Gosh..I haven't been updating my blog for over a month! No entries at all for April?! Before anyone says anything about my resolutions to update every week, well I have a perfectly good reason.... we had been doing some travelling and I didn't have much time to blog. The hubby and I had been planning to perform our umrah for quite sometime and we started our 16-day journey on the 12th of April . It was about 8 years ago that we performed our Hajj and since then we haven't had the opportunity to go for umrah. Ooh..I was that excited when the hubby started booking our flights since September 2011.. I did intend to write about my preparations but so many things happened leading up to our departure date. First, the hubby caught the flu. Then it was my turn - must have caught it twice because it was like forever that I suffered from a cold that even affected my hearing! (visited the homeopathic clinic twice) Anyway, another thing that happened of any interest was an accident involving the hubby where he went a bit too fast round a bend and our car flipped on its side about a week before our flight! Miraculously, Alhamdulillah, he came out without a scratch (started driving at a snail's pace after that - traumatised he claimed - only he almost always drives slower than me...). The car is still under repair, meaning another month driving a monster of a car; an old Pajero lent by a contractor which emits all kinds of sounds its embarrassing to stop at traffic lights..(*sigh*)
Well, we went for umrah without joining any Group Packages but on our own. That is, we book our own flights and hotels; only procuring the visa needed to enter Saudi Arabia through an agency. We found out that it was much cheaper than going with a Group, obviously and we had much more freedom in terms of decision-making. ( Hmm.. I might just make an entry or two after this about how to go about going umrah on a budget..)
Anyway, below are some pics of our trip. And oh yes, we took the opportunity to visit our youngest in Cairo after our umrah.
We started our journey from Kuala Terengganu, boarding Air Asia Wednesday night (11th April) to LCCT in Sepang.
|At Sultan Mahmud Airport - crowded with people (going to umrah, too but most were the senders-off)|
|Hubby with our luggage - travelling light (we were actually underweight)|
|Arriving LCCT at about 10 pm|
Our next flight was to Colombo, Sri Lanka which was at about 6 the next morning so we had to pass away the night at the airport (on the cold floor..the most uncomfortable part of the journey)
|Yeay.. the Nasi Lemak Pak Nasser on Air Asia! (RM20...gasp!)|
We were like the only Malay couple on the flight. An air-stewardess we passed by on the way to the airplane even asked me where I was heading for, seeing us among the crowd.. probably making sure I was on the right airplane!
We reached Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo morning, and our next leg of the journey was to Jeddah on board Saudi Arabian Airline in the afternoon (it was delayed for about 2 hours). By the way, the airport seriously needs to add more trolleys..
The Saudi Arabian plane was HUGE and the stewardesses were always busy, busy especially before take-off. At least they (the girls) were better-dressed than Air Asia flight attendants! Although there was this one intimidating hostess who was quite scary with her blue-painted nails, ruby-red lips and braces..
|At Bandaranaike International Airport.|
|In the departure lounge - we were among the Sri Lankans going for umrah|
|Arriving in Saudi Arabian International Airport, Jeddah|
|Queuing up at passport control - shown are groups of umrah goers from India|
From Jeddah, we took another flight to Medinah, arriving at Medinah Airport late in the night. Managed to get a taxi to get to the hotel that we had already booked. Unfortunately the bookings were not verified but we waited patiently for things to sort out and about after midnight we were able to rest our weary limbs..
|The Prophet's Mosque|
|This is the hotel that we moved to for the last night in Medinah|
|Fascinated by the unfurling of the giant umbrella around the mosque|
|Selling wares along the street to the mosque - really cheap stuff!|
|The sliding roof - open in the early morning|
I am really happy that I managed to go to Raudhah and prayed there despite the really long wait to enter the chamber! Well, after 3 days in Medinah, we left for Makkah taking a bus for the 6-hour journey.
|Sights along the way - either rocky or sandy..|
At last.. Makkah, where we were going to do the umrah. I'm not going into details about the umrah rituals but just to show some pics taken round and about Masjidil Haram. They used to ban cameras when we were there for Hajj but these days you can snap pictures to your hearts' content. (though it seems inappropriate, I feel to assume the Kaabah like..erm..the Eiffel Tower for instance where you pose and snap pictures like you're some kind of tourists..)
|Sitting-down view of the Kaabah|
|Peak time for tawaf (construction seen going on in preparation for the Hajj season)|
|Viewed from the inside the mosque - I think this is the last picture I took before leaving Masjidil Haram.|
|The clock tower - a land mark that can even be seen from outside Haram land|
|A row of Zamzam water dispensers..(best drink in the world)|
|Inside Masjidil Haram|
|Outside the mosque - construction workers making supplications before starting work|
|Two of the hundreds of workers keeping the mosque spick and span day and night|
|A street in Makkah - usually it's more hectic; traffic jams, horns blaring, exhaust fumes... God, I miss Makkah!|
|Construction workers taking a break - a rather...err..creative way to use your safety helmet when there's nowhere clean to sit on..|
After about a week in Makkah, we got on a bus to Jeddah (about an hour ride) and a taxi from the bus station to the airport. We boarded Saudi Arabian Airline to Cairo arriving in the evening on the 22nd of April (we were the only Malaysian - the rest were Egyptians). Adik waited for us with a rented car - his friend drove us to the place we had booked at Rumah Perlis. We didn't do much sight-seeing as this was our 3rd time in Cairo. However, some pics of our activities in Cairo:
|The living room of Rumah Perlis (comfortable and affordable)|
|Love the fruits here!|
|Hubby buying souvenirs for his staff|
|Adik buying T-shirts - time to spend dad's money eh dearie...|
|Old man selling tea - everything carried on his back; poor thing|
|Went to part of Cairo not visited by regular tourists|
|Adik buying perfume from his favourite shop - dad's paying of course!|
So, we were in Cairo for about 5 days, leaving on the morning of 27th of April. From Cairo we transited in Jeddah (7 hours...), boarding Saudi Arabian straight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (this time the passengers were 90% Malaysians)
|This is Cairo Airport - just to show how airport officials flaunt their disregard for their own rules of no smoking..|
|Aerial view of Sepang - ahh back home at last!|
|Waiting for the daughter to pick us..|
We arrived on the 28th of April (Bersih 3.0..) at about 1.30 pm and that night we drove (daughter's car) back to Kuala Terengganu; me driving from Kemaman to our home for 3 hours straight, arriving in time for subh - thanks to jet lag! (Alhamdulillah)