Turkey – Istanbul The Magical City

When I told my close friends Miassar and Christina that I’ll be travelling to Istanbul for 3 days, they immediately started recommending places to visit; Christina even lent me her book about Istanbul and highlighted the main attractions and restaurants. My friends are pretty serious travellers and always give excellent advices. While discussing Istanbul, I could see the excitement in their eyes and feel their admiration for the city.

I’ve watched numerous Turkish series and American movies that were filmed in Istanbul and also saw tons of pictures posted by my friends on their facebook accounts and just by looking at those images, I found it incredible.

I remember landing in Istanbul-Asia at 1 AM and took a taxi to Istanbul-Europe, the first thing I got to see was the Bosporus Bridge late night and the lights lighting up the Blue Mosque. The city looked so magical. I want to call it the ‘magical city’, because of the mixture of history and modern being blended together. Like the old street with modern transport, the old buildings with the modern lifestyle.

I love Istanbul, besides the fact that Tim and I got engaged there, I love it because of its food LOL  the Kebabs, Izkandar and of course their famous Shawarma sandwiches. We also had fresh cooked fish sandwiches in Eminonu with a pickled drink. Speaking of drinks, are you a coffee lover??? A Turkish coffee is a must. Yes, it is strong coffee but tasty. We had Turkish coffee 3 times a day in Istanbul.

Tim and I are planning on visiting Turkey again however next time would be in another city but I have a feeling nothing is comparable to Istanbul.

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Turkey – Athan-Call for Prayer

Being born and raised in the Middle East, I’m accustomed to hearing the ‘Athan’, which is the call for prayer. The Athan started when the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) choose a freed slave named Bilal as the first Muaathen. Muaathen is someone who calls for prayer, Bilal was chosen by the prophet because of his beautiful soothing voice. He was the winner of ‘the Voice/ Middle East Idol’ during that era.

We were taught in school that a Muaathen must have a calming voice to call on the believers to pray. As mentioned before I’ve adapted to hearing the Athan but I never thought of concentrating on the voice and never understood how an Athan must be chanted gracefully, until Tim and I visited Istanbul.

We both heard the Athan in many parts of the Arab world like Morocco, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Syria, Oman and of course UAE. Some were nice to hear and others were loud and displeasing. Amusingly, I personally enjoyed listening to the Athan in Turkey, it sounded like soft music that soothed my ear and heart.

While there, we managed to visit two famous mosques the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia which is also a church. HOW AMAZING RIGHT??!!!  Hagia Sophia was a church which later was transformed into a mosque but kept parts of the churches’ interiors.  Both religions are considered the same as we are all descended from the same prophet.

I hope someday the world will come to an understanding on not using religion as power, and realise all religions teach and share the same moralities and standards. Everyone should respect one another and ignore the extremists of any religion. I consider myself very lucky to be exposed to many religions which taught me a lot.

As the Quran says:

لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ

Lakum Dinakum Waliya Deen

“To you your religion and to me mine”

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Jebel Jais

Jebel Jais is the tallest mountain in the UAE which is located in the northern part of  the country in an Emirate called ‘Ras Al Khaimah’.

Last year, Tim and I decided to go on a road trip to check out the mountain but we made the worst decision by going there on a public holiday (it was the Eid holiday) which of course led us to getting stuck in traffic. Obviously we lost our patience and decided to park the car mid way and continue walking. My God! The amount of people and cars that were there.

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We managed to take photos and enjoy the view which kinda reminded us of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The view was peaceful and we just sat down munching on crisps and admiring the sunset from top of the world. As soon as it got dark, we headed back to the city and had dinner at Golden Fork.

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Ramadan in Asateer, Atlantis

My colleagues and I along with our spouses celebrated the Holy Month of Ramadan at the Asateer Tent which is located in Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah Island.

Asateer is the Arabic word for ‘Legends’. The Asateer Tent is voted as one of the most beautiful Ramadan Tents in Dubai. The interiors of the tent is extremely luxurious and the buffet serves delicious Arabic food and drinks.

We had a great time chit chatting and eating lots of desserts. They served unlimited ice-cream, cakes and my favourite Arabic dessert called ‘Knefe’. I wish I could eat so much and not gain weight. Of course! I’m sure it’s every girls dream.

If ever you are in Dubai during the Holy Month than you should book a ticket in advance to be able to experience one of the most popular Ramadan tents.

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Asateer Buffet- Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah

Visiting Singapore Zoo

The Zoo offers various packages and we purchased the generic ticket along with the river safari + night safari. We started the day enjoying a nice Singaporean meal and afterwards headed to the main entrance. While walking around and taking pictures, we’ve noticed there were stops for performances and the polar bear show caught our attention. It was our first time to see one live and it looked really beautiful. We also watched a seal show which was super cute and funny. The funniest thing I saw was a sign that said “Zebras Exhibit-proudly adopted by KFC”.

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Singapore Zoo

After walking around, we stopped for a break and sat under flickering lights eating Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and were enjoying each others company. It was kind of like an interrogation because of the flickering lights. Anyway our Zoo trip ended with the Night Safari and we continued the night at Marina Bay Sands.

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Singapore Zoo

We highly recommend it, it’s a fun place to be with family and friends. Especially with children. Lots of entertainment and lots to see. The Zoo is massive with lots of activities and restaurants. If you ever visit Singapore that place is a must. It’s the BEST RAIN-FOREST ZOO.

Check out their website to book a ticket in advance. http://www.zoo.com.sg/  

How We Met

My husband ‘Tim’ and I love to travel and we do it whenever we have the opportunity since we both have full-time jobs. We both met while travelling; who would have ever thought, buying a last minute ticket to Singapore would lead to your soul-mate.

We were introduced by a guy who worked at the hostel we were staying at and I instantly knew Tim is the one. It’s a feeling I cannot explain. After spending 2 days together in Singapore, we said our goodbyes, exchanged numbers and parted our separate ways, Tim continued his journey to the Philippines and I travelled to Malaysia.

Thinking this is the end of our friendship but Nooo, we just couldn’t stop messaging each other. I later flew back to Dubai and he returned to the UK and that’s when things progressed. We moved from messaging each other to skyping every single day. We in fact dedicated a specific time for Skype. I later asked him, if our relationship will lead to somewhere. He then booked a ticket to Dubai for the weekend to meet me. We then discussed and agreed that we should give it a try and Tim suggested we meet every month in a new country.

The following month we met up in Marrakesh, Morocco and things got pretty serious, we started discussing moving to the other ones country. He then met up with me again in Dubai and we discussed commitment but we thought it would be better to go with the flow.

The next month, I flew to Istanbul, Turkey where he followed me. After visiting the historical mosques Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, we continued walking towards  the street where the famous Grand Bazaar is located, the street is filled with jewellery stores and Tim asked me to pick an engagement ring, as he wants me to wear something that I love. Being an Asian, I bargained and managed to get 20% off. Tim was insisting that it was okay but I just had to, its in me to bargain.

Months passed and Tim got relocated to Abu Dhabi where we started building our home together and months later, we got married in Dubai court.

I must say, long distance relationships are not easy at all. When there’s a will from both sides then there’s a way. It takes patience, work and loyalty. If the relationship doesn’t work out, it means he/she is not the one for you and you will realise it in the long run and besides you’ll understand why it did not work in the first place. Also what follows is way better and incomparable than what you thought was perfect.

When something is meant to be, it will happen in ease.

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Singapore Zoo