ISRAEL (Day 0. MNL ✈ HKG ✈ TLV): “En route to the Holy Land” @BoSanchez @IsraelTourism

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-83.jpgWe joined Bro. Bo Sanchez’s “Receive Your Miracle” 10-Day Pilgrimage to the Holy Land last February 2014. It’s a life-changing and blessed experience that every Christian should do at least once in their lifetime. It’s best to go with your special someone and a great opportunity to renew your vows.

This Holy Week, I’ll be sharing with you a photo essay of our day-to-day experience throughout the pilgrimage. May these photo essays bless you and inspire you to go to Holy Land one of these days.

Let’s start with the beginning of our journey, from Manila to Israel…

PILGRIMAGE ORIENTATION

IMG_0559.jpg
A week before the trip, we had a pilgrimage pre-departure orientation at the Century Plaza Hotel, which started with the Holy Mass.

Pilgrimage Orientation-2.jpg
Bro. Bo highlighted the mantra throughout the trip: “I am a Pilgrim, NOT a Tourist”. A Pilgrim is on a prayer quest to discover the Lord and His message for him in his life by following Jesus’ footsteps in the Holy Land, while a Tourist is on a trip to see the sights, sounds, and flavors of Israel.

IMG_0562.jpg
A simple merienda with coffee and tea was served during the orientation.

Pilgrimage Orientation-8.jpg
The Pilgrimage Travel expectations and itinerary were discussed. The plane tickets, song books, and travel guides were given with freebies from the travel agency, Executive Resources, Inc. 

NOTE: I was pleasantly surprised that there is no VISA required to travel to Israel.

IMG_0561.jpg
We were a total of 140+ pilgrims and were grouped into 3 buses — Blue, Green, and Orange. We had a chance to meet our Blue busmates, who became our friends during and after the trip. 

 

MANILA ✈ HONGKONG

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-1.jpg
We took the closest direct flight to Israel via Hong Kong. PAL flight PR300 leaves Manila at 08.00am and arrives in Hong Kong at 10.15am. Some would usually go via Egypt or Dubai, which is relatively cheaper but also a bit longer.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-6.jpg
The pilgrims are a mix of religious people, married couples excited to renew their vows, and families who want to experience the Holy Land together.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-7.jpg
We were blessed to go on this trip with Bro. Bo and his beautiful wife Marowe Sanchez, and our broker friend Ethel with husband Lito de Guzman.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-12.jpg
After arrival in Hong Kong, we proceeded to the W1 EL AL Airline transfer desk for the security checks before boarding our flight to Israel.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-17.jpg
It would take a couple of hours for all the pilgrims to be processed at the transfer desk.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-19.jpg
We were warned about the strict security measures implemented by EL AL. They would interview you about who packed your bags and your travel itinerary.

TIP: You can also register for the frequent flyer program of EL AL online at elal.co.il.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-23.jpg
A case in point, the travel agency gave a free travel bag to all the pilgrims and EL AL insisted that we check those in, probably because there were a lot of bags that looked alike and they were given by someone else.

NOTE: Since there is no travel visa needed for Israel and because of their political situation, their security measures can be characterized as extreme in nature. Better safe than sorry.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-22.jpg
You have to make sure that your bags are checked in all the way to Tel Aviv and not just HK. Otherwise, you would have to pickup your luggage and check it in manually at the EL AL desk.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-25.jpg
After you get your EL AL boarding passes, you can proceed to the boarding gates in the departure area.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-30.jpg
The boarding gates are located in Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1, which have boring shops. Sadly, there’s no time to go to Terminal 2. 

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-26.jpg
So we decided to go to the paid premium lounge because I needed to publish a blog post about Valentine’s before our Israel trip.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-28.jpg
The Plaza Premium Lounge on Level 6 of Terminal 1 costs HK$ 400/person, with decent Chinese meal options available and most importantly, a reliable and fast WiFi connection.

Before we left for Tel Aviv, we had a pilgrim community prayer and worship for a safe voyage.

 

HONG KONG ✈ TEL AVIV

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-33.jpg
Here’s the economy seat view of EL AL, which is the flagship carrier of Israel. EL AL Flight LY076 left Hong Kong at 9.00pm and we braced ourselves for the 10-hour and 55-minute flying time.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-34.jpg
The seats were a bit cramped, the video screens small, and the movie selections just OK. I was expecting a more hi-tech cabin from a flagship carrier.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-35.jpg
Make sure you read the lifestyle articles in Atmosphere magazine and bring your own book to accompany you throughout the trip.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-38.jpg
We were served dinner upon departure from Hong Kong, with the usual fruits, vegetables, bread, dessert, and main dish.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-39.jpg
This is my first certified kosher meal for the trip, a good preview of what food in Israel is all about.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-36.jpg
Try to stay awake throughout the flight to adjust your body to Israel time and minimize jet lag.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-54.jpg
Before arrival, they serve an omelet with cheese, vegetables, fruits, and bread for breakfast.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-55.jpg
The flight arrives at 10.55pm in Tel Aviv. Philippine time is ahead by 6 hours.

 

TOUCHDOWN TEL AVIV

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-60.jpg
It was a bit cold when we arrived in Tel Aviv, with an estimated temperature of 9-16 C or 48-60 F.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-62.jpgAt this point, I still couldn’t believe that my wife and I were realizing our dream to visit the Holy Land together.

Day 1- Kosher Breakfast and Nazareth  Our Awesome Planet-93.jpg
I don’t usually like joining big tour groups because it’s harder to get to know everyone.

Day 1- Kosher Breakfast and Nazareth  Our Awesome Planet-92.jpg
Fr. Jose Joel Jason led us in the Thanksgiving Prayer for finally arriving in the Holy Land!

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-61.jpg
This elevator was the first to greet us with “Welcome to Israel”. 🙂

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-65.jpgAs you walk along, you’ll arrive at this view of the shops in the departure area.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-70.jpg
This is the long ramp down to the Immigration Area.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-73.jpg
Make sure to travel with a good wheeled luggage. 

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-76.jpg
This is the Immigration Area. Make sure to ask the officer not to stamp your passport.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-79.jpg
You will be given a barcoded access pass…

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-80.jpg
…which you would need to scan to pass through these gates. 

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-81.jpgWe were greeted by the tour guide from VERED Hasharon, which is the travel agency partner of Executive Resources in Israel.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-82.jpg
Welcome to Israel! 🙂

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-84.jpgThis is where you claim your bags after passing through Immigration.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-86.jpg
As you get out of the terminal, you’ll be greeted by this grand welcome lobby.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-88.jpg
There is limited WiFi access throughout the trip, so you can get a local sim or WiFi access here.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-92.jpg
We exhanged $100 for 324.30 shekels. We realized later on that we only needed shekels in Tiberias. It would be better to use Dollars in Jerusalem and throughout most of the trip so no need to exchange your USD. If you want to, just exhange $20.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-90.jpg
We were eager to board our BLUE bus and check-in to our hotel.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-91.jpg
Our bus was clean, comfortable, and has good leg room.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-94.jpgWe met our funny Jewish tour guide who explained the expectations for the trip.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-93.jpg
To manage the check-ins, they already gave us our key cards on the bus so that we could proceed directly to our rooms.

 

KFAR MACCABIAH HOTEL & SUITES, TEL AVIV

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-51.jpg
The art installation infront of the hotel reads:

Judah ben Teima used to say: “Be strong as the leopard, swift as the eagle, fast as the gazelle,
and brave as the lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven.”  

Donated by Marta & Guiora Esrubilsky.

In memory of the fallen in the wars of Israel, as heritage to our childen and grandchildren and as a mark of respect for our parents. 

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-41.jpg
This is the main lobby of Kfar Maccabiah Hotel, which was the best hotel throughout our trip.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-42.jpgLuggage stickers were given for those who wanted to have their bags delivered to their room.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-43.jpg
There was traffic going up to our rooms because of the small elevators so it was best to take the stairs.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-44.jpg
The narrow hallway leading to room 409.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-45.jpgWe had a nice spacious room with a queen bed.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-46.jpg
They served dinner in the room, which was wasted because we were still full and it was midnight already.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-48.jpg
The best restroom in our trip.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-58.jpg
The toiletries in the room. Best to bring your own soap, shampoo, and conditioner.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-53.jpg
The plugs in Israel are with the two rounded prongs so make sure you bring an adaptor.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-47.jpg
WiFi is not free. I had to pay $20 for one day of reliable, fast, and stable internet connection.

Day 0- Manila - Hongkong - Israel  Our Awesome Planet-57.jpg
View of Tel Aviv from Room 409.

To be continued…   

HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE with BRO. BO SANCHEZ

Live an Awesome Life,

Anton
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 

Disclosure: We paid for our Holy Land Trip. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here

P.S. The Next Holy Land Pilgrimage by Bro. Bo Sanchez is on February 10-19, 2015. For more info, you can email Tita Beckie at Beaconlightevents+pilgrimage@gmail.com

P.P.S. The pilgrimage tour costs P340,108 (exchange rate P44.65 – $1) for a couple, broken down into the following:

  • Tour Cost: $2,995.00 x 2 = $5,990
  • Airline/ Other Taxes: $495 x 2 = $980
  • Tip Fund: $100 x 2 = $200
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: $130 x 2 = $260
  • Travel Insurance: $45 x 2 = $90
  • Philippine Travel Tax: P1,620 x  2 = P3,240
  • Airport Tax: P550 x 2 = P1,100

Note: There’s a $300/person non-refundable reservation for the trip, which is deductable from the total amount.

Overall, the Pilgrimage tour with Bro. Bo Sanchez is relatively more expensive than the other pilgrimage trips organized with Executive Resources. But it is the best experience for us because of The Feast (Community Worship Gathering) and the Feast Builders who make the trip awesome. 🙂 

TIP: You can decide to book your own airfare if you plan to visit other countries after your pilgrimage.

9 thoughts on “ISRAEL (Day 0. MNL ✈ HKG ✈ TLV): “En route to the Holy Land” @BoSanchez @IsraelTourism

  1. Nice… ganda!!
    “This is the immigration area and make sure to ask the officer not to stamp your passport.”
    Anton bat sasabihin pa na wag tatakan yung passport? Hindi ba alam un ng immigration na hindi na tatatakan? O__O. In case maligaw ako sa Tel Aviv tapos e stamp nila yung passport ko, ano kaya mangyayari sakin. hahaha 😀

  2. Nice blog on your departure and arrival times in Israel. It brings back memory of my visit to Israel last year. 😀

  3. Anton thank you for posting this. I really appreciate how you presented every detail of your trip and even the cost. It was also my dream and my husband’s to have a pilgrimage at the Holy Land and of course with Bro. Bo because we are also a Feast attendees and servants (my husband a lay minister and 2 kids are altar boys). Now I have an idea how much we will save up for this trip but I think it would take us some years pa 🙂 I’m really excited with your next posts on this.
    God bless!

  4. Hello,
    Re
    “This is the immigration area and make sure to ask the officer not to stamp your passport.”
    Is there a reason why we need to request not to stamp on the passport? What if they stamp if, what will happen?
    Thanks,
    Ryan

  5. Great photo essay Anton, love to meet you one of these days. 🙂 My husband and I went to Israel two years ago. I totally agree, it’s a trip of a life time. Imagine experiencing walking the path of the life journey of Jesus. I celebrated my birthday there, no parties but a date with me, my inner self, together with my husband and walking a spiritual path.
    Re stamp on the passport, it looks like Israel already have a new system in place. Two years ago it was not like that. We heard from others not to have our passport stamped but I was over-excited and feeling tired. We forgot to mention to custom official not to stamp our passports.
    Apparently, if you have any evidence in your passport of having visited Israel, you can be denied entry or have some hassles in few countries, like UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Lebanon, Iran, Libya, Sudan, other Arab countries including Syria. So our passports got stamped. We spent three weeks in Israel and crossed border to Bethlehem. I don’t mind going back to Israel again someday. I will just keep traveling until my current passport got filled up or expired which ever comes first before thinking of going to above mentioned countries if ever. For those who are thinking of going – go for it, it’s a life-changing trip. Joining Pilgrimage is one way to travel, very organized, structured, airline and hotel discounts, you have sense of community, you pay and every details is taken cared for. There are other ways to get there and also enjoy the trip if money is really an object. For the more adventurous ones, do a little bit of research. Check “Couchsurfing.org” organization. You’ll meet wonderful people and learn more about local culture too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *