Jesus was born in Bethlehem, according to biblical references and Christians world over flock to this place for a visit.
It is also revered by Jews as the “birthplace and home town of David, King of Israel, as well as the traditional site of Rachel’s Tomb (on the outskirts of the town)”.
I overheard someone said Bethlehem is the center for Christianity, birthplace of Jesus AS. The tour guide told us we will be seeing the separation wall here. I was so pumped!
Just when my energy level went up, my camera battery went out! Even my phone died on me. Thanks, technology. Can we have chargeless gadgets soon?
It was quite a long journey – probably more than an hour, almost two. I don’t remember much else.
It wasn’t as hot as Jericho but not cold either. Temperature was around 30 degree Celsius when I was there.
Other tour groups were already there when we reached. No interaction with locals, of course.
We were all famished even before leaving Jericho! I forgot the name of this Palestinian meal. Starts with letter M, I think.
When we were settling down at the table, I felt the need to ask the tour guide if the food was halal. He irritatedly replied, “Of course, we are muslims”. I felt like throwing a chair at him. He told us he drank alcohol. How am I supposed to know if he observes halal eating as well? Plus, the restaurant sells alcohol.
The rice look like briyani but it didn’t taste like briyani , my brain and tastebuds got confused. LOL!
But seriously…imagine eating durian that tastes like banana. How would you feel?
Anyway, rice stuffed with lots of chicken, OF COURSE!
I must’ve lost my camera here. Maybe I didn’t take it with me when we were leaving. I didn’t lose much – just a lot of videos of beautiful scenery and some memories.
The Church of the Nativity
We got a local tour guide here.
This is a basilica built over a cave that Jesus was said to be born in. There’s several sections of this church:
We had to pass through a low door to enter the church. The tour guide explained that upon entering the church, you are actually bowing down in respect. This is called the “Door of Humility”. Cool but I pity the tall ones.
Basilica of the Nativity
After the low door, we entered the basilica. We came to this site, peeping through the wooden floor. This is the original mosaic built during Constantine time.
“I saw a muslim in this tour group,” the tour guide called out. Raised up my hand and he explained something about some Islamic history in relation to the church. Seriously, I don’t remember what he said now but when he said it I knew what he was talking about and I was nodding vigorously to whatever he was saying. I think he was talking about Khalifah Umar RA, not too sure. Anyway, I felt so welcomed!
Grotto of the Nativity
According to Christian traditions, this is where virgin Mary (Maryam) delivered Jesus AS. This grotto was located at a lower level than the basilica. It was really dark in here.
I was observing the people taking pictures with the silver star when some people asked if I’d like to take a picture there too.
I felt kinda touched. Felt like they understand that Jesus or Prophet Isa AS is part of Islam too.
However, I declined several times – I’m no fan of queuing. Plus, it was too dark, we were in a tiny cave and the Christian tourists were praying there. So they should be given priority.
Church of St. Catherine
This is the Roman Catholic church dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, a princess and scholar who accepted Christianity when she was 14 years old and died a martyr.
However, there were some disputes over her existence.
At the end of the tour (just of the church), I felt my brain burning with information overload. I’ve never read up on Christianity (in depth) and Jesus’s life, so everything was new info for me and I couldn’t process much of it.
This is on a run down area. There were cars parked in front of it. The tour guide dropped us off for maybe 5 minutes to take pictures and we’re off again.
The Separation Wall
I was surprised that it sits on a small, working street. We had to look out for vehicles while taking pictures.
The graffiti were incredible! As an art form, it’s perfect. As a political message, on point!
The experience was eye opening. I can’t decipher the fact that there’s a woman out there, just like me, living under occupation. It’s 2016, a year in the so-called modern times and yet there are people living in war, the oldest game in human history.
It was a super long stretch. We got to the end of the street and we were given spray canisters to put our mark on the wall. I had the urge to spray out my thoughts but I reeled in.
I was nervous – I have never spray painted before and because I’m an irritating perfectionist, I’d hate to see ugly work done. Also because I was nervous about getting my thoughts, emotions and opinions out there for everyone to see. Now I wish I did.
Maybe one day I’ll go back and do it, right now I’d have to practice spray painting. Or maybe one day when I go back, the wall is gone.
So much to learn from this trip.
I wish we went to Mosque of Omar (not to be confused to the one in Jerusalem) but we were in a tour group and this was not part of the tour. I think it should – it was just opposite of the Church of the Nativity.
There are some other attractions here like Solomon’s Pools and Herodium which can be interesting.
If I could, I would’ve spent about a day or two in Bethlehem alone.
Should you wander to Bethlehem, Palestine? Yes!
- Read up on Christianity and Jesus first before coming, to avoid info overload
- Spray on the separation wall
- Visit the Mosque of Omar
- If you can and confident enough, don’t join a tour. Do it yourself, you can cover more attractions
- Tour price: $135, 12hrs duration including travel time, Ramallah-Jericho-Bethlehem
- Lunch with 1 soft drink: $15, not included in the tour price
*All prices are in SGD (estimate).