Rays of Splendour


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Doing it for mom

Our moms are one of the greatest blessings in life that God has granted us. They’re the first person who loves us even before we are born and once we are in this world, they are the first one to love us unconditionally. You might have done things to disappoint or anger her along the way, or even not spend enough time with her but that motherly love still remains steadfast in her heart.

Truly, out of all the experiences of love we can ever encounter during our lifespan, the love from our moms forms one of the most sincerest of them all.

And today, that same love moved me greatly.

My heart can’t help but go all soft inside as I recalled how she went about trying to help me settle some administrative matters related to my studies just now. Despite being all exhausted from the lack of sleep after getting back late from our weekend getaway and then having had a busy morning, she still found it in her to go the extra mile to help me. Then later in the night when I came to look for her to get her opinion on a good seat to choose for an upcoming flight, she got up from the place she was initially lying down and gave me her 100%.

She always, always, always gives my siblings and I her full undivided attention no matter her physical or emotional state.

Regardless of how strange or crazy our pursuits may be, she would also be there to give her full support to our endeavors if she is convinced that it will bring goodness for us. Then if our intended pursuits seem otherwise, she works hard to talk it out with us and get us to consider alternative options. Yet if we are still adamant to go ahead with our choices, she would still be there to give her blessings.

Importantly, she never, never, never fails to keep us in her prayers and praying for the best for all of us.

As I reflected on all these, I realized that I’ve also reached that point whereby I’m embarking on my studies for her. After all that she has done, I’ve come to a stage where I pray that Allah allows me to complete this whole two years for my mom, she continues to be there to witness it all, and may this pursuit be a conduit for me to achieve His pleasure, insyaAllah.

I’ve always believed that everything we have in our life is not ours. That job you have. The salary you are earning from it. The promotion or position you attained in your job. That educational qualification you own.  Your property. Your wealth. Your family. Your children. Your beauty. Your talent and skills. Your health and even time. Everything is His and the only reason why that particular blessing is in our life at that exact moment is because He is giving us an opportunity to use it in His path.

And from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely pray that I always remember never to take for granted any blessings that He has given me and to always use it for goodness and a means to serve Him, insyaAllah. They’re never mine. They’re His.


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Behind the scenes of a soon-to-be female solo traveller

Solo-traveling has been on my mind for a while now. The reasons why I’ve decided to embark on solo traveling are:

  • At this age, I realize that my friends have their own social life and responsibilities and hence having them as a travel companion is not a guaranteed thing
  • I’m curious to discover how it feels like to travel alone: Can I be independent? Would I be able to sleep alone in the hotel room?
  • The perceived freedom solo-traveling would bring – seriously, the idea that the itinerary will unfold according to you alone? How does that pan out?

However as a soon-to-be solo traveler, I find that I face two issues:

  • The question of an appropriate destination to go to
  • Assuring the parents that I will be allright

Both issues are inextricably linked to each other. At present, if the destination is deemed to be ‘dangerous’ by the parents, it will definitely make it more difficult to assure them that I’ll be allright. The parents’ definition of ‘dangerous’ is pretty diverse and can be applied to multifarious situations.

So over the past few months, the choice of destinations have been fluid. The following is the rough order of how the choice of destinations have evolved since March 2013 starting from the initial idea to to the most recent decision – Osaka, Auckland, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City and lastly, Kuala Lumpur. Notice how the distance between Singapore and the target destination shrinks with each change of itinerary? This may or may not be the appropriate reaction but I always burst out laughing whenever there is a change in destinations!

Regardless, I know I can’t blame the parents for being too overly protective of me, their only daughter. I’ll always be their little girl no matter how grown up I am. As a teenager, I’d assumed that the freedom to travel anywhere I please with my own money will come with age and once I started earning my own keep but I’ve yet to taste that even though I’m now a fully grown working adult. Right after I started working fresh out of university back in 2007, it certainly didn’t take me long to grasp the understanding that my prior assumptions were wrong – it’s not the issue of age and money that I needed to overcome.

I’d also wondered whether this phenomena where it’s difficult for parents to let their daughters travel alone is only typical to Muslim/Asian households. Hence, I googled ‘female solo traveling’. Imagine my surprise when my search threw up websites like ‘Adventurous Kate‘ and ‘Around the World “L”!‘ that focus on females who travel solo. Adventurous Kate even did a post on parental disapproval when it comes to females who want to embark on solo journeys abroad. The ensuing comments that resulted from her post hinted at other females in the American society which also face parental disapproval over this. This means that the reservations parents have about their daughters traveling solo aren’t specific to a certain society – they are universal to all parents the world over.

Overall, this has been an interesting few months. Who knew there can be so going on just from the decision to travel solo!


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Summer Vacation 2012: Japan

I went on my second trip to Japan during this summer vacation. It was supposed to be summer in Japan and hence imagine how taken aback I was when I realized that the temperatures were relatively cooler than I had expected (and I had packed solely light clothes in anticipation of warm temperatures). The irony is that I’m a geographer and hence climatic facts like summer temperature and rainfall patterns of temperate countries should be at the back of my mind. However all thoughts about Japan’s climatic patterns were completely forgotten in the excitement to get away from work for more than a week and to bring the whole family to a country where they have never been before. Regardless, the cool summer there was such a welcome respite from the warm tropical climate here that it makes me seriously think about moving to and working in a country with a temperate climate.

The climate and weather in Japan aside, I find that it’s good to be back in Japan again. It’s really heart warming to be in a society that respects and appreciates nature. Everywhere I turn, I see that nature has been preserved and conserved in one way or another as much as possible despite the process of development that Japan underwent to be the developed country it is today. Additionally, the beautiful scenery of mountains, rivers and greenery that I encounter was certainly a feast to the eyes. Though we stayed in highly-urbanized Tokyo most of the time, the overnight trips we took to nearby Hakone and Nikko had allowed us to immerse ourselves into nature and appreciate the miracles of God’s creations. The following are what little photo I managed to take with my S2.

20120612_093339Above: View of the lush verdant vegetation from the ropeway

20120611_170653 Above: Morning view from the ryokan we stayed in. Unfortunately, the view of Mt Fuji was obscured by the thick clouds.

20120611_180141Above: Lake Ashi

20120613_165341Above: We (actually only Dad) drove the long-winding narrow road to a height of 1276m above sea level in Nikko. The plan was to drive even further up to check out the springs however the heavy fog due to the rain which had developed made driving pretty unsafe. Hence after taking a photo at this signboard, we headed back to our inn which was located beside JR Tobu Station.

Our time in Nikko was dotted with rain which made going around a challenge even with a car at our disposal. We had planned to visit the spring (I’ve forgotten its name) and the Tokugawa shrine as soon as we arrived in Nikko but had to give it a miss due to the rain. The rain continued till the next day so we decided to head back to Tokyo in the morning as planned.

During our last two days in Tokyo, we checked ourselves into one of the Disney hotels in the Tokyo Bay area. The initial plan was to spend our last two days in Disneyland. However upon our arrival there, all of us realized that there were still places in Tokyo we wanted to go to. Younger brother 1 wanted to explore Shibuya and Asakusa further; Younger brother 2 wanted to explore Shibuya and Shinjuku even further (even though we had stayed in Shinjuku for the past few days, it apparently still wasn’t enough); I wanted to make my way to Saitama to check out the Saitama Super Arena. The parents were the only one who didn’t desire to check out anymore places and were content to follow anyone of us wherever we go. Hence technically, our stay in a Disney Hotel had nothing to do with Disneyland.

20120617_062045 Above: Disney Resort rail tickets which gave us unlimited rides around the Disney area to the JR Maihama Station. JR Maihama Station is an important station which allowed us to travel to JR Tokyo Station and thereafter Shibuya/Shinjuku/Asakasa/Saitama

20120617_055600Above: The view of the bay from our room. Unfortunately, my S2 didn’t do justice to the otherwise magnificent view of the bay.

This was the first trip to a place so far away from home and for an extended period of time that the five of us went to together as a family. I’m glad that I urged the family to go on this trip and truly hope that they have enjoyed and learned from it as much as I did! This Japan trip was such an awesome one! 🙂 Alhamdulillah. I am looking forward to my next trip which will take place at the end of the year, insyaAllah.