We went to Madinah Al Munawwarah last weekend (8 - 11 Jan 2008). I will summarize the story about the trip. Please excuse me if it will be a longggggg summary. (cikgu cikgu english sure marah ni :))
8 Jan 2008
We left house at about 4.00pm and reached Dammam Airport about an hour after that. It was cold and windy. At the check in counter, the guy told abang that he had been working in Malaysia for 2 years. He was excited to tell abang that Malaysia is a good country. In fact, while having our tea, there was one Bangladeshi came and talked to us in Bahasa Melayu. I've never been so proud to be a Malaysian until I came to the Saudi Arabia. They respect the country and the people. So far, the comments that I received were - Malaysia has a good system, its beautiful, peaceful and other nice comments.
Our boarding pass!
Since our departure time was 6.20pm, we performed our prayer beforehand. I noticed there was a male prayer room but none for female. There was only 'a female praying area' which was full of dust (I had to be tawakkal about the cleanliness of the carpet since it seems that people brought their shoes in. How wonderful...). It's really a man's world here.
Luckily, we were able to get everyone in a row.
It's easier for me to pass Shahmey to abang I feel safer that way since I could see what my 2 girls did. I met a saudi lady (tapi kulit dia gelap. Badwin agaknya) with a son (alahai, terlupa la pulak nama dia. But I took her phone number. So, it must be in my purse) who went to visit her parents who live in Madinah. She bought 2 perfumes in the plane and dia kata nak bagi souvenirs to the parents. Bagusnya bagi parents perfume...
Turun flight, it was about 8pm in Madinah. Kena turun tangga and took a bus to the airport. It wasn't that far. Only about 5 minutes away. But, it was pretty cold. The kids especially Sobhan were all tired. After claiming our baggage, abang rented a car. A small and cheap one - Chevy Aveo. We had no map since our first plan was to take a cab. May be after realizing that we may stay farther from the Masjid Nabawi (Al Haram), abang decided to rent a car (nampak sangat tak well plan), so that it'll be easier to move around. We asked the shop if they did sell a map but regrettably they didn't. They referred us to the tourist centre, just beside their outlet. They had a map but it was a Saudi Arabia map and Madinah was only a dot (.) in the map! Ha! Ha! Ha!
We had no choice but to ask. Knowing abang, I knew that he won't ask unless he really sesat. He would always pandai pandai cari jalan sendiri. Me? As usual...
"Abang, call la Nur dulu. Tanya dia macam mana nak ke sana. bok bek bok bek bok bek.... "
Abang didn't want to trouble my friend, Nur (an Indonesion married to a Saudi guy) since it was already late (at about 9pm). Besides, it was not easy to describe to Nur where we were. So, abang just drove while looking at the signboard. Boom! We managed to see Al Haram (Masjid Nabawi without trouble). Since abang decided to leave the kids with ma (Ma just finished her haj) while we perform our prayer at Al Haram, we went to find the hotel (Al Shaer - besides Al Karam Hotel). We went around and around for almost 15 minutes. At last, I saw Al Karam Hotel right in front of my eyes. We just went straight and there ma was, patiently standing there.
Since it was late, abang decided to rent a hotel room at Al Shaer. They gave us a room with 4 single bed but the toilet was outside with no payment at all! We were shocked at first but they insisted it. They didn't want to take any single cent for that. May be because they couldn't provide a room that we requested (a deluxe). Also, I supposed it was our rezeki... Alhamdulillah...
Shahmey tak berapa nak dengan ma (dah kenal orang..)
Abang and I went to Al Haram and left the kids with ma. It was about 11.30pm. Many toilets were already closed. We went around the mosque and got to see many kinds of human behavior. There were people who cried in front of the prophet's maqam (outside the mosque since women were not allowed to be in during that time). Some were reciting something (from a special book). Some were praying there.
After praying, I went out to meet abang and ended up went back by myself coz' abang took quite a long time in the mosque. It was freezing cold and I only wore my telekung. While walking back to the hotel, I kept praying that abang won't get mad for going back alone. Actually I thought, abang went back without me coz I wasn't sure how long I stayed in the mosque (I didn't wear my watch). When I reached the room, abang wasn't there. Oh dear.. (mampus la aku. sure abang marah. I thought.) I asked ma to go back to her room since ma brought her room key while the other 5 of her friends were deeply sleeping. Abang came back and smiled. Heheheee.. (lega nya laaa and alhamdulillah... he's also okay)
"Amboi... balik dulu ye..." that's abang!
"Puas neeza tunggu tapi abang takde. Neeza pun balik la.... lagipun neeza takut ma nak balik bilik dia. kan ma pegang kunci. nanti tak keluar pulak kawan-kawan ma tu.." me, asking for sympathy
Okaylah tu... dia tak marah.. heheheee..
9 Jan 2008
After subuh, we slept again. Rasa rugi pun ada. By right, we were supposed to be at Al Haram most of the time since it wasn't easy to come to Madinah. But, I didn't want to bring my kids along especially Shahmey whom I considered as a baby. A baby who will cry and disturb others in the mosque.
I cooked nasi goreng today! A simple one but the kids ate a lot. Must be due to empty tummy la tu... After the breakfast cum lunch, Ahmed came back. He decided to tour us around Madinah. A free tourist guide!
Masjid Jumah (the first Jumaat prayer was performed here)
The Station (pronounce as sta-si-yon)
the Jabal Uhud
2. Maghrib - Masjid Qiblatain (no picture - sorry...)
Masjid Nabawi (Al Haram)
Later that evening, we brought ma to the Tabung Haji (finally!! after 2 days of waiting...) and since there was a Tabung Haji clinic there, ma dropped by to take some medicine for her knee (banyak sangat jalan, lenguh kaki...)
Ma and the doctor at the Tabung Haji Clinic
We had a huge dinner that evening at Ahmed's house. Mandhi rice with Madhbi chicken (fooh!! what a pronunciation. berbelit lidah nak sebut.). After that, abang and I went out again to send ma to the hotel room.
Masjid Nabawi - from the Babussalam view
Sararee, Sophea and Iman
Ma and the kiddos
11 Jan 2008
Our last day. We haven't bought anything yet. So, I decided to pick ma and went shopping. Ma actually really needed me to accompany her to shop since she can't carry heavy stuff that much. But it was only the last day I could do that. We went to a few shops. 1 of the shopkeepers thought I was a saudi (baru cakap sepatah dua words in arabic dah kata aku ni minah arab... sabor je la). Of course I had to tell them that I followed my husband and bla bla bla....
Kak Ya and us at the Al Shaer (Kak Ya is a friend of mine)
We didn't get to buy much since its already Zohor. It was Friday and abang needed to perform his Friday prayer. Besides, no shop is opened during the prayer. While abang was praying, we went to ma's room. I met ma's roomates. They were kind (hajah hajah la katakan...)
Ahmed called and invited us to have lunch at his house. If you notice, we've been eating at Ahmed house quite a few times. We really didn't want to trouble him but he and Nur always insisted us (Kalau tolak, takut kecik hati pulak). That afternoon, we ate another Kabsa and a very mouthwatering salad with a french dressing specially prepared by Ahmed (sedap sangat! I need to learn of how to make it). I forgot to mention that Nur also invited Kak Cahaya to the house. Kak Cahaya is a muslim US citizen malay lady who does her sabbatical at the Taiba University. She has a 3 grown up boys who studied in the US. She spoke bahasa melayu very well though she has been in the States for almost 20 years.
In the evening, we went out again. This time with Nur and Kak Cahaya. But later Kak Cahaya decided to go home since she had students assignment to check.
We arrived at the Taiba Centre about 1/2 hour before the Isya' prayer. Ma bought abayat and necklace for Sophea, Sobhan and Aaina. Also, a few abayat for her. The guy at the necklace shop gave Shahmey a watch. I refused at first and said,
"If you give him, the sisters will be jealous"
He later gave another 2. One thing I noticed in here (here: in this country) was, the shopkeepers were fond of kids. There were a few occasions that we've received free items or a huge discounts after they looked and 'kuchi kuchi' our kids (sorry! I don't have the accurate vocab for that)
Later, ma wanted to purchase Kaabah posters for Azman, my brother in law and also to give others as souvenirs, I supposed.
An occasion that stumbled me there, was an incident whereby an arab lady hit her daughter in front of our eyes. The small girl (about 2 - 3 years old) was crying out loud and the mother hit her like crazy on her head, slapped her cheek and body. If the girl wasn't taken away by the other lady, I think the small girl would have collapsed or even worse, died. Nur asked why she hit the daughter and she said her voice was embarassing. The lady didn't feel guilty at all. She kept hitting the girl until the other lady had to hold the little girl tight. I cried a bit looking at the incident (Apa lah jenis manusia. Kecil lagi budak tu. bukannya faham apa pun. Semoga I won't be like her...)
Since we needed to catch our flight, we had to stop shopping. Besides, I hadn't finish packing yet. We said goodbye to ma and rushed home. Nur accompanied ma upstairs but I didn't. I asked abang,
"Mak sape sebenarnya ni? Mak neeza ke mak Nur?"
"Entah lah. Abang pun wonder jugak..."
At home, Ahmed bought something like murtabak served in a box like a pan pizza. I've yet to ask the food name. He bought a lot and of course we didn't finish them. Nur 'tapau' the food for us and until the time I write this, we haven't finished the food... Not only that. Ahmed bought a big plate of 'kunafah' (a special arab cuisine) for us to bring back. Masyaallah...
Ahmed and Nur sent us to the airport. He even helped in checking in our baggage while abang went to return the rental car. Telling the truth, I never met anybody so kind hearted like that. That was the first time. May Allah bless him and the family.
After waving goodbye, we went in. It was freezingly cold that evening. Our flight was scheduled at 11.50pm which means we would arrive Dammam about 2 hours after that.
Sobhan and Sophea - 2 sleepy girls
We arrived Dammam Airport at 1.20am. My kids were all sleeping then. Sophea woke up just fine. Only God knew how hard it was for abang to wake Sobhan up. To freshen each of us, we had coffee there.
We continued our journey and finally reached home at 3.20am. Alhamdulillah...
Honestly, I was happy with the trip because:
1. I managed to pray at the Masjid Nabawi
2. Got to meet my mom
3. Met an unusually nice family (Ahmed and Nur's)
4. Visited many historical places
But, I am a bit frustrated because:
1. I only prayed 2 times in Masjid Nabawi (it should be more coz the pahala is huge)
2. We didn't bring back zam zam drink at all
3. Shahmey was not feeling well all the way
4. I should have jotted down all information given by Ahmed (now, I forgot which story is for which picture...)
Insyaallah, we will be there again. One day... when? entahlah.. Only God knows!