Day 4 – Golan Heights > Sea of Galilee > Jerusalem
In the morning, we drove the ATVs to the Israel/Syria border. What strikes me most was the visit to the old Syrian headquarter, which is now an empty building in an area now controlled by Israel. It was my first very time witnessing ruins of wars and this made me reflect on how lucky we are to live in areas free of wars. Later we went up to Mount Bental where we could overlook both Syria and Lebanon. It was also my very first time looking at 3 countries at the same time. During our time there, there were some other UN representatives who explained to us their work at the border.
Next, we headed to the Bahat Winery and wasted some Israeli wine, and then we stopped by the Sea of Galilee. To me, although the stop was short, it means a lot to me, because when I was small I learned about all the stories about Jesus that center around Galilee. And having visited the actual sea, I could now visualize the stories.
In the evening, we arrived at the holy city of Jerusalem. At first glance, I already fell in love with the city. It reminds me of Rome with its sense of rich history, and I especially loved the Jerusalem stone which is a limestone used in almost every building in the city (as required by the law). This makes the city unique and charming. When we arrive at the highly-rated Mamilla Hotel, we were all amazed by its decor. The organizers also surprised us with a welcoming drinks during which the hotel manager briefed us on the facilities in the hotel. Many of us said that this is one of the best hotels we have ever stayed. We ended the day with a long dinner at Hasadna till 12am.
Day 5 – Jerusalem
We kicked off the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial. We had a very outstanding guide, who is a Jewish from New Jersey. Learning about the history in this very vivid way was heartbreaking (especially when you got to see videos of how people were killed and buried, and read about the personal stories of victims), yet this reminds everyone that we should ALWAYS learn from this lesson and NEVER AGAIN commit crime that is against humanity. After the memorial, we went to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to meet with Professor Eugene Kandel, who detailed how Israel became a start-up nation in a broader context. Next, we visited OurCrowd, a crowd-sourcing VC fund. I especially enjoyed this visit because the presenter gave us a great overview of the VC scene with data and graphs. Coming from Hong Kong, I was surprised to learn that the company is very impressed by Li Ka Shing, the richest Chinese man who is from Hong Kong, as he invested in more than 24 start-ups in Israeli, more than any other country. The presenter made the point that, even for investors with absolutely no background in Israel or Judaism (like Li Ka Shing who is a Chinese) would understand the great potential of Israeli start-ups. After the meeting, I also had a nice chat with their investor relations manger who is in charge of the Asian clients. This meeting proved to me the best conclusion to all the meetings as it connected all the dots from previous meetings with VCs and start-ups.
In the evening, we checked out a local market. With no restaurant in mind, we just asked locals for restaurant recommendations, and we ended up with a BBQ restaurant which served outstanding steak and fish.