Tag Archives: lifestyle
25th Ramadhan 1440
We are in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Out of the 30 days of a blessing month of Ramadan, the last 10 days is the most blessed and anticipated nights. Believers take extra effort to increase their prayers and devotions toward the Almighty during these nights.
A month of self-restraint against food, drinks, wrongful desires, bad habits, negative temptations etc.
Fasting for 30 days in Ramadan month is one of the 5 of Islamic pillars. Fasting is just 1% of the effort while the other 99% is the extra effort that believers need to perform to strengthen their bond with the Al-Mighty.
Fasting is very hard for me with this Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that I had for almost 20 years.
With my health condition, to be able to fast during this month is a blessing.
I don’t want to miss my train. It’s my personal journey and I hope to fulfill my duty through my own pace. With a strict diet and the right amount of medications, I manage to fast without me ended up injuring myself.
Understanding that every deed of the son of Adam is for themselves except fasting; fasting is solely for Allah. Allah will reward it according to him.
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Indeed your Lord said: ‘Every good deed is rewarded with ten of the same up to seven hundred times over, except for fasting.’
I was assigned to write about Ramadan for my photography article in the News Straits Times this time around. Ideas on what to capture with your camera during this holy month.
Ramadan Bazaar is the most visited place in Malaysia, you could find it at every corner of the town. Operating between 4pm to 7:30pm. Food heaven where you could get food for iftar in one place. Because of my strict food diet, I don’t frequent Ramadan Bazaar that much anymore.
I decided to skip the food part of Ramadan and focus on how to capture the spirit of Ramadan through close-up photos. A close-up photo adds intimacy or relatable feeling onto your images. Sharing my article here for reading pleasure.
How do I spend my Ramadan month this year?
I tried to discipline myself to be closer to the community of the mosque.
Tried my best to have my iftar with my family and friends at the mosque every day, sharing food in one big tray, eat together, perform our Maghrib-Isyak-Tarawih prayers together, read certain surah from the Quran together.
As I sit quietly at my corner observing my surrounding, I saw one big group of orphan of different ages occupying another corner of the mosque while some corners are filled with believers of different races, different level of lives, poor or rich sat together sharing whatever food served during that day.
I feel humbled. Being broken, I have this unrealistic pride I tried so hard to overcome. That feeling of pride that I should rely on my own, that I am the sole provider for my own needs. Accepting others gratitude is not something I am used too. I am trained to give but not to accept.
Accepting food from others is something that I am not comfortable with. Here I learned to let down my pride and tone down my expectation. Feeling grateful with whatever food served in front of me and not complaining.
Praying together as one big ummah create strong bonding between us. I personally need the motivation boost to excel during the last 10 days of Ramadan. The late-night prayers, the almsgiving aka sedaqah, trying to read as many surahs from the Quran as possible and rushing for suhoor.
Doing all these spiritual activities together within a group make it achievable. I could not do that alone, am a dreamer that would drift into my own cave if I am left alone … cruising in my own world.
The divine journey to get closer to the Al-Mighty is the essence of Ramadan. It is not easy to achieve but it sure is joyful, spiritually joyful.
A few more days before the month would end. Still feeling that I am not putting my best effort, yet the clock still continuously ticking.
Will I be able to experience another Ramadan again next year?
In Sha Allah, if Allah permits.
My second visit here at Northern Vietnam and my first was five years ago.
This time around we covered Sapa, Y Ty, Ha Giang, Dong Van and the Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang. We drove along the road close to the border of Vietnam and China starting and ending at Hanoi.
Acres and acres of dreamy layers of paddy field.
The road is narrow, long, rough and winding but the view is worth the pain.
Due to its small road, I think the best way to enjoy the landscape view here is with a motorbike. Riding slowly along the narrow path in between the layers and layers of paddy field and explore the life of Vietnamese ethnic minority here.
For the Muslim, halal food is difficult to find along the way. So, be prepared with your own food arrangement. I turned into a vegetarian whenever I travel, but it seemed like being a vegetarian here at Northern Vietnam is also very tough. Since I am aware of what I want to explore here … a little struggle on food has not dampened my spirit.
Just be a little flexible and creative on my diet choice then I would definitely survive.
Our local guide during this trip is uniquely interesting.
An adventurous girl, she claimed that she is always lucky with the weather. During the week … yes indeed! the weather forecast predicted that we would have a strong storm for the whole week throughout our visit but the weather decided to treat us fairly with at least 50% sunlight, 30% foggy moody grumpy weather and 20% light rain. She is indeed our weather lucky charm.
I accepted the gloomy weather during this trip ‘as is’, not complaining.
Plan B. The best time to capture clouds movement. Slow shutter landscape shoot and time-lapse video. So at each location, rain or shine, I make it a point to capture time-lapse moments. Each recording takes up to at least an hour for a 5-second interval of at least 7 seconds time-lapse video using my GoPro.
Sharing my time-lapse video here at my youtube channel.
Gorgeous beautiful world that we stayed in, Masya Allah. And … I am grateful that I have the eyes to see and a heart to feel. I want to see more, I want to feel more.
How not to get bored of traveling?
My way? Planning for each travel trip is very important to me. If I plan to be at a place for say 14 days, I would plan on my everyday itinerary together with my backup plan if anything doesn’t go according to my plan.
Flexibility help reduces my anxiety.
I travel to do and see things I can’t at home. I hope to learn more about myself and being flexible allow me to be more open to a new self-experience.
My planning reflects my commitment to creating a unique different moment in each place that I visit. So that I could recall how does that place makes me FEEL years after years later.
I am glad that I am into photography. Morning light and afternoon light is always my favorite hours. So, I would be up very early in the morning and stayed until the last light, hunting and experiencing local festivals, market crowds, treks the hills to have a peek of the enchanting landscape, walking through a strangers village to have a look at how is life on this other side of the world and so on. The moment of learning and experiencing humanity is always a satisfying moment for me.
Wandering is a lot easier if you have a clear direction on where to go. Sharing some photos during my trip to Northern Vietnam last year. Will share more story during this trip on my next post. In Sha Allah
And last question … am I lucky? Yes, I feel lucky therefore I am lucky. Have a good day dear reader. Bye.
A friend asked me.
After so many places that I have been to, do I not feel bored?
After a while every place would look the same, she claimed. She travels a lot too. Covering common touristy places that normal tourist would go but yes, I think she has a good point there.
We tend to overdo things.
And when we overdo things, we’ll get numb and bored.
I call it the “touch and go” kind of traveling … get to your next stop, the Instagram famous spot, then click here click there in 30 minutes run to the bus to the next stop, click here click there in 20 minutes back to the bus again and repeating that for 7 days while covering for 6 continents (I am exaggerating here yah).
After a few trips like this … places will look the same, there is not enough time to FEEL. The reason we travel is to experience the FEEL. Every place offered a different opportunity for us to FEEL but we need more than 30 minutes to explore the new surrounding and experiencing FEEL.
How not to get bored while constantly traveling? Create a unique moment for each place that you visited. To do that … you need to do slow traveling.
Take more time at each place. Breath the air. Wander along the street. Explore local markets. Stay at the local’s home. Trek the mountain. Cycle around the town. Hangout at the local restaurant. Join the local festival.
Time for bed. It is 11:25pm on 03.01.2019. Will continue my rant on my next post. Goodnight.
For months I tried to find the excuse to re-visit my childhood hometown. Being born and raised during my teenage life in Tawau, Sabah, this place has a soft spot in my heart. I miss the food … I miss my old childhood friends and I miss talking in the Sabahan dialect too.
This time around, my excuse is … I am re-visiting islands around Semporna for the second time. Had a good deal return ticket from KL to Tawau and spent a few days hanging out in Tawau with my childhood friends while enjoying the weekends at the islands surrounding Semporna, hunting the light with some new friends.
I miss the salty air and the beautiful endless open sky. As we were speeding off to Selakan Island from Semporna jetty, I can’t help reminiscing the old sweet years when I used to spend my weekend doing island hopping with my compact camera. Carefree years … when my camera was just so light and the years where I carried my flippers more than my camera.
I am feeling old … only old people reminiscing their old sweet memories.
My second visit to this beautiful place. The first time in 2015 when I was still fresh in this photography world, at that time everything looked new and exciting to me. Guess what … the second trip is as excited as before, I am born to do this … to wander around my surrounding and just fall deeper into my own world while doing … the THINKING, lol (so much to think about).
Timbun Mata, Bodgaya, Maiga, Selakan, Gusungan, Ormadal and a lot more surrounding islands that we can explore. The setting of each island looks damn good during sunset and sunrise. And, I noticed something different this time around with my new travel mates … they play with the drones more than their cameras.
A new way of enjoying our beautiful surrounding which is aerial photography. Now everybody can fly … me? I think I would just stick to my paramotor addiction. Flying with a group of motivated adventurous paramotor pilots and enjoying the raw aerial view with my own eyes, self-satisfaction. I get to feel the fear of the unknown circumstances while flying … while the drone players fear that they would lose their drone signal and later would lose the drone.
What makes a place interesting?
For me … it’s the people that reside in the place that makes the place compelling. In here the sea gypsies people are well blended with their nature. Life is simple.
But for a thinker … you’ll get worried just by looking at the children paddling here and there aimlessly. I always believe that every child needs to go to school, at least to learn reading, writing, calculating and reading the Quran.
By giving that basic skill to our children we fulfilled at least the very minimal responsibility as a parent to them. Giving them the skills will help them make a better choice in life. It is up to the parents though. I saw a few schools here in some islands. Maybe they just choose not to send their children to school.
Ahh well … enough worrying, at least they are happy with their choice of life. As I said earlier … it’s a simple life, no ruffles.
I always want to say this at the end of my writing … that I want to visit the same place again and again. 3 days 2 night is not enough … it was cloudy during the 3 days that we were there and on the second day, we were chased by the storm during sunset at Bodgaya Island. I think a week would be good.
The cloudy stormy sky is the best time to capture time-lapse as the clouds would move rapidly. Sharing my time-lapse video here for y’alls. Amazing moment captured using my small gopro6.
And last but not least, belanja a picture of me under the stormy cloud for my fan out there (perasan … lol am being cynical here) and for those people who are not so my fan, please underestimate me, that’ll be fun. Annyeong …
ps: if life gave you lemon, make lemonade.
I hate the word ‘busy’.
Oh … I have been busy, much busier than you (competing which each other on who is busier).
For me, the word ‘busy’ is like an excuse … oh, I could not spend my precious time with you, as my dear you are not worth my time, I would rather spend it with someone else which is more important than you. That is why you are so busy.
Hmmm … me being grumpy at my introductory paragraph. Excuse me … lol.
Me? I have been busy too and like always I admit that I have been crazy busy catching up with I dunno, maybe work, life or just recuperating from my back-to-back trips. And … despite being busy, I make times for my loved ones. The 3-ones that I always cherish, my pets too and my mom.
But …always a satisfying feeling despite how tired I am right now … ‘do what you love, love what you do’. I guess that I love myself the most when I am wandering around the stranger’s land more than when I am at home worrying about my unpredictable future.
I was in Pakistan for the second time last July with my travel mates.
We wanted to visit the Kalash people of Pakistan. Took a domestic flight from Islamabad to Chitral and a jeep ride to the remote area of Kalash Valley, Northern Pakistan. Reside between the mountain of Hindu Kush, this place is geographically harsh but for a person who loves nature, ahhh this place is beautiful.
In a country dominated by Muslims, this mountain people of Kalash is still holding on to their ancestor’s belief. Estimated around only 3000 Kalash people who are still practising the culture and their ancient pagan religion. Some of the Kalash people converted to Muslim, abandoning their traditions and adopting the Muslim lifestyle but still staying together around the valley.
The Kalash girls and women dressed up in a thick embroidered black robes with matching head gears and heavy bead necklaces every day. While the man adopted the same Kurta shirt as the rest of the Pakistani man. They have a colourful lifestyle and I think it is interesting to explore more about their culture.
Summer has just started when I touched down in Islamabad.
It was interesting as I always choose to travel to certain places either during the end of winter, spring or autumn and never in summer, as I prefer staying home in my hot and humid 24×7 country more than experiencing the heat of summer of another country.
In Chitral and Kalash Valley, the summer heat is the same as at home but the air is drier and windy, which made it bearable. But in Peshawar during Summer is … wow! challenging, due to the greenhouse effect temperature during the daytime is very warm (38’C feels like 42’C). Walking along the small alleys in between markets with the heat is not something that I look forward too but well … I survived Peshawar.
I always wanted to visit Peshawar.
My late university professor was from Peshawar (he passed away from dengue a few years ago). He told me that tomatoes in Peshawar are as big as mangoes. It makes me curious. Where got such thing as tomatoes as big as mangoes. I told him that one day I would love to visit his hometown, Peshawar and check out the tomatoes. And he said, ‘Please don’t go to Peshawar, that place is a dangerous place to walk around’.
My curious mind will never listen to NO. Oh … and I checked out the tomatoes, the size is still the same size as our tomatoes back home in Malaysia.
Walking on the street of Peshawar as a woman with a camera is not easy as you need to adhere to the local custom. Proper dressing is required. I wore my favourite black abaya and yes, it helps with the heat. But my gender becomes a hindrance for me to walk alone on the street and yes, I need a male companion to be able me to walk around the market. Thank God my local companion is very helpful and friendly, so my wandering process went smoothly.
When I am at home now, recuperating, I asked myself … what do I remember the most about Peshawar?
Uhhhh … the food.
I tasted the best lamb stew ever (better than in Xinjiang). The food tastes different from Islamabad, Chitral or Skardu. I was told that food in Peshawar is delicious due to the influence of Afghanistan, as Peshawar is just 57km away from the Afganistan border. And now I wonder … about the food in Kabul. Is it good? Hmmm curious mind.
I overstuffed myself with lamb and chicken every day, 3 times per day in 11 days. Never in my life that I’ve been eaten overload of animals in a day … Masya Allah. A happy Masya Allah actually as I lurvvveee lamb. I need extra energy for the walking (aka wandering) and extra strength for me to carry my heavy camera bag, lol.
What an experience.
I could see myself exploring Pakistan again and again. Maybe I should start strengthening my knee and my legs so that I could hike up on those beautiful mountains surrounding Skardu and enjoy the smell of the glaciers. I should start tomorrow … lol In Sha Allah.
Time for bed. Catch you again on my next post. Bye for now …
What does photography teach me?
As I add more months and years to my photography experience, I learned about the role of “stroke of luck” in my artwork. Unplanned moments or shall I say accidentally moments that just hit the “jackpot” or a rewarding moment that made my day as a photographer.
It was 100% totally luck. I was in the right place at the right time with the right people.
I always see it as a gift … a gift from the invisible hand, the Planner. Each time I came across such moment I feel grateful and contended.
So each time when I am sad and feeling unlucky … I would scroll down and browse through my lucky moments. Telling myself … for each moment that I am at lost, I would experience more lucky moments as a reward for my perseverance and my patience.
I take photography personally. Most of the time I captured my own moment … moments that related to me. A way for me to learn and understand about life. To calm my soul when things don’t work accordingly, as the Planner always has a better plan for me. I just need to trust Him.
“Art depends on luck and talent”
Whenever you came across that lucky moment, you need the talent to be able to recognize such moment and you need the technical skill to decide on what and how to properly frame it. How do you do it?
Practice makes perfect.
Sleep deprived. Need to doze off. Bye …
ps: TEDx Talks about Mastering Change by Michael Yamashita.
Now I understand the reason why writing will always make me feels good. I always wonder why does it feel good to pour your thought out for others to discover?
It is an opportunity to be heard and it feels good to be heard.
And the soul-nourishing month of Ramadhan has ended while the joyful Syawal has begun. It’s interesting to observe how people around you interpreted their belief system. Am not talking about the belief system between different religions but I am more concern about the different interpretation of the same belief system.
Islam is just one belief, one teaching and one God … don’t add yourself as another interpretation of other arrogant God.
If you believe that a religion is beautiful then your interpretation of that religion should be that beautiful too. If the teaching of a beautiful religion is to worship the Al-Mighty while at the same time to look for the best in human (as we humans are created as an equal Khalifah on this earth), to bring out the best in human-being and to unite people of various races in the world … stick with that teaching and please interpret this beautiful religion rightfully.
I felt frustrated with the arrogant believer that think that they are better off in front of Allah just because they have better religion knowledge (they believe so) than the rest. If you think that you have more knowledge than others please SHARE in a well-manner more civilize way. Not through a barbaric way as we are now living in an informative and intelligent era. Everybody has their own limitations and challenges … the sincerity of the heart matter the most; the HEART MATTER …
Sorry for the long ranting … I got distracted by the MAN who thinks that part of his leg is already firmly planted on Allah’s Heaven. Well … the more I see the more I want to ask why? And, a woman who always asks WHY is a nuisance for such MAN MADE FOR HEAVEN (so he think so).
Sharing my thought and my latest article in NST about how to capture the spirit of Hari Raya (eid) from a photographer’s point of view aka my point of view.
Eid Mubarak to all my readers.
ps- The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The believer is friendly and befriended, for there is no goodness in one who is neither friendly nor befriended. The best of people are those who are most beneficial to people.”
Source: al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ 5937