Ein Bokek is the main Dead Sea resort. It consists of a dozen nondescript concrete hotel towers, lots of parking, two malls of the kind they were razing first when East Germany joined the west, lots of ailing palm trees, and gigantic construction sites that were blocking more than half the beaches. Ein Bokek has no soul and no charm, it’s the most depressing place I have seen. All signs show Russian, maybe the Russians go for this. It’s inordinately expensive too.

That’s why I didn’t stay there and went to Neve Zohar, a pretty village 5km south. The beach is a kilometer away, at Hamei Zohar. Still too much concrete, but far nicer than Ein Bokek, and no jackhammer noise. It’s nearly 400m below sea level.

Swimming in the Dead Sea is weird: you can’t. You float on top of the water because it’s so dense with salt. When floating upright, your armpits stay dry, but it’s hard to stay upright because your legs want to float to the surface like submerged champagne corks. Swimming amounts to floating on your back, two thirds submerged. It feels like a very soft water bed. Breaststroke swimming is a bad idea, if you get water in your eyes or swallow any water you’ll need to see a doctor asap. The beach here is sandy with thick salt deposits along the edge of the water.