June 21, 2017

Umrah Ramadan : Puasa & Terawih in Makkah

Buka puasa at Masjid Nabawi was really happening. It is the same in Makkah - nasi Arab, roti Arab, shawarma, fried chicken, kurma, yogurts, juices etc was distributed around the mosque by kindhearted people. Everybody wants to get more pahala by giving sedekah.

But I didn't join the crowd buka puasa at the dataran outside Masjidil Haram as I want to pray inside the Holy Mosque and look at Kaabah. If you buka puasa outside, chances to go in after that is rather slim as it is super crowded.

It was really really crowded during the last 10 days of Ramadan so you have to be quick if you want to pray inside Masjidil Haram. Guards will close the route to the mosque half an hour before prayer time (one hour if it is during Friday prayer), redirecting you to other gates which are usually very far.

Closing the route is one thing. The gates to enter Masjidil Haram are also restricted because it was already full inside. If you are late, you have to pray at the dataran. They will only let those who are doing umrah to go in. Guys in ihram are safe. Ladies are usually safe too cos they can't tell whether or not we are in ihram. But to make it easy, what my sisters and I did was we walked quickly following guys in ihram to pass the guards :D.

We ditched buka puasa spread at the hotel and the dataran and just contented buka puasa with kurma and zamzam water inside Masjidil Haram. Sometimes with fruits or biscuits we got from the ladies next to us. Everybody was so generous, sharing whatever they were having. God blessed them.

There were plenty of time in between Maghrib and Isyak prayer so we did tawaf sunat. Done with tawaf, we would walk around the mosque to find places to pray Isyak and terawih later. Jemaah who didn't manage to find place to pray would continue doing tawaf.

See the crowd! And this is only at the mataf area. Everywhere inside the mosque was full to the brim.

Terawih in Makkah is same as in Madinah. 10 rakaats non-stop, break for 5-10 minutes and continued another 10 rakaats.

Hungry after terawih, we would dash to Hyatt Regency Hotel Mall nearby for Albaik or Hilton Towers for Al Tazaj hehehe.


Al Tazaj

And my must have drink!

Best mango juice ever! I brought so many cartons back to Malaysia haha.

It was very crowded during Ramadan but it is definitely the best time to be there. It may be uncomfortable for some. I felt uncomfortable too in the beginning, what with the pushing here and there (mannn.. those old ladies from the Middle East are really rough), people walking freely in front of you while you were praying (or even walking over you while you sujud!), shouting to each other (maybe their voices are naturally loud I don't know). Add that with over 40 degree Celsius heat.

Fuhhhh!!! It totally menguji my kesabaran.

Despite everything, I don't mind to repeat the trip to the Holy Land in Ramadan again. Once you prayed and focus, everything just felt beautiful. I felt peace. And that's all that matters.


June 19, 2017

Umrah Ramadan : Best birthday gift ever

Heading back from ziarah, we stopped for miqat at Ja'ranah to perform our second umrah.

Oh did I tell you it was my birthday? I would be doing umrah on my birthday!
Best birthday gift ever!!!

I could not eat any cakes during the day, but I was the happiest!!

Syukran Ya Allah!

June 17, 2017

Umrah Ramadan : Jabal Rahmah, Mina & Muzdalifah

We also have ziarah day in Makkah. Went to visit Jabal Nur, Jabal Rahmah, Arafah, Mina and Muzdalifah.

First destination was Jabal Nur. This mountain houses the famed Hira' Cave. Our Prophet Muhammad is said to have spent a great deal of time in the cave meditating and it is believed that he had received his first wahyu from Allah, through Jibril, inside the cave.

We weren't going to hike the mountain and as I mentioned before, about 90% of my bus-mates already visited this place so they didn't want to go down when we stopped there. The few who haven't visited didn't seem interested either. I wanted to go down to snap some photos but I didn't want to make them wait for me so I just looked at the mountain from the bus window and regretted now haha. Nevermind.. a reason to repeat for sure :)

Next stop was Mount Arafat or usually known as Jabal Rahmah. It is a granite hill, east of Makkah, in the plain of Arafat. Historically, this is the place where Adam was reunited with Hawa after decades of being separated since they were thrown out from heaven.

Thus, if you are single, many will ask you to doa lebih sikit here. #semogabertemujodoh

There are many places inside Masjidil Haram that is more afdhal or mustajad to doa, but yeah.. just continue to doa, everything is up to Allah. I did not only pray for love here, but for other things as well..

the mountain 

It was also at the valley of this mountain that our Prophet Muhammad delivered his final khutbah.

Arafat is an important place in Islam cos during hajj timing, on 9 Zulhijjah, pilgrims come from Mina, and spends the afternoon here. Failure to be present in the plain of Arafat on the required day invalidates the pilgrimage.

We then passed by Mina and Muzdalifah. We didn't stop at both places, just watched the areas from the bus while Ustaz explained about them.

tents at Mina

More than 100,000 tents that can house more than 3 million people provide temporary accommodations to visiting pilgrims. In the valley of Mina is the Jamarat Bridge, the location of the ritual of the Stoning of the Devil, performed between sunrise and sunset on the last day of hajj.

After sunset on the 9th of Zulhijjah, pilgrims travel to Muzdalifah. Muzdalifah is an open area, just south east of Mina on the route between Mina and Arafat. Here, pilgrims collect pebbles which will be thrown in the Stoning of the Devil ritual in Mina.

Seeing all these places and hearing the explanation from Ustaz really moved me to go for hajj soon.

June 15, 2017

PyeongChang Winter Olympic : Tourist Attractions in Jeongseon

Another must-visit county in Gangwon province is Jeongseon. You might have heard Korean folk song, Arirang, often considered as the unofficial national anthem of Korea. There are many variations of the song, but the original form of Arirang is Jeongseon Arirang.

Songs aside, Jeongseon is also one of the venue for 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic. Jeongseon Alpine Centre will be hosting the alpine speed events of Downhill, Super-G, and Alpine Combined. The centre can accommodate up to 6,500 spectators.

The men's downhill starts at an elevation of 1,370 m (4,495 ft), with a course length of 2.857 km (1.775 mi), to a finish area at 545 m (1,788 ft). The vertical drop of 825 m (2,707 ft) surpasses the minimum drop of 800 m (2,625 ft) required by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Jeongseon also has a number of attractions.

 Auraji River

 Auraji is the name of a lake that Jeongseon Arirang originated. The area has long been famous for its beautiful, clean mountains and rivers. Its name is derived from the Korean word ‘eoureojida’, meaning ‘to meet’ as the waters of Pyeongchang and Samcheok merge in this area.

Part of the upper stream of Namhangang River, Auraji was a famous starting point of log rafts transporting timber to Hanyang, the original name of Seoul. The lyrics of Jeongseon Arirang reveal the sadness and longing of a woman awaiting her husband who left for business to a far-away place or left to transport timber.

Today, numerous tourists visit Auraji to enjoy its great scenic views.

Jeongseon Arirang 5-Day Market

Jeongseon 5-Day Market is one of the major local market in Korea and opens every 2nd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd, 27th. In the market, visitors can experience the lively bustling atmosphere of a Korean folk market and purchase agricultural produce at low prices. Its specially featured product is the Goraengji, a vegetable that grows in mountainous regions or on plateaus at 500~700m above sea level.

On market day, you will be able to watch the musical performance titled Arirang at the center of the market. The show will be in 3 parts, explaining Arirang’s story with enjoyable music.

Operation Hours : 9 am ~ 8 pm (operation hours may vary by store)

Arii Hills: Byeongbangchi Sky Walk and Zip Wire

Byeongbangchi Observatory is located in between Gyuram-ri and Buksil-ri in Jeongseon-eup and features breathtaking views surrounding Bamseom Island whose shape is like the Korean peninsula with streams of Donggang River.

Byeongbangchi Skywalk experience offers a thrilling experience as it gives a feeling of walking in the sky thanks to the tempered glass on the ‘U’ shaped structure (11m) projected from the cliff at altitude of 583m. From this observatory, tourists can see the beauty of Bamseom Island and Donggang River, making it an attractive point to visit.

Admission Fees: Adults (ages 19-64) 2,000 won / Teenagers & Children (ages 7-18) 1,000 won / Zip wire Fees 40,000 won
Operation Hours: Summer 9 am ~ 6 pm, Winter 9 am ~ 5 pm

Jeongseon Rail Bike

The rail bike in Jeongseon Auraji is a new type of leisure sport that combines biking along a railway and scenic views. The sport makes use of an abandoned railway track that runs from Jeongseon Auraji to Gujeol-ri. The total track is 7.2 kilometers long and is a continuous descent that is easy to ride along clean valley waters and crimson red foliage. The rail bike starts in Gujeol-ri station and ends in Auraji Station.

Admission Fees: [2-seaters bike] Individual 25,000 won / Group 22,500 won
[4-seaters bike] Individual 35,000 won / Group 31,500 won
Operating Hours: March to October 9 am ~ 6 pm, 5 times a day / November to February 9 am ~ 3 pm, 4 times a day

Samtan Art Mine

Samtan Art Mine is a cultural art complex, transformed from an abandoned mine at the foot of Hambaeksan Mountain, the main production area of stone coal in Korea. The name ‘Samtan’ refers to Samcheok Tanjwa, one of the major coal mines in Korea, and ‘Art Mine’ plays on the history of the coal mine.

There are many cultural art spaces throughout the nation, but Samtan Art Mine attracts visitors for being located inside an actual mine site. Opened in 1964 as a industrial establishment, the mine operated until October 2001. Samtan Art Mine draws even deeper artistic meaning due to this poignant history.

For K-drama fans, it was also the shooting location of Descendants of the Sun. 

June 12, 2017

Umrah Ramadan : Masjidil Haram

Masjidil Haram is the largest mosque in the world. In the city of Makkah, it surrounds the Kaabah, our kiblat direction. Thus the mosque is considered as the holiest place on earth by Muslims.

It has undergone several renovations and expansion projects and the current one, King Abdullah expansion project is said to be completed by 2020.

Sharing some of the views of the Masjidil Haram cos I want to visit it again!! And I hope it can inspire you to visit as well :)

view from Makkah Clock Royal Tower, a Fairmont Hotel

close up

Many cranes are placed around the mosque as the expansion project is on-going.

King Abdulaziz gate and King Fahd expansion area

King Fahd gate

Following photos are King Abdullah expansion area. I can say this area is rather lavish, just look at the chandeliers, marbles etc.

 The upper open area of Masijil Haram.

And then of course, there's Kaabah. I can watch it everyday and never get bored.

Everytime, people try to get closer to Kaabah and touch it. 

Close up on Kaabah's curtain detailing. 

It was sooo beautiful and smells sooo nice MasyaAllah! I don't want to wash my hand!! 

The closest I got to Hajar Aswad. So sooo crazy the people kept on pushing like mad. 

If you are performing saie during umrah or hajj, you don't have to go out from Masjidil Haram. The two hills, Safa and Marwah, and the walking area are now located inside the mosque. 

saie walking area

the hill

Surrounding building or hotels...

not sure what is this building

Abraj Al-Bait complex

Abraj Al-Bait complex & Hilton Suites Makkah

Can you see people rukuk inside Hilton Suites Makkah in below photo?

Seriously, I don't understand why they want to pray inside the hotel's praying hall when Masjidil Haram is right in front of them! I would rather go inside Masjidil Haram to look at Kaabah. Plus, you will get 100,000 more pahala by praying inside Masjidil Haram.

I guess they don't want to bersesak-sesak in the mosque. And you always have to go there early cos if you are late, you have to pray outside like these jemaah.

After buka puasa and terawih, rubbish was everywhere! :(

Praying everyday for a chance to visit the Holy Land again.