Dead Sea (Israel / Palestine)

Floating on a lake with an unusually high salinity, seeing the gray-brown rocky mountains in the distance. When closed my eyes, the history of this land permeates my body.

This is the lake, not sea, located between Israel / Palestine and Jordan. The name is the sea, but by definition, the lake must be correct. Ein Gedi, the most famous beach on the Dead Sea, will enter from Jerusalem. Personally, the Dead Sea is close to Jerusalem, and the “Dead Sea Scrolls” found in the area come to my mind, so I imagine it as a religious place.

The Dead Sea is famous for its high salinity, which will lift your body when it enters the water. I think many people have seen photos and videos of reading while floating on their backs and holding a book.

I have visited the Israeli side twice, but in 1990 I took a local bus from the bus terminal near the “Old City” of Jerusalem and drove on a poorly paved road with one lane on each side. The bus stop in Jerusalem is an unpaved square, and I remember getting on a bus that went to my destination from a chaotic bus line. On the other hand, when I headed for the local tour bus in 2019, I felt the passage of time when I was driving on well-paved road with two lanes on each side and the infrastructure was greatly improved.

There were almost no facilities on the shores of the Dead Sea in 1990, and I took off my clothes on the shores of the Dead Sea and entered the Dead Sea with it left unattended. On the other hand, in 2019, although I participated in the local tour, I was able to calm down on the beach on the premises where there are restaurants and shops.

Now, with regard to how much the body floats in the Dead Sea and water, many people may be surprised. Yes, I think the phrase “surprisingly floating” is appropriate. To describe it in a little more detail, if you lie on your back on the surface of the water and the cross section of your back and abdomen is 10 centimeters, it feels like a few centimeters are floating above the surface of the water. Normally, when swimming in a pool, there are few parts of the body that are above the surface of the water, but in this Dead Sea, parts of the body are protruding above the surface of the water.

I cannot swim in this state. Yes, the description that “I cannot swim” fits the best. Even if I try to crawl or breaststroke, the buoyancy is too strong, so I cannot control it, and I lose my balance and turn it over to the left or right. The salinity is quite high. The normal salinity of the sea is 3%, while the salinity of the Dead Sea is 30%. As seeing by licking the water, it is not a level of spicy, but a level of be numbed and fainted. It is unusually bitter. It’s not very swallowable and should not drink it. Definitely feel sick.

After all, I cannot swim and need to avoid getting water in my mouth, so I am just looking up and floating. It feels very good to just be floating. After all, I really don’t have to do anything. There is no need to put my left and right hands in the water and move them lightly to adjust the balance. As often see in photographs, I can read while holding a book with both hands while floating on the water. In addition, when entering the Dead Sea, then getting out and relax on the beach, noticing that my body is completely white. Moisture evaporates and salt remains, and this fact also shows the high salinity of the Dead Sea.

This place is very quiet as it is not a crowded place. Sometimes multiple people in group are having fun and making noise, but it’s basically a silent world. While floating on the water, I can see the scenery of the flesh-colored rocky mountains on the opposite bank and put myself in a silent world. I don’t know where I am, and I feel like I cannot say anything and have never experienced it. It’s an amazing space.

Comparing 1990 and 2019, the water level of the lake was clearly lower. In 1990, when I was driving on the lakeside road by bus, there was a lake surface right next to it, but in 2019, the lake surface was located far away. According to the local people, it was due to the abuse of water resources.

Also, at the time of 1990, I saw a soldier with a machine gun wandering beside this Dead Sea, probably because “Intifada” was fierce in Israel, but in 2019, there were no soldiers, probably because the political situation was more stable. By the way, in 1990, a wandering soldier asked me, “Are you Chinese?”

When entering the Dead Sea from Israel, pass through the “West Bank”, but the scenery I can see from the bus is often the wilderness where seeing the flesh-colored rocks without green. In addition, I can see a person living in a tent. At first, is it a kind of Palestinian refugee camp? I thought, but I confirmed with the locals that this was the place where the nomadic “Bedouin” people lived. It may be a place where feeling the “West Bank”.

There is a place called “Masada”, 20 km south of the largest place on the shore of the Dead Sea called Ein Gedi. This place is a rocky mountain fortress at an altitude of 400m, where the legend of the hero that the Jewish resisted to the end during the Roman invasion in 1970 is located. I walked to the top, the view from the top to the bottom was a wilderness with flesh-colored rocks and the Dead Sea over there, which I had never seen. Looking at this wilderness, I can feel the various history of the past with all five senses that this place has followed. It is a place where the word “unreal space” fits nicely, and I recommend you to visit it even if taking the time.

■ Related Article: Banksy Wall Painting, Bethlehem, Palestine

Visited in 1990 and 2019.

​Basic Information

■ Name of Place : Dead Sea
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