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A Place Called Palestine

- by Alice Yu - 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to not have the freedom to travel the world, or even to travel within your own country? I asked myself these questions when I visited a place called Palestine.

When planning our adventure to Israel with my travel buddy, we were recommended to take a tour to the West Bank during our stay. It was a crisp October morning in Jerusalem; we were first greeted by our smiley guide as we entered our mini bus. We drove through one of the check points, this felt like a door to another world - filled with warmth, hospitality and faith.

It all began where Christ was born, Bethlehem; at the Church of Nativity. Walking into one of the oldest Churches in the world, you were immediately welcomed with the unique smell of frankincense. Our guide introduced us to the security guard who was Palestinian Christian; Christians make just over 1% of the religion with the majority being Muslims. The benevolent guard was proud to highlight to us as he flung his arms around our guide “he’s Muslim, I’m Christian, and he’s my friend; we live in peace”.

The 8 metre high grey walls stretching approximately 700km long, cannot be ignored; a barrier separating Israel and Palestine. On the walls you will notice politics, poetry and art as a form of expression, “make hummus not walls’’. More notably, one of Banksy most famous graffiti is found in Bethlehem ‘Rage flower thrower’ to name one. Banksy opened a hotel in 2017, The Walled Off, cannot be missed located a metre away from the Wall. Dubbed the world’s worse view. The hotel showcases beautiful art from local artists; I found this extremely encouraging and progressive.

Hebron, we were shown images of once a bustling town full of street vendors and busy bazaars, today you’ll find a ghost town and souless streets, it was quite hard to believe the difference and change. Within the town is located one of the most important holy sites for Judaism and Islam; better known as the Cave of Patriots for Jews, and Ibrahim Mosque to Muslims. Whilst being looked after by a local Palestinian family, we were treated to lunch called Magluba, best described as upside down chicken and rice casserole. It was delicious and fresh; something that can be easily replicated at home.

Our day trip into Palestine was a humble and an unforgettable one, a universal experience of eating and sharing our stories of travel, home and aspirations, a reminder that we’re all just humans. Our day ended with Knafeh, a famous sweet pastry filled with cheese; don't leave without trying this.

Travel broadens the mind without a doubt; it can also bring a sense of perspective into your life. Palestine is one of the most inspiring destinations to visit and understand; I left feeling overwhelmed by the hospitality and learnt never to take freedom for granted as I am fortunate enough to travel this beautiful world we live in.

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