Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rihlah 7 : Day 2–> Tayma, Tabuk

12 October 2013

DSC_1496We want to start our day early. There is so much that we want to see as yesterday was a long day in the car. Our previous experience of Tabuk was only getting to the border before entering Jordan October last year. We are expecting very much excitement with this trip as we dedicated our one week holiday exploring these two northern region which are full of archeological history and red sea beauty.

At around 8.30 am, we move out from our hotel to Haddaj Well which is in the centre of Tayma. Tayma is a small town about 260 km from Tabuk. DSC_1546 - Copy

Some interesting findings on Tayma, "Recent archaeological discoveries show that Tayma has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. In 2010, the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities announced the discovery of a rock near Tayma bearing an inscription of Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses III. This was the first confirmed find of a hieroglyphic inscription on Saudi soil. Based on this discovery, researchers have hypothesized that Tayma was part of an important land route between the Red Sea coast of the Arabian Peninsula and the Nile Valley." - source from wikipedia

Our first location for today is Haddaj Well. Following our GPS, we reach Haddaj Well in no time....just about 10 minutes from our hotel. We drove into small roads with dates farm at both roadsides. The view of dates farm so near to us was a great feeling. Moreover with the ripe season currently on-going, we can see do much dates hanging from the tree. The smell of the fresh urban air was great as well. It reminds us of our sweet hometown back home...the greens.


Driving along the greens sure boost the spirits…feels like back home



Dates and arabian land…can’t be seperated…

There wasn't any people seen around except a guy who was sweeping in front of his shop not far from the well. The area was gated and lock. We were frustrated not able to see from near. After asking the guy who was sweeping earlier, he told us that the site is closed. When we asked whether it opens or not, he just told us no. With no luck, we assume that the place is closed like most other historical places in Saudi which were normally not open for public..whether they leave as it is with no caretaker or just lock it where people just look from outside.

Not to dampen our mood, we drove  around  to enjoy the view and the smell of dates farm. After enough sight seeing, we decided to head to the museum of Tayma not far as well from the area. About 5 minutes drive, we reach the Museum of Antiquies and Archeological of Tayma.

We felt relief finding out the museum was open. At least we could find some useful knowledge for our family after not able to enter the Haddaj Well. We were welcome with a smile in the museum. The museum was very informative with the ancient history of Tayma. They serve us with history from the beginning of the Modern Stone Age(from the 10th and the 4th millennium BC), then the Bronze age, the Iron age, the Islamic Era until this modern days. There is too much information for us to absorb with this very short time. We are lucky that our kids likes the museum as well. The museum showroom were very well display with photography, painting and archeological displays. We were actually impress a small town in Saudi could have a very well organise showroom.



At the museum…luv it.  Wish have whole day to absorb everything..

Once finished with our tour, they offered us with Tayma dates and Arabian coffee. A very warm welcome by them. Alhamdulillah, one of the guy could speak some English. They gave us so many brochures that excite us more in exploring Saudi. Never knew that there were so many attractions that we could explore after looking into the brochures. Luckily we visit the museum, we only knew that Haddaj Well was opened to Public. We were just there too early. It is only opened at 9.30 am. We wish they could hang at the gate of the opening hours for visitors to aware of the opening time.

Once we reach there at around 10 pm, we were the first visitor to come. WE were impress of the architectures and the water inside the well. There were even fishes inside the well! WIth the brochures in hand about the history of Haddaj Well, the visit was worthwhile.

This well is thought to date back to the 6th century B.C. It was rebuilt more than once through its history. It is also one of the biggest archaeological wells of the world. It is 13 meters deep and 250 sq metres. 

More than 50 years ago, while restoring Haddaj Well, the discovery of an older wall made of reddish and very eroded stones proved that the well was much larger than what it is now.Thanks to this well, agriculture was one of the main activities in Tayma, especially growing palm trees. It also could provide enough water for 77 camels to drink at the same time. The source of the water is a spring in the south-western corner of the well. This well is still providing water for the neighboring farms through 31 canals.  

From http://saudi-archaeology.com/sites/tayma/ : Bir Haddaj, located at Tayma, is one of the most famous wells from ancient times and is an outstanding architectural landmark for the region. The well is known to date back at least to the middle of the 6th century BCE, during the Babel occupation. In the 5th century BCE, all of Tayma was abandoned and buried, so the well fell into disuse for many centuries until Suleiman al-Gonaim restored it to a functional state. In 1373H (1953), King Saud, May Allah Bless His Soul, added four pumps to increase production and help local farmers to obtain sufficient water for their crops. Its various parts have been repaired through the decades, and His Royal Highness Prince Fahad bin Sultan bin Saud has authentically restored it to its previous appearance.


At the entrance which was closed at first…


Haddaj Well….surrounded by dates farm


Archaeological well thought to date back to the 6th century B.C.


It is 13 meters deep and 250 sq metres…very deep indeed…with fishes as well

Not long while we were still exploring the well, a few people starts coming in for visits. We felt happy actually to see other people coming in especially seeing the locals appreciating the historical heritage as we can learn a lot for our future generations from history.

As the kids also had enough time running around ;-)...its time for us to fill in our stomach. Not knowing any good food around, we tried to find any fast-food available and only able to bump into Tazaj. It was the only known fast food available in the GPS. Feeling full and energetic, we continue to our next destination which was Tabuk Fort. There were other historical site that we just knew from the pamphlet but unlucky we had no idea of their whereabouts. Again, we reach the fort at the wrong timing as it is only opened after Asr. Well...at least we have reach there and we were happy to see that the fort was very well preserve. An act that the Saudi Government should have long done to their other valuable historical sites.


Tabuk Fort…only opened after Asr

It was a great day and the visit to the museum really inspired us to explore Saudi. We didn't know that Saudi actually have so much attractions to offer. We hope the brochures on Saudi Tourism and Heritages could be distribute widespread, easily. We really thank the people at the museum for their hospitality and the plenty of brochures they provide us.




Tayma do have really interesting miniatures and beautiful landscape..able to snap part of it

We were running out of time as Tabuk is still nearly 300 km ahead or to proceed to Madaen Shuaib city in Al Bad' which is further up nearer to the gulf of Aqaba. As we will be heading to Jouf which require us to go through Tabuk, we we decided to go ahead running along the costal of Red Sea which will cover Maqna and Duba. Without waiting until Asr for its opening hour, we continue our journey to Al Bad' which takes us another 500 km of travelling.

When evening starts darken we were already in the middle of a highway within valleys of a high rocky mountains. We were not sure of which road we have taken but it was a small winding one lane road highland valley. The view must be spectacular if it was during daytime. Thinking of the dark and lonely road freak us actually thinking of if anything happened, what will we do in this lonely area with no passers-by. We pray may Allah protect us along our way till we reach our destination.

After a long stretch of more than 100 km lonely road, we finally reach a small town. We couldn't find any rest area or restaurant for our break. From the GPS, hotels and restaurants keep on giving us options of places in Egypt. The closest is only to Duba which we need to turn back.

Not to waste our time, we continue driving to Al Bad' hoping to find a hotel there which at the end a failure as well. Asking people around at the gas station also gave us a bad news. Will we be camping by roadside then??? With a little bit of hope, we tried to enter the Madaen Shuaib hoping there will be a guesthouse as probably there will be a few number of tourist interested to visit the place.

Alhamdulillah, after a small hope given by one guy at a petrol station telling us they should be one further at Bad' town, we continue to drive following the signboard entering the town. At the end we find the hotel....the one and only for SR200/night. It was a big room actually...two bedroom, living room and kitchen. The living room was ok as they place an arabian seats but the bedroom was scary. Haha..not because it was dark but the bed sheet looks so old and dusty gust a scary feeling of whether we should sleep or not on the bed.

At the end the kids decided to sleep outside along the arabian seats which was enough for all of them. With no option, me and my husband had to sleep on the bed but we didn't dare to use the bed sheet. Haha..it sure was a memorable night staying in a hotel like this. Nevertheless, we are grateful for the experience we had. There is always a good thing of any events that happened in our life. One thing for sure, everyone remembers this hotel out of all the hotels that we have stayed so far! ;-)

Let see what's more ahead waiting for us tomorrow!

Maassalamah. – tw&

Monday, December 09, 2013

Rihlah 7 : Day 1 : Riyadh - Tayma

11 October 2013


DSC_1436Its the opportunity we're waiting for in our attempt to fulfill our target of conquering 34 places in SAudi Arabia before going back home.  As we are still uncertain of how long we will be in this land of Sahara we knew that any long  holidays available must be fill with activities to achieve our target.

As for this EId ul Adha holiday, we decided to explore northern region of Saudi Arabia which is Tabuk and Jouf.  Our journey will start from Riyadh going up via Hail to Tayma which is in Tabuk.  From the town of Tayma, we will go further up to places in Tabuk for 3 days.  Continue from Tabuk, going to northwest to Jouf.  From Jouf, we will take the Northern Border highway to Jubail as we need to meet our friend there.  Then we will go back home to RIyadh to continue our norm.  The whole journey will take us a week.

With some preparation on the routes and places based on the internet, we started our journey on a bright Friday morning.  It will be a long journey for us as we will drive straight to Tayma of about 1100 km from Riyadh.  A veeery long way to go!  As we have already explore Hail, we wouldn't want to waste our time staying at Hail.  As for that, our journey will be straight to Tayma and stay overnight there.


Still a long way reaching Tabuk via Hail…


Side road view along the way…

Not much difference that we can see on the way to Tayma as we have already took the route to Hail last year.  Seems that the highway is still under construction at Hail, the progress is quite slow.  Thinking of all the money that this country have...surely you're expecting development progress are faster and smoother.



Some views along the way…

When mentioning Tabuk, it reminds us of the Battle of Tabuk during the time of our beloved prophet Muhammad (saw).  It was a war where The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) ordered his Companions to prepare to fight Romans at a time when men hard pressed; the heat was oppressive and there was drought; fruit was ripe and the men wanted to say in the shade with their fruit disliked traveling it that season.

Unlike his previous experiences, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) informed his Companions by the people whom he were going to fight because the journey was long, the season difficult, and the enemy in great strength, so that the men could make suitable preparations.

Though there was no war actually took place, it is a big test among the muslims and the hiphocrites. Even by a comfy car with airconds, we can feel the long journey. Imagine them at that time having only camels, no roads and it is summer!  Subhanallah...may Allah bless the muslim who join the battle of Tabuk.

Travelling to these region is quite challenging  as it is not easy to find hotels. From the internet, we could only find 3 hotels in booking.com for Tabuk.  Hence, we decided our journey will be quite an adventure.  Accomodation won't be our priority..so we decided to sleep at  any available istirahah where quite numbers of pump oil offer the service for drivers to sleep for few hours for their naps before continuing their journey.

For today, we reach Tayma, a city in Tabuk at around 8.30 pm.  It was quite a long day before a fresh starts tomorrow.  A qood sleep is enough for us already.  Hence, we settle down today at Shefini Hotel for SR100 per night.  While dinner was only at the restaurant below the hotel which was so­so.  Kapsa and bbq.

Night! Night! – tw&


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Ramadhan dan Syawal di Perantauan

9 Julai 201- 8 August 2013


Empat tahun dah kami merantau dibumi Saudi tapi buat pertama kalinya kami membuat keputusan untuk berpuasa dan berhari raya di perantauan.  Selalunya tiba saje cuti sekolah aku dan anak2 bersiap sedia pulang ke tanahair sehinggalah hari raya. 

Kesian juga kat suami yang terpaksa berpuasa sendirian setiap tahun.  Atas beberapa faktor, kali ini aku nekad untuk bersama suami tersayang walaupon beberapa kali suami counter offer untuk becuti di tanahair.  Alhamdulillah, keputusan yang di ambil memberi ruang untuk kami sekeluarga menghayati Ramdhan dengan penuh nikmat.  Aku amat bersyukur dengan keputusan untuk menetap di RIyadh pada bulan puasa kali ini.

Pada awalnya anak2 membangkang juga keputusan tak balik Malaysia.  Setelah dipujuk2..alhamdulillah mereka bersedia untuk menimba pengalaman baru.  Yelah..memikirkan jam berpuasa lebih panjang iaitu 15 jam berbanding 13 jam ditanahair dan musim panas dimana suhu mencapai sehingga 47 darjah celcius…pasti terasa cabarannya.

Malam pertama Ramadhan, kami sekeluarga bersiap sedia ke masjid berdekatan dengan rumah.  Terasa berbunga dihati melihat anak2 dan suami kesemuanya berjubah putih menuju ke masjid. Begitu ramai jemaah.  Akhamdulillah, di bulan Ramadhan, wanita dibenarkan berjemaah untuk solat terawih dan Qiamullail di Saudi.  Kebiasaannya, wanita tak dibenarkan untuk solat dimasjid.  Bermulanya sahaja solat, hati terasa sayu mendengar alunan bacaan surah oleh imam yang begitu mengasyikkan.  Imam2 disini kesemuanya adalah para hifaz…bacaan surah2 lazim hanya didengari pabila tiba solat witir.

Malam pertama ramadan, imam sudah membaca doa qunut dimana biasanya akan mula dibaca pada malam ke-15 bila di Malaysia.  Doa qunutnya pula agak panjang sehingga anak ke-3, Afiq katakan pada kami ‘Ummie…ada muscle la kat tangan Afiq sbb lama sangat doa Winking smile..hehe).  Masyaallah…walaupon tak memahami bahasa arab, hati terasa sayu mendengar imam berdoa dengan suara yang sebak.  Bila imam menyebut Ikwanul Muslimim, Syria…terbayang umat Islam yang menyambut Ramadhan dalam keadaan kelaparan dan peperangan.  Air mata terus menitis mengingatkan saudara kita disana.

Selesai sahaja solat terawih, suami belanja kami dunkin donut Smile! Yeah…gembira sungguh anak2.  Abahnya pon lebih bersemangat untuk menyambut Ramadhan kali ini memandangkan tahun2 sebelum ini menyambut Ramadhan berseorangan.  Memandangkan subuh jam 3.45 pagi…anak2 membuat keputusan tak nak tidur sehingga sahur.  Takut susah nak bangun bila baru saje melelapkan mata.  Nampaknya putaran jam tidur kami akan berubah juga.


Dunkin Donut Ramadhan Mubarak Special Edition…luv it!

Hari pertama berpuasa…alhamdulillah…lebih mudah nampaknya buat anak2.  Yelah…walaupon jam lebih panjang tetapi masa mereka dipenuhi dengan aktiviti dalam rumah yang beraircond.  Tak terasa bahang panas di luar.  Isyak pula dilewatkan dua jam selepas maghrib.  Mungkin ada baiknya juga solat isyak dilewatkan. Takde lah kami ‘rushing’ nak ke masjid dengan perut yang masih kekenyangan.  Anak2 pon begitu mudah untuk bersama2 ke masjid sebab dah cukup masa ‘relax’.  Untuk diriku juga…takde masalah bila menjemput tetamu berbuka dirumah kerana masa menjamu selera bersama tetamu juga cukup untuk kita sama2 bersiap sedia ke masjid.  Jadi, walaupon aku beberapa kali membuat majlis berbuka, aku masih berpeluang berterawih di masjid. 

Setelah hari ketiga aku berpuasa dibumi Riyadh..suami bertanyakan pandanganku.  Masyaallah….kataku.  Terasa begitu nikmat berpuasa disini walaupon baru hari ketiga.  Kataku…aku amat suka segalanya. Aku sukakan suasana Ramadhan yang meriah, solat terawih yang penuh nikmat, tiada rancangan TV yang mengganggu fokus kami dalam ibadah. Apa yang aku rindui adalah kemesraan jemaah setelah selesai solat dimana jemaah ditanahair akan bersalaman walaupon tidak mengenali sesama kita.  Di sini masing2 berpaling untuk pulang tanpa ada sesiapa yang bersalaman. 

Subhanallah…pada keesokan harinya Allah mendengar komenku.  Selesai sahaja solat terawih, aku di dekati seorang wanita SAudi yang wangi dan comel sekali.  Ketika solat…dia rapatkan diri padaku untuk merapatkan saf sedangkan aku cuba jauh sedikit darinya kerana risau orang saudi tu terbau ayam goreng pada diriku yang tak sempat menyalin pakaian sebelum ke masjid kerana kalut sedikit mengadakan majlis iftar di rumah sedangkan wanita sebelahku itu begitu wangi sekali bau perfume.  (Terasa nak bertanya je jenama perfume dia Winking smile).  Selesai sahaja solat, wanita tersebut begitu mesra bersalaman denganku, bertanya khabar dan doakan keberkatan buat diriku.  Walaupon kami seperti ayam dan itik tetapi kemesraan yang ditunjukkan begitu bermakna buat diri ini yang baru semalam memberi komen terhadap kemesraan orang di Saudi.  Aku mengandaikan Allah mengkabulkan doaku merindui kemesraan jemaah atau Allah jua mahu mengingatkan diri ini agar tidak selalu bersangka buruk terhadap orang Saudi..hehe.

Kami meneruskan hari2 Ramadhan disini dengan penuh nikmat.  Sepanjang Ramdhan kami mencuba terawih di 8 buah masjid. Masyaallah…apa yang aku doakan agar anak2 kami dapat menjadi seperti imam2 disini…tahfiz dengan bacaan yang penuh penghayatan.  Ada kalanya sehingga sebak mereka mengalunkan ayat2 suci al quran.  Tiada juga perbalahan berapa jumlah rakaat terawih kerana ade masjid melakukan 4,6,8, 10 dan 20.  Jadi pilihlah mengikut selera kalian.  Masjid pula bertaburan di sana sini…antara 5 ke 15 minit sahaja jarak untuk bertukar pilihan. 


Tidak ketinggalan majlis iftar bersama teman2 diperantauan…'

Bila masuknya sahaja 10 malam terakhir ramadhan, kemeriahan makin terasa.  Bermula jam 1 pagi, masjid2 sudah memulakan qiamulail. Alunan ayat2 suci bergaung2 disana sini membuatkan anda rasa bersalah jika masih leka dengan tidur atau rancangan tv.  Ya Allah, tidak terkata nikmatnya.  Malam pertama hanya anak sulung dan suami bersama.  Kerana tidak pasti jam berapa qiam berakhir, aku meminta anak dara siapkan hidangan sahur.  Keesokannya kami dapat mengatur waktu untuk qiam dan sahur.  Paling lewat qiam habis jam 2.45 pg.  Jadi aku masih berkesempatan untuk memanaskan lauk sahur.  Dapatlah anak dara mengikut qiam bersama. Alhamdulillah…terasa gembira dihati melihat anak2 remaja juga ramai ke masjid.  Anak2 yang bersekolah rendah menemani nenek2 mereka.  Lagi ramai jemaah ketika qiam berbanding waktu solat terawih….masyaallah.

Alhamdulillah…inilah nikmat yang tidak ternilai bila aku memutuskan untuk ramadhan di bumi anbia.  Jika ditanahair, aku sibuk dengan persiapan  raya, disini masing2 sibukkan diri dengan ibadah.  Amat mengamankan pandangan mata pabila melihat anak2yang meningkat dewasa membaca alquran sebaik menunaikan solat, bersama solat terawih dan qiamulail tanpa banyak soal. Walaupon anak2 agak kepenatan untuk qiamulail kerana sujud, rukuk dan qunutnya yang begitu lama..mereka masih ingin meneruskan.  Afiq, anak ke-3 sahaja yang mengalah…takpelah…sekurang2nya dia mahu mencuba.  Untuk dua rakaatnya sahaja memakan masa 20 minit…doa qunut kadangkala melebihi 5 minit terutama di malam2 ganjil.  Mungkin ini agak berat untuk anak yang berusia 8 tahun dengan badan yang agak sihat Winking smile.

Pada kali ini kami memutuskan untuk meraikan syawal di Madinah.  Alhamdulillah…sempat juga kami berpuasa selama dua hari di Madinah sebelum tibanya Syawal.  Pengalaman yang menarik ketika iftar hampir tiba.  Masjid Nabawi berubah dengan lautan manusia berderet bersama menunggu waktu berbuka di setiap barisan sufrah yang telah diatur.  Jangan risau jika kalian tiada air atau makanan untuk berbuka.  Insyaallah…rezeki sentiasa ada kerana ramai yang berebut2 mendapatkan pahala memberi makan orang berbuka.  Inilah rahmat Allah yang tiada ternilai.

Malam Syawal kami juga terpaksa sibuk mencari jubah untuk berhari raya.  Rupa-rupanya ramai gak orang yang shopping last minute cam kitorang.  Kedai2 jubah memang hot spot.  Alhamdulillah..walaupon hampir lewat malam kami berjaya dapatkan untuk smua…masing2 akan berbaju baru di pagi raya.  Lagi senang raya kali ni…tak payah nak pening2 cari baju matching satu famili Winking smile.

Dalam 10 minit lagi sebelum subuh di pagi Syawal..kami ke masjid yang tidak jauh dari hotel.  Masyaallah…ramainya umat manusia.  Tak sangka waktu tu manusia sudah melimpah keluar dari dataran masjid.  Kami cuba jua menyelit-nyelitkan diri diantara lautan manusia di dalam dataran.  Tak sanggup rasanya nak solat di jalan dengan sejadah yang tak mencukupi untuk kami sekeluarga.

Alhamdulillah…dengan izinnya dapat juga kami solat di dataran.  Itu sudah cukup baik.  Selepas sahaja solat subuh, kami terus tunggu sehingga solat raya.  Kebiasaan di bumi arab ni solat raya sebaik sahaja matahari naik.  Terasa sayu dihati sebaik sahaja imam takbir hari raya.  ALlahuakbar…terus menitis airmata yang ditahan2.  Hati terasa begitu sebak dengan perasaan bercampur baur.  Kesedihan perginya Ramadhan, kesedihan mengigatkan ibubapa, sanak saudara yang sudah tiada juga yang ada tapi jauh di mata.  Juga airmata kegembiraan atas nikmat yang diberi buat diri ini sekeluarga.

Sebaik sahaja matahari mula mencalitkan cahayanya, payung masjid mula terbuka.  Masyaallah…begitu mengasyikkan.  Dan sebaik sahaja matahari naik, kami mulakan solat aidil fitri.  Alhamdulillah…walau dalam kesedihan, ini juga adalah satu rahmat buat kami sekeluarga berpeluang solat di masjid baginda Rasulullah s.a.w.  Selesai sahaja solat, manusia mula berpusu2 keluar dari masjid tanpa menunggu habis kutbah.  Hemmm…agak2nya sibuk sangat nak berhari raya sampai tak sempat2 nak kuar. 

Bila orang sebok nak keluar, suasana pon menjadi bising sehingga tenggelam suara imam memberi khutbah.   Bukan setakat kebisingan sahaja, sampah sarap juga kelihatan bertaburan di sekeliling masjid.  Astaghfirullahal’azim!  Memang tak dinafikan susah nak kawal bila manusia ramai…dengan pelbagai ragam tetapi jika masing2 menjaga adab dan akhlak..insyaallah, kekotoran sbgini dapat dikawal.  Lagi2 kat masjid Nabi. Tak terlintaskah mereka bagaiman perasaan Rasulullah melihat akhlak umatnya. Teringat terus akan kekotoran sampah sarap pabila menunaikan haji.  IInikah imej umat Islam yang mahu kita tunjukkan??

Walau apapon…ia adalah pengalaman yang berharga buat kami sekeluarga.  Ia juga peluang untuk kami mendidik jiwa anak2 kami.  Selawat dan salam buat Nabi Junjungan yang dikasihi. Salam Aidilfitri buat semua umat islam yang mengenali kami walau di mana jua mereka berada..-&tw


Senyuman di subuh hari….


Rest n relax kat masjid lepas solat raya…


Manusia bersesak untuk masuk ke rawdah di pagi raya…


Salam Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir & Batin dr kami sekluarga – Madinah Al Munawwarah…