Blogging · Vacation

Halal trip(s) to Bangkok

After three times going back and forth to Bangkok, I now have the gut to actually blog about my trip. First time is an experience, second & third trip is more to casual and food.

our two single beds room at i residence

My first trip to Bangkok was in the mid of August, 2016 with my colleague, Insyirah. It was our first time traveling together and I couldn’t recall how many days we stayed up there. We stayed at so called CBD area, i Residence Hotel in Silom. Quite convenient for us since our hotel is opposite Chong Nonsi BTS station.

Didn’t do much since it was our first time and also we couldn’t go anywhere that much due to bad weather. I remember clearly our second last day, we went to Chatuchak Market in the morning at two hours later, we were greeted by a stormy weather.

chicken sticky rice for 50 baht (if i’m not mistaken)

We managed to get a few items like food and clothes and had our brunch at this halal chicken rice shop somewhere in Chatuchak Market.

Second trip was in March 2018, with my fellow friends; Ain, Syai, Khai and Hazwan.

khai, me, ain, syai & hazwan

Many things have changed in just two years and we stayed at Citin Pratunam, a-three-star hotel with great hospitality and people. Because this is my second time to Bangkok and few times for them, they did all the plannings from food to whereabouts (even hotel too!)

Our first pit stop was Talad Neon, a walking distance from Palladium IT Pratunam. Oh before that, I’ll tell you about our hotel area.

Citin has two separated buildings, so the old one is located in front of a massage spa shop and the newest one located in front of 7-11, nearby to train track station (don’t worry, both buildings are a walking distance like… less than 15 seconds).

We took cab from Suvarnabhumi Airport since everyone had very bag luggages with them (except for mine!). But you can spend less than 350 baht (SG$16.00) and take Airport Rail Link (Suvarnabhumi to Ratchaprarop Station). By the way, 100 baht is SGD$1.55 (now, back then was SG$1.00).

For Muslim travellers, you don’t have to worry as Pratunam has so many halal food and restaurants! You can even find halal street food around the corner.

First stop was Talad Neon. Basically Talad Neon is like Chatuchak, except hipster version. But here is something you might want and need to know – their seafood stalls ARE NOT HALAL (even though they have the HALAL sign). They might just go ahead and say “yes halal halal” but look through their menu carefully (found out about this on my third trip, this year).

twisted potato stall at talad neon
i had bandung.

There are a few halal stalls, but more to finger food like cheesy fries, quails and some potato.

Next day, we had our brunch at Maedah Restaurant. This is one of the best halal restaurants that could be found around Pratunam area.

Ain was sick and so she didn’t join us for our second day trip. Syai stayed back in the room to take care of his wife (so sweet).

That night we had our dinner at Yana Restaurant. A bit distance from Siam Paragon and Khai, me and Hazwan tuktuk to get there.

I’m not really a big fan of eating many stuffs in a restaurant so I gotten myself a plate of pad thai. The food was nice and delicious and affordable.

This year, a week after Eid Mubarak, I went to Bangkok again but with Tasha.

Stayed at Citin Pratunam again (because why not! and affordable!) and this time around I went there with a limited budget, I did not bring my ATM card, paid everything in cash including make-ups.

Took SA City to our hotel and right after a few hours resting, we had our late lunch/early dinner at Al-Sana Restaurant. They serve Pakistani, Arabic and Thai food.

We then headed to Palladium Mall to do some shopping but to our surprise, the building closes early, at 8pm. So we walked around and took photos at their famous bridge.

not sure what’s the name of this bridge but it’s connected from palladium mall

Walked to Talad Neon and here’s the best part – this is where I found out about the fake halal food. I started to feel hungry and thought of getting some tom yam soup but when I looked around, I saw a few photos of pork. Asked one of the owners and she kept saying halal.

Then I decided to settle down with Thai milk tea first. The fellow man that sells drink is a Muslim man (i believe he’s a mixed of kelantanese & siam because he spoke to me in Malay). Asked him about food around Talad and he told me those seafood stalls are not halal. It is just to attract customers.

And what I meant by fake halal food is they serve and cook pork too. To play safe, better not have your seafood there. I will list down a few places where you can get halal food okay!

cheesy fries from one of the halal stalls.
halal lok lok nearby pratunam market

Next day, we went to Siam to shop some make-up. Eveandboy is haven for make-up lovers.

my favorite local brand, srichand

Also, we had our dinner at Zaabver Restaurant and I can say the price is a little bit pricey. Note: not complaining, but I was expecting more things on the menu. Had tom yam fried rice but not to my liking. Still prefer the street food nearby my hotel area (50 baht and have many prawns!).

My this trip is all about budget. We took tuktuk to everywhere we go. Even to Chatuchak! Worth the price for 200 baht and the driver even stopped us at this one place to let us try honey for free! But tragically, many shops closed due to fire breakdown.

We went there around afternoon and had a very light brunch in our room. We roamed quite long to find food in Chatuchak but again and we both became hangry. Then we found halal street food inside the market itself! I had pad thai for only 40 baht and ice coconut for 50 baht! My tummy smiled.

Had to have a dessert right after a delicious meal. This ice cream costs only 5 baht. I had mine in sarsi flavor (wanted thai tea but aunty heard wrongly).

Tasha didn’t believe me when I said Bangkok is a place for you to spend your money like a crazy person. She bought a lot of things especially snacks because Thailand has the bestest chips in 7-11!

So here are a few tips that I can give you (from my own experience):
ALWAYS ALWAYS smile because Thai people are rich with smiles and courtesy.

Never ever bargain too much and walk away. They don’t like to entertain people who keep on bargaining. Make sure know what you wanna get. Buy more than 2, you will get at least 50-100 baht off. For snacks, buy 5 free 1 (if you are lucky enough).

Speak their language – learn to speak Thai and they will enjoy more talking/give you discount. It works on me.

Be humble (ALWAYS)

Tips their hotel employees (they deserve because they are really helpful and patient with silly tourists).

For halal food:
Maedah Restaurant
Al-Sana Restaurant
Zabveer Restaurant
Halal street food, Palladium IT Mall
Yana Restaurant
Royal India (Siam Paragon)
Sinthorn Steakhouse
Yusup Pochana
Busaba Restaurant
Usman Thai food
AYA Japanese food

With that, I end my Bangkok trip blog here. For highlights, visit my Instagram to find out more!

Blogging · Personal · Vacation

Hijrah and reborn.

I am rewriting my Umrah trip. Not because I missed a few points. Nope.
Because, I feel much more contented and better now.

My life changed ever since my Umrah journey started on December 2, 2017. I felt petrified and overwhelmed at the same time. I had so many things on my mind; like… what did I do to deserve this?

Months before the day of my departure, I gave lame excuses to my parents. It took them at least 8 months to plan ahead for everything. Or maybe more, I don’t know.

Like others, I told myself “I don’t deserve this. I am a sinner.” But Lord is Merciful, He loves his أمة‎ (ummah). According to my ustaz, “He chooses you. He chose you for a reason. You may think someone else deserves this, but He wants you to be there for a reason.” That’s where I realized – I should be thankful.

I was surrounded with mixed feelings and emotions. I asked and told my closest friends, “What if I can’t do it? I’ve never prayed, will God forgive me? Will God give me a second chance?” & etc.

Two months beforehand, I self-studied how to pray. Started from the bottom.

I was lost in my own religion. I wanted to give up. I did not know what to do. I wandered about life a lot.

The day arrived. Friends and relatives all came down to send my mom, dad and me. We were supposed to take off at 4.35 pm but things happened. Our flight got delayed. 7 hours later, we flew off.

We reached Jeddah safely and I had butt sore from sitting in the plane and bus for more than 16 hours. We chose Afandi Travel to make this worship journey happen.

We had our stay at Leader Al-Muna Kareem Hotel in Madinah. It is 5 minutes walking distance away to Masjid Nabawi. My heart pounded real fast.

Is this really happening? Is Nabawi really in front of me? Am I dreaming?

When I first stepped my right foot at gate 26 Nabawi, I had tears of joy rolling out from my eyes. I was surrounded with peace, birds chirping here and there, beautiful voices from people reading the Koran and of course, beautiful windy weather.

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That night, I got to visit Ar-Rawdah with my dad’s wife and her relatives. Such a wonderful place to be. They say أخضر‎ is green, and so is Rawdah.

My days in Madinah was amazing. We got to visit Green Dome, Jabal Uhud, Masjid Quba’, Masjid Qiblatain, Shuhada’ Uhud and a few other places. But due to the cold weather, I fell sick and caught fever on my second day of ibadah.

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6th December; the day where I was feeling extra nervous and excited at the same time. I was so nervous that I actually slept the whole entire journey to Mecca.

We reached Mecca almost 11 pm. Quickly had my dinner and then, my journey of hijrah began.

Unbelievable. Astonished. Indescribable.
Those were the words that I had in my mind when I saw Kaabah.

My heart pounded real fast that I thought I was gonna get asthma attack. I cried while tawaf. I couldn’t believe the big black box in front of me is Kaabah.

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Tears of joy, tears of forgiveness.

I hugged my mom so tight. I couldn’t express or tell how sinful I was back then. I wondered why was I been given a second chance?

26 years (2017) of living, I finally found myself. God is real and so is everything on this earth. I felt so peaceful and my mind was as clear as the ocean.

For all this time, I have always asked God to lead me to the right path, show some guidance though I didn’t sujud at Him before my Umrah journey.

And He did.

I was so excited to perform my prayers at Al-Haram Mosque. Mom and I did our prayers at Tower 2 (if I’m not mistaken). And usually after Isyak, we would hang out at Zam Zam to either eat supper or just walk around.

Indeed, God is real and He is Merciful. I was prepared for new changes but I did not expect it to happen real quick.
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When I was at Tower 2, I kinda challenged God. Within minutes, I gotten my answers. Like I said, I was prepared but did not expect it to happen real quick.

I accepted my fate.
But at least I got my parents back. We’re back as one.

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My journey in Mecca didn’t end there. We visited Jabal Rahmah and Mount Arafat too!

I actually prayed for my love life at Jabal Rahmah hehehe.
When I was there, I knew I had to leave my past behind and start a fresh. Slowly but surely.

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our last subuh at mecca

Before we end our journey, we went back for tawaf wada’ and this time around, I wish don’t have to go back home. A part of me just wanna live in Mecca because it is so peaceful there.

And you know what’s more incredible besides this whole journey? Right after I landed back in Singapore, I wasn’t feeling sick anymore. My cough and fever disappeared.

POOF!

And my life has changed ever since then. My appearance may have changed but my personality remains the same.

I am like a reborn child; that my new journey starts at the age of 27.

As I slowly crawling searching for answers, I too, never stop looking for Him.
And as days go by, minutes turn to hours; many things have been happening to me lately; which I will break them all soon enough. (I just need to find more time to blog!)

I can never thank God for giving me a second chance to breathe. And also for making a few of the things I prayed before, came true.

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The power of prayers is real.