I pray every day to have been given the chance to be there in 2017. Plan A did not go well, and after Plan B, I basically stopped planning but continued praying.
Day in, day out and it was October. But.. I have no plan yet to the holy land. So as days went by, I felt sad and empty.
A few days before my birthday, Love suddenly managed to get a long leave and said, "Jom pergi Umrah!"
We were psyched. We resolved our issue one by one. From the fact that I have insufficient leave to the extra fees we need to pay as we just went the year before.
We opted to go via Shahid Travel and Tours as they organized a private package for us. We managed to cut short to 6 days trips and managed to leave the girls with my parents. Alhamdulillah, we were able to book a date when I was free from my menses and also on a week of semester break.
Unlike our Umrah the previous year, this time we entered Makkah first before Madinah. I felt comfortable with Saudi Airlines previously, so we did the same for this trip.
So, to Makkah first or to Madinah?
Considering I have experienced both, I choose Makkah. Because, I feel like it is more natural to perform your ibadah first, while you are still healthy and then take a little slow in Madinah as it is a peaceful land indeed.
We left Malaysia at 1210 noon, Saturday Malaysia time, arrived in Jeddah 415pm (Saudi time) and finally reached our hotel almost midnight via bus with the other jemaah. We stayed in Hotel Saraya Iman also with the rest of the jemaah, a bit further away compared to our previous hotel in Maqam, hence we didn't really have the luxury to go back and forth to our hotel every prayer time like we did. We didn't quite mind as it was just the two of us and it gave us more time in the mosque.
We performed our first umrah of 2017 at 1am and the feeling was beautiful :) Like everything you dreamed of and more.
A lot has changed in Masjidil Haram within a year. No more temporary mataf, the zam zam well was renovated, only those with ihram can do tawaf in ground floor and you thought things will be really chaos, but no. It was really REALLY peaceful indeed. I must applaud Saudi government for the way they manage this, thank you.
Our food was all taken care by Shahid Travel, 3 times a day in the hotel. But, we did not follow the tour as our focus this time not to ziarah, but more to exploring the mosque. And we did just that. We Sai'e at almost every floor, solat at almost every corner of Masjidil Haram where Kaabah is visible, we stalked the imam so that we could solat close to them, after solat, we stayed at the rooftop where it was windy, looking at Kaabah and how synchronize and peaceful everything was from the top.
We took a taxi from outside our hotel to Tan'im for us to perform our Umrah. Tan'im was about 10-15 minutes away from Masjidil Haram and it costs you around 50-60 Riyal (About RM60-70).
This is pretty much our timetable everyday in Makkah.
We left our hotel at 3am to Tan'im, performed Umrah and had our Subuh prayer. Back home for breakfast and sleep for about 3 hours. Woke up about an hour before Zuhur, shopped for about 15 minutes for souvenirs back home and rushed to the mosque for Zuhur prayer. Come back to the hotel for lunch and after lunch, freshened up for about half an hour. Then, we stayed in the mosque before Asar until after Isyak. After Isyak, we had dinner and normally by 9pm I have already fell asleep so I could wake up at 2am the next day and the cycle continued.
I also come out with plans on what to do every solat time. Typically would be Solat Sunat Tahajjud (before Subuh), Solat Sunat Dhuha (after Subuh), Solat Sunat Taubat, Sujud Syukur, Solat Hajat, Solat Witir, Solat Jenazah, Zikir, specific doa, doa from friends, recite Quran (I have specific target for every solat) if I have extra time, I will sedekah Fatihah for my family member that have passed away especially my grandmother. You need to have strategy, a good friend of mine who have been there multiple times always advised me and that was just what I did.
We stayed in Makkah from Saturday until Wednesday. Right after we performed our last umrah in Makkah that year, we performed our Subuh and Tawaf Wida' (probably one of the saddest feeling I had), waited outside hotel where Shahid Travel prepared a cab for us to Madinah. It took about 4 hours to Madinah via car, where it was almost 9 hours previously by bus!
|Our scenery for hours in the cab|
We stayed in Bahauddin Hotel which was right in front of the mosque just before Zuhur. We purposely requested to arrange our own food as we thought of trying the local food in restaurant, but boy.. there was not much restaurant in Madinah. But I really REALLY love the food in the only dine in restaurant visible from our hotel, hence we ate that almost every time.
After Isyak, I waited to get in Raudhah, Alhamdulillah was given the chance to do that. Alhamdulillah, I was a bit nervous as I was alone. The previous year, I went inside Raudhah with the jemaah. But I found a friend there, we were both clueless so we just go with the flow. I managed to get in, was protected by some group from Pakistan, may Allah swt bless their soul (T_T). After Raudhah, we had dinner with our good friend who was also a representative from Shahid Travel and came there to greet us at the hotel.
After Zuhur the next day, we packed up our things and waited for an Uber driver together with Shahid's representative (our good friend, Mus) where he personally sent us to the airport to leave the peaceful Madinah.
Goodbye Mus, thank you for the hospitality. Goodbye Makkah and Madinah, dear Allah swt, please allow us to visit your holy land again.
To end my post, I highly recommend Shahid Travel and Tours especially if you opt for customized umrah like us. I rate the 5/5.