Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Austria: Salzburg


How am I doing..?? Hurm.. Today is exactly 40 days since Nuyui passed away.. I miss her so bad.. Even the songs that we used to talk about can still bring me to tears, like Imagine Dragons' 'Radioacitve'.. But I'm doing fine.. Moving on like I'm supposed to.. 'Life must go on' we say... So I decided to continue sharing my solo travel experience.. Because I'm actually also excited to share about my Eurotrip so I guess I better finish  writing about this trip quickly.. So here goes~

Well.. as I said in my Kutna Hora post, I was LITERALLY dragging my left foot as I walk to the hostel. I could feel the friction in my joint and there was a clicking sound every time my leg bent. At the hostel, I couldn't even afford to walk to the washroom. The pain was debilitating; for a moment I thought my vacation is going to be ruined.... I took two Paracetamol that night; the only pain killer that I got. Bijak Pharmacist satu nih! (^^")

I spent the whole night, immobilized, on my bed with my left foot straightened. I have no plans for the next day and I was not even sure whether I can go for more sightseeing with the stiffened left foot of mine.Then I recalled my conversation with Z when she said that I could go to Austria from Czech by train. So.. Voila!!!! Googled the train details and schedule; 6 hours journey. I thought, "Ahax! Just enough time for you to recover, kaki!" So it was decided that I shall go to Austria!!!!!!!! With my limited amount of Euros,to be precise~ Heeeee...

Outwardly, Czech doesn't look that affluent to me but I really think they are an efficient country as compared to 3 other Europe countries that shall not be named here that I went to recently. The train was punctual, and I need  not be confused by the system or anything because everything was also available in English at the station. So there I was, the limp traveler heading for Austria....

Czech Republic's train

I know very little of Austria. It wasn't even in the list of Europe countries that I want to visit so my knowledge about the country is almost near zero.. As the train move south, the scenery from the city turns into small towns and then remote villages in hilly areas. The houses were smaller in the remote area and there were lesser snow too. Then suddenly we arrived in an area where the design of the houses were obviously different from the ones in Czech. The houses were huge, some were made of varnished wood, some were almost entirely glass and the car parked on the pavement were luxurious cars. Bingung sekejap.. "Astaga! Sangat kaya ka pula Austria ni??" (^^")

Austria's train

I had to change train in Linz. The transit time was short, only for 8 minutes. Dan mau bilang betapa punctualnya la kereta api dorang, aku bole terkepit di pintu dengan super dahsyatnya. There were still a number of people queuing behind me as I stepped into the train when suddenly the train door snapped shut. I was stuck!!!! I can't neither go into the train nor get off the train. But I think the funny thing was I didn't even panic and I didn't even cry for help hahaha Actually that is quite normal to those who know me well. I am well known for not having any sense of emergency. Then... I was rescued by two charming men!!!!!!! Hehehe I guess that's the best part of this incident. I blushed, thanked them and rushed to find an empty seat.

I went straight to the loo when I arrived in Salzburg. To my surprise, it cost me 50 Euro cent! (-_-") Mahal betul untuk tandas yang kecil itu! Then I went to the Tourist Info centre which is conveniently located near the entrance that you won't miss it. I was quite disappointed to find that the hostel that I booked online was located  far from the old town area. So I, again, instinctively decided that it's better to stay in a hotel in the old town area itself since I'll be leaving at 12 pm the next day.

Actually the old town is just a walking distance from the station but you can also take a bus especially if you're limp like me! So my first mission was TO FIND A BUDGET HOTEL IN OLD TOWN SALZBURG!!! And this proved to be IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!! It was a weekend so all middle price accommodations were full and the (not so)cheap rooms in most of the hotels were also full.. Ada ni satu..

"The only room that is available now is a suite. It is 205 Euros per night"
GG: O my God! That is too expensive for me
"But I can assure you that it is worth it. It's very big and you'll be satisfied with our service"
GG: Okay.. let me try my luck at the other hotels first. If I can't get a room to spend a night, I'll be back for the suite.. Heeeee

And lucky me!!! I manage to find a room that cost me lesser than that; 105 Euros per night and voilla!! Bermewah2 aku!!

To be honest, the room was bigger than the room that the 5 of us shared in Ilchulbong!!! There are some other parts of the room that are not shown here. On top is just the shower. There is a toilet just next to the front door.

Katil pon besar.. Wi Fi pon laju gila.. Sempat lagi beguling guling atas sofa so that it is not wasted since I'll be spending the night on the bed not the sofa

Naaaa.. You see that wide opened white door.. That will lead you to another room where there is a toilet and a closet to hang your coat and also the front door... Hehe mewaaah! I didn't think much about the price.. I was a bit worried, though. But I was saying to myself.. "Nda apa la... 3 malam suda d 23 beds dorm.." statement sedapkan hati...

That evening I just walked around the old town area and had dinner in a Halal Indian restaurant which is about 1-2 minutes walk from my hotel..

The waiter approached me..

Waiter: Where are you from dear??
GG: I'm from Malaysia.
Waiter: I see you love Briyani very much. You have lots of Indian Restaurant in Malaysia??
GG: Yes, we do and I always order Briyani.. But yours is excellent!

Kenapa pacik ni bole cakap begini..?? Mestila nasi briyani yang banyak tu licin!! Hahaha 8 jam okay x makan!!!!

Elefant Hotel.. Sebab tu la kali bilik dia besar.. Elefant.. Pacik receptionist punya accent sebijik Arnie!

That fortress that allured me to Salzburg~

Salzburg kampong Mozart ye tuan puan~

Motivasi bagi orang muda yang buncit~ 6 pax bha c pacik!

To be continued... 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kisah seorang kakak...


My last post was 3 weeks ago. I was away for my Eurotrip after that; the longest and greatest trip so far. We managed to cover 5 countries. But I'm not going to write about the trip yet. Nor continue my post on Prague.. I need to get things out of my chest now...

Life got more challenging since the beginning of the year. The pressure from work got more intense to an extend I seriously thought of quitting.. There are some other areas in life that were not too smooth too but then the real test was yet to come. The real test occurred on my last day in Europe.. when I found out our beloved Nuyui had left us.. Forever...

In Europe...

I'm pretty sure there was not a day without the mention of her name throughout the trip. She was almost always on my mind. And I even said to SJ,

"Aku tak tau la kenapa aku sedih sangat weyh Nurul dah gi blaja kat UPM.. Cam poyo ade gak.. Bukan die gi oversea pon.. Aku pon penah gak blaja kat snanjung 6 tahun.."

And minutes before I was told about her passing... I was preparing for breakfast in our dormitory when HH messaged me "Kazen ko Maizura Maidan kan? Die katne skang? Kat Shah Alam ke?" I was surprised when she asked but I didn't suspect of anything bad.. I dug into my haversack to get some more stuffs and that was when I said to RA

"Aku tak tau la.. Kalo ingat sal Nurul aku asek rase nak nangis je sbenanye.. Cam skang ni.. Tengah tahan air mate kt tekak ni ha.."

Last Ramadhan :)

Twisted the knob to open the door.. Walked towards the lobby and that was when I noticed the LED on my phoned blinked the green light which indicates a facebook message had just came in.. and that was when another cousin informed me that Nurul died in an accident in Shah Alam

The waves of emotions that rushed in in that instant was indescribable.. I froze.. Tears ran down my cheeks "Astaghfirullah Al-Azim.. Astaghfirullah Al-Azim.. Astaghfirullah Al-Azim.." was all that came out of me. I felt like everything around me was falling apart.. My whole body trembled.. I turned around and saw RA and her expression clearly showed she was surprised of my sudden distraught..

"Ya Allah.. RA.. Cousin aku.. Nurul.. Meninggal dalam accident.."

We sat at the closest round table.. I wept and wept and wept.. Ocasionally looking at my phone to see whether there's more info sent by HH and my cousin.. HH sent me a screen shot of an online news paper about the news.. And I read it slowly and cried again when I saw her full name written there as one of the deceased.. "Astaghfirullah.. RA.. Aku tekejut sangat weyh.. Astaghfirullah.. Die accident dengan kawan2... Astaghfirullah.."

I continue to cry.. "Haziah.. Calm down.. Think.. think.." I said to myself... I took a deep breath.. Stood and walked to the dorm to take my laptop and my other phone that was set for roaming.. And as I walk towards the table again I realized that I haven't recited Al fatihah.. "Bismillahirrahmannirrahim..."

I tried to call my family but no one answered. Sent them a short text message to inform that I already knew about what happened to Nurul.. Switched on my laptop and bought a ticket for the earliest flight from KL to Labuan.

"RA.. The next 16 hours will be the most dreadful journey of my entire life.. haha.." Ironically crying and smiling at thee same time..

 Along the way, I was still crying but I was talking to RA in my normal tone.. Recollecting some happy memories with Nurul... "RA.. Aku okay tau.. I just can't stop crying.."

During the flight, we sat separately.. I recited Surah Yasin  (What a beautiful coincidence, I just downloaded the Al-Quran app on my last day in Iceland), cried almost continuously throughout the flight.. Continuously prayed to Allah to give our family the strength to face this...

I'm going to be honest about how I felt.. At first it was mere shock. Like my heart stopped beating for a moment and my surrounding felt like it was spinning.. Then came the sadness.. A very very very deep sadness knowing that she won't be with us anymore. But in this deep sadness, there was this serene.. It was like this natural feeling that it was time to let her go.. I was also relieved that I finally know what's the meaning of the load that I carried in my heart for the past few weeks.. The hardest part is now.. Every nook and cranny of this small island carry the memories of us as a complete family~

Last Syawal


I always wanted a sister.. I told my parents I want a sister with fair skin and long hair so I can play with her hair and she can play with mine.. On the 24th February 1995, my dream came true though this sister of mine didn't come from the same womb. Her birth was an easy one.. It took less than an hour after my aunt was taken to the labour room. I remember the hospital as an old one, with weathered painting and creaking wooden door. My uncle, my mom and me walked into a huge room with beds. I don't quite remember whether it was full or not. But I do remember that little adorable baby wrapped in a white towel inside the baby  cot.

"Mami.. Kenapa rupa dia macam monyet????"

And then my uncle took her in his hand, stood at one corner and start to adzan..

Since her birth, she was my joy and pride.. I learnt how to bath her, how to change diapers, how to feed her and burp her.. My uncle and aunt trusted me to babysit her in some days during school holidays since she was 3 months old.. Then they moved to another house in my school ground because my uncle was a teacher there.. They had a babysitter that stayed with them. I came almost everyday during recess with my friends to play with her.. And when she started to walk, I brought her to school on Saturdays after my co-curricular activities and let her run as much as she please..

I still remember this one particular Saturday afternoon when only just the two of us was at home. I was pretty sure I've latched the door. I went to the kitchen to get something and in mere minutes after that, I can't find her anywhere in the house. I panicked and looked outside; there she was standing at the brim of a big hole which was some kind of pipe installation. Nobody was working that day because it was Saturday. I was terrified and ran to get her. I held her tightly in my arms. She would've fallen into that deep hole if she'd walked further. I carried her back into the house.. Though I was extremely scared, I said to her "Eeeee.. Budak bijak ni.." :)

And there was this Sunday morning that I remembered very well... I was playing with a cat and I'd let the cat bit my hand playfully. Nurul was just a toddler, whose gait was unsteady and undecipherable words were spilling out of her mouth like water.She saw the cat biting me with its front limb grabbing my wrist while its hind limb kicking hard on my arm. Nurul screamed in anger, ran towards me, grabbed the cat by its tail and tossed it away. I was so surprised to see her reaction.. I hugged her tight and deep in my heart I was so happy. I thought, "She must've loved me so much to be that protective.."

Nurul always slept next to me whenever I spend a night at her house and we even bath together. Sometimes I woke up at night just to adjust her position because sometimes her leg would end up on my chest. And I remember how she used to cry when we look at our reflections in the mirror and I said, "Muka kita nda sama.."

Then came those years when I was 'locked up' in boarding school.. She sometimes come to school to visit. As much as I'm proud of her, I know she was proud of me too hehe She said "Nanti Nurul pon mau sekolah SMSL!" when she was only 9.. And she did after scoring 5 A's in UPSR. It was difficult for her to get along at first. She frequently asked if she she could change school but we told her to be patient, continuously supported her and finally she came to love the school as much as I did. She scored her PMR with flying colours and I wrote a post about that. And to my surprise, when I was browsing through her blog for the first time months after that, I saw a post . She actually copied my post and put it on her blog and in that post she wrote..

"Thank you Kaka Gg... Sebab Kaka Gg pandai la Nuyui pon mau jadi pandai juga :3"

And that's how I know that she sometimes pay a visit to this blog.

We were almost always separated by distance.. She was in boarding school and I studied in West Malaysia.. But we were always in contact. I usually talk to her whenever my mom join my uncle's family to visit Nurul and Izan. And if the semester break and school holiday fell at the same time, it was either she slept over at our house or us at hers. We tried lots of new recipes together. She was the more passionate and more experimental while I usually stick to the recipe and just adjust the taste accordingly. She usually fail her first attempt but she'll do it over and over again until she become better than the one who taught her, me...

After SPM, she worked at this small grocery store; around 500 m distance from her house. She refused to be sent by car to work and chose to cycle instead. I watched her prepare herself to work one time when I was in Labuan for a weekend. I laughed at her old school rucksack; the plastic type that uses nylon rope as the strap. "OMGeee!!!!!! Nurul!! lama nya kaka nda nampak beg ni!!!!" and she did some cute poses before she left... I went to the grocery store once to watch how she work.. I took Sara with me so that it won't be obvious that I was only there to observe; kononnya Sara yang mau aiskrim... I was amazed by her dedication and how organize she manage the shop and all the accounting... A smart girl she was..

Our last moments together...

It was one hectic Wednesday evening for me and I came back late from work. I was actually too exhausted to go anywhere but I could sense that Nurul really want me to send her to the airport. In our last conversation through the phone that evening, she was still pleading for me to follow them to KL and be there during her registration. I said to her that I have to save money for my Eurotrip and I already have a return ticket to Kuching for the rock climbing event.. "Kaka janji.. Masa Nurul grad, kaka mesti pegi.." That evening we met at Jati Tom Yam for dinner..

We talked a lot at dinner. She said she still hope to study abroad though she already decided to accept the UPM offer. "Nurul suda bayangkan ni Nurul masuk TV buat salam perantau.." and we laughed.. She told me about the offers that her friends got and about the course that was offered to her because I was not familiar with it . I told her the exciting stuffs about matriculation, explained to her about subject credit hours and even taught her how to calculate pointer. We didn't stop talking at all.

At their house in Melinsung, I watched her packed her stuffs. "Kak Gg.. Tudung ni matching nda dengan baju ni..?" she asked. "Kak GG.. Cuba kaka tengok offer letter ni Nurul print.. Cuba tengook ada ka yang Nurul tetinggal.." So I read through the sections that I deemed important when I was in UIA. I read aloud the required documents while she check the items in her file... I was again impressed by the neat arrangement of everything.

That morning, everybody woke up before 5 am. I sat on the sofa and watched the rest hustlle with last minute packing. They were talking about going to Low Yat to get a new laptop for Nurul and get a webcam so that they can do video chat. And Nurul and I went to the airport first for check in and we chat and chat and chat continuously until we reach the airport.

After check-in was done, we sat on the bench while waiting for the rest to arrive

GG: So.. Excited!!??
Nurul: Ntahla.. Nurul.. Hurm.. Takut...
GG: Nervous?? Biasalah tu.. Mo pi tempat baru kan.. Jumpa kawan baru.. Lagipon Nurul sorang jak kan dapat sana..
Nurul: Nurul rasa Nurul nada masalah la kalau yang tu.. Just Nurul takut.. Ntah.. Rasa laen.. Takut sangat...
GG: Ok bha tu

And I embraced her in my arms...

Before she went into the departure hall I told her,

"Nurul, sampai sana.. Keluar jak takwim, first thing Nurul tengok mesti puasa dangan cuti raya ok!??"
"Ok!! Wajib!!!"
"Ingat Kaka Gg cakap.. Apa-apa Nurul buat, Nurul kena fikir parents Nurul, ok??"
"OK!! Nurul Ingat!!"
"Aaargh!!! Rindu kaka dengan Nurul nanti!!"
"Tu la.. Rindunya..."

And then we did our signature handshake "Kau baik! Kau baik! Aku lagi baik!" We've been doing it since forever that I can't remember when it started... That's the special thing about our sisterhood, we continue to the things we do no matter how old we get. I stood there watching her putting her bags into the scanner, she waved her hands and then was no longer in sight. As I walk towards my car, I was fighting back tears. I was puzzled myself; as to why it felt like it was the last time that I ever saw her... Well, later I found out, it actually was...

After her passing....

To late, her passing is the biggest test in my entire life... It was a tragedy...It shocked me to my very core. It's been 19 days since she'd left us and I still can't stop crying especially when I'm alone. It feels really different when someone who is really really close to your heart is taken from you.. It's more than just reciting 'Inalillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun'.. It's more than realizing that our time will come.. I don't know if it's just me but I thought about a lot of things like...

Was she in pain when her life was taken??
How did she do when the 'questions' were asked to her??
Was she alone? Was she afraid?
And then I thought about the popular hadith that says
 "When a human being dies,all of his deeds are terminated except for three types: an ongoing sadaqah, a knowledge (of Islam) from which others benefit, and a righteous child who makes du'a for him"

"Ya Allah, she is too young..  I don't even know if she has any of the three.." I thought..

During my sleepless nights on the first few days after her passing, I actually spent my time reading articles about death and about charitable deeds on behalf of a deceased person.. To be honest, I have scarce knowledge on that...

To my relief....

"As for those who believe and do right actions- We impose on no self any more than it can bear- they are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timeless, forever." (Surah Al A'raf : 42)

This ayah is very true.. I can see the acceptance in her parents eyes.. They still can smile to those who came to visit and offered condolences.. They curved a smile when recollecting the memories with Nurul while I will usually burst to tears. When all the guests left, they stayed strong.. Embracing Izan and Sara in their arms.. As if trying to gain more strength from their children...

But.. Nurul is such a lucky girl... The entourage that escorted her to the grave was massive, according to my brother. The night when her remains arrived, a full bus of friends came and recited Surah Yassin for her. And during the day of burial, a full bus of juniors came from SMSL to recite Yassin for her. And I found out, that a school even recited Al-fatihah for her during Monday assembly. And people keep on coming and keep on giving sadaqah; may it be in terms of funds or Quranic recital. MashaAllah...

Some said, "Biasala.. Pakcik mu kan cikgu.. Lagipon kan masuk berita.." Yes.. That could be the reason.. But to think of it, this doesn't happen to everybody who died.. It only happen to special, selected ones.. If I die, it won't necessarily be like that, isn't it?? And seeing this, I'm very relieved.. very very very much relieved..


Now that she's gone, many things won't be the same anymore.. I'll be cooking alone.. No more "Kau baik! Kau baik! Aku lagi baik!".. And one thing I don't know how to face is walking into the grave yard, saying "Assalamualaikum ya Ahli Kubur" without her but to her... It's been something that we've been doing together since she was 5, I guess.. I taught her the salam and we always say it aloud together until last Syawal...

Losing her is life changing in many ways I can't describe.. As days passed, I gradually find the things that she actually taught me.. I found out that a few weeks before she left for UPM, she told our family to practice reciting Yassin and Al Mulk before going to bed. I was taken aback to this discovery because I was the first to know about the benefits of that but I never care to share about it all these years..

Thinking of how she'd died so young made me thought of my purpose for staying longer here on earth. I had my own near death experience but I was given another chance to fulfill my duties as a daughter, as a sister and most of all as a khalifah.. I was given the chance to reach my dreams; to serve in healthcare and to see the world..

This test is so great that everything else seem so small... I went to work a week after her passing... I was about to tell my boss that I'm not ready to take up the new post that she'd given me. But on that same evening before I get the chance to talk to her, I was handed another responsibility that I didn't expect at all. To me amanah is such a huge thing.. Remember what our Prophet saw during Israk Mikraj of a man who can't carry out his amanah.?. I'm so afraid I can't especially when my emotion is so very much unstable.

But to think of it, the amanah came to me.. I didn't ask for it at all... Then again I reminded myself  of the same ayat that came to me when I saw the strength in Ucu and Aunty..I guess, I can actually do this.. I have the capacity but I haven't realize it yet. and this evening, as I lay on my  bed, I thought "Ya allah.. Mencabar nya 2013.." I've been complaining of a lot of stuffs since the beginning the year, especially career-wise. I thought I've been pushed to the limit but I guess my limit is actually more than I think...

This reminded of the 'Year of sorrow' of the Prophet.. The year when Abu Talib and Siti Khadijah died... It was the same year that the Prophet faced intense defiance of the Quraisy.. I felt ashamed.. Because what I'm going through is less than 0.001% than what he'd been through.. I should stay strong and go on.. Though Nurul is gone, I still want to be a good example to her..... And to the other little ones...

Sara... They said Sara don't seem to understand that her sister is goone.. But I think she does understand but she just don't respond to it like adults do.. When I was washing dishes after the kenduri,  she just stood there beside me, staring at me.. As if she was afraid I'll leave her too... Now I'm her only sister...

There are hikmah in everything.. Me not able to go to KL for her registration.. Her not picking up her phone when I tried to call before I left for Europe... My phone unable to do roaming before the incident.. All I did was press like on her insta photos so that she knows that I'm keeping up with her.. (^^) There are hikmahs though I still can't tell for now...

Our last picture together.. We sang The Higglytown Heroes song that morning because
that was the picture printed on her t-shirt :)

"Aunty GG.. Kenapa Aunty GG panggil aunty Nurul Nuyui???"
"Sebab... Kami... BESTFRIEND!!!!!!!!!!" *hugging Nurul*

Nurul... I know you know.. that I love you very much....

*Life itself is a test.. I hope I'll stay strong.. O Allah.. Please give me strength to face the tests... Inalillahi wa inailaihi rajiun...*

I think it's a blessing that this occurred in Syaaban.. may our Iman be strengthened and may the coming Ramadhan be better than the previous one.. Ahlan wa sahlan ya Ramadhan...