my unusual Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt

It's nothing like my usual Ramadan, in any ways. Of course the longing to have Mama cooks for both Iftar and Sahur are something I would miss, and this just the beginning. To experience everything in very unusual way, unfamiliar yet my first time since Mama left, while I had to celebrate both of this year's Ramadan and Mothers' day while everyone does in usual way...
it's me again on another side of world dealing with the absence of Mother and the thoughts that keep me cherishing that this life is forever a test. yet in the same time, a prosperous blessing of God to me.

This is, my beginning. 

I had 3 final papers in a row in a week, and Ramadan was coming in less than a week. I had no plans but I was quite sure of the need to escape somewhere. While I am planning to make it unusual, I purposely wanted it to be a solo travel, just a real tough taste. Like a real 'real' escape. And my trial to face the beginning. Without the usual cliques, without family, just far away from any kind of comfort zones, I decided to take a flight to... Egypt. 

I don't have any specific reasons why it has to be Egypt, other that I know few souls there I think everything else should be just fine. and the fact that the flight ticket is still under my budget, I just straight went to Cairo after my last paper and here it is; my Ramadan journey.

Here am I in Cairo, adapting the unusuals.

Khan El Khalili

First of all, God really bless me with real friends here, just those ones who welcome and celebrate my presence like I am bringing a fortune to each of them. They have believed in saying 'hold an honour of you guest', for this Allah bless them all in return. Ones that make sure I had the good sleep through the night, the knock on door to wake me up for Sahur, the effort they put to make sure I could perform my Taraweeh every night despite they are having exam in the same week, the invitation to join their program and the warmth of gesture that always making sure I had the best of this city.

all of those, that polish off how unpleasant real Cairo is to me. 

the truth, 

the first few days in Cairo were tough to me, because I tend to compare with how pleasant was British way of doing things. More proper as we call it 'English way', the unusual Cairo just made me want to curse a lot and I guess that's how my first Ramadan lesson is to learn to be patient and.... adapt!

 Thought it is somehow expected, with reference to recent trip I went to Saudi. From the people who speak so loudly more like they are shouting to price discrimination and their capitalist habit of charging us just whatever they can especially to non-locals, and of course my inability to converse in arabic have been somehow a disadvantage to me. Also glad that my friends have been so helpful on this.

 Of course, I would also still in question with obvious way of living between Sabi' and Asyir people though to me the distance between both two places are just few kilometres away; all just made me thought a lot. and I haven't even started to talk about the Egyptian driving as to me.. just insanely unusual! 14 days still couldn't make me cross any roads without depending to someone else. 

Nothing much with the first week, except the Mosque hopping. Like five nights Taraweeh in different five mosques; thanks to S and A who made this happen. Who teman-ing, and sending me off, for waiting until the Witir and gets me back home each night. The sacrifice of time uguys made and the generous mushrif I don't even know their names, Allah bless them all.

I can say I am quite satisfied as I had chance to visit and some that I performed Taraweeh there, there is a few including Al Azhar Mosque, Al Hussein Mosque, Mosque of Al Amr Ibn Al As and
Marshal Tantawi Mosque.
(and also some mosques nearby)

I think my favourite that has put me into depth of emotion is Mosque of Al Amr Ibn Al As, and it was the last Masjid I visited at last few hours before my flight on the very last day. And the fact that it was the very first Masjid built upon the opening of Egypt by Amr Ibn Al As, with an order from Khalifah Umar Al Khattab. It is located in the old Cairo and nearby there was also an oldest Cathedral in Egypt; both are to me two important buildings in Cairo. Like I hope to visit there more earlier and listen to the stories more better and in less rush.

If I could remember there was four mimbars in the Masjid that also being told as a mimbar that represents each Imams of different mazhab. Interestingly, as you walk inside the Masjid you can see how the original layouts are still being preserved though it has been the oldest around the whole of Africa.

Masjid Amr Ibn Al As 

I have been to few places, from Cairo. First day of trip was spent as a road trip to El Fayoum. I didn't go there alone, in fact I was joining a trip with a Malaysian family who happened to be in the same time visiting Cairo. I was with them all the time for a day, and we did Iftar together later in the night. That was to me, a warm gesture that rather is unforgettable. It made as this foreign place could also feels like home.

It took us around two hours of journey to get to El Fayoum. But two hours felt like nothing, as the view you get along the journey is spectacular. The desert view was of course something I wouldn't get everyday, it literally was something else.

and that was the reward I guess, when you bear your eyes for desert and the view you thought is all plain... wait till you reach the Oasis. To be honest, this is my first time witnessing an oasis and as spectacular as the name 'oasis' is it took quite a moment for me to absorb the beauty of Wadi Al Rayan's Oasis.

It has been a journey, really. 

Trip to El Fayoum Oasis, was something spectacularly unusual. It is beyond amazing.

Before reaching to Wadi Al Rayan, we did visit Qarun Lake which is to me also an important tourist spot you should not miss in the way to El Fayoum. So often since I was a kid to here the story of Qarun who turned away from God as he turned rich. Due to his arrogance, Qarun's treasures and wealth finally being swallowed and this story is so interesting as it has exactly been mentioned in the Quran according to ayah 28:81

Lake of Qarun

At a first glance I barely saw it as a lake, as the size of literally 55,000 hector is to me pretty massive. The lake used to be warehouses of Qarun's treasures and wealth that finally being swallowed.

To my plan, I was supposed to visit the pyramid on the first week of my trip and I have been so excited about this since it's the first of one of seven wonders in the World for me. I have never been to any before. But for the sake of best of experience according to S, I only got chance to go on my second week but glad it went pretty well.

But should I say, I was quite unimpressed with the Egyptian tourism management. I acknowledge of how I could get cheaper price if I could show my student card. And, that is I guess that is the privilege of being a student as you'd get benefit by visiting these kind of places. However, I found it unpleasant since my student card is in English and due to their inability to read that right they could not accept mine all because they could not find the 'international' word and they don't even tolerate their inabilities even after we explained.

Even so, I was quite lucky too since there was an officer at the entrance who finally approved our student cards, but it was like the only approval and then after we proceeded for payment, we still got problems in dealing with another process at different stage of entrance. Finally as we got tired with such nonsense we finally had to bribe another officer to pass the security stage before the real entrance. It was troublesome tbh, but I learnt how Egypt makes money out of their tourism. They just charge you money with everything under the sun, it's either they sell to you, make it hard on you till you finally give up and bribe them more to pass through. and, I am not yet talking about some tourists we saw as they had to deal with hidden cost charged on them by their tourist guide. Scammers are everywhere and in many forms.

I couldn't thank Z more for guiding this trip, and gave his best. I felt as my wanderlust is satisfied as I met the Pyramids. It just, amazing and mind-blowing.

Egyptian Museum

Pause on Cairo, I did go to another city of Egypt on the second week that is to be Alexanderia. Alexanderia, unlike Cairo, is all the way sea and more breezy and windy. I had two nights there, two times of Sahoor and an Iftar on the first day.

I am not sure if I like Alexanderia better, but Cairo in gesture was warmer and more familiar. Maybe going to Alexanderia was like I was being put too much on hope and less of realisation. I think that I could have done more activities and visited more places (not that I regret) as it cancelled off with the crazy Alex cliques that reminded me more of my UK friends.

Citadel of Qaitbay

friends that I forgot some of their names luls but boys they are cool

As I went back to Edinburgh, and me having back my usuals. I guess I have started to miss the unusual Cairo and how it has been to me, weird of course. Because I have to admit how there were days in Cairo I have been wanting to go back to the usual home.

maybe that is how unique this trip is, more of me revising lessons, adapting something I am not used to, meeting new faces and knowing new names and be familiar again. Even though most of the time I was actually questioning, and the awful me just could not stop comparing. But I had it all, I guess.

I would miss the dusty weather, the bloody sunny days like I have to take shower every 5mins, the loudness of voices and car horns, the rush they had on roads, but also the sweetness of Mango asir, their tolerance and compliments they would give when you speak of Tun, also the taste of home everytime of I hear the call for prayers from nearby masjid.

Thanks to all, to you know who you are.

Trust me when I say I had it all, and that's pretty sum up my entire Ramadan trip to Cairo.

Unusual, yet an amazing ride like the following camel ride photo I attach to you hiks


Stay tuned, as I'll be leaving to Copenhagen in two days.
For more stories and adventures.

Best of Valencia

I... have promised to myself that I won't finish my last word of my dissertation if I'm not settled with my trip post beforehand. Like I made it compulsory, of course I must do. Though this trip wasn't supposed to be the highlight of December, it came out to be as well important like all my other places I planned to go. so here we go...

Valencia was to be my first city to visit after the last paper I attend yesterday's morning. God bless the last paper wasn't a bad one, that I woke up the next morning telling myself

"I am so ready for a good escape."

First out of three, to be real.
The story of how this trip gets to be real has started long ago quite few weeks before. That on one night when the girls just feeling bored and uneasy... much of feeling unsatisfied that 10 months are going to end very soon. And this is like what, the prolly lifetime chance you got to visit all Europe countries with the least of money to spend... (compared to when you depart from home)

So as we quite worried of the limited time we have, we just browsed for the cheapest flight. We say 'maybe we can just book any flights, I mean we can plan the itinerary later'.
There's always a way, when you have the will. 

The flight to Valencia took the earliest morning flight, I bet that was the first flight depart that morning. It was to be exact, 6am flight.

Off to Valencia, we go.

I was the one to be in charge of our accommodation for three nights long, and I was unhappy for my cheapskate ass. My decision to have all of us booked for a room suitable for two only made the rest of us suffered for additional cost.

Poor me o poor me.
The only good thing about the Airbnb we booked, is that it is located in the city centre. Imagine you go downstairs from your room and you have all the tourist attraction 3 mins walking distance away from where you are standing. The location is very strategic and convenient as well.

But let us focus more on what Valencia has to offer. The surrounding, scenery and their people.

And boi you don't expect this.

Valencia is nothing better but for their freaking oranges. In fact, it is one of the sweetest city I have been. You can never go to other places where orange trees are the part of their town planning scenery. It's like they somehow got a theme, that to me is quite different from any other Europe countries.

Like a cartel-ish themed is I were to say one.

Talking about the beach, with them my bitches... is as well, one of the best thing to have happened in this small city of Valencia. I mean, if it wasn't about the companion, maybe I would just talk about oranges and attach more photos about oranges like there is no other thing better than that.

We just figured out that Valencia is somehow special for their beach called Malvarosa beach. And we glad we didn't use any transport better than a bicycle to the beach... this trip hasn't been better that we went cycling all the way.

The sunny yet breezy Valencia was memorable because of this. As you go cycling around the city, you can see quite many of graffiti as well (I swear I took some photos for this, but I lost all the moment I lost my phone recently). Not to mention the cafes... Valencia has beautiful cafes to hop on. Some cafes are more like a bar than a cafe, but I guess there is nothing wrong to just get into one and try warm coffees or should I say this another time... please try their fresh orange juices!!

and, their traditional Spanish cuisine... Paella! 

I... don't fancy Paella that much. But I must say, it worth a try whenever you come to any part of Spain. I can say the one we had wasn't the best Paella in Valencia, though it's the Valencia is where it originated from. Being told by the waiter, that it took some time to get Paella cooked upon order, maybe the best Paella could as well worth the time you spend on waiting. 

@ Cafe De las Horas

They say, Valencia is just a small part of Spain. And not that I could talk better about Spain as a whole, but only for their Oranges.

...and their fresh seafood, of course.
If you ever come to Valencia, please visit their wet market in the morning. It really reminds me of home, like waking up the earliest morning coz you want to get the best fresh seafoods you can. Well, you can have this in Valencia.

That morning we basically bought big prawns for each of us and some scallops as well. 

**My pro tips, don't forget to ask for bargain. and compare prices between different sellers, because your Asian innocent face could cost you more than you're supposed to pay. haha

We did think we made such a right choice in choosing Valencia as the first of this impromptu trip. and I thank my girl so much that she made video out of this... despite me losing all my memories in the phone, I got it compiled all in one short video. 

now, stay tuned for our next city stop...!

(promise you, the next post won't take ages)

already left

After Jason, there was of course another guy. Orked did meet someone new, we name it Ayden, the guy who existed for a limited time period say a month long, never less and never more. On Orked's journey of life that has been bumpy and gloomy... Ayden was somehow a temporary reason to smile.

Upon one-month, and before everything going back to normal again in Orked's life.. a letter has been prepared but is kept unsent---

To Ayden, 

I am writing this on 5th of January which means that we have two more days left before the period ends. and I would want you to read this while your mind is conscious and your heart is at peace. 

Ayden… a month with you has been nothing but amazing and unforgettable. It’s surprising to know how in this short span of time I learnt so much about myself, and about you. And most important, you proved me wrong that while you have no fear to show your affection and feeling to me…. i now believe there is still a guy out there that actually have the capability and all the potential in this world to love me right. 

I grew up being a girl that always came up too intense with my feeling and some just say how vulnerable I could be when it comes to love. But with you, for once I feel right just being who I am… and like I said to you before, you never force me to be somebody I’m not while in the same time you celebrate well my strength and never for once you judge my weakness. To a point now that I believe you are really one of a kind; you left impact to somebody that apparently is a broken soul. In fact is a positive impact… Thank you so much, Ayden… for existing. Thank you for every goodmorning(s), short reminders (though more to like you nagging) whenever I caught up careless, your first ever chapter of ‘Ayden’s cheesiness never goes off’, for waking me up in the morning, for being the best listener I could wish for… and just for every chapters of ‘Ayden’ you have taught me. 

Before you came I did pray to God once, to just have anybody to cheer up my day and just take away my emotional burden. Thinking of it now, I sometimes wonder if you’re the answer to my prayer. If you are, then no words could describe how grateful I am to have you. And even not, as a human being, please know that you have done something right in someone’s life. You really, are the precious Ayden. 

Talking about feelings, now. I have no fear in telling you how I have caught with emotional attachment again this time, though how much I have tried not to. I caught feelings for you ever since our earlier days and I don’t mind letting you know. But let us be realistic, that my scar is more real while my past experience wasn’t a good story to tell, I haven’t quite healed and I don’t think I am ready and any sooner will be capable in loving another soul yet… more insane it would be for me to pour all my love for someone as amazing as you. I rather call myself delusional to imagine my future with you by just looking at my fear of the unknown tomorrows, and I haven’t seem settled with my broken yesterdays. While I quite acknowledge how this going to be a very long (also could be tiring) journey if ever we were to have something, I mind that we shall not continue and just keep best of what we had till this point. 

Thank you so much, Ayden; for a great one month conversation. No doubt it was the best one I had after so long. 

I will always pray for our path to cross, once again. That time I wish I could really love you, truly and honestly and even better. Till that time Ayden, I wish you nothing but the best in life. 

Yours truly,

With Ayden, it was merely a date and just it. A short one, a kind of feeling that hasn't been figured out but has been long enough treasured. Talked about many things with Ayden, shared some stories and some are the important ones.. with that wise amount of conversations Orked and Ayden had it gets to be worrisome of this process to Orked that in one way or another, this process breaks her a little. That she hasn't been dating anyone for quite number of years now and the number of meetings she went only brings her to frustration that no one has been figured out-- the answer; and that what breaks her the most. The shortfall of every meeting that in the end comes to nothing- like she hasn't been trying at all.

And all that she has been through, it only comes to presuming that maybe Orked doesn't even know what she wants anymore; what more to approach love. there is definitely an absence of connection somewhere, that even before Orked met love for the first time, love from herself has already left.

There's probably no room anymore.

Surat untuk Mama dari Baitullah

"Bumi Madinah menyapa aku tenang dan Tanah Mekah yang aku kira tempat lepas 'raung' dan segala tangis yang aku simpan juga selama waktu-waktu yang aku cuma perlu adalah pelukan kamu." 
Jeddah did welcome me with the warmest greeting ever, and the first view to see is how there was a separation between women and men section, along the process of queue in which women did have some privileges in term of their own security and spaces. I bet... this is just how special this place is. Women are being privileged here. In this place, women are honoured and protected.

Ma, pagi di Jeddah itu nyaman tetapi bising. Yang dirasakan janggal tetapi tidak asing. 

6 hours of bus journey to Madinah from Jeddah was long, it's like meeting the long lost lover... for that reason even a second feels like a year. and the journey from the after Fajr to before Zuhr comes... finally Madinah wasn't just a hearsay and a dream to me now, a reality.

I am now in Madinah, Ma. The place we have been talking for ages in going together.

Though it's just me here, alone and not having you. But always, my thoughts are with you and how I wish you were here.

The warm weather, unlike in the cold country I have been... it feels good to see the sunlight again in Madinah. Of the warmth it has to offer... that day was quite a sunny day but not too drying for skin so I bet it just bearable. Slightly windy but not at all cold to have any second layer to put on.  

That day, was really a nice day Ma.

From my hotel to reach Masjid An Nabawi, I would have to go through a small souk in between the journey. I had my first Zuhr prayer upon arrival. There were so many people, from all over the places wearing whites and blacks and all were rushing for one call. That was... surreal (to be honest). Imagine being in a crowded place, and listening to noises from people bargaining for cheaper deals here and there, but with just that one call it is like everything stops and there is no more other thing to do that is rather important than submitting ourselves all over again to gain blessing for the rest of the day.

I managed to get the second saf from in front, and Allah I couldn't forget my first sujood in the Masjid Nabawi, it was unspeakable feeling the moment I only speak gratitude to the marble ground that is covered with significantly beautiful carpet of the Masjid that smells nothing better than a large bed full of roses. I cried.

Ternyata Bumi Madinah itu bumi rahmat, Ma. Dan aku diperjalankan takdir untuk sampai kesini dan mungkin juga ini jemputan untuk kamu yang mewakilkan aku. Untuk apa dan bagaimana, tiada siapa yang tahu. Yang pasti, beban rindu sudahpun terlunas di sini. 

In Madinah, I find peace.
That none other places are ever comparable to this place. 

My love at a first sight has found, Ma. It's this city of Madinah; the city of Lights. 

Throughout days I spent in Madinah, alhamdulillah I got to visit The Rawdah more than once; the very special place that everyone has been talking about by the people who have been there and even by the people who have never been there. It's magical to know how this place is being loved by many, and for sisters it could be challenging as it definitely not that easy to be in Rawdah, trust me when I say you gotta have a great patience to come in through. but the moment you finally get to pray in the Rawdah, all the waits and patience were just worth it. 

“The area between my house and my minbar is one of the gardens of Paradise…” Hadith 

On this journey, our stay in Madinah lasted five days in total. And I definitely had a difficult moment in leaving the cosy Madinah, but surely I need to bear in mind that Mecca has something else to offer and in fact the whole motive of this journey of pilgrimage.

Here is to Mecca...
Melihat Kaabah buat pertama kali... aku jadi hilang. Semua soalan-soalan yang aku simpan seolahnya ikut tenggelam, dan aku jadi hilang.
Siapa aku di hadapan-Mu, Tuhan. 

Unlike Masjid An Nabawi where they have restricted time for sisters, The Haram is kept open for all hours. To me, Mecca is really a crowded place and while Kaabah is the attention for everyone, I bet for that reason I have to deal with some unpleasant experiences with (to me) very inconsiderate people. In Mecca, I could feel a little regret in coming here alone and without proper Mahram. In Mecca, I wished to feel more secured and protected (especially) during the peak hour where people keep coming around the Kaabah for tawaf. As a woman and apparently single, having Mahram to lead the way and over the crowd... is really much needed.

So many things have happened along this 2018, and most were undeniably impactful events I have never imagined to ever capable in going through each one of it, if it isn’t for the sake of Allah (and only Him). Along days and nights when I cried for better days I finally understand better now of how perfect Allah has planned everything for me... in ways that are unspeakable yet I am here anyway realizing how amazing this life could be. 

Though I haven't travelled the world, yet I am sure that the breeze of Madinah and Mecca are of its own and I hope this isn’t the last for me to breathe it. It’s surprising somehow that I prayed for December just to have one good proper closure and that I wanted to fall in love and be whole again; now I am beyond happy and grateful that my heart is taken and I have fallen in love 💕

Today, may all of our prayers be accepted and may we have a peaceful heart. Amin.

Untuk Mama, antara kita yang tiadanya kata akhir  ketahuilah aku akhirnya kesini kerana kita pernah berjanji untuk bersama-sama kemari
bersama-sama, Ma
dan bukan sahaja aku 
yang kali ini tanpa siapa-siapa

I have cried too many sunrises, desperately asking for another day in wanting to be blessed with your prayers. Like my usual days when you secured me with

"InsyaAllah, Ma doakan."

dan betapa kurang bertuahnya aku untuk berfikir yang tuntutan aku terhenti usai kau pergi. dan janji aku untuk saat ini, dan sampai bila-bila kiranya nafas aku masih ada...

InsyaAllah Ma, adik akan selalu doakan Mama.