Madinah, Makkah, Jeddah #1

March 01, 2010

You guessed it right! It was definitely a last minute trip, if not I would have blogged saying that I would be away for about 2 weeks right?
The first plan was to go to the Middle East for Umrah and sight-seeing but there was a problem with our visa, so Dad has a back up plan, which was to go to Rome instead. But then, on 10th of February, Dad got a call from the office saying that our visa and seats were confirmed! So apa lagi, terkial-kial la semua nak pack! Thank God we were only allowed to wear abaya (jubbah) there, so we just campak whatever tops and jeans we have to wear underneath the abaya! Baju koyak pun campak je masuk dalam luggage, cuz no one would see what's underneath the abaya we would be wearing everyday! And then, Visa + flight tickets + passports + luggage = READY!


11 February 2010


Our flight was at 3.30pm and if you don't know, that is my nap time! So I was not in a really good mood at the airport honestly. I felt bad for my parents but I don't like last minute trip and rushing here and there! But oh well, I told myself that this trip would be different, not like my other ordinary vacations! This is the time where I  would repent, do extra prayers, be closer to God and His Prophets, appreciate the historical places and just kept on praying and praying. Forgive me God if my heart was not opened yet to go on this trip while I was on the plane, but I definitely loved this trip at the end of the day :) Thank you for re-opening my heart!
I had a dilemma at the airport. Dad told me that I had to tutup aurat which means tudung and abaya when in Jeddah. Oh yea, actually our main destinations were Makkah and Madinah but since there is no direct flight there, we had to take a flight to Jeddah and then take a bus to Madinah and Makkah.
So.. I questioned to my silly self.. should I wear tudung (scarf) before the flight, on the flight, or after the flight? Dad told me I should wear it in the plane, before we landed, but I was stubborn. I wanted to wear it before the flight so that it wouldn't look too obvious that actually I don't wear scarf..tannak la orang orang tua dalam plane tuh fikir apa pulak kan.. So I pun pegi la toilet, pakai jubah and tudung. In the plane, I saw two Arabian girls were not wearing their scarves. I was like ' eh.. takleh jadi ni. Im going to bukak jugak la'. So I took of my tudung and slept like a baby. It was kind of rimas to sleep with tudung.. sorry la..tak biasa lagi :)

It was a 8 hours flight to Jeddah Airport. Before we landed, the cabin crew made an announcement saying that the Saudi Arabian immigration would check all electronic devices for pirated software and appropriate contents like porn and obscenity. I brought my laptop along just in case I wanted to do my assignments there. So..as a normal person.. I do have obscenity pictures in my laptop.. but no porn okay! Just pictures of my favourite models and stuff.. so if they considered sexy pictures as obscenity, then Im dead! I was like shit shit shit..!! Panic gila. Kang nanti kena tahan kat immigration!

As I got closer to the immigration with my laptop..they DIDN'T EVEN CHECK IT! HAHAHA!
They asked me where I was from and the moment they heard Malaysia, they let me pass through without any inspection! AWESOME! THEY LOVE US :) THANK GOD! HAHAHA

The tour guide greeted us and asked us to gather at one spot so that no one would be left behind! haha. The tour guide is an ustaz i-dont-know the name. Sorry! hahaha. There were about 20 other Malaysians on the same tour.

Our first destination was Madinah and it was a 5 hour bus ride from Jeddah to Madinah. While on the way, the tour guide told us a bedtime story about our prophets and the plans of the tour. I looked out from my window and I couldn't believe it that I WAS IN THE MIDDLE EAST! This was my first time!! I was amazed to see Arabic style houses..like all rectangles and squares..and white and brown in colour...you know what I mean right? :) Didn't see much on the way to Madinah, because there were no street lights..so it was time for me to sleep :)


12 February 2010


We reached our hotel in Madinah about 2 am and I was very happy with the location, because it was located right next to Al-Nabawi Mosque..which is the Prophet's mosque and the most famous mosque in the world! Al-Fayroz Hotel is a 3 stars hotel. It was just okay, not that great.. as long as it has a good bed and toilet, im fine :) We rested for a few hours before our Subuh prayers around 5.30.am. My sister and I didn't go because we were TOO tired after the long flight and bus ride. Oh guess what.. we were in Economy for the first time! Tuh yang sakit tulang belakang semua ni! haah. First time dalam economy.. first class was full and since it was a last minute trip, dad just took the economy seats! aghhh


Had our breakfast at the hotel around 7.30am and the activity of the day was to visit the Al-Nabawi Mosque. Men and women were seperated of course. An Ustazah guided us around the mosque. We were going to visit makam Nabi Muhammad (saw) and an area called Raudhah. Raudhah is like a glimpse of heaven and one should do their prayers there and Insyallah..Allah would kabulkan your doa :)


The mosque was VERY SESAK because  it was their first day of Spring Break and people from all over the Middle East and India came to visit the mosque! I was shocked to see everyone dressed up in black and put on their hijab.. cool! Tourists everywhere! :) No cameras allowed inside the mosque. I was kind of dissapointed because I would love to capture the great interior of the mosque!! OMG.

My jaw dropped the moment I went into the mosque! It was definitely the biggest and prettiest mosque I've ever been to!!! Real gold as decorations, The Quran was everywhere and Air Zam Zam was everywere too! There were about I think like a thousand tanks of Air Zam Zam in the mosque! bestnya!! The lightings and paintings in the mosque were fantabulous!!

To get to Raudhah and the Prophet's makam was brutal! It took us a few hours to get there because there were so many people and there were pushing and berebut nak pegi depan! Nasib I found a good spot quite at the front of the mosque where the Raudhah was..quickly I did my solat and berdoa la banyak banyak! I felt so blessed that I got the chance to be near to makam Rasulullah (saw). I felt so close to him :) The two spots don't open 24 hours.. it has its schedule actually..early in the morning and late at night. I guess that's why they all berebut. Our Ustazah could speak Arabic so she could marah all those tak sabar people! haha! My lil sis cried because she was pushed so badly! Poor thing! Dah lah kecik! I almost cried but sabar! Jihad jihad! hahaha.


After all the hustle and bustle atmosphere of the mosque, we walked back to our hotel and on the way there were like mini markets everywhere..like a bazaar! People were selling shoes, bags, henna tubes, abaya..and scarves and plenty of other things from the Middle East itself! I couldn't wait to do my very first shopping in the Middle East!

Ate my lunch at the hotel cafetaria as usual, did my Zohor and Asar prayers at the Al-Nabawi Mosque and lepastuh terus kita pegi shopping!! I bought two scarves and one abbaya! Pictures of em will be posted at the end of the post :) Hehe..semua hitam! Kononnyer nak jadi macam Mak Arab la konon! haha.
After shopping, went back to the mosque to do our Maghrib prayers but we were kind of late sebab terleka ngan shopping, so we prayed outside of the mosque! The marble floors were so cold but it was really nice to pray outside! Fresh air! It was windy that night..! AND..this was also my first time praying outdoor! haha! jakun much!! The lighst came on as the sun sets, and omg..it was so beautiful! The mosque looks magnificent!!
Waited about an hour for Isyak prayers and back to the hotel and slept early because big day was waiting the next day :)

The beautiful Al-Nabawi Mosque


13 February 2010


Woke up to the azan of Subuh prayers from Nabawi Mosque. Got ready and packed some clothes into a small bag. Why? Because today, we were going to Al-Ula to visit Madain Salleh. Read the link given if you don't know what is Madain Salleh :)
But actually we went to Madain Salleh the next day and as for today we were going to other sightseeings in Al-Ula.
Our huge luggage are left behind and we brought small bags and just important things in it as we were only going for 2 nights. We had our usual breakfast at the hotel around 7 am and pushed off to Al-Ula at 8 am. It took us 5 hours to reach Al-Ula and on the way, we stopped at a mini supermarket to get some snacks before we continued our journey. Trust me, with this kind of view..you would think of food and drinks every minute. And what's the view? None other than, the empty desert! There was nothing else to look at except for some cactus, sand and grey and dull mountains. Everything outside was just so blurry!
I really needed to go to the toilet and it was quite far, so we had to walk in the sand and damn it I got sand in my shoes now! It was so annoyying! haha! Oh well..it's a desert..nothing I could do about it. I bought juices from the supermarket and omg..their juices kan..nothing like what I've drank before!!! It's so pure and perfect! The plants are from Makkah! No wonder la sedap! Holy land kot! :)

 
A little view of the town of Madinah

  
Thew view on the journey...

  
Hehe..sempat bercamwhore dalam bus! Boring kottt
  
 The only supermarket on the way...


  
The BEST apple juice in the world!!! Mark my words!
 
 Sigh... Remind me of my journey from Los Angeles to Las Vegas!


As for this trip to Al-Ula, we had different tour guide and there were two of them, both are Indonesians. They also told great stories about the history and such especially with the Indonesian accent, I think it was really interesting! The ustad was nice and he smiled like 24/7. Wow. Muka baik jee! :)
Before we got to our hotel in Al-Ula, we stopped  in the middle of the desert to see Elephant Rock!

 Macam elephant kan??


This was totally my first time walking in the desert.
Wow. I realised there were so many 'firsts' in this trip to the Middle East! hahah! Sorry if it annoys you, but I was so happy to be here :)
The mountains in Al-Ula remind me of the Grand Canyon in Las Vegas and Tabletop Mountain in South Africa! Seriously! Tak payah nak pegi US and Africa, lebih baik pergi Al-Ula, dapat pahala sebab ini sejarah Nabi :) hehe.

 
 Exactly like the Tabletop Mountain in Africa


  
Like the Grand Canyon in Las Vegas :)

 

Our hotel is in the middle of the desert FYI. haha. It is surrounded by red brownish mountains just like the Grand Canyon as I previously said. It's called Madain Salleh Hotel and there were only 2 hotels in Al-Ula.  The hotel is like a chalet but combined ones..it's just one row of rooms! Trust me, the hotel in this desert is so much nicer than the hotel we were staying in Madinah. haha!

 Just like the Hollywood sign! haha

Our cafetaria overlooks the beautiful mountains!



We rested for a few hours, had our lunch and solat and hopped on the bus again at 4 pm to visit Al-Ula's Old Town! yay!
It is an old village of the 13th century! I really felt like I was in one of those Arabic movies..where they live in the desert and have small houses but lots of narrow corridors! You get what I mean when you look at the pictures! I managed to climb the second highest peak in Al-Ula and saw a great view of the whole town! It was really exhausting dengan jubah semua lagi! haha. Damn..I so would love to live in the past! Mashallah!

 
 Lets climb up the stairs! Reminds me of Batu Caves!


  
Those grey houses are the old houses from the 13th Century!
  

  
 I was at the peak! SCORE!


  
Lets climb down the stairs..


Next to the Old Town, there was a mosque where the villagers went and it was still standing strong! Subhanallah!

 

 
 I really love how the sunlight comes through!


Ahh..It really touched my heart to see and be in these old houses which had a lot of history! I felt to lucky to be here :)

 Managed to capture this before I left! haha


14 February 2010


Happy Valentine's Day! HAHA. Well today I 'celebrated' Valentine's Day in mountains!
I woke up early to get  a good smoky and foggy morning view of the moutains.
I finally found a cat in the Middle East since I missed mine back home! We named it..Salleh, based on the place :)
 


The breakfast was marvellous..also MUCH better than the one in Madinah! haha.
We kicked off with a visit to a museum of Al-Ula so that we could have a brief knowledge and a full understanding of Madain Salih. Like how the people of Nabatean and Thamudean built the cave houses and such! Great museum! I managed to take snapshots of the items there :) Shhhh  (Yes im one of those tourists).

 
 Left items from the Nabatean and Thamudean!

 

The next stop of the day was the reason we came Al-Ula..to see the great architecture of Madain Salih!
The tour guide told us that sometimes the managers there have really bad moodswings. It's up to them if they feel like letting people in or not. Lucky for us, we are Malaysians, they allowed us to check out Madain Salih! hahahaah! How im proud to be a Malaysian in this case!
I almost pissed in my pants when I saw the first house!! I felt like smashing the bus windows and ran to the house as fast as I could! Punya la tak sabar and terlebih excited! I was the first person to get off the bus and made my way to the awesome house!! Look!!! :)

 
The people of Nabatean and Thamudean built this only using sharp stones and water to make the shapes! How cool is that? It took them a few years to build one house!

  
 Lets climb the mountain!


  
 Our tour guide explaining the features of the house/cave!


  

  
This was a place for them to sleep plus cemetery!
  

  
Beautiful flowers of the desert :)
  
I thought there was only ONE home..but there were plenty! More than a hundred! And it actually takes a person about 3 days to visit the whole area!
  

  
They used to sleep here at first, but later it turned into a cemetery! OMG! scary! Thank God didn't see anything!hehe
  

  

  
Reminds me of houses in Flinstones kan! Cute je!
  
 This is the court where they gathered to discuss issues and do their prayers.


  
 Beautiful, non?


  
 Yeap, we climbed the mountains to see more beautiful architecture!


  
 If you could see properly..there are lines on the mountain which was the piping for their water from the well.


  

 
And of course, I would leave my mark before I left the place for the next attraction :) It will be here forever! yay!

Actually the mountains do have some kind of weird small becuase of the rain..they said it was the rain that made the houses stink a little bit.
Our next stop is Al-Hijr railway station! It's from 1906! Wow!

 

  
 This place where the railway station is reminds me of those cowboy movies right? Seperated offices and a very brown background! cool!

 
This is where they hang evil do-ers :)

The sun was really glaring at us! Luckily I brought my shades or else I had no idea how to open my eyes! Puteri Lilin :) 
Those were the attractions for the day, we went back to our hotel and got ready to go back to Madinah!

Till the next day!
Lina Pumpkin
xoxo

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