Sunday, March 26, 2017

Visiting Madinah in the beginning of 2017

1-12 January 2017, I had the opportunity to visit Madinah in  Saudi Arabia for a few days. I joined a  group from Kuala Lumpur who are going to perform umrah. We took a flight direct from KL to Madinah.

Once we reached Madinah, it was a plain easy journey to our hotel. Madinah's new airport terminal was just opened. The passing of  immigration and custom was smooth and fast. The next time, if you are going to Mecca for umrah, entry and exit from Madinah is a good option.

As usual, during our short stay, we performed congregational prayer five times a day at Masjid Nabawi, visit historical places around Madinah, visit the Prophet's grave and sahabat's graves, and a bit of sight seeing and shopping.

Madinah is a cooling city, surrounded  by a chain of hills, where core activity start from the mosque. During the night journey from the airport to the city, I was surprised to see a good lighting (blue in color)  beaming around Mount Uhud making it so beautiful. This is naturally, to me,  a new spot suitable for night tour  in the distant future.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Places of Interests in West Sumatera, Indonesia

West Sumatera is one of the provinces in Sumatera (an elongated island in the western most of Indonesia). It is estimated that its population (in 2014) had  reached 5 million spreads in towns and rural hinterland. Major towns are Padang (its capital), Bukit Tinggi, Paya Kumbuh, Sawahlunto and Pariaman. Two notable cities are Padang and Bukit Tinggi.

Padang has an international airport and the province can be accessible by road and air. You may also go through Pekan Baru International Airport and take a car to Padang via a winding road especially around Kelok Sembilan.

Kelok Sembilan is now one of the touristic spots  due to its long and winding road. It has  many turns and curves  that it fits nicely in this wildlife habitat of West Sumatera's valley. The construction of this road took several years to complete. Once completed, it helps to facilitate movement of road traffic from Pekan Baru in Riau province to Bukit Tinggi and Padang in West Sumatera. Prior to this road improvement, the journey time from Riau to West Sumatera takes many hours.

Keluk Sembilan
Jam Gadang is located in a square right in the middle of Bukit Tinggi town. The square forms part of the recreational space for the locals. You may see many activities during the weekends around this place. Kids playing kites, food vendors on cart or ladies selling cakes and traditional delicacies.
Clock Tower in Bukit Tinggi
Nyarai Sianok is a place where you can appreciates the cliff and its formation.
Nyarai Sianok in Bukit Tinggi
Meanwhile, many building owners  here are proud of their traditional roof architecture. Banks, offices, hotel, schools, houses etc have this kind of roof. It is an identity of West Sumatera, as it belongs to the people of Minangkabau, one of the Malay ethnics in Indonesia.
Special Minangkabau roof
Puncak Lawang, 30 minute-drive from Bukit Tinggi is a good retreat place. Located on the top of the hill, overlooking the great lake, Danau Maninjau.
Puncak Lawang 
On the border side with Riau, there is a conservation forest called Harau Conservation Forest which has many waterfalls. You can have picnic here.
Harau Waterfall
Not to forget the history, Bukit Tinggi was once under the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. The Lubang Jepang is one of the tunnels left by the Japanese. It consists of underground tunnels used for prison and related activities.
Lubang Jepang

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bukit Tinggi, West Sumatera

Bukit Tinggi is located in the west of Sumatera island in Indonesia, to be exact, it is in the province of West Sumatera.  I had the opportunity to visit this small city in January 2016. I spent two days here and visited places of interest to many people.

Bukit Tinggi enjoys cool weather. Most hotels here do not provide air conditioner (perhaps ceiling fans  are enough). One of the landmarks in Bukit Tinggi is Jam Gadang (the clock tower at the square that exist over hundred years).

Within the vicinity of Bukit Tinggi, there is a large lake called Danau Maninjau. It took 45 minutes by road to reach there from Bukit Tinggi. I took a rented car to the peak of Puncak Lawang and from there you can see the lake.

Within the city, you can visit Lubang Jepang, an underground tunnels used during the Japanese occupation, Nyarai Sianok (canyon), the clock square, Bung Hatta library, Jenjang 1000 and many more.

Buildings in Bukit Tinggi are unique in their own way. I mean the roof. It has an arch like a horn. It is called Minangkabau roof. West Sumatera is the land of the Minangs people and they spoke their Minang dialects.

The nearest airport to Bukit Tinggi is Padang International Airport. However, you can go via Pekanbaru in Riau. From Pekanbaru, it takes more than 5 hours to reach Bukit Tinggi, passing the highland and valley through narrow and winding road.

Masjid Jamek Pattani, South Thailand

I had the opportunity to visit Masjid Jamek, Pattani in South Thailand on my way home to Malaysia from Hat Yai. With its dome green roofs and a big water body in front,  it does not only display serenity but also portrays a  majestic look. It is considered one of the beautiful mosques in Thailand and its neighbouring regions. Its green roofs gives extra shine when the sun beams its light.

Being located in the majority Muslim Malay population of Pattani province, this mosque becomes the main focus of the religious activities in South Thailand such as daily prayers, friday prayers, sermons, religious classes etc. This mosque activity  is able to unite the populace to perform social and societal duties accordingly.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Klonghae Floating Market, Hat Yai, Thailand

When one's talk  about floating market, you will remember the famous floating market in Bangkok (along Menam Chao Phraya), Damnoen Saduak in outskirt of Bangkok, floating market in Lake Ton Le Sap in  Cambodia, and floating market in Cai Be Saigon and Mekong delta, It seems selling from the sampan or boat is traditionally age long practice in Indo-China.

What I am going to tell you, is about another recently created floating market in Hat Yai, Thailand where people flocked together on nice boats along river bank selling traditional Thai food and drinks to the visitors.

This place is called Klonghae Floating Market, Hat Yai, Thailand. It opens from 3.00pm to 9.00 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. It is only a few kilometres from the Hat Yai city centre.

They sell many traditional food and drinks such as cooked rice, fried mee or noodle, steam corn cob, thai dessert, longan drink, coconut drink, ice cream,  Most food are Halal.

The buyers stand on the wooden  board walk nicely constructed by the authority. Beside the board walk there are a few sitting and eating areas for the patrons to eat and enjoy the food and scenery.

Above the river banks, there are many stalls selling souvenirs like t-shirt, embroidery, thai desserts, and other touristic sough after souvenirs.

Below are a few pictures.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Visiting Dublin

Dublin is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland. Located to the west of  UK, Dublin can be connected via air, and sea.

I took a Ryanair to Dublin from Manchester which cost me only 20 sterling pounds (return). It is only one-hour flight.From the Dublin airport, I took a Dublin bus to the city centre with Euro 3 per person. The bus has a wifi.

Upon reaching the apartment at Iveagh Court  that I booked earlier, I walked to the city centre passing the city park (St Stephen's Green), O'Connell Bridge until I reach the post office. Other place that I visited are Temple Bar area, castle, bachelor's quay and a few institute of higher learning.

Dame Street and the Grafton Street are lively place to visit.Dame Street and Temple Bar are lively at night. These areas offer wine, dine and entertainments.

Dublin is well served with buses and trams. However, if you want to explore, walking is the best option.

Here are a few pictures that I took during my visit to Dublin.

St Stephen Green
An accommodation at Bachelor's Quay
Liffey River and the Bachelor's Quay
O'Connell St
Tram near Iveagh Court
A pedestrian mall, Grafton St
Kebab outlet at Dame Street.
A restaurant at Dame Street
Dinner at Dame St
Dublin at night
Wicklow Streeet
Whiskey Museum
You can book your tour here
A good street map and sign direction board
Fridge magnets sold at Carrollls
O'Connell Bridge
Iveagh Court, has both residential and offices.
The Spire of Dublin. a stainless steel, pin-like monument (121 metre high), O'Connell St. 

A Dublin Mosque, South Circular Road.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Eating Place in Manchester, England

I had the opportunity to visit this city, a city that is not too big but famous for its football clubs i.e Manchester United. Manchester has a lot of higher institutions that attracts students globally. Its population is rather mix ethnic. I found some are from the Indo-Pakistan and Chinese origins.

The city centre is centrally located and Piccadilly is right in the city centre. The city is served by inter-city trains (which has big stations like Piccadilly and Victoria), inter-city buses (Shudehill station), trams, buses and of course taxi. I found Piccadilly Gardens attracts most tourist with its Manchester Wheel.

As a traveller visiting Manchester, I found  a lot of halal food and restaurant located along the road around Rusholme. Major Muslim cuisine are available here at Wimslow Road, Manchester. If you want to satisfy your hunger, come to Rusholme and enjoy your meal.

There are many  restaurants at Wimslow Road. One of them is Al Jazeera. You can taste Arab cuisine at Al Jazeera.If you come at night, this area is well lit with colorful lights and looks vibrant.

Cosy atmosphere at upper stair of Al Jazeera

Rice and grilled chicken at Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Wing Yip supermarket offers oriental food.
For those who like to cook Asian food themselves, you can buy raw materials like chilly sauce, wantan mee, prawn paste, fish essence (budu), and other oriental food from a Chinese supermarket in the city, This Chinese supermarket offers large variety of oriental food imported from Malaysia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, China and Hong Kong.