Category Archives: Travel

Enchanted by the Mongolian

Nomadic lifestyle caught my attention. After comfortably adopting a minimalist mindset a few years back, I started to like the idea of living my life more towards a nomadic mindset too.

Not that I wanted to pack my things and move from places to places … hmmm not yet I guess… but I sense (acewah! boleh plak sense lol) that with a nomadic mindset I could explore more in life.

And being able to experience living with a real life nomads in Mongolia even just for a few days was a nourishing moment for me. Approximately half of the Mongolian’s population is still leading a nomadic lifestyle, rearing their livestock freely throughout the entire Mongolian’s land.

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Origil lives in Terelj National Park, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia

They live in gers, a big comfortable tent like moveable home and moves from a campsite to another for at least 4 times a year in search for the best place to rear their livestock and to protect themselves from the harsh climate especially during winter.

Living in ger would free them from the need to attend to house rentals or bank mortgages, a great step out of any financial burden.

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A family that we met in front of a Shrine near Ulaan Baatar

My first time in Mongolia … and my first experience with anything about Mongolian culture. The food … the people … the culture … the harsh winter, everything was totally new to me.

Our local guide, Alma had everything properly figured out for us in advance and we were like an empty shell that willingly waited to be filled with whatever Mongolian adventures by her.

The cold winter didn’t stop us from our quest to explore. There was one time when we were kinda lost in the middle of nowhere in an unfamiliar valley as the snow was quite thick that it covered the road trail (just some tire marks along a wide plain) … wow!  it was like surrendering yourself totally to Alma and Oyunna (our driver) and depending totally on her experience and her guts feeling.

Well … it was a very raw adventure for us … not complaining at all.

I will share a few photos of people that we met along our 8 days journey here in Ulaan Baator, Mongolia. Looking back at these photos … remind me of their warm hospitality and all the funny moments that we had experienced while trying so hard to blend in with their culture.

We stayed for two (2) days at Janat’s home, a kazakh Mongolian family. Watching him and his son Bota tendering their herd every morning and afternoon. Experiencing the nomadic life. Janat and his family members were super friendly. We even shared their everyday food too.

I tasted my first steamed horse meat and chewed on steamed cow testicle like a pro (just because I didn’t know that it was what it is). My first in everything … he he he

Living in a minimalist home in a ger … kinda cool too except that the toilet was sooo faaar aaawaayyyy … as in winter at lower than -17℃ with the strong icy wind chill, your mind refused to obey your bladder’s command.

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Grandma Dorjsuren with her daughter Enkhtuul (purple) and Oyunna (blue)

We stayed for a night with grandma Dorjsuren Dambiinyam and her hardworking daughter. To reach her place we have to travel for hours wandering on a roadless plain … towards a certain mountain he he he I was also lost track of our whereabout.

Grandma Dorjsuren looked like a reserve type of a person,  I could feel that she is quite a strict no hanky panky lady but her hug was so warm, it melts my heart. I like her … I think my soul like her very much.

Their gers were located hidden behind a small hill … but still, the sub-zero chilling wind was so strong that it shook our ger for the whole night. Oh well … I was tough like a nail stuck in a wall!

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Grandma’s home

We stayed for another one night at Grandpa Bor (80s) and Grandma Yandag (70s). The route towards his valley was very challenging as it was snowy and the plain was totally white covered by the thick snow.

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Grandpa Bor with his livestock

He claimed that at one time he owned 1000 goats and sheep before he distributed some to his children. Goats and sheep in extremely cold weather are of different species compared to the one in my tropical country.

When I showed him our goats species like Jamnapari, Boer and Saanen, he was so engrossed with it. He laughed so hard when he saw that most of our goats have long ears. Despite our language barrier, this man never failed to make me laugh with his weird joke … yeah weird because each time I have to take at least 5 minutes to digest his joke lol. Uhh … I can smell his sincerity.

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On our way to Grandpa Bor’s home. Oyunna manually changed the tire setting to 4×4

Hmmm … observing their nomadic lifestyle and listening to their stories on how they cope with the hurdles of shifting from one campsite to another makes me wonder again about how resilient they were towards the unpredictable life.

Having the opportunity to change their surroundings at least 4 times a year made them more flexible with life. I have respect for them …

And, being a nomad doesn’t mean that they are totally disconnected from the society. They are as alive as every human I met across the globe. They are fully equipped with all basic modern materials … solar electricity to power their electrical appliances, cars and trucks to transport them around.

Yeah … maybe I should learn more about this nomadic mentality and add it onto my minimalist lifestyle, use it to strengthen my self-mental so that I would be more resilient towards the hurdles in my life.

Looking back at these photos makes me yearn for my next adventure … I am still not sure where would I be heading to next. Probably a short weekend trip to Mt Bromo in Surabaya, Indonesia to observe the upcoming Kasada festival. In Sha Allah ….

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At the 10th Eagle Hunter festival in Ulan Baator

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return” ~ Maya Angelou

Cheers,

MM


A sub-zero journey

“If you want to catch a beast you don’t see every day. You have to go places quite out of the way. You have to go places no others can get to. You have to get cold and you have to get wet, too” ~ Dr. Seuss

Love … love .. love that quote by Dr. Seuss about hunting for beast at the most difficult and isolated place. A place where I should get wet and cold. In fact, the place that I went to was far beyond cold but freezing below sub-zero type of icy cold.

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We travel in 3 … Areza Mansor, Azli Wahab and me

I haven’t been to either North or South pole yet …so I am not sure how to compare the difference, but I was informed that here in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia -36℃ during winter is just normal. It’s darn cold enough for a tropical girl like me.

For almost 2 years, I have been wanted to explore Mongolia but friends kept on telling me that traveling there is difficult and expensive.

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Rashaant Village, Bulgan province, Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia

Early this year (2017), out of the blues I posted about Eagle Hunters of the Kazakh people of Mongolia on my FB timeline and my trekker friend (I met during my last trip) invited me to tag along with his backpacking trip from China- Mongolia- Russia- Europe trip. They planned to explore Mongolia and Russia via Trans-Siberian Railway. I decided to join only for the half of the trip (15 days) covering only Mongolia and Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia.

After all … I always wanted to explore Lake Baikal too.

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Shuvuun Am, Valley, Altan Bulag village, Tuv province, Mongolia

The 3 of us started our journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing via flight, took the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Ulan Baator, Mongolia and continue to Russia.

My travel companions during that time around were gifts from heaven … my first time traveling with them but the understanding and tolerance between us were excellent, we wickedly clicked! A blessed again … alhamdullilah and I have no complaints.

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Resting time before lunch at Lake Baikal, I miss this moment

Some people loved to travel alone and some just couldn’t.

As I traveled along this trip, I realized that I don’t prefer to travel alone … having good companions while traveling especially when you were stuck on a train for days and when you were traveling in hard places like this was a blessing.

So … we spent 27 hours on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Ulan Baator (rm1340). Explored Ulan Baator and its surrounding in 8 days and continued the journey again to Irkutsk, Southeast Siberia via Trans-Siberian Railway from Ulan Baator to Irkutsk (35 hours for approximately rm822).

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Every day means of transportation here in Lake Baikal

Reached Irkutsk train station at a wee hour, grab a car (200 rubles/ 500 rubles)  in front of the station heading to Irkutsk bus station and tried to catch an early bus to Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal, Russia. Never thought that it would be this easy though.

The 10.00am bus to Olkhon Island was right across the road in front of the bus station (800 rubles per person/ 1100 rubles per person). The arrangement was quite easy but language barrier seemed to be the major problem as English language was like an alien language here at this side of Russia. (actual cost/ ripped off cost)

We stayed for 4 days in Lake Baikal exploring North (800 rubles) and South (1000 rubles) sides of the frozen lake. When we were there, the weather was a bit disturbing. It snow heavily a few days earlier and most of the frozen surface was covered with snow.

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Lake Baikal the frozen lake

We booked our accommodations via online and decided to go easy with our transportation arrangement as booking for transportation through the internet was quite expensive. We stayed in shared hostel in Olkhlon Island and discovered that arranging for transportation to and from the Island was surprisingly very convenient.

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Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia, Russia

We took a public bus on our way back from Olkhlon Island to Irkutsk for 800 rubles per person and grab a car from bus station to our hostel, which turned out that it was just a few km away (200 rubles/ 500 rubles) lol. Well … opportunist is everywhere and things just happened.

We spent a day wandering around Irkutsk… an industrial city but in winter, there was nothing much to see. I would probably come again one day and wander around interesting places in Russia too. Who knows … right?

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My article in NST click! sharing tips on taking photographs in extreme cold

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Us in 3 at Lake Baikal, Southeast Siberia, Russia

Traveling as a true traveler (not a touch and go tourist) matures me but I do understand that not everybody is built for an extreme adventure like this. I admit it was tough especially when we have such a comfortable and warm life at home … and for me, if you want to experience and learn more about life, you gotta step out of your comfort zone. I am currently doing it every day now …

Owhhh … am very sleepy, I need my power nap! gotta run … bye

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Obsess with Faces

Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter? ~ Pablo Picasso

I am always puzzled when people ask me on what sort of photographer am I? And, before I could even finish answering that question … they’ll start pushing me into another question … do you shoot weddings? I guess everybody with a camera shoot wedding these days.

Not that I don’t shoot weddings. I do. I shoot weddings too if the price worth my effort. It seemed that everybody wanted a piece of a photographer. They expect diamond but paying peanuts.  Charging as low as RM500 to cover for a wedding is crazy. With the amount of effort, time and gears used to shoot the lovely groom and bride for a few hours … I think it is just cruelty and an insult to even consider offering that to a photographer.

Me … I tried my best not to negotiate with my potential customer, pay me on how much my work worth to you but bear in mind that I know how much I am worth.

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Pose 1: A sadhu that we met at Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

Okay! back to my story for today. As at now … I am still obsessed with photographing human face. This is a series of photos that I took of a Sadhu in Kathmandu, Nepal.

He has a very long hair that he can even wear it as a turban. He has an amazing personality, charming and smiled politely during an hour of our photo session. Fyi, as you walk through the back lane of the temple you will stumble into a few sadhus that gather freely around the area. We spotted him and wanted to take his picture. And yes … it was not free.

Sharing some of his poses here.

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Pose 2: Capturing him in frames within frames

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Pose 3: Trying different angles that show his crown aka hairs

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Pose 4: He is a bit relax here with a hint of smile hidden under his mustache. Maybe he is amused by my antics

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Pose 5: Rapunzel … Rapunzel … let down your hair

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Pose 6: Namaste! My favorite pose of all

I love the earthy tone if his skin, his hair and his emotion shown on each poses. These pictures are a keeper moment for me. Gorgeous face …

Bye for now.

 

Cheers

MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Light Painting with Fire

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Lake Gardens Taiping, Perak at wee hours

I was with my three (3) other travel companions last weekend playing with lights at Taiping, Perak. A short weekend outing to start off our new travel team (we called us the #gengbajetravel). We planned to travel together since God knows … very long time ago …  but it always canceled at the very last minute. Excuses after excuses …

Then, we decided to make it happened, by hook or by crook. The weather forecast said that it’ll be raining the whole weekend … oh boy! there goes our plan for sunset, sunrise and Milkyway. We had our backup plan though … if everything failed then we’ll experimenting steel wool photography instead.

We were at Lake Garden Taiping, Perak, Malaysia as early as 4 a.m, praying for a clear sky to shoot Milkyway …but the sky was too cloudy.  It was not possible so we headed straight to Plan B, light painting with burning steel wool. I was excited to try something new …

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The making of Dorayaki

It was fun, experimenting new technique with good companions while listening to the frogs’ orchestra performing live background music. Always … always … always surrounded with good people, am I blessed or am I blessed, alhamdullilah.

The four of us are super crazy. Well, crazy in a good way lol… crazy seeking for something new to uplift our skill. We are very competitive towards each other but our sense of humanity are still strongly intact. I adore friend like that.

People said that your friends are the reflection of you and if that is the case, well … I want to be my friend :-p  <— perasan kan?

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The Cinderella carriage

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Rain on fire

Steel wool photography is not as hard as I thought it would be. It’s easy to learn. I love the dramatic and artistic effect too and I am officially curious to explore more on this.

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Circle of fire

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My sunrise landscape

I set my camera on manual mode, the speed at 10-15″ and ISO at 250 to 400 accordingly (for those who are curious about the camera setting). Trying to incorporate “ring of fire” onto my landscape in future … just to feed my curiosity on how my landscape image would look like with this additional art.

 

Gotta go! Cheerios …

MM

 

ps – …

It’s better to know how to learn than to know ~ Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chasing The Monsoon

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My article in ‘NST bots click!’ on what to shoot during monsoon season. Google to read in details

It’s the end of February yet the monsoon season still refused to leave our shore. We still experienced occasional rain and thunderstorm here and there. I am not complaining … I love rain, rain reminds me of home … of my bed and my blanket to be precise.

I was with 26 Paramotor PPG pilot friends last weekend covering their story on XC Pantai Timur Feb 11-12, 2017 together with my Janjifly team. We planned to fly together along the shoreline from Sri 7 beach, Tumpat, Kelantan to Cherating beach, Pahang covering 3 states (Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) for 2 days but mother nature seemed to have its own plan.

Strong wind and heavy rain for the whole weekend during our XC event last weekend. We were basically chased away by the strong wind and the rain. Most of us failed to take-off from all 9 of our take-off points along the shoreline. And … moral of the story is … I have no thrilling ppg flying photos to show off for you peeps 🙂

Well … me and my camera … we go everywhere, we explore anything, rain or shine. Jom … sharing my monsoon photos taken during our ‘chasing the monsoon’ moment.

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Batu Buruk beach, Terengganu with the dark dramatic sky

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Strong wind approx 40 knots with thick clouds and slight drizzled … not complaining!

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A ppg pilot preparing to brave the wild wind at Semerak beach, Tok Bali, Kelantan

I am packing up for my next adventure … a trip exploring Mongolia and Southeastern Siberia. Preparing for a winter adventure … this would be my first experience exploring a strange land at -14’c … am not sure how am I gonna deal with it but I’ll figure it out once I am there.

It’ll be a 15 days trip from Beijing to Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia and to Irkutsk then straight to Lake Baikal via Trans-Siberian train. Uhhh … I am curious to the max now! Gotta go … bye

Cheers,

MM

ps – google for Salliza Salleh to read the NST article clip mentioned above yeah.

 

 


Ace of Hearts

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Took her photo at Bhaktapur, Nepal while I was on my morning walk along the alleys. This is my second visit to Nepal

2017.01.12 … time flies, it’s the 12th day of 2017 and I am still not over 2016 yet. Another new year ahhhh. Last year I opted a ‘no’ new year resolution for 2016, a year of exploring and wandering with no obligation to achieve anything, just following the flow and enjoying my moment. A care-free 2016 …

I aged another year … yeah! being a woman, aging sucks. I had a minor surgery last month just 2 days before my flight to Nepal. Being a stubborn woman I happily checked out from the hospital, pack my cameras and headed to the airport for my flight to Kathmandu.

Well … what could go wrong right? Except that … I am not young anymore and recovery takes time. Carrying 2 DSLRs on my back and walking around Kathmandu, Pokhara and Ghandruk felt like a chore. Hmm … lesson properly learned. But, I survived …

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A steel bridge connecting villages separated by cliffs

I want to go the opposite direction for this year … and I’ll start with having new RESOLUTIONs for 2017.

But … I want realistic resolutions that would motivate me to be a better me. Not some unachievable resolutions that would at the end makes me felt incompetent with my own beloved self. So … I’ll have 3 new resolutions for 2017 then, just to keep it realistic and 1 old resolution that I always silently yearn for each year.

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A family wefie in front of Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu

I want to adopt a ‘win’ attitude this year. Yeah … that kiasu attitude “this girl gotta win in anything that she decided to do”. I am just curious on how does it feel to be a winner for at least a year ha ha ha.

I want to create more in 2017. More quality writing, more quality photos, more quality videos, more time for quality reading, more time for quality sleep and more time for love.

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No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted ~ Aesop. A new friend at Pashupatinath temple, Kathmandu 

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Observing life along the alleys at Ason Bazaar, Kathmandu

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Enjoying my morning light on the street while observing life here

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Staring eye to eye with strangers on the road

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Playing with afternoon light at one of the alleys at the market

I want more backpack trips either solo or with a small group of friends to most strange land and meet up with all kind of kindness along the way. It is gonna be my way or the highway ha ha ha <—evil laugh. And lastly, my same old silent resolution each year is to have more HIM time. HIM … the Creator of all these beautiful moments that I am immensely in love with. Bliss …

Ahh I am sleepy … maybe it is time for a short nap. Bye for now.

Cheers

MM


Riding the Light

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A lady sitting on the floor of a market in Bantul, Jogjakarta

I was in Jogjakarta, Indonesia for a few days in mid-November last month. Hanging out at Kota Gede with my local photographer friend, Romeography of Studio 76. We planned to wander aimlessly around the east part of Jogjakarta with our cameras.

It was already the beginning of monsoon season here in Southeast Asia … and I was pretty sure that the sky would be dull and the light would be challenging in Jogjakarta too, as the raining season is here to stay until at least towards the end of January next year

After a few failed attempts to hunt for sunrises and sunsets, we decided not to waste our time wandering around hunting for gorgeous landscape anymore… we were out on the street focusing on human interest instead.

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Plaosan temple at sunset

We hang around markets mingling with locals selling all sorts of daily items. We snuck around a group of people selling roosters or cocks for the gamecocks or cockfights. Uh … scary sight of bleeding roosters fighting for its life.

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Spontaneous gamecocks

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6-months old  rooster was for sale at rp600,000

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Caged birds were for sale

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Mbah Madio selling palm tree sugar at a market in Bantul, Jogjakarta

Wandering around with motorbike hunting for subjects and lights has its pros and cons. Other than the pain in the butt (from sitting on a small seat for too long), it was also the risk of getting wet from the rain.

But … it was the easiest way to move around from point A to point B without having to worry about the condition of our routes plus we can just park the bike anywhere we wish. Talking about convenience right …

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The horses of Malioboro street were having their morning bath here at a river near Bantul, Jogjakarta

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Hunting for light at the nearby bridge in Bantul, Jogjakarta

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Farmers along side of the road in Bantul, Jogjakarta

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Spent a few hours here at Pak Sugiman’s workplace at Putat Village, Gunung Kidul, Jogjakarta

Well … the rain doesn’t stop me from achieving my primary goal for this trip lol … which was to have a stress free moment chasing the light. I had a great time … getting close and personal with my subjects, good food and good companion all the way … ahhh I couldn’t ask for more, alhamdullilah.

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My closing sunset for this trip. A dramatic sunset due to the unpredictable weather

We are planning for more future trips to explore more of the landscape surrounding Jogjakarta … maybe after the monsoon season is over. Who knows … In Sha Allah

And …. life goes on and on … and I am learning throughout the journey. Learning to be grateful for each moment that Allah presented to me. Learning to see and accept people as who they are. Learning to love every soul that cross path my journey … and letting go the one that decided to venture out of my path. People changed … a heart changed.

“Oh Allah, please ease my path. Guide my iman. Guide my every single actions. Guide me to love for Your sake. Protect what is in my heart. What lies in the future, only You know. Verily, Allah is All-Knower, Most Merciful and Most Gracious.”

Bye for now,

Cheers

MM