It was a harsh Friday morning with my fluctuating mood. I had my crying marathon the night before for some childish reasons (^_^) [my childish reasons range from the fear of being a barren-naudzubillahimindzaalik, homesickness to dissatisfaction when abang spend few hours socializing with his friend and leave me alone hahaha]. Abang slept late, after his subh prayer. And I woke up early (though in rebelliosity) to prepare fried potato wedges, fried chicken and crab sticks (mind you, those crab sticks were ‘powed’ by abang from his neighbour huuu). Hey, it was another trip Alhamdulillah J
At 10.40 am, we stepped out of the house door to enter the taxi door. At 11, we were already at the hudud (border). We changed to a sarfis, got our passport stamped twice (at the Jordan Border and the Syrian Border) . We then took a bus at 1pm and at 2 we arrived in Dimashq (Damascus). Alhamdulillah I have arrived in Damascus for the first time in my life with my beloved! I couldn’t help but to give a continuous running commentary, “Abang, buruknya” while abang replied with “Sayang, kita masuk dari Negara dunia ketigas ke Negara dunia ketiga lain”. Of course at that time I wasn’t aware that Syria has way TOO MUCH to offer!!! It was hot. Even hotter than Jordan. We arrived in Nahar Aisyah, waiting for a friend to fetch us up, and there were some kids licking ice creams! I made an ‘innocent’ statement, “Abang sedapnya kan ice cream tu..” so abang being such an understanding man haha lead me to walk few steps down the road, and there was a small grocery shop selling ice creams. So we bought and was surprised to find out that the price was actually 1/3 that of Jordan’s. That’s a good news indeed Alhamdulillah.
Few minutes later, Pian arrived with a colleague, Idham. Pian was abang’s colleague in DQ, and our friend in UIA. Currently spending a year in Syria to learn in depth about Islam, may Allah bless him and make him a pious and successful architect. (He’s an architecture grad). We went straight to a fully-furnished house that we rented for 2 days, within walking distance from Pian’s house. After settling down and performing the Jama’ qasar Zuhr & Asar prayer, we proceeded to his house where few other friends of us were waiting (they actually prepared our lunch!! Being all boys haha) I could see that abang was soo happy, extremely happy indeed with the reunion J And I was the black sheep, being the only lady in the house of 10 men! May Allah bless them for the delicious chicken curry, ikan bilis oreng kicap, roasted chickens (which of course were cooked in a restaurant haha) and more.
We then took a brief rest no more than 30 minutes before we proceeded to Maqam arba’in (a place where they believe 40 waliyullah disappeared in thin air huu. Just bear in mind that I’m not really into these kind of hush-hush stories.. well (wallahua’lam) We climbed some 600 steps to reach the maqam and a cave! Before we started on the first step, we ride on a van, which was driven extremely fast on such a windy, climbing and narrow lanes, and I was dead afraid to move an inch throughout the ride! The cave was believed to be the the place where Qabil murdered Habil. There was an imprinted (or rather carved) finger impressions/ depressions claimed to belong to Jibril. When Qabil committed the murder, a big rock (I don’t know from where did it originate) was about to fall on Qabil as a kind of punishment. But Jibril stopped it from falling onto him by using his hand thus the finger depressions. Nearby there was a stone (larger than me) exactly the shape of a mouth in awe. The stone was surprised (or rather shock) to witness the first murder on earth. The bad news is.. there were 3 openings (which I’m not very sure of the history), I peeped inside and saw bank notes from various countries and love letters!! Again, it’s the kurafat thingy. Abang was very excited to find a Malaysian bank note haha, org Malaysia kan memang suka kurafat2 nih, but we found none. In another corner of the cave, there were 2 sejadah, indicating 2 praying areas. 1 was claimed to be the place of Ibadah of Prophet Ibrahim and another one of Prophet Khidr. We regretted for not bringing our compass to determine the qiblah.. because before the time of prophet Muhammad, it should be facing Palestine. Visitors prayed in those two areas but I was afraid to do so, I mean I don’t know how true everything was, and I was afraid that doing things without knowledge would only lead to kesesatan etc. Cameras were not allowed, but as I couldn’t see any rational point, I urged abang to take few pictures of mine haha secretly of course! The guardian of that place was a man in his 30s, who was so strict, but when abang requested to take a picture of the key to that place (which happen to be bigger than my palm, ancient and extremely photogenic haha) he cooperated. Maybe I was the only person who requested to do so as he was surprised when we asked him huu. (may be he was even surprised that I noticed that key. Well I practically notice anything that appears antique. And that key was exactly like the one in Secret garden huu)
At around Maghrib prayer, we climbed down, and took another bus to Jabal Qasim. It was a hill where upon being on top of it, one can view the whole of Damascus. The night view was so overwhelming and enchanting! People just come there, have picnic with their family, many hawkers try making a living selling corn, drinks, cotton candy, ‘shisha’ and such. After an hour, we decided to call it a day and went back. The first day was so tiring and we slept at around 12am. I couldn’t sleep though, I’m one person who has difficulty in adapting to a new environment and those geli-geli feeling towards the bedding and such huu.
Day 2 started in a lousy mood huu owing to the bad night. Subuh was at 3.40 but we only woke up at 4 something. We tried to be ready as fast as we could as today, we would join a jaulah (trip) to Halab by bus. It was a 5-hour drive from Damshiq. There were 19 of us- 6 UIA students, 4 Jais ustaz, 2 from Jordan and the rest were Syrian students. The journey started at 6am, and throughout the ride, most of us slept like a log, awoken up few times. The only R&R that was available was a white lorry selling junk foods and drinks, located under a jejantas haha. We also stopped at one of the beautiful places along the way to have our breakfast at around 10am. Credits to those who cooked for us as well. At around 11 we arrived in Halab. The view of Qal’ah Halab left us amazed!! It was so big and occupied the entire hill. Qal’ah is a kubu pertahanan, which was by solahuddin al-Ayubi. The entrance ticket was 10 lyra (thanks to abang’s student card or else we would have been charged 150 lyra). 10 lyra is RM0.80 hehe. 150 lyra is RM12.
After almost half a day, we went to the nearby Umayyad mosqe to perform our prayer, and then we did our shopping in the Souq Halab. We didn’t buy much, aside than drinks. We bought drinks one after another, it was very hot indeed! Abang wanted to have his usual tamar hind (air asam), so he went to a man (the seller always wear some very characteristic outfit). Without asking him, he just bought the drink, gulped it down and almost vomited as it was actually Arasu!! (air akar kayu as black as coffee haha). Gelojoh sangat hehe. At around 5pm, the bus arrived, we left Halab for Homs- a place which places first 13 water turbine in the world. The view was great! We took some pictures, and suddenly there was a man bringing his camel. Each ride costed 25 lyra.
I insisted to ride the camel (as I have never experienced of before), but abang hesitated initially. He was all over this big bum thingy, it’s not good for a woman when everybody would stare etc . Finally he agreed and we rode together hehe for 40 lyra. But I guess there wasn’t any romantic air as I was all the time thinking what if I fall down, what if… The camel was a gedik one you know, the one that walked gedikly in its own lenggang lenggok huu. After each ride, it would be fed (and even if the owner didn’t feed her, she helped herself to a bucket of tapioca!! Memang kegedikan terserlah) And it had a mobile toilet! Hehe a bucket was tied to her bum, so that it won’t you know berak rata-rata.
At around 7.30, we headed for Khalid al-Walid mosque..and here I’ve a very interesting story to tell.. later insyaAllah :D
We arrived home at 12am, and that night I slept well alhamdulillah...