel.. View From Mount Bentai

They even have some art made out of some recycled materials.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel.  Mount Bentai Recycled Sculptures K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Recycled Sculpture at Mount Bentai

But things start getting a bit weird when you realise that there are barbed-wire fences with warning signs everywhere.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Looking Down From Mount Bentai

Then there’s this. Have you ever been on a hill that has a UN bunker on it? If that’s on your bucket list, then Mount Bentai is the place for you!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. UN Post on Mount Bentai

Just in case all the shenanigans on Mount Bentai confuse you, there are some signs to tell you where things are.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel. Signs on Mount Bentai

Read more about Israel here and here

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Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel

Even if you’re not religious, you might have heard people referring to Israel in Western Asia as the ‘Holy Land’. As you would expect, the north of the country is full of sites of religious significance. What you may not know is that it is also full of amazing nature. After checking out some interesting sites in Southern Israel, the next logical step was to explore some of the major religious sites and nature of Northern Israel.

Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel – Nazareth

As Israel is a relatively small country, it only takes around two hours to get from Tel Aviv in the south to Nazareth in the north. The change between the two cities is nothing short of amazing. You could be forgiven for thinking you had slipped into another country. Tel Aviv is a mainly Jewish city whereas Nazareth is known as the Arab capital of Israel. You may also have thought that the town would be full of Christians, given its biblical significance, but almost 70% of the population are Muslims.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Nazareth
Nazareth

Not to say that the residents in the south are unfriendly, because they’re not, but the north just seemed friendlier. Arabs were an almost invisible minority in the south, yet they seem to share a genuine camaraderie with people from other ethnic and religious groups in the north. You really get the sense that no one in the north cares about race or religion, which means the atmosphere is very welcoming. You can expect to be greeted like a long lost friend upon entering almost any restaurant or sweet shop in town.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Sweets in Nazareth
Sweets in Nazareth
Thoughts on Palestine in Nazareth

With such a huge Arab population in Nazareth there is definitely a lot of support for a two-state solution for occupied Palestine. Sometimes, you can even find people’s thoughts on the walls.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Nazareth Brings Us Together Mural K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Palestinian Remembrance Mural in Nazareth

Walking Into Another Century

Staying in the old town of Nazareth was like walking into another century. If you’ve heard any of the stories of Jesus in Nazareth, being there can make those stories come alive for you. The people of Nazareth from olden times must have been very fit. The old town is built on a hill, so if you want to get anywhere else in the city you’re going to have to walk up or down the hill. There is also no vehicular access to the old town, which makes it lovely to walk around!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Nazareth Old Town Passage K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Nazareth Old Town Passage With Decorations

The Jesus Trail – Combining the Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel

If you have not heard of the Jesus Trail, it’s a 65 kilometre hiking trail from Nazareth to Capernaum; ‘The Town of Jesus’. The route has 8 sections, from J1 to J8. It runs through many religious sites of importance that Jesus visited throughout his lifetime. I have to confess here that although I am aware of many of these religious sites, I am not actually religious. I wasn’t doing the Jesus Trail for the religious aspects, I just wanted to hike!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. The Jesus Trail.
https://jesustrail.com/about

J1 – Nazareth to Zippori

As the trail is quite long, I was only planning to do the first two sections; J1 and J2. The first section of the trail starts uphill from the old town of Nazareth.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Looking Down on Nazareth

At this point, you need to walk along a road to find the start of the trail. On the way, this shiny thing caught my eye.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Mosque in Nazareth on the Way to the Jesus Trail

The trail markers were painted on rocks or trees along the trail, but as I found out, some markers had been lost to the elements. Of course, I didn’t get lost at all because of missing markers. Nah uh. Not me!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Jesus Trail Marker

Full disclosure, I lost a bit of time trying to find some markers, but luckily someone had prepared a resting place for me!
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Sofas on the Jesus Trail

And I got to chat to some locals.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Cows on the Jesus Trail

Eventually, I made it to Zippori and it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere! I hadn’t seen another soul since I’d left Nazareth. Apparently, Zippori is the midway point between the Mediterranean coast and the Sea of Galilee. Jesus may have also done some work there.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Zippori National Park on the Jesus Trail.

It was hot and I wanted a bit of relief from the searing heat. So I went and spoke to the attendant for the Zippori National Park. I wanted to use his little booth’s shadow to shield me from the sun for a bit. He also gave me some cold water before I continued on my way. That was nice. You see, I actually had plenty of water, but the intense heat had made it almost too hot to drink.

J2 – Zippori to Cana

I continued along a very open trail with no shade as far as the eye could see.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Very Exposed Jesus Trail.

After an hour of that, I was on a ridge looking down on a farming settlement.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Farming Settlement in the Distance

Then a short while later, after passing through an eerily quiet village, I came across these structures.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Structures on the Jesus Trail

Having walked 16 kilometres in what I later found out was 40°C heat, I arrived in Cana around four hours after leaving Nazareth. I did not pass one single person on the trail or even bump into any people in the villages I went through. The locals were clearly smarter than me and were staying inside where it was cool. I may have been feeling a little bit like this guy.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Random Sad Ball on the Jesus Trail

Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel – Cana (Modern Kafr Kana)

If you’ve heard of Cana, you’ll know it’s famous for the first miracle and weddings. In fact, people come from all around the world to renew their wedding vows at the Wedding Church.
The Wedding Church in Cana

Right near the Wedding Church was another fenced in church. I guessed it was a church from it’s gate, but all I could really see was the fence. The fence had biblical inscriptions on it.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Scripture in Cana

Inside, the Wedding Church was a bit smaller than I had expected. Some of it was closed off and there were some ruins in another section.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Wedding Church in Cana K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Ruins in Cana.

Strangely enough, even though I’d walked 16 kilometres along the Jesus Trail to get to Cana, it was only a 5 kilometre walk back to Nazareth via the road. So Jesus could do miracles, but couldn’t walk in a straight line!

Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel in Galilee – Capharnaum/Capernaum

Another site of importance along the Jesus Trail is Capharnaum, the Town of Jesus. It is also the end of the Jesus Trail.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Capharnaum, The Town of Jesus

You have to pay a small fee to enter the ‘town’, but it is quite clearly well-tended. There are gardens and ruins.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Ruins and Gardens at Capharnaum K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Ruins at Capharnaum.

And more ruins.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Capharnaum Ruins K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Ruins in Capernaum

They even built the White Synagogue on top of the remains of the Jesus Synagogue.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. New Synagogue on the ruins of the Old One

The area is quite small, so you would need an hour at the very most. Just remember to go all the way to the back of the ruins to get this view.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. View at Capharnaum

Sea of Galilee

You’ve probably heard of the Sea of Galilee, but did you know it’s not a sea? Just like the other ‘sea’ in Israel, the Dead Sea, it is actually a lake. Before heading to the shore of the Sea of Galiee, I stopped at Mount Beatitudes where the Church of the Beatitudes has been built.

Jesus is said to have given the Sermon on the Mount there. One interesting thing about the hill is that it is the lowest peak in the world, at only 25m above sea level. It’s still 200m above the Sea of Galilee though. That means you get a pretty good view of the lake from the manicured gardens surrounding the church.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. View of the Sea of Galilee from Mount Beatitudes

But nothing beats dipping your toes in at shore level.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel. Sea of Galilee Shore

As you can see, there’s SO much to do and see in Northern Israel. So much, in fact, that it can not be contained by just one post! Stay tuned for the next installment; History and Nature in Northern Israel.

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Interesting Sites in Southern Israel

Known as the Holy Land by the practitioners of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Israel has been a focal point of many events throughout history. Come along on a trip to see some interesting sites in Southern Israel.

Thanks to Cathay Pacific Fanfares (weekly fare discounts) I had managed to snag myself a super cheap ticket for the carrier’s inaugural direct flight from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv. I was extraordinarily excited to be on the way to a place I’d heard so much about as a child. As the Holy Land for three major religions, Israel has always been a bit of a mystical fascination for me. My trip started off well when I had a whole row to myself on the plane. Being able to lay down on a 10 hour flight is awesome.

You may be aware that the mostly Muslim Palestinian Territories are currently occupied by Israel. Due to the issues between the two countries, everyone entering Israel gets thoroughly questioned. Apparently being a single female means that ‘thorough’ is taken to a whole new level. It’s uncomfortable and you get asked ridiculous questions. If you have stamps in your passport from countries with Muslim communities, like Indonesia and Malaysia, you get more questions. It’s a pain, but it’s just something you have to endure to be able to enter the country.

Interesting Sites in Southern Israel – Tel Aviv

Luckily, things get a whole lot nicer once you get out of the airport. The city was generally clean and beautiful.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Fountain in Tel Aviv

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Tel Aviv, but I found out almost instantly that it thinks of itself as the fun Israeli city.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Tel Aviv Plays

Judging by some of the things I saw while walking around, I would have to agree.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Funny Tshirts

I’d never thought of it as an artistic city, so it was surprising to see a fair amount of street art while walking around town. Who doesn’t love a bit of street art!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Street Art 1 K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Street Art 2

It seems that the contemporary art scene was alive and well in Tel Aviv.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Street Art 3 K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Street Art Sculpture

I was lucky to have some friends in Tel Aviv, that I’d met while travelling in India a few years beforehand. They took me along to a couple of underground performances. Art wasn’t the only thing happening around town. The annual Pride festival was also taking place.

Pride Festival

With the Pride festival going on, there were a lot of rainbow flags around town, both outside and inside.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Flag on the Street K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Flags in Market

As well as posters for current and upcoming events happening around the city.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Festival Poster K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Market Poster

It was a hot day and I had been walking for a while, so I decided to cool off in the Pride Market. I’m sure it was just a normal market with rainbow flags. Almost everything you could buy in the market came with a pride flag or two.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Mini Pride Flag

Including this strangely named, ridiculously large and slightly overpriced meal.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Bodybuilder Chicken K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Huge Meal

Interesting Sites in Southern Israel – Old Jaffa

There’s nothing like a walk into history after a satisfying meal, so I headed to Old Jaffa, the historical centre of the area. To be honest, it seems more commercial than historical these days. Although the narrow cobbled paths did have an old-timey feel to them, the buildings were mainly full of expensive seafood restaurants, galleries and souvenir shops.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Old Jaffa Clock Tower

The old Clock tower still stands and is quite impressive. It can be seen from many places within the old town, including Abrasha Park, above the old city. From Abrasha park, you can look over the city and out into the Mediterranean Sea. The park also contains the Wishing Bridge, complete with Zodiac sculptures along its railings. The idea being that you wish on your zodiac sign for your wish to come true.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel.

A walk over the bridge brings you closer to the ‘new town’ and more rainbows.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Pride Photo Frame

Then a walk through a tunnel brings you to a popular beach with modern Tel Aviv as its backdrop.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Tunnel to the Beach

Seems like a good place to relax for a bit, right?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. Beach in Tel Aviv

After an interesting few days in Tel Aviv, I headed to Northern Israel to discover its wonders. I’ll cover that trip in my next posts here and here. From the north, I made my way southeast to see one of the most interesting sites in Southern Israel; the Dead Sea.

Interesting Sites in Southern Israel – Kibbutz Ein Gedi on The Dead Sea

I had prearranged a stay in a Kibbutz called Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea. If you’ve never heard of a Kibbutz, it’s a collaborative community based on utopian and zionist ideals of equality. Basically, everyone contributes equally to the community and therefore shares everything that the community has. It’s quite amazing that so many of these mostly agricultural communities survived into the 21st century. Of course, some of them have moved with the times and now rely on manufacturing or tourism as their main source of income. Especially around the Dead Sea.

As I entered the Kibbutz, there were a few sculptures that gave a subtle nod to the community’s agrerian past. Obviously, a modern day Kibbutz looks much different to those of olden times. This one was like an oasis in a desert. You might know that the Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth, at around 420 metres below sea level. Ein Gedi is a little bit uphill from the ‘Sea’ where it is surrounded by desert mountains.

Interesting Sites in Southern Israel – The Dead Sea

I had travelled all that way to see the Dead Sea, which isn’t actually a sea at all. It is in fact the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. Pretty much everyone that goes there, does so to float in the lake. The high salt content makes swimming a little difficult and dangerous. My host, Ran told me that spending longer than 15 minutes in the water was a bad idea.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Interesting Sites in Southern Israel. The Dead Sea

Ran had taken me to a private beach on the shore of the Dead Sea that was owned by his Kibbutz. He had asked if I wanted to visit at night and that sounded amazing to me. The Israeli summer is hot and I’m not much of a beach person. We had the whole beach to ourselves and it was amazing to see the lights from Jordanian villages on the other side while floating under the stars!

What is Floating in the Dead Sea Like?

To be honest, it was kind of weird being in the lake. You feel it’s oddness as soon as you take your first steps into the water. It feels really weird between your toes. It also feels like the water is trying to push against you slightly as you go further into the lake. I could see why swimming wasn’t an option; it would take far too much energy. Floating in the lake was a rather odd sensation and I wasn’t too interested in staying in the water for too long.

As I exited the lake, I noticed that a thin film had developed on my skin that looked both greasy and dry at the same time. It’s very hard to explain and I rinsed it off as quickly as I could under a shower on the shore. Ran advised that it was important the rinse my swimming clothes straight away and wash them as soon as we got back to his place. Apparently, the salinity of the water can destroy the fibres of some clothes if left for too long.

I’m glad that I was able to find out first hand what the lake is like and even if it’s a bit weird, I’d still recommend it.

Keep an eye out for upcoming articles in this series –
Religious Sites and Nature of Northern Israel
Historic and Natural Places to See in Northern Israel
What is it Really Like in Palestine?
Cyprus
Canada

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The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Mini Waterfall on the Way to Ngardmau Waterfall

While most people have never heard of the Palau island chain in the Western Pacific Ocean, those that have probably know it for its diving. Palau is made up of nearly 350 islands, most of them uninhabited and untouched. These remote Micronesian islands are barely 1000 kilometres southeast of the Philippines, so you can imagine how beautiful they are. Join me on a whirlwind visit to the untouched pacific paradise of Palau and find out that the scenery isn’t all that’s beautiful about the place!

Planning a Trip to the Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

I had a long weekend and wanted to go somewhere new that was close to home. That was a bit of a problem seeing as I had been to almost every country within a 5 hour flight from home. Except for Palau that is. This beautiful country is only served by 3 airlines, so it required a little more planning than my normal trips.

First I looked into taking a charter flight with Palau Pacific Airways from Hong Kong to Palau’s only international airport in Koror. The problem was that this charter only ran on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That meant I would’ve had to stay for one day longer than my holiday. Plus it was HK$5000 for a 4 hour flight. The budget traveller in me was horrified at that price. I’ve flown twice the distance for less than that before!

I also found flights from Incheon in South Korea and Taipei in Taiwan, but they also came with a huge price tag and only ran once or twice a week. It was almost time to give up. Until I found regular flights to Koror from Manila in the Philippines.

That Moment You Realise Your Only Option is an Airline With a Terrible Reputation

The fare was reasonable and even with a flight to Manila factored in, still came in at under half the price of the charter. The problem was that the flight was operated by United Airlines. At the time they had a terrible reputation from a couple of incidents on their flights in the US. As it was my last resort to get to Palau, I bought the ticket hoping that United Airlines operated differently in Asia. It seems that they do.

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Manila to Koror Boarding Pass

Arriving in the Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

As you can imagine, the Palau International Airport in Koror is rather small. Only 3 airlines, United Airlines from Manila, Asiana Airlines from Incheon and China Airlines from Taipei, serve the airport. Palau Asia Pacific Airways (PAPA), the 2019 replacement for Palau Pacific Airways which became defunct in 2018, also runs charter flights from Hong Kong and Macau.

K in Motion Travel Blog. The Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Welcome to Palau

After alighting from the plane, I entered the second floor of the terminal building and had to walk downstairs to pass through immigration. When I received this form, I had a terrible feeling that things were going to take a long time.

K In Motion Travel Blog. Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau. Entry Card

I mean, do they really need to know my annual salary? For a weekend trip? Luckily, the officers were really friendly and barely even glanced at the form. That meant it was a rather quick and painless process.

Getting into Town

I had decided that I was going to walk the six kilometres into the town from the airport. I like walking and an hour of walking is not a big issue for me. I barely even made it to the road before a local picked me up and drove me into town.

His name was Lamz and he was a lovely man. When we got into town, he took me to the address of the place I had booked for the night, but it wasn’t there. It turned out that my accommodation was actually across the road, but the booking company had sent me the address for the admin building, which was of course empty in the early hours of the morning. Even though I had advised them of my arrival time. Besides that, I’m sure they would be aware of flight arrival times seeing as they run a guesthouse!

Settling in for the Night?

Lamz tried calling the phone number that I had for my accommodation, but there was no answer. He then searched the internet and found another number which also wasn’t answered. He then called some friends to see if they knew who ran the place. It was 3 am by that point, but nobody seemed to mind. He tried calling yet another number. Finally, someone answered and said that they would come and let me into my room at 8am, when they opened. Umm, okay.

Lamz offered to take me to his house to wait out the hours and rest a bit. I accepted, after I checked that I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. When we got there, one of Lamz’s housemates was still awake and started trying to fatten me up with local food. I was pretty sleepy by that point so after a short chat Lamz showed me to a bed I could rest in for a while.

A New Day, A New Adventure

When I woke up, Lamz took me back to my accommodation where I was finally able to check in. Lamz said that he would take me to the airport for my departing flight the next day because he had a long weekend as well. He also offered to be my chauffeur and take me anywhere I wanted to go. I had already planned to meet someone that day, so he just took me to the pre-arranged meeting place. He also gave me his old phone to use to call him in case I needed help. What an amazing guy, right?!

Before heading to Palau, I’d gotten in contact with a lady named Yawen. She visited Palau once and loved it so much that she decided to go back there to live. I had planned to meet her at ‘the mall’. Koror is so small that everyone knows that ‘the mall’ means the WCTC Shopping centre. Yawen had been able to borrow her work van to drive me around for the day.

Driving in the Untouched Pacific Paradise of Palau

There are a few quirky things about driving in Palau. Firstly, they drive righthand drive cars, mainly imported from Japan, on the righthand side of the road. While it felt super weird to be sitting on the ‘driver’s side’ as a passenger, it didn’t really feel unsafe as the maximum speed limit in Palau is 40km/h. Plus the roads are quite wide with great visibility.