January 22, 2017

Umrah Ramadan : Preparation & Departure

Being a first timer for umrah, I was nervous. A lot of things came to my mind; what to do and what not to do in the Holy Land, I have a lottttt to learn!

We took a special 15D/13N Akhir Ramadan package with Andalusia Travel & Tours.
Based on the itinerary, we will spend the first few days in Madinah and then, the last 10 days of Ramadan in Makkah.

Puasa and terawih in the Holy Land. I am so excited!!

Andalusia provided free umrah courses every weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday from 9am until 1pm. There are no courses during Ramadan so we attended a couple of sessions before the fasting month started.

We attended the courses at their headquarters in Desa Pandan, conducted by their very own Pengerusi Eksekutif, Dato' Ustaz Haji Md Daud Che Ngah. He was formerly Pengurus Besar Tabung Haji.

Good guidance by him although I think he talked too much. :p
To get to one point, punya lah panjang berjela cerita until he had to rush on some topics.

the cat cannot tahan already and slept halfway haha 

During the courses, Uztaz also asked us to be careful when buying souvenirs.

Someone bought this souvenir from the Holy Land and accidentally dropped it to the floor. It broke and guess what did he/she found inside. A cross sign. Unbelievable!!

Not sure what is the intention of the manufacturer; maybe it's just a design, maybe there are hidden agendas. Wallahualam.

They provide breakfast as well as sell some umrah kit so if you have registered for the umrah, go attend the courses!

Attending the courses really helps. Other than that, I read fellow bloggers' experience. I referred a lot to SuperMeng Malaya as he shared his experience just rightttt before my trip.

Then, I had to do a lot of shopping. Jubahs, syariah compliant clothes and tudungs. And other essential items for umrah. Check the list here.

So the day for departure came. The flight would be at 1pm but we were required to be at the airport at least 4 hours before for check-in and briefing. We arrived at around 9am and the airport was already crowded with the jemaah and their families sending off their loved ones.

After group check-in, we were gathered for a quick briefing and our passports were returned back. Fyi, they kept our passport from the visa application submission and only returned it on the day of departure so take note if you plan to travel oversea nearing your planned umrah dates.

We flew with Malaysia Airlines special chartered flight. 3/4 of the passengers were from Andalusia as they also sponsored a group of Asnaf, the rest was jemaah from Rayhar Travel. To see the difference, Andalusia with blue bags and Rayhar with purple bags. hehe

first #ducktravels

We flew to Madinah first so we didn't have to be in ihram. The flight took about 8 hours and if we follow Malaysia time we could buka puasa during the flight. But Uztaz reminded us a few times, do not follow Malaysia's buka puasa time. As Saudi Arabia is GMT+3, we had to puasa longer that day. More pahala insyaAllah.. hehe.

I learnt a lot of things during this trip. For the first time in my travels, I learnt how to pray on the flight. Baby steps to improving myself.

We landed in Madinah at about 4.30pm.

The queue was so long and moved so slow as the immigration process needs to take biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) of all jemaah.

I think it took about 2 hours for my family to get through the passport control area.

Past the immigration, I noticed the airport interior architecture is a resemblance of the giant umbrella in Masjid Nabawi. ♥♥♥

We thought we had enough time and we could buka puasa at the hotel today but finally we buka puasa on the bus while waiting for everybody to settle. Thank God MAS tapau-ed us food. We only left the airport at around 9pm! Luckily the hotel is only 30 minutes away from the airport.

Upon reaching the hotel, Ustaz showed us the direction of Masjid Nabawi (couldn't see it from where we were as the holy mosque was hidden behind buildings). The mosque is only about 100 metres from our hotel. 

Can't wait to see Masjid Nabawi with my own eyes!

Next read --> Masjid Nabawi

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