Umrah 2019 Experiencing The Special Chartered Flight To Medina
I t has been a while since my last post... No lack of effort or enthusiasm on my part, but it is fair to say that things have been a little busy in the real world lately, most of my times are devoted to my career. Thus, I have put my travel notes aside.
Despite my busy schedule, I was given by Allah to perform umrah again. Unlike before, this time, I could go with my family. My husband, my children, my sister and her husband were joining the pilgrimage. For me, this is a special invitation from Allah. It was always a dream of mine to perform the umrah and observe the pilgrimage in the holiest cities of Islam ~ Medina and Mecca ~ with my whole family. I was grateful to Allah for bestowing countless blessings upon my family with the precious gift.
Since last November I have made some preparation to perform the umrah. Although it was not my first time, careful preparation was my priority especially it involved mental and physical strengths.
Because I am getting into my dotage, I need stamina to perform tawaf and saie. I need to ensure that I fit to do the activities. For that, my husband and I took a three-month cycling challenge, 12 km for every cycling. Beside that, I checked my children's knowledge on umrah thoroughly. Although they are all grown-ups now, I wanted them to do their umrah correctly.
This time I used the service of TH Travel Services Sdn Bhd. Check out my previous entry that I have written two years ago about TH Travel, HERE.
This time I had the opportunity to take the Malaysia Airline (MAS) charted Airbus booked under TH Travel. The flight flew out directly to Medina. The airbus could accommodate up to 500 pilgrims. I was told that 45 percent of flights from Malaysia landed in Medina while the rest landed in Jeddah with pilgrims then heading straight to Mecca.
Once on-board, the flight attendants who were in their senor years greeted us politely. Meanwhile, the stewardesses looked sweet wearing hijab. (For your info, on other MAS flight, the stewardesses do not wear hijab).
"Sometimes we took the Indonesian pilgrims. Almost every day we fly to Medina," said the MAS steward when I asked him about their service.
That explains how many pilgrims from the Southeast Asia region go to the holy lands daily.
All the passengers in this flight are pilgrims to the holy lands
It was a completely different flying experience this time, it was full of worshiping and remembrance of Allah.
"Subhanallazi saqoro lana haazaa wamaa kunnaa lahuu mukrinin wa inna illa robbina lamun qolibuun," echoed a soft voice reciting the supplication for protecting the journey before taking off, probably the pilot.
When it was time for prayer, the azan was called out by the muazzin, summoning for the worshipers to perform their prayer. It was broadcast over speakers of the flight cabin. Followed by a tazkirah ~ a piece of advice~ issued across the vast flight cabin by a visiting Ustaz. This reminded me of my Hajj back in 2010. Check out my experience back then, HERE.
Only, I humbly request this charted flight to kindly provide a prayer room in the cabin as provided by Saudi Airlines. Check out my experience using the prayer room in Saudi Airlines, HERE.
Rice with meat for lunch
MAS normally serve a selection of hot food for lunch, but on this flight, they had run out of chicken as I requested with the exception of meat. I have to admit I can understand why. Nothing particularly unusual about the food, the quality was just OK. I had nasi lemak for breakfast but I think I like the nasi lemak at my workplace cafeteria better.
Rice with chicken for lunch
What are the cool stories to tell to my readers? Every journey has its own story to tell, I found out that each of this story is unique although I have visited the same place repeatedly. (FYI, including this, I have been to the holy lands for 5 times).
My family and I recent visit to the holy lands was in winter 2019, it was at the end of January to early February. Of course the cold weather was a challenge to us. Our nephew who just came back form his pilgrimage told us that the weather there was very cold and windy. "You can't bear with the freezing and windy weather without winter jackets, socks, gloves and shoes," he warned us showing his pictures covered with winter clothing which he took three days ago in Medina.
I understand his feeling because I had experienced the coldness of winter in Medina during my visit in 2010. It was very cold especially at night and before dawn. Check out my experience there, HERE.
The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Medina
Although I have made a careful preparation, I left my winter jacket in my wardrobe at home. Woe is me! Winters in Medina can be freezing. I was worried sick that I couldn't withstand the cold. Oh, my! What should I do, if the weather is under temperature?
Regrettably, I decided to throw my money away on a new winter jacket once I got there.
But luckily, when we landed in Medina, we found out that the weather there was SO NICE. Praise to Allah. We didn't have to wear the winter jacket. And it was such a relief that I'd never felt more grateful.
We landed in Medina International Airport at 4.00 pm (Medina time). This was my second time landed in this airport. Before this I had landed in Jeddah many times, either headed straight to Mecca or Medina after that. I was so happy that I was in Medina again.
Medina is considered the second most holiest place in Islam after Mecca.
Although I realized that my sons were holding the handbooks of how to perform the umrah, I kept reminding them what to do.
"When you first see the city of Medina, raise your hands in doa," I reminded them as we were landing.
"There are only two places in the world that Dajjal will be unable to enter, and that places are Medina and Mecca," I told them.
The pilgrims at the baggage claim in Medina airport
A bus was waiting as we disembarked and drove us to our hotel. The ride from the airport to the hotel took half an hour.
The most excited person was my youngest son. It was his first travel to Medina. He kept staring out of the window watching the scenery throughout the journey.
"Subhanallah, this is such a beautiful sight," he cited several times.
Saja Al Madinah Hotel
We were given Saja Al Madinah Hotel which is located behind the Movenpick Hotel which I used to stay during my umrah in 2017. This hotel is also located close to Masjid Al Nabawi and the entrance is gate #15. So we didn't have to walk much. The hotel is a shopaholic's paradise as the hotel is connected to supermarkets, shops and close to all the others.
To be connected with family and friends in Malaysia, the pilgrims could get prepaid SIM cards from service provider STC (Saudi Telecommunications Company) at kiosks within the hotel by just producing their identification tags.
But my family decided not to take the offer as we would be together all the times. We just used the Whatsapps to stay connected with our family and friends back home.
Out room at Saja Al- Madinah Hotel. We have three beds for two people.
The bathroom in Saja Al-Madinah Hotel
We had spacious rooms for two equipped with amenities that we needed.
What did we do once we got into these comfortable-decent hotel rooms? Resting? Sleeping? Shopping? Went to the Mosque? Do follow my travel in my next entry.
...to be continued
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