Friday, April 29, 2016

Spring in Penang | A spring in my step

Bismillah.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah to be home again - my Penang home. YaHuuu : D

As soon as I arrived in my neighborhood, I was pleasantly surprised to see some unexpected signs of the Spring season. For a moment I thought the all-pink-blooms in front of my house was Sakura LOL.

Sorry guys, my Japan Sakura-fever is not yet over. Heh...heh...



Thousands of local tourists are expected to flock to this island-in-the-sun during this long weekend. But obviously, driving up to Penang for a Penangite like me is extra special. I have got a spring in my step everytime I balik kampung [home-coming].

Was also pleasantly surprised to see my mom's plant blossoming. It sure is Spring time in Gelugor. LOL.



Sometimes I have second thoughts about sharing my personal travel photos but I am happy to know that many of you are happy to see them. Thank you for the positive feedback : )

Sunday, the 1st of May is Labor Day. As an employee of a super cool organization, I really feel blessed and contented that my team has delivered half a billion Ringgit worth of projects in the first quarter. 2016 is looking great indeed. Alhamdulillah.

As the chief of my own small company, I will keep forging ahead and sweat it out. We must be grateful that Allah keeps giving us ideas, keeps giving us the himmah (aspiration) to do something new each day.

OK I will act like a tourist tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and share more photos of Penang for you, cos I love you : D

Cheers!
Jumaah Mubarak!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

An Apple a day

Bismillah.

Thought I should mark this special day with this extra special catch of the day.
Alhamdulillahi hamdan yuwafi 
niámahu wa yukafi u mazidah

They say: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
I say: I don't need to marry a doctor cos I can afford two Apples in one day. LOL.

But then again, if the doctor is not bald, and if he's got a medicinal sense of humor, I wouldn't mind marrying a doctor. LOL.

Oh well, not that I am an Apple fan. I have always preferred a Samsung Note to an iPhone. I love writing, therefore a pen [stylus] is everything. And say what you want, I have got evidences that Samsung Note 5 takes better picture than iPhone 6s Plus.

However, the Apple watch made me an Apple-turnover literally. LOL.





When I was drooling over the gorgeous Apple watches, a hijabi lady came by wearing one. She already has it, yet still ogling them cos she wanted to get the Milanese Loop model. Ah...the thing people crave for. Then I saw her "negotiating" with her male companion. LOL. 

Unusual pair

p/s
A note to my nieces/nephews:
I know you're all crazy about the Apple watch and the straps and their combination. But...you gotta work your a_s before you can have it o.k!
Hu...hu...hu...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Beautiful morning | Rise and shine

Bismillah.


Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah.

I love coming here to this space to drop a few lines of whatever that lingers on the mind.

Oh...I realized something - that like many of you out there - I love spending the morning at a new place. Mornings are no doubt refreshing. Mornings at a new place are twice cherished.


The above photo was taken on a Sunday morning on the compounds of a university on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Thank God for granting me the idea to organize the Sunnah Food Campaign Video Competition (SFCVC). It has taken me to new places, it has given me the opportunity to meet many interesting people and it has certainly taught me a lot and I am enjoying the journey. Alhamdulillah.

Let's not take things for granted. That each morning we wake up with a task to do, a challenge to embrace, a lesson [or lessons] to learn.

Be afraid of only standing still. Be not afraid of going slowly. Be not afraid of doing something that you have never done before. Be brave about being yourself. Be not afraid of speaking your mind. Be bold. Be not afraid of kicking those people who try to walk all over you.

[Bully them back, if you have to. LOL.]

Yes, rise and shine. Let not anything or anyone hold you back.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Abdul Karim Shimuyama speaking about Islam in Japan and his involvement with Tokyo Camii - Japan's largest mosque

Bismillah.






Assalamualaikum,
Hi folks,

Hope you'll enjoy watching this video as much I had enjoyed meeting and talking to Brother Abdul Karim Shimuyama, a staff of Tokyo Camii.

When I arrived at the entrance of the mosque, I noticed brother Abdul Karim and his colleague greeting each of the passerby (Japanese non-Muslims) inviting them to enter the mosque.

It's a simple approach of dakwah, yet significant. If I were one of the disinterested busy Japanese who often pass by the mosque, I might one day decide to step in, and that move could be life-changing, by the will of Allah.

Tokyo Camii is the largest of a total of 80 mosques in Japan. Quietly nestled in a neighborhood in Shibuya, Tokyo Camii's presence is vital as it represents the faith of some 10,000 Japanese Muslims.

Allah grants hidayah and success to whomever He chooses. I think I speak for many when I say Japanese is a nation with good akhlak (characters), let's just hope true faith will follow suit. I also think Japanese people have become patient and compassionate on account of the challenges they have had to endure - rebuilding Hiroshima and Nagasaki, rebuilding tsunami-stricken Sendai to name but two. And the fact that the country remains prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Despite all the pains from the past and the unsettling geographical risks, Japan is one nation who is always quick to offer assistance to other countries in times of need.

Bravo, Japan!



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Kansai - Osaka | World's Best WC | Automated nation

Bismillah.

Konichiwa.

I have been to USH (Universal Studios Hollywood in USA) and USS (Universal Studios Singapore) but that didn't make me any less excited going to USJ (Universal Studios Japan). Harry Porter ride was not yet available when I visited the first two, thus needless to say I was delighted to be at USJ. As a matter of fact, I was up very early and was all ready at 6 a.m. waiting for the Coffee House to open for breakfast at 6.30 a.m. LOL.

6 a.m. Japan is 5 a.m. Malaysia
and I was all ready for USJ.
For the love of everything local (read Japan).

#LoveJapan
@ Hyatt Regency Osaka

Universal we are
The Harry Porter ride was pretty wild, but they did not make us Muslimah use a special scarf clip unlike the other roller coaster ride we took.

Special clips given to those wearing scarf
so it won't fly off when you get on wild rides.
Available for certain rides only.
Butter Beer
I say it's the best "beer" in the whole wide world!
[Tastes a bit like Root Beer Float, it's non-alcoholic, don't ya worry]

I have grown out of being a Hard Rock Cafe T-Shirt collector.
When I was younger I was crazy about hunting and owning
Hard Rock Tees from all over the world.
Not anymore.

What else is great about Japan/Japanese? Other than their high quality products and good truthful characters? I say, it's their WC. Yes. LOL.

Seriously! I think the yardstick for measuring how advance and how 'people friendly' a country is, is how good their WC is. And how serious they are in operating public restrooms. You know how cultured a society is when they give lots of attention to detail. And that the tap water is good for drinking. Yes, it's drinkable.

The pic below was taken at one R&R along the highway from Nagoya to Osaka. The electronic board found at the entrance saves you time from manually checking which toilet cube is vacant and which has what facility. They even have a room for Ostomate people [person who has undergone a surgical procedure to create an opening in the body that's used to discharge wastes.]  

Notice the legend? Click on pic to enlarge.
Pick your choice: Japanese style, Western style, Ostomate,
Diaper changing table, baby chair and changing table.'
Yellow light = occupied
Blue light = vacant

The Western style WC in Japan is commonly equipped with a heater-seat. You also get to press a button for 'flush sound' or some melody just so that people won't hear you pee etc. And you can adjust the volume of the 'flush sound' or music to your requirements. You also get to choose the type of water for cleansing, either spray or bidet and you can also adjust the water pressure to your needs. Once you are done with your business, simply press the stop button. And then press flush. Some toilets have a sensor and will flush for you. 

Clear instructions given.
This cube is not equipped with WC
that has 'music/flush sound' button though. 
For those who opt for a toilet cube that comes with a baby chair, you're given detail instructions too, e.g. "watch your child". All mothers watch their child of course. But that's the way they are, Japanese are detail oriented people, customer friendly and are very concerned about public safety and public requirements.

Baby chair inside toilet cubicle.

Toilet for kids

The hotel in Kansai where I stayed on my last night in Japan, had defibrillator available in the lobby, in case someone gets a heart attack. Can you believe that?


Defibrillator
available at hotel lobby
We all know Japanese are well known for vending machines. I was particularly impressed with a machine for you to check out from the hotel; a foreign currency-exchange machine and a machine that looks like a mobile phone charger to me.
Everything in Japanese.
Looks like a mobile phone charger machine
Foreign currency exchange machine.
Unfortunately MYR (Malaysian Ringgit) is not a 'major currency'
hence not provided by the machine

Check out machine
Checking out from the hotel was
super quick and easy. 
The end of my Japan trip.
A quick review of the hotels I stayed in:
I say Tokyo's Takanawa Grand Prince Hotel
served the best buffet breakfast;
Fujinobou Kaen Hotel gave me an unforgettable memories
of enjoying a great view of Mount Fuji;
wearing Yukata for dinner and of course the Spa Ryokan experience;
Okura Act City in Hamamatsu I vote as the most chic hotel;
Osaka Hyatt Regency was a typical five star hotel; 
Kansai Washington Hotel in Osaka 
was not as opulent as the other hotels,
but it's close to the airport, and there were 
three shopping malls in the vicinity and I got to see some of
the coolest machines e.g. checking out machine. 
And...three out of the 5 hotels I stayed at, had large bottles
of Shiseido hair shampoo, body wash and lotion!
I mean really big, guys.   
Overall, two thumbs up to beautiful and ultra modern Japan
and the ever so polite and honest Japanese folks.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulilah for the wonderful experience.

I strongly recommend Muslims in Malaysia to give it a try - travel to Japan with a good tour guide provided by www.appleholiday.com

Ask to travel with Jafri San - a knowledgeable and humorous tour guide, a Muslim (Malay) who speaks very fluent Japanese, who has got an engineering degree from Nagoya Uni, Japan. During the trip, he also functioned as adviser on which halal snacks to buy as souvenirs and would advise us on what food to avoid during buffet breakfast. Lunch and dinner are provided at halal restaurants (for Indian/Turkish food). As for Japanese meals, he made special arrangements with selected local restaurants. And we ate Japanese food 90% of the time :D

Jafri San also gave us plenty of inside stories to Japanese culture and history. Too many interesting and fun facts to share here, so I suggest you save up and spend some good money to travel with him. LOL.
Sayonara, for now.

Cape Town next. Insha Allah.



Monday, April 18, 2016

Kyoto - Osaka

Bismillah.

Good evening folks,
Konbanwa!

Just another short update because yours truly is kinda exhausted from traveling. From Hamamatsu we traveled farther down through Nagoya - a port city, passing by a gigantic theme park Fuji-Q. We reached Kyoto just before noon. Kyoto was Japan's capital city before Tokyo took over.

We went to take a look at a Shinto shrine. According to our tour guide, Shinto's praying movement has some similarities to the way Muslims pray. That they have to cleanse themselves, wash their hands and face before praying like wudhu (ablution) and they have similar movements with solat such as our rukuk and sujud

Washing oneself from a fresh water pond
outside a Shinto temple


Entrance to a Shinto shrine.
[Soon after stopping by this Shinto temple, yours truly
had her first experience of praying outdoor all by herself,
without a sejadah and proper telekung (prayer garment).
Thank God she found a clean spot at the nearby ROHM Theatre Kyoto]
And next, we visited a super crowded tourist spot near a Buddhist shrine up on a hill. In the old days, it's customary to craft a Senjafuda (have your name engraved on a piece of wood) and leave it at the temples as proof of attendance and for good luck. Nowadays, people have a Senjafuda made for fun or as a lucky charm.

As a curious tourist I too made a Senjafuda, had my name written in Kanji and engraved on an Ebony wood. I was pleased to learn that in Kanji (Japanese writing using Chinese characters to phonetically reprerent names), my name carries these meanings:
"heart, bloom, riches, great future, feather, peaceful"

I sure wish I could get lighter after this trip. I so wish to be like those in the "feather weight" category. LOL. One of the key attractions of this trip is that I get to eat fanta-licious Japanese food and snacks.

Today we had an interesting Shabu Shabu lunch that's served on a paper bowl on a burner with real fire. Who says you can't cook using a paper bowl?

        
See that fire below the paper bowl?
Lunch was awesome today : )
Alhamdulillah 

From Kyoto, we continued our journey to Osaka. Because we are mere mortals we need to have some more retail therapy. This time at the popular Shinsaibashi shopping hotspot where everyone just went mad. And no amount of Senjamairi (the act of visiting shrines) could prevent those with a weak faith from indulging in the "nice to have" stuffs. LOL.







OK folks, gotta get some sleep cos in a few hours time, we are going to the Universal Studios Japan.

"You may say I am a dreamer, but I'm not the only one" - I dream of meeting Hayao Miyazaki there. He is Japan's uber popular animator and film producer.

For many years I dreamed of doing Japan. Dreams do come true sooner or later. Bi-iznillah.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fujisan | Kakegawa - Hamamatsu | Spring in Japan

Bismillah.

Assalamualaikum folks,
Ohayou Gozaimasu

Good morning from Hamamatsu [southwest of Tokyo, about 200km away]. It's located halfway between Tokyo and Osaka (the second biggest city after Tokyo).

Arrived here yesterday evening on Shinkansen - the famous super fast bullet train of Japan. Upon arrival at Hamamatsu station, we were greeted by a pianist playing a beautiful contemporary music on a chic grand piano. Didn't yet realize then that Hamamatsu is home to musical instruments giant Yamaha, Kawai and Roland hence it's known as a city of music. The hotel I'm staying in is shaped like a harmonica!

Just a quick greeting as I need to get ready for another fun-filled day Insha Allah.

Here are some photos from yesterday's outings. We went to the Fourth Station on Mount Fuji, checked out more Sakura garden by a lakeside, visited a traditional Japanese village, shopping at Gotemba Factory Outlet and then took a bullet train from Kakegawa Station to Hamamatsu.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah.


Catching sunrise on the compound of Fujinobou Kaen hotel
Morning walk enjoying more Sakura
Dreamer.
"You may say I am a dreamer. But I am not the only one."
Mount Fuji (Fujisan)
Gotta dream big. As big as Fujisan.
The closest we could get to Mount Fuji.
We were at the Fourth Station which is 2020 meter above sea level.
Mount Fuji is 3776 meter above sea level. 
Mount Fuji from Gotemba Factory Outlet
Catching Shinkansen (bullet train) Nagoya-bound.
Hamamatsu is just one stop away from Kakegawa Station

Enroute Fujisan
When the coach crossed over a designated spot,
a song attributed to Mount Fuji
was aired automatically from the road!



Praise be to Allah for His generous bounties.




Saturday, April 16, 2016

The kid in us | Mount Fuji

Bismillah.

Assalamualaikum

Hi folks,

I can't resist posting from the foot of Mount Fuji : )

Earlier today, we were at Disneyland Tokyo. The last time I visited Disneyland was in Los Angeles about 25 years ago. But the thrill at Disney Tokyo today felt just the same even though I have aged LOL. No, of course I was not the only adult who let "my hair down" and put on a Mickey/Minnie head gear.  

From the land of fun, we traveled to the foot of the most beautiful mountain I have ever seen - Mount Fuji. I think what makes it stands out is that it's a single peak mountain (volcano) capped with snow.

Tomorrow, we are going to climb (on a coach) to the nearest spot possible, Insha Allah, bi-iznillah.

Here are some photos. Oh, we all wore Yukata for dinner tonight. And what's for dinner? It's Hokkaido crab. I'm not really into crab but it was special to have had dinner wearing Yukata [felt special donning this traditional Japanese outfit for the first time], and of course it was special to have had dinner in the company of magnificent Mount Fuji.

Rabbana ma khalata haza batila 
subhanaka faqina aza bannar

Hope to share more photos of my trip to this Land of the Rising Sun soon insha Allah.

The Minnie in me 
The sun setting behind Mount Fuji.
Mount Fuji is about 1000 meter shorter than Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu
which is the tallest mountain in South East Asia


That's Yukata on me. It's simpler  (more casual) than
the elaborate and pricey Kimono.
The hotel where we were staying
provided Yukata for all their guests
and so everyone wore one for dinner : )

Good nite!
Oyasuminasai!


p/s
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people and everyone in Kyushu Island (South of Japan) who has been affected by a 6.5 Richter scale earthquake yesterday. 


Friday, April 15, 2016

Greetings from Tokyo | Spring in Nippon | Land of the Rising Sun

Bismillah.

Assalamualaikum,
Hi folks,

No way I'd miss this chance of greeting you from Tokyo : D

Arrived here yesterday morning and we went for sightseeing straightaway. Guess what was the first thing we did after arriving at Narita Airport? Yes, you might have guessed it. We just had to go see the lovely Sakura!

Next, we went to the Camii Tokyo Mosque for Zohor prayers. Fortunately I was able to record a short interview with one of the Imam Committee, a Japanese who embraced Islam 25 years ago.

Then we went shopping of course, at where else? Ginza and Shinjuku. Here are some photos for you.

I better get ready now, we are heading to Tokyo Disneyland and Spa Ryokan today : D

Alhamdulillah hi hamdan yuwafi 
niámahu wayukafi u mazidah





Can't get enough of gorgeous Sakura
Camii Mosque Tokyo
Camii Mosque Tokyo
Shinjuku
First night in vibrant Tokyo
View from my balcony

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday blues | Use your head | Believe you can

Bismillah.

Man...I am having Sunday blues, you won't believe it. It's one of the pre-vacation blues we all have when there are a couple of unfinished business hovering the mind before we could actually have some fun. 

There's a write-up that needs to be edited or re-written, letters to draft, phone calls to make, etcetera.

And I have got to cover quite an important seminar the day before I leave for my long-awaited dream holiday so lots of preps ought to get done. And there'll be one event soon after I return. Hu hu hee hee hah hah.... 

Right this moment I am having writer's block so where do I begin?! Before I begin working on some serious piece of writing, I thought I pour out some tension on this blog. 


Staring into nothing-ness.
At the back of the mind,
I am thinking hats,
[CA4LA hats to be specific]
when I should really put on my thinking hat
and do some work!
DSC_0087
Use your head!


Oh btw someone asked how we do the recordings for Al Falah TV. After hearing my explanation, she said: "Oh not that easy!"

No, it's not that easy. But we just have to do our level best and hope for the best. And keep trying.

So, this is a note to encourage myself. A poster borrowed from Exa Publishing FB:




And this is my own personal version : )



Hope to share more cheerful postings next week Insha Allah : )