Dead Sea shores
A stark, arid landscape. Temperatures of 45°C. And a body of water that’s like a warm bath. Doesn’t sound appealing?
Well you’d be surprised. I had a week of relaxation on Israel’s Dead Sea coast at the small resort of Ein Bokek, and it was a haven for many holidaymakers.
The water is saline-rich and packed with minerals, so floating around in it aimlessly is a popular pastime. Piling on pounds of black Dead Sea mud and leaving it there until it bakes is another way to occupy the hours.
The hazy blue hues of this strange environment are entrancing, while I enjoyed the stark architecture of the sprinkling of big hotels. The calm reflections of the water and bathers drifting around in the brine just cried out to be captured.
Go beneath the gallery to read a cautionary tale for travellers
Click first image to see gallery
Departing from Israel via Tel Aviv airport is an unnerving experience. Before you queue up at the check-in desks, there is a line of security officers, and I wasn’t prepared for at least half an hour of questions about why I’d been in the country and what I’d been doing.
The grilling became increasingly awkward and stressful. Why had I only visited the Dead Sea? Why did I have to alter my flight? Do you have the receipt for that? It felt very intrusive for someone who had innocently been relaxing by a salty pool. Three officials later and almost losing my cool, my suitcase was tagged and I was relieved to be on my way.
Only back at home did I discover the card slipped into my case which informed me it had been manually searched after check-in, which did nothing to reduce my sense of unease.
I set about doing some research and found out that it’s not uncommon to face quite tough security questioning on departure from Tel Aviv airport. As a lone male I was of immediate interest. Also, the ‘interrogation’ is a way of measuring an adverse or suspicious reaction. In my case they noticed a trembling hand and wondered if I’d seen a doctor for treatment!
Israel considers this a good method to ensure aircraft leaving its airspace are safe and is unlikely to change. It’s best to be forewarned and keep calm during the process. However, it did nothing to make me feel valued as a visitor to the country. I maintain that I won’t go there again.