Browsed by
Category: attractions

Vietnamese Water Opera

Vietnamese Water Opera

Or water puppets, as they call them.

First developed from bored peasants in the paddy fields of north Vietnam, this is one of the unique attractions you might find in Hanoi.

The main stage is locate by the north corner of Hoan Kiem lake.

Showings start at 3pm, so there is no point in showing up any earlier.

Trip to yellow mountain – Huangshan Hot Springs

Trip to yellow mountain – Huangshan Hot Springs

You’ll find the Huangshan Hot Springs a short ride down from the west entrance to the park.

Buy a ticket on the bus for 8 yuan. Alternatively , walk down , it’s 1.5km and signposted.
I’d done enough walking for the day.°

Hot Springs Roman Bath
Hot Springs Roman Bath

Best Western – Huangshan Hot Springs

These springs are run by Best Western. A hotel chain that Franchises residences worldwide.
They aren’t the best hotels, but they do have a good general standard. Some of them are in unusual locations, like this one, and the quality is generally good.

There were a selection of 8 different pools, all fed from the natural hot springs at the foot of the mountains. Each spring had a different property introduced by the owner. There was —

Citrus Spring – Infused with lemon and other citrus. The spring was said to introduce the natural vitamin C through the skin. 38°C

Tea Spring – Infused with green tea. Didn’t see any leaves. Felt like a normal spring. Said to aid the dissolution of anti-oxidants in the skin. 40°C.

Sand bath – Basically, pebbles of sand in a deep pool of hot, sulphourus spring water.

Fish Spring – Filled with tiny living fishies. The fishies come up and eat your dead skin. You have to be careful as not to stand on the little blighters when you get in. Tickles at first. This was definitely fun, and something I’ve not seen before. 40°C

Hot Springs Fish Pool
Hot Springs Fish Pool

Hot Spring – Just a normal hot spring. 40°C.

Monkey Spring – Hot with a large monkey pouring out water on the Chinese below… Hot 40+°C.

Roman Spring – In a Roman style. Large and opulent. 38°C

Roman Bath – In a circular ‘bath’ style. 30+°C

As well as the facilities which included a steam room and sauna, (my favorite).

Came out of here feeling a lot better for my soak. Took the taxi down to town which cost another 20 yuan.

Comes well recommended if you happen to be up that way.


Religious sites in Egypt/Jordan/Israel

Religious sites in Egypt/Jordan/Israel

I intend to keep this up to date; giving clear GPS fixes of the most important religious sites in Egypt.

Mount Sinai
Where Moses received the ten Commandments.

mount sinai @ dawn

Located: 28.539 33.975

Monastery of St. Anthony
The oldest surviving monastery.


Located: 28.936 32.352

Towns of Sodom & Gomorrah
God’s destruction upon early buggers.

View Larger Map

Dead Sea Scrolls
Testament by the Essenes to the Second Coming of Christ. 

Located: 31.77369 35.2039

Church of the Nativity
Site of the Birth of Christ


Located: 31.70431 35.20736

Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Site of the death of Christ


Located: 31.77802 35.22980

Church of the Nativity – Bethlehem

Church of the Nativity – Bethlehem

KML 31.70431 35.20736

Or Bet Lehem if you are catching a bus.

This is one of the most sacred cites for X-tians as it represents the spot where Jesus was brought into this world through the virgin Mary.

I travelled up here by taxi which cost 60Nsi.


There are no buses all the way and the taxi driver tells me it’s violent compared with Jerusalem a 10 minute journey away.


Again, like the Church of the Sepulcher, this was built in the rule of Constantine.

The site demarks some caves on which the initial basilica was built and further expanded and embellished at the time of the crusades.

Again, like the Sepulcher, it is divided up and in generally poor condition.


Doesn’t stop the tourists.

Downstairs you have a star demarking the actual site of Christ’s birth, then you have a marble shelf right representing the manger where the child was situated.

It’s all very interesting and touching, and after a while of reflection, I make my way upstairs.

The church is situated in the West Bank and is Palestinian.

You will need a passport if you want to travel here.

Jerusalem – Old City

Jerusalem – Old City

So much to see within the City Walls, it’s an experience in itself.

Old City is built in a valley, made up of a series of walkways, divided to 4 quarters reflecting the religious persuasion of that sections inhabitants.

I’ve devoted my attention to visiting the three most important sites in Jerusalem Old City:-

  • Jews – The Wailing Wall [Part of the Holy Temple of David site of the Holy Holies]
  • Christians – The Church of the Sepulcher [Built on the site of the Crucifixion]
  • Muslims – The Dome of the Rock

Jews – The Wailing Wall or Western Wall

KML 31.77607 35.23377

Originally making up part of Temple one for David, this Western wall is all that remains of the structure after being sacked by Titus Caesar of the Roman Empire, leaving a small part of the temple wall to give camp to his troops.

It is said that God offered his protection to the Temple in Midrash saying it would never be destroyed for when water ran from between it’s cracks, it symbolised the coming of the Messiah.

Jews approach the wall whilst bowing and kissing, some place hand written notes in the cracks. When they are finished bowing, kissing and praying they must back away still facing the structure.

This is tradition.

Western Wall – Wailing Wall

Christians – The Church of the Sepulcher

KML 31.77802 35.22980

Built on Golgotha site of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ around 333 by Emperor Constantine and the Bishop Saint Macarius. The church was fully destroyed in 1009 Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah and Control of Jerusalem, and thereby the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, continued to change hands several times between the Fatimids and the Seljuk Turks (loyal to the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad) until the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099.

The church fell back under Muslim control after Saladin who assigned responsibility for it to two neighbouring Muslim families. The Joudeh were entrusted with the key, and the Nusseibeh, who had been the custodians of the church since the days of Caliph Omar in 637, retained the position of keeping the door. This arrangement has persisted into modern times. Twice each day, a Joudeh family member brings the key to the door, which is locked and unlocked by a Nusseibeh.

Status Quo

In 1555 the Franciscan monks completed a transformation and a power struggle broke out within the various Christian factions for overall control of the site.
Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox all jockeyed for power and rights, resulted in common area’s becoming a ‘no mans land’ where Status Quo reigned, no work is undertaken, and conflict, often violent, is regular.

Divided into different sections, you may want to take a guide, although the church still has impact without it and is graced with many thousands of visitors every day.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Inscription in the Triportico

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher

Pulpits – Rock of the Calvary

Golgotha – The Rock of Calvary – Site of the Death of Jesus

Muslims – Dome of the Rock

KML 31.77607 35.23377

This Golden Dome is only accessible by Muslims. Heavily guarded, you will find most of the hostility surrounds this structure and it’s construction on one of the most holy sites of the Jews.

It is the oldest extant Islamic building in the world built in 691 on the spot where Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven.

The dome is said to have been inspired by the other basilicas around the city, and initially built using 20,000 gold pieces “whose shine could not be witnessed by the bare eye”.

Non-Muslims are not allowed into this section.

Dome of the Rock

These are the main sites, though there are many, many more.

You should spend a few days trying to discover them all.

Israel Museum

Israel Museum

KML 31.77369 35.2039

Located in West Jerusalem in amongst the government buildings, rose gardens and bird watching sanctuaries, the museum of Israel has a small number of exhibits of particular interest.

Airy breaking up


You could be forgiven for thinking you were in an ornamental gardens for there seems to be a certain pride here for all things green. but the gardens are light and airy breaking up the different sections of the museum.

The ‘all in good time exhibition’ – Art

An art exhibition drawn from private collections and national galleries documenting the ‘all in good time’ .
There are a number of works of art which have looked at different aspects of Israeli life, some videos which you can sit and watch on your own in quite auditoriums, large two story sculpture of Ethiopian Jews to the backdrop of various smaller works on canvas through different mediums and different countries.

Perhaps by selecting the best of Jewish art, a lot of the stuff is ethnic, culturally original and diverse making it easy to wander round without hurrying from piece to piece, perhaps why they called it the ‘all in good time exhibition’.

Live Model of Jerusalem

Model of Jerusalem

A to scale model of the old city of Jerusalem with the important landmarks belie the cities ethnic divisions, Golgoroth the site of Jesus’s execution and other bits and pieces like the Temple and battlements various pools, theatres, houses, stately buildings. Mostly Hellenistic built around the time of Herod.

For this part, you can get an audio guide. Handheld, this can give you some handy information backed up with a map free of charge.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Probably one of the most important discoveries of the century, parts of dead sea scrolls were available in markets across Asia minor from the periods of the first crusades and before. The old testament is based on them.

The major period of interest was sparked in the discovery of a number of text attributed to the Essenes, documenting the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah, in a cave in 1947, said to be part of true and original scripts of which there were 1,000.

These are the only publicly available exhibits in existence.

The Isaiah Script and the Temple Scroll that lie here in the museum basically talk about:

  • The Children of the Light
  • The Children of the Dark
  • The Son of Truth or Righteousness
  • The Wicked Priest
  • The Man of Lies

These are excerpts from the original scripts of Isaiah –

“And, on the whole, from among those who profess to be Christians will rise up then false prophets, false apostles, impostors, mischief-makers, evil-doers, liars against each other, adulterers, fornicators, robbers, grasping, perjured, mendacious, hating each other. The shepherds will be like wolves; the priests will embrace falsehood; the monks will lust after the things of the world;”

“For great jealousy will prevail in the last days, for each will say what seems pleasing in his own eyes. And they will set aside the prophecies of the prophets, which were before me and also pay no attention to these my visions, in order to speak forth from the torrent of their heart.”

Of 1,000 scripts found, those scripts that didn’t fall into the hands of untraceable private dealers were governed by a ‘Secrecy Rule’ up until 1991, when Robert Eisenman and James Robinson published a number of documents followed by Dutch scientist Emanuel Tov laying bare 7 of the scrolls, after which the rule was scrapped and those scripts that are available are mostly published in part, or in the case of the Isaiah Script and the Temple Scroll, in full.

Plenty of links out there, use

Be kind to Strangers – The Tale of Sodom and Gomorrah

Be kind to Strangers – The Tale of Sodom and Gomorrah

Perhaps this is a story for Israeli Intelligence who striped me and swabbed my stuff for 6 hours on my first entry to Israel.


The Tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is based on two towns of around the dead sea basin. Now no longer in existence.

It goes a little something like this..

Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Jude 1:7

The inhabitants were especially cruel and unkind when strangers visited, if they were too short for their beds they would be stretched to fit. And if they were too long, their legs were shawn off.

As well as this, they had a particular jealous streak and sought to violate and destroy the looks of young boys subjecting them to sodomy, cruelty and violence onto the flesh to lessen their natural beauty.

A pretty cruel and jealous bunch, God, through the Jews, said he was going to destroy the villages unless they, Lot and his sons, could find ten good men.
Through days of searching, they found not 50, 40 or 30 but just one good man in the whole of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Don’t do backwards

God instructed Lot to leave as he had done his bidding, he would be spared.

With his wife, they were instructed to leave the city, and never turn back.

Unfortunately, on the road away from the city, Lot’s wife turned to view the fire and brimstone which was reigning down on the two cities bringing about their destruction.

God, in his wrath turned her to a pillar of salt.

Lot’s Wife –

Now this country is then so sadly burnt up, that nobody cares to come to it… It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that divine fire; and the shadows of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits, which fruits have a colour as if they were fit to be eaten: but if you pluck them with your hands, they will dissolve into smoke and ashes

The Wars of the Jews, book 4, chapter 8.

The sites of Sodom and Gomorrah

Are slightly more difficult to locate than the background text.

You’re going to need and Israeli visa and enter from the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge checkpoint

View Larger Map

I’ve marked the two sites on a map. I’ve not been able to visit today, but the story’s a nice one.