Sunday, 31 March 2013

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED.. PART 1: ISRAEL/PALESTINE

Our traveling date were moved more than a month forward to 27 February 2013 in anticipation of the 13th general election that could be called anytime soon. It has been 24 years since I last traveled only with my parent. In the past, it will always be a mesmerizing trip with the whole battalion of at least 6 siblings (now almost triple with the in-laws and the next generation) but this trip encompasses of only me, my elder sister Chempaka Emalin and my parent for a spiritual journey to Mecca but we took a longer route via Jordan and a stop in Jerusalem, Palestine (Israel).

27 February 2013. We left Malaysia via Royal Jordanian Airlines on 27 February 2013 and arrived in Queen Alia International Airport on 28th February 2013 at 6am to be greeted by De Mawardah Travel Agent officer whom brought us for breakfast. Amman was cold!

Our first stop was for breakfast.


We had the Jordanian "Roti Canai?"... with eggs and humus. Nice? you damn right but the size of one roti is enought to feed us whole family!!



After breakfast, we continued our journey to the King Hussein bridge which was the border to Paletistine. I was fascinated with the architecture of houses and buildings in Amman.  There were all 'square' without any roof? Jordan is a country with 70% dessert but the Jordanian Dinar is a stronger currency than US Dollar.




We then arrived at the border and after a few minutes of waiting, we were cleared to cross the border to Palestine. If Amman was cold, Palestine was even colder! the weather was not what Rose Emini Pahamin predicted.. the spring jacket that we brought was certainly too thin. The most significant observation thusfar in Palestine, almost every officers are in bullet proof vest and all were highly armed. ..scary?! Our tour guide (picture below) in Palestine was a 70 years old, strong, very kind, caring and knowledgeable man, Fatrullah.


Via a coach, we continued the journey to the oldest city in the world, Jericho. Jericho is described in the Old Testament as the "City of Palm Trees." Copious springs in and around the city attracted human habitation for thousands of years.[8]


After a few hours of bus ride, we arrived at Ahava Temptation for our lunch and I cant help but to notice the saliva drooling huge Promegranate fruit at every corner of the building. 


The fruit was almost double the size of those available in Malaysia.


The building which also sells souvenirs has a 33 years old restaurant which is called the Temptation Restaurant where we had our lunch.



There were alot of food served at the buffet lunch for my good appetite and after a full-tank stomach, we continued our journey and the next stop was the Mount of Temptation. The Mount of Temptation is located about 5km north west of the west banks city of Jericho. The Mount of Temptation, with a gravity-defying monastery clinging to its sheer face, is traditionally regarded as the mountain on which Christ was tempted by the devil during his 40-day fast.



We then continued our journey to the Nabi Musa a.s. (Prophet Moses) Mosque and Makam.



With us during the travel was Dr Azmi, his wife Jini (or spell?), his son and a few months old daughter.







After praying to the late prophet, we then continued our journey and I tried hard to stay awake to sight see the surroundings... Throughout the trip, there were full of padang pasir..


It was a miracle for grass to grow in the dessert.


Scenic of Jordan from inside the bus.


Some of the shops and buildings in Jerusalem.




Finally, we arrived at our hotel, the Ridz. Excellent hotel with free Wi-Fi.


After checking-in, we continued our journey to the Al Aqsar mosque. It was a long walk deep into the fortress of sort. After many minutes of walk and rest (mother was not in the best of condition to walk), we finally arrived at the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Arabic:المسجد الاقصى al-Masjid al-Aqṣā, IPA: [ʔælˈmæsdʒɪd ælˈʔɑqsˤɑ] ( listen), "the Farthest Mosque") also known as Al-Aqsa and Bayt al-Muqaddas, is the third holiest site in Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem.The Bayt Al-Muqaddas was the direction of our qiblat before God directed Prophet Muhammad to lead prayers towards kaabah. (for more reading, click HERE).

Mother was really not in the condition to walk especially with countless of stairs. However, the trip to Al Aqsar require us to walk for at least 45 minutes up and down countless of steps (plus the stop and break when mom could not continue). It was a blessing that I came along for I was able to carry mom's bags and held and walked with her while she slowly struggle to walk up the stairs (my bootcamp training paid off hah!). If there was one promise that I made to myself then it would be the promise to care for my parent in their old age. For that same reason, I stayed with Dad and Mom after my wedding and I never moved out of our Kelana Jaya house even after Aaraf was born. God heard my prayer, our family was blessed with  good fortune and we were able to build our houses all in the same compound in Sungai Penchala. Both Azhar Sulaiman & Chempaka Emalin and Mohammed Rhiza Ghazi & Melor Edina agree to come back and stayed with us at Bustanu Pahamin (Village of Pahamin) in Sungai Penchala.





After a long walk we finally saw the golden globe of the Dome of the Rock where we, the Muslims believe that it commemorates Prophet Muhammad pbuh's miraculous Night Journey into heaven. Later commentary by Muhammad, known as the hadith, have him name Jerusalem as the site of the Night Journey




Err. Notice mine and Dad's shoe... Vibram Five Finger !!





We entered underground, above ground and sight visited every angle of the mosque.



Notice the beautiful background & the ceiling...



Some part of the mosque were still being restored. The mosque was properly well cared and maintained.


The architecture of the building was stupendous.


 


After touring the Dome of the Rock, we walk to the Masjidul Al Aqsar. The Al Aqsar mosque was only 5 minutes walk away.




Most Fridays when the muslims were performing their Friday prayer, the jews would throw tear gas and bombs which had in the past killed many muslims.  The last attack was only last friday. Although the fear was there but it did not deter the muslims from praying.


Snap shots inside Masjidul Al Aqsar...





Outside view from inside the mosque.



The place below had something to do with Virgin Mary...?  (forgot the story.. . to much to digest).



Beautiful design and architecture.



After a good tour at the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa/Bayt al-Muqaddas, we went back and retired for the day. We took two rooms, Mom shared with Chempaka Emalin and me with dad. A good father and son bonding moment.

1st March 2013.. My Birthday!!! We woke up early to began our journey visiting historic places in Jerusalem. The first stop was at Jabbal Al Zaitun (aka Gunung Olive) for a panaromic view of Jerusalem town.





Then we arrived at makan Salma Al Farisi and Rabiatul Adawiyyah.




After performing sunnat prayer at the mosque, we continued our journey to the wailing wall, which is arguably the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith outside of the Temple Mount itself.





Background picture is the other side of Al Aqsar mosque.












We then walked to the underground of the mosque which was used to be the storage area for the olive oil. The underground was carpeted and made into Muslim prayer area.










We then took our seat in the mosque waiting for the Friday prayer. I was so fortunate to be able to pray at the 3rd holiest mosque on my birthday which falls on Friday. I have so much to be thankful and grateful for and have so much to repent. For almost 10 years, I would take a day off on my birthday to ponder the year that had passed and to plan for the year ahead. This is the first time, I spend my birthday praying and it really did feel good.


We listen to the khutbah but it was in arabic... so we day dream instead!


After the Friday prayer, we walked out to wait for our bus... a long walk back. Pity mother who had to bear her knee in pain.





From Al Aqsar, we head to the Bethelem, the birth place of Nabi Isa a.s. (Jesus). Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. Bethlehem's chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity.


Before sighting the place where Jesus was born, we stopped by the Taichi Chinese Restaurant for Makan!!!! 



Unfortunately, the food disappeared before we had the chance to camwhore!! Aiseyman... So hungry were we.  Below, is the churh of Nativity...




After camwhoring abit with the beautiful scenic of the place where Jesus was born, we continue our journey but was stopped by a riot.. There were burning tyres and were abit aggressive but upon being told that we were muslims, our bus were untouched. Apparently, the palestinians were not happy with a recent death sentence imposed on a muslim.

Pictures taken from inside our bus.



A few meters away were the Israel army ready to attacked the rioters...


Below were some photo taken of the scenic as well as the land which the israeli confiscated without reason from the palestine muslims to build houses for the israeli.



Still exist are the Bedouins.. According to our tourist guide, these people are the kindest breed. If anyone is hungry or needed food, and they met a bedouins, the Bedouins will never fail to offer them food or drink.



After a long drive, we arrived at the El Ibrahimi, Makam Nabi Isyak and Rifqah.










We waited for the Maghrib prayer and solat berjamaah.




 After a good all day tour on my birthday with a bonus of performing Friday prayer at the Masjidul Al Aqsar, we retired for the night. Tomorrow, we shall leave back to Jordan.

2 MARCH 2013.  We packed and woke up early for breakfast and after makan, Dad and me went for a walk to what we thought was a Malaysian Restaurant called the Dewi Cinta.





We camwhore abit infront of our hotel before check-out and took the coach back to Jordan.
 

On our way to the border, we stopby at the Zero Sea Level point.



Our tour guide (below).





After the Zero Sea Level point, we slept the whole journey to the Palestine/Jordan border. At the border, the bus were inspected by three female soldier in full bullet proof best and armed. They inspect each of our passport and signal the Ok'ed to drive pass the border. We then wait for a different shift in tourist guide.


Thats the end of our short journey into Palestine/Israel. Note to ownself- go back home and learn abit of history. The journey would have been better if I knew the full history of the place we visited. This seemed to be more of an educational trip rather than spiritual.


We never rested in Jerusalem... Our schedule were tight from morning to evening. The trip was very meaningful. Everything was perfect. Beside learning and understanding the history of Islam, Jew and Christianity, we had a good family bonding session, good food and the best of all...  to pray and doa at the Masjidul Al Aqsar on Friday and on my birthday. Life is simply gorgeous....


Next...
Part 2: Jordan!!
Part 3: Madinah
Part 4: Mecca

Stay Tuned...

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