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twindocstravel
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Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:34 am

As long time Airliners.net lurkers we decided to take the plunge and start contributing to the community. We figured posting about our Hajj journey was a pretty unique start. Go easy on us since it is our first time! We welcome any comments, suggestions and critiques.

This post is divided into four parts: The journey to Saudi Arabia, Our time in the city of Medinah, The actual Hajj journey and the journey home. All four posts can be found on our website or you can check it out below. Hope you all Enjoy!!

Part 2- Medinah, Saudi Arabia
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-redemption-rebirth-part-2-medinah/

Part 3-The Hajj
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-rebirth-redemption-part-3-hajj/

Part 4- The journey home
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-redemption-rebirth-part-4-heading-home/



FORWARD: Hajj was never something I really wanted to do.

Hajj is a required journey for every physically and financially able Muslim at least once in his or her lifetime. I have to be completely honest, while Hajj was something that I’ve always known I would have to do, it was never something that I ever wanted to do. Sure Hajj is supposed to be this great spiritual journey, but I rarely heard any positive Hajj experiences from family and friends that had gone before me. Even the stories that were presented in a positive light honestly seemed pretty dreadful to me. So my head was filled with horror stories about the crowds (2-4 million people in a very confined space), the heat (think Saudi Arabia in the summertime, enough said), the conditions which could politely be described as unhygienic and of course the occasional mass casualty due to trampling’s or fires. Disney World Hajj is not. This meant years of excuses when my better half brought up the idea of making Hajj. Sometimes finances were the excuse (Hajj ain’t cheap folks), other times family (new babies) or career (residency, starting and nurturing a new private practice, etc…) were the excuses, but the overall theme was the same: I just wasn’t ready to go. Every Hajj pilgrim leaves home with the understanding that he or she very well may not return. You’re supposed to get all of your affairs in order and stated bluntly, you’re supposed to prepare yourself for death. So the idea of Hajj definitely scared me.

On the other side of it all now, I’ve come to realize that what makes Hajj so scary is the same thing that makes it so inexplicably beautiful simultaneously rewarding. Human beings spend a great deal of our lives trying to control our destiny from big things like our education and career choices to smaller things like the route we take to work. During Hajj however, you relinquish all control and for five days you are one with God (quite paradoxically so since you are surrounded by millions). For five days you are a mere speck in the mass of humanity that has converged from every corner of the globe with the shared sole purpose of worshiping God and self improvement. For this finite period of time you have absolutely zero control over your surroundings, zero control over your activities and zero control over your fate. While this probably sounds viscerally unappealing to most folks, it quickly not only becomes okay but it becomes welcome, even for a type A control freak like yours truly. You really learn what it means to let go and let God. All of the preceding years when I made excuse after excuse to avoid Hajj, the reality was that it just wasn’t my time. Through this journey I came to realize that you will never be ready for Hajj until Hajj is ready for you. Hajj is a deeply personal transformative journey and it means different things to different people. God knows when your heart and your soul is most in need of this transformation and for me that time was now. It was time for my personal journey of forgiveness, redemption and rebirth; it was my time to make Hajj.


WHAT IS HAJJ?:

Hajj is one of the so called “five pillars of Islam” that guide the lives and daily activities of every Muslim. The other pillars are the declaration of faith to one God (Shahadah), praying five times a day to that one God (Salat), fasting during the month of Ramadan and giving charity to the poor (Zakat). Hajj in particular is the holy pilgrimage to the city of Mecca that each financially and physically able Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime. There are specific rites that pilgrims must perform on each of the five days of Hajj. The purpose of these rites is to connect the pilgrim to God, allowing him or her to bear their soul and their sins, seek forgiveness and work towards renewal and rebirth. Many of the rites recreate the actions of prophets Adam, Abraham (his wife Hagar and son Ismael) and Muhammad and they have been in existence for centuries.


GETTING THERE: The Journey to the Journey

Anyone who knows me knows two things. First, I am an unashamed aerophile. I love airplanes, I love flying and quite honestly 35,000 feet is my favorite places to be. Second, I am a bit of a status whore (sorry mom, the rumors are true). I have been known to go a bit out of my way to make sure that I keep my status in the United Mileage Plus program every year. What can I say?, I like the perks that come with status. So why am I telling you this (other than the catharsis that comes with admitting ones flaws)? Well, it meant that instead of taking a more direct route with only two flights, my wife and I took four flights to get to our first destination, the Saudi Arabian city of Medinah. We flew United Airlines from Chicago O’Hare (my home airport) to Newark and from Newark to Zurich, Switzerland. From Zurich, we flew SWISS to Dubai, enjoyed a nice overnight layover and finally flew Saudia Airlines from Dubai to Medinah. To be completely honest though, miles and status were not the only reason for the circuitous routing. When you travel to Saudi Arabia on a Hajj visa, you can only enter the country via either Jeddah or Medinah. Most folks fly into Jeddah, which means immigration waiting times can sometimes top 12 hours or more. After flying 6,500 miles over more than 18 hours, I had absolutely no interest in waiting in a hot sweaty immigration line for another 12 hours. So Medinah it was! The only somewhat direct routes from Chicago to Medinah involved Turkish Airlines who was charging $2,500 per person. This meant that I had to get creative and booked two separate tickets, one with United to Dubai and the second with Saudia to Medinah. Sure it required a few extra flights, but it saved close to a grand per person while giving the added bonus of a night to recuperate in Dubai before heading to Saudi Arabia. It just so happens that I also got my frequent flyer miles and status points. Win-win.
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The first flight on our long journey was operated by N13110, a Boeing 757-200 originally delivered to Continental Airlines in November of 1994. Flight UA#485 took 1 hours and 39 minutes to fly the 718 miles between Chicago O’Hare and Newark Liberty airports.
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We had the bulkhead seats which of course…
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meant unlimited legroom. BTW, are you digging my new slip-on shoes? Admit it, you love them!, style meets comfort.
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My wife and I ready for departure. She’s going to kill me because she’s closing her eyes in this picture but come on, I was looking pretty damn good, so here it is.
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Our Boeing 757 pushed back from the gate at O’Hare on a nice beautiful summer day in Chi-town.
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Soon we were lining up on the active runway enjoying a day with near perfect visibility.
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Salaam Chicago, A powerful take-off followed…
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and soon we were climbing into the wild blue yonder.
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As we crossed the coastline of Lake Michigan…
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I kicked back and checked out the flight map.
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United’s patented Savory Snack Mix was served along with beverages. While I appreciate that light snacks have made a comeback on US domestic flights, a little variety wouldn’t kill ya UA!
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As we flew eastbound, blue, blue and more blue as far as the eyes could see.
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I’m sure my fellow areophiles can probably tell me what airport this is (?)
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The 1 hour and 39 minutes flew by (ba dum dum….), and we were soon…
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descending into Newark Liberty International airport. Surprisingly given the time of day (afternoon primetime), we were not placed in a holding pattern which meant that we were soon on the ground taxiing to our gate on the C concourse.
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My artistic way of telling you that we chilled in the United Club for a few hours enjoying some light snacks. Celery and Cookies, a little yen to balance out the yang.
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After a couple of hours, we headed over to gate C-110 where…
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N69063, a Boeing 767-400 delivered to Continental Airlines in March of 2002, was waiting to take us the 3,940 miles to Zurich, Switzerland. Total flight time was a quick 7 hours and 3 minutes.
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Okay fine, turn about is fair play. So here it is, a shot where she looks good and I look, well, not so good. We passed time during boarding taking stupid pics.
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Economy Plus legroom on the Boeing 767-400 definitely gives you a few more inches to stretch out on longer flights. Now you know that I was eye-balling that empty row hoping for a poor man’s sleeper seat. Unfortunately people did eventually show up, so I clearly was meant to spend my night upright.
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Soon we pushed off of the gate and slowly taxied to the active runway.
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A couple of United 777’s, including a Star Alliance logo jet, awaiting their next mission while a Lufthansa Airbus makes its way towards the active runway.
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About to start the trans-Atlantic journey to Switzerland.
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Almost at the active thresh-hold. The cars and trucks in the background were out pacing us but just wait a few minutes and you’ll be eating our dust…….or diesel. And away we went, flying into a beautiful sunset.
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As we flew further east, the colors became more and more striking.
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Views like this are why I love life at 35,000 feet!
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Just when I thought the sunset couldn’t get any better, this happened. And before anyone besmirches my good name and accuses me of photoshopping, I took a video for proof! Unfortunately I don't know how to upload videos so you will just have to take my word for it :D
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Sunset done, I turned inward for entertainment. By inward I mean that I turned to my PTV screen and not my imagination because, well, I have no imagination. Barbershop 2 or 3?, can’t remember. Either way, it was funny.
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Soon dinner was served.
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To be honest, the main (pasta) looked a bit disgusting but in fairness, it was actually pretty darn good.
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Once dinner was done, ice cream was served along with a bottle of water for mid-flight hydration.
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Sufficiently entertained, fed and watered, I plugged my phone up and closed my eyes.
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One of the hazards, or perks, of living through decades (between Med school, residency and practicing OB/GYN) of sleepless nights is that I can sleep anywhere, at anytime. So, I was not surprised at all when I opened my eyes and saw that the sun was already rising. Four hours of solid sleep, yayyy me!
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A typical continental breakfast was served and we were soon…
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descending over central Europe…
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as the sun fully rose on a new day.
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Close up of the Limmat (I’m guessing) river…
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as we establish ourselves on short finals for Kloten airport.
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The Swiss countryside below looked quite inviting…
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until a little cloud of pollution came along to mar the otherwise picturesque scene.
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Almost there….
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and welcome to a sleepy Zurich Kloten airport.
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We passed a fellow Star carrier’s Airbus 380 on the way to our gate…
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where we cozied up next to a Germania Airlines Airbus 321.
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We had a five hour layover in Zurich, so why would an aerophile go anywhere else? Where am I you ask?…
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The outside observation desk at the SWISS lounge of course. Bet you can’t guess who spent a couple of solid hours out there?
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The views across the airfield, including the active runway, held my attention for the entire time.
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Of course the action was dominated by SWISS, but United did represent with the 767-400 that brought us from Newark and a 777-200 that did the Washington/Dulles turn.
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When you are simultaneously airplane spotting and eating free Movenpick ice cream, the time really does fly by. Soon enough we were heading to the gate where our aircraft was waiting to take us to the middle of the desert.
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Flight LX242, a 5 hour and 56 minute, 2,965 mile journey, was operated by Airbus 330-300 HB-JHD, delivered to SWISS in June of 2009
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Soon after fueling was completed…
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we boarded the SWISS Airbus. By now fatigue was definitely setting in and I was more than ready to Rip VanWinkle this flight away.
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My willingness to sleep this flight away was magnified by my inability to secure a window seat despite all of my efforts. I have to say that spending six hours sitting in a middle seat is a fate close to death for an aerophile. Thankfully jet lag was on my side and I didn’t wake until we well into our journey…
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flying over Iran. Iran is on the short list of countries that I would like to see one day, but with the current US administration and the fragile state of US-Iranian relations, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
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I slept through lunch but my wife was kind enough to wake me for the best part, ice cream.
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Before long, we touched down at a very HOT (think 103 degrees at 9PM) Dubai. For some reason we were given “special treatment” by UAE immigration officials, which meant we spent an extra two hours in the arrivals hall of Dubai International airport. I suspect that it was because we were traveling in transit on Hajj visas. Eventually however, we were allowed to enter the country and after a hot, sweaty taxi ride, we found ourselves at the Hilton Garden Inn. After room service and much needed showers, we quickly fell into bed and into a deep, deep sleep.
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The next day we had a 5PM flight on Saudia Airlines from Dubai to Medinah. This meant getting to the airport at 3PM. A huge part of the Hajj experience is the unknown. Sometimes checkin lines are long, sometimes they are short. Sometimes you have issues with your visa, sometimes you don’t. We didn’t want to tempt fate, so we were good little soon-to-be Hajjis, and made sure we were at that airport two hours ahead of time as requested. Luckily the lines were short and our visas were quickly reviewed and boarding passes were issued.
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Bags were tagged to Medinah. The luggage of all Hajjis were tagged with special Haj tags.
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Immigration was quick and problem-free and we soon found ourselves at gate D18 with plenty of time to spare. Now this is when stuff started to get real for me. On the flights to Dubai I was somehow able to fool myself into thinking that I was just going on another vacation. Who doesn’t love Dubai, right? Now however, sitting at gate D18 waiting to board the flight to Medinah, the realization smacked me square in the face; this was no vacation, I was really headed to Hajj. This wasn’t my first time going to Saudi Arabia, and I absolutely love Medinah. Somehow knowing that I was getting that much closer to Hajj however, made me really, really nervous.
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Bit of a detour here, but I am a Mamba aficionado and Dubai airport was the first place that I saw a cola flavor, so I had to grab a pack before jetting off.
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Boarding was called on time…
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and soon we were on HZ-AS13, an Airbus A320 delivered to Saudia in October of 2009, for the 985 mile, 2 hour and 8 minutes flight to Medinah.
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Okay, one more usie for the road. This time on the Saudia Airlines Airbus bound for Medinah.
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A company Boeing 777-300 next to us was boarding for a flight to Jeddah.
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Safety first on Saudia.
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Descent legroom on this narrow body jet, I’m guessing about 34 inches.
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The safety video was played first in Arabic followed by English. As we taxied to the active runway, I flipped through the Ahlan Wasahlan (Arabic for Welcome) in-flight magazine and of course I found the….
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fleet page. I always skip straight to the back of any in-flight magazine.
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An Air India Express Boeing 737-800 turned onto the active runway and slowly slipped the surly bonds and then…
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it was our turn. Soon we were over a hazy suburban Dubai…
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slowly climbing to our cruising altitude of 38,000 feet.
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Once we reached 38,000 feet, lunch was served and…
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it was pretty dang good. Curry fish with rice and spinach, a roll, salad and dessert.
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All three cookies were good minus the date in the middle of the third one. Not a date lover so I nibbled around it.
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We both made quick work of the lunch and then kicked back and relaxed for the remaining hour or so of the flight.
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I think most travelers to Saudi Arabia know that the Kingdom has very strict laws, but one last warning was provided for those who either didn’t know or were unwisely considering tempting fate.
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The clouds were thick as we started to descend…
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into the hazy skies over the Arabian dessert.
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After a smooth 2+ hour flight across the desert, we landed in Medinah just before the sun fell below the horizon (allowing me to get this great pic despite the dusty airplane window). I was once again in the city that always feels like home every time I return. Medinah was the city that gave the prophet Muhammad pbuh (pubh is an abbreviation for peace be upon him, something all Muslims say when referring to the prophet) refuge when he left Mecca and there is an undeniable peace and serenity in this city. What a fitting end to our travel journey and start to our spiritual journey.
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The last time we were in Medinah (2014) they were building a much needed new airport. When we got off of the airplane, I was pleased to see that the new airport was finally open, complete with air bridges (no more stairs and buses), air conditioning and western toilets (I am still a bit scarred from the memory of getting a case of the bubble gut last time I was at Medinah airport. Thank God that I have been blessed with strong thigh muscles and good balance and as Forrest Gump said, that’s all I’m going to say about that!).
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The new Medinah airport has a totally modern feel and…
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my wife and I really enjoyed the unique architecture. Yup, we enjoyed the unique architecture for THREE freaking hours. Now normally three hours would be nothing to complain about when it comes to immigration during Hajj. Actually for folks flying into Jeddah, three hours would be a blessing from on high. So, why did I just yell three hours? Well, immigration literally only took five minutes. What you quickly learn during Hajj (and it is really best to prepare for this before you leave home) are what I call the four rules (or realities) of Hajj. #1. Hajj is best described as organized chaos (even though it usually looks and feels like plain old, everyday, run of the mill, disorganized chaos), #2. There will be a million bumps in the road but at least there is still a road, #3. You will frequently be confused, that’s okay most people are and #4. In the end everything will work out.
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As we emerged from the Immigration hall, a man dressed in plain (i.e. non-government) clothing gestured for me to come to his desk and bring him our passports. One of the many things that freaked me out about Hajj was the fact that every pilgrim (yup all 2-3 million of them) has to give their passports to the Saudi authorities on arrival. So, when our passports were taken and thrown unceremoniously into a plastic bag (that I swear I never saw him label), I wasn’t too surprised though my inner type-A was still freaked out. I just reminded myself of rules # 1 and #4, organized chaos, it all works out in the end, blah blah blah, when, in very broken English, he asked me for a four digit code that we needed before we would be allowed to leave the airport. I again inwardly panicked before remembering rule #3, confusion. Anyone who comes for Hajj has to do so with a tour group approved by the Saudi government. Casual tourism just isn’t a thing in Saudi Arabia. Almost everyone flying in for Hajj flies in with a group leader who likely has this mysterious four digit code. My quest for miles meant that we were flying alone and I had no idea what this code was nor how to get it. And so I walked with this Saudi official back and forth from office to office as he explained our situation to various colleagues while my wife just sat and did, well whatever the heck she was doing, I have no idea what it was because I wasn’t with her. Eventually rule #4 did bear out and it all worked out in the end. We were given two plastic cards, which I can only assume were somehow tied to our passports, and we were allowed to jump into a taxi and leave the airport.
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Check out part 2- Medinah, Saudi Arabia on our website HERE
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-redemption-rebirth-part-2-medinah/

Check out part 3-The Hajj pilgrimage on our website HERE
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-rebirth-redemption-part-3-hajj/

Check out part 4-The long journey home on our websiteHERE
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-redemption-rebirth-part-4-heading-home/
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:22 am

Here are a few of my personal favorite highlight photos from our time in Saudi Arabia and on Hajj

From Part two
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-redemption-rebirth-part-2-medinah/


The Prophet's Mosque in Medinah.
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Burning my a** off in Medinah.
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The streets of Medinah at night.
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Cuba Mosque in Medinah.
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From Part Three
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-rebirth-redemption-part-3-hajj/


Wearing the Ihram during Hajj. Two plain white towels and NO underwear!
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Trying to stay germ free at the Kaba.
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Worshippers on the day of Arafat.
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Arial view of the Kaba before leaving Mecca. Yup, it's crowded!!
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From Part Four
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/hajj-journey-forgiveness-redemption-rebirth-part-4-heading-home/


Boarding the Saudia flight from Jeddah to Dubai.
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Horrible Lufthansa breakfast on the flight from Dubai to Frankfurt. :yuck:
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Finally breaking through the clouds on the United flight from Frankfurt to Chicago.
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Yayyy, sweet home Chicago. Coastline of Lake Michigan.
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RoySFlying
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:48 am

Great post. It was good to read about your attitude to Hajj before and how it changed as you neared the journey. I also liked the humour that you injected into the story.

Some fantastic shots of the sky with colour changes and cloud formations.

Thanks for sharing.

Roy
When I was a boy the world was flat and now, some people still strive to keep it that way.
 
outbackair
Posts: 78
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:10 am

Thank you for sharing with us!
 
FlyRow
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:05 pm

Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:11 am

Congratulations hājj !

Really great to see the airline perspective of this special pilgramage! i'm not a believer in any god, but I do understand the importance for people who do! Great to see the tripreport and i hope you enjoyed your flights!

Thanks!
F70-F100-RJ85-RJ70-E190-319-320-733-734-735-737-738-752-753-763-764-772-744-380
 
aeromoe
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:34 am

Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:57 pm

Fascinating read and photos. I first got into enjoying airliners in the late 1970s as a young teenager and that's when I first heard of Hajj. I had no idea what it was...only that planes were being leased periodically for "Hajj flights" and sometimes very unfortunate aviation disasters were occurring during Hajj flights. Over the years I have become a little more aware of the world around me while still being very ignorant to much of what is going on. Of course over time I learned a little about Hajj and the importance of the journey. Your report has shed much more light on a very important aspect of your religious beliefs and I commend you for taking the time to document this for us to read and enjoy. Thank you.
AA AC AS BA BD BF BN BR BY B6 CO CZ DG DL EA EI EN FL FT F9 HA HP ICX JI J7 KE KS LH MC NW OC OO OZ(1) OZ(2) PA PI PT QQ RM RO RV(1) RV(2) RW SK SM SQ S4 TI TS TW UA UK US VS VX WA WN WS W7 XV YV YX(2) ZZ 9K
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:17 pm

RoySFlying wrote:
Great post. It was good to read about your attitude to Hajj before and how it changed as you neared the journey. I also liked the humour that you injected into the story.

Some fantastic shots of the sky with colour changes and cloud formations.

Thanks for sharing.

Roy

Thanks for the kind comments and thanks for taking the time to read it!
 
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twindocstravel
Topic Author
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Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:46 am

Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:19 pm

aeromoe wrote:
Fascinating read and photos. I first got into enjoying airliners in the late 1970s as a young teenager and that's when I first heard of Hajj. I had no idea what it was...only that planes were being leased periodically for "Hajj flights" and sometimes very unfortunate aviation disasters were occurring during Hajj flights. Over the years I have become a little more aware of the world around me while still being very ignorant to much of what is going on. Of course over time I learned a little about Hajj and the importance of the journey. Your report has shed much more light on a very important aspect of your religious beliefs and I commend you for taking the time to document this for us to read and enjoy. Thank you.


Thanks for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed it!!
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:20 pm

FlyRow wrote:
Congratulations hājj !

Really great to see the airline perspective of this special pilgramage! i'm not a believer in any god, but I do understand the importance for people who do! Great to see the tripreport and i hope you enjoyed your flights!

Thanks!


Thanks FlyRow!
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:21 pm

outbackair wrote:
Thank you for sharing with us!


My pleasure, thanks for reading!
 
jeffrey1970
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:48 am

That was a very enjoyable, and fascinating, trip report. I feel at peace as soon as the airplane takes off.
God bless through Jesus, Jeff
 
debonair
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:43 pm

Thank you, nice report. But pls. let me ask a question, you travelled to Saudi Arabia with nothing in hand - or did you pre-booked transfers and accommodations?

I was flying to Jeddah on Saudi Arabian Airlines in BusinessClass on a Friday during Ramadan. I thought I was fully aware of this situation - until the male Cabin Crew started the holy Friday prayer in the aisle of BusinessClass... Saudi Arabia is such an exotic place with rich culture and totally locked. So it what nice to see pictures finally!
 
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CanadaFair
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:57 pm

Nice to see a report from a western Muslims perspective.

Also, for affluent, it can be quite different, nothing lacking.

debonair wrote:
Thank you, nice report. But pls. let me ask a question, you travelled to Saudi Arabia with nothing in hand - or did you pre-booked transfers and accommodations?

I was flying to Jeddah on Saudi Arabian Airlines in BusinessClass on a Friday during Ramadan. I thought I was fully aware of this situation - until the male Cabin Crew started the holy Friday prayer in the aisle of BusinessClass... Saudi Arabia is such an exotic place with rich culture and totally locked. So it what nice to see pictures finally!

Friday prayer cannot be offered anywhere except a mosque, with a large attendance, it must be his own regular afternoon prayer since he was on the job but doesn't count as Friday prayer, larger SV aircraft have a designated prayer area, which he could have used.
 
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riyadfilza
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:20 am

I love your sunset pictures from the window. Fantastic trip report! I have never seen Hajj trip report before, and your TR very impressed me. Thanks for sharing us.

Salaam,
Riyad
Indonesian Spotters
 
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SOBHI51
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:25 am

debonair wrote:
Thank you, nice report. But pls. let me ask a question, you travelled to Saudi Arabia with nothing in hand - or did you pre-booked transfers and accommodations?!

To get a visa for Hajj you must have already a person/company responsible for all your travel, visits and lodging etc...
I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
 
BRUfly
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:46 pm

The airport that you passed by and asked about (flight ORD-EWR) is Detroit (DTW).
 
cobalt
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:03 pm

Wow! What a unique and beautiful trip report. The Hajj is something I've heard a lot about, but haven't really experienced pictorially until I did through your wonderful report. It seems like it was a quite powerful experience for the two of you, and of course one that included some great flights too. Thanks for sharing this experience with us.
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:56 am

jeffrey1970 wrote:
That was a very enjoyable, and fascinating, trip report. I feel at peace as soon as the airplane takes off.

Thanks Jeffrey1970, I'm with you on that. As soon as the wheels are up, I'm a happy and peaceful camper.
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:02 am

debonair wrote:
Thank you, nice report. But pls. let me ask a question, you travelled to Saudi Arabia with nothing in hand - or did you pre-booked transfers and accommodations?

I was flying to Jeddah on Saudi Arabian Airlines in BusinessClass on a Friday during Ramadan. I thought I was fully aware of this situation - until the male Cabin Crew started the holy Friday prayer in the aisle of BusinessClass... Saudi Arabia is such an exotic place with rich culture and totally locked. So it what nice to see pictures finally!


Thanks for the kind words! Oh no, I'm a not nearly that brave! Back in the day my in-laws went on Hajj with nothing but their passports and their luggage (no group, no accommodations, etc...) but I don't think that is even possible now. To make Hajj or Umrah you have to book through a Saudi certified agency with documented roundtrip tickets, accommodations, etc.. In our case we just flew out a couple of days before our group mainly because I wanted to relax in Medinah before heading to Mecca. Our group travelled together on Emirates and one of the group leaders was with them. Apparently all groups are given a specific four digit identification code and because we were traveling solo I had no idea what this code was.

The first time I made Umrah we flew SV from JFK and I was surprised to see an actual prayer area on the 747. If the cabin crew started making prayer in the aisle I probably would have been even more surprised. Saudi Arabia really is an exotic place with a rich culture. Its a place that I'm always glad to go to and after a few weeks glad to leave :D
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:04 am

riyadfilza wrote:
I love your sunset pictures from the window. Fantastic trip report! I have never seen Hajj trip report before, and your TR very impressed me. Thanks for sharing us.

Salaam,
Riyad


Thanks! I have mixed feelings about the whole social media Hajj these days but I really wanted to share the experience.

Salaam,
Idries
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:04 am

BRUfly wrote:
The airport that you passed by and asked about (flight ORD-EWR) is Detroit (DTW).


Thanks! I knew someone would be able to identify it.
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:05 am

cobalt wrote:
Wow! What a unique and beautiful trip report. The Hajj is something I've heard a lot about, but haven't really experienced pictorially until I did through your wonderful report. It seems like it was a quite powerful experience for the two of you, and of course one that included some great flights too. Thanks for sharing this experience with us.


It was my pleasure! Glad you liked it!!
 
lychemsa
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:53 am

United are insane to serve lunch on an 8 AM flight. Do United employees / management eat lasagna for breakfast? I took a 9 AM United flight from Geneva and also got lunch. At least their meals have recently improved compared to the crap they served 5 years ago.

As to Lufthansa their meals have gone downhill since 2 years.
 
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GlenP
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:40 pm

Thanks for sharing what is a thoroughly interesting and unusual; as in different from leisure and business trips, report.

The shot of the Prophet's Mosque is beautiful whilst I'm always gobsmacked when seeing the pilgrims circling the Kaba.

Also interesting to read of an experience with Saudia; which isn't an airline we see to many trip reports for.
Ubique Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt
 
jeffrey1970
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:53 pm

twindocstravel wrote:
jeffrey1970 wrote:
That was a very enjoyable, and fascinating, trip report. I feel at peace as soon as the airplane takes off.

Thanks Jeffrey1970, I'm with you on that. As soon as the wheels are up, I'm a happy and peaceful camper.




Twindocstravel,

Do you think Saudi Arabia will ever become more tourist friendly in some of it's other cities?
God bless through Jesus, Jeff
 
CairnterriAIR
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:21 am

Fascinating, super detailed, and very much an excellent lesson on culture and faith. Thank you so much for taking the time to put together such a well thought out and presented report.
 
FlyHappy
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:06 am

Doc, thank your for this report- very interesting indeed, and outside the norm.

I have to ask - do you speak any Arabic, and if not, what can you say about the hajj experience of a non-Arabic speaker?
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:27 am

FlyHappy wrote:
Doc, thank your for this report- very interesting indeed, and outside the norm.

I have to ask - do you speak any Arabic, and if not, what can you say about the hajj experience of a non-Arabic speaker?


Thanks! I do not speak Arabic beyond a few very basic words. The language barrier wasn't really a big issue because quite a few people in our group spoke Arabic as did most of our guides. I would wager that the majority of pilgrims actually don't speak Arabic but that really didn't seem to be too big of an issue.
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:27 am

CairnterriAIR wrote:
Fascinating, super detailed, and very much an excellent lesson on culture and faith. Thank you so much for taking the time to put together such a well thought out and presented report.


Thanks for the kind words!
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:32 am

jeffrey1970 wrote:
twindocstravel wrote:
jeffrey1970 wrote:
That was a very enjoyable, and fascinating, trip report. I feel at peace as soon as the airplane takes off.

Thanks Jeffrey1970, I'm with you on that. As soon as the wheels are up, I'm a happy and peaceful camper.




Twindocstravel,

Do you think Saudi Arabia will ever become more tourist friendly in some of it's other cities?


If I had to guess, I would say no. From a tourism standpoint I think Hajj and Umrah bring in quite a bit of money and we all know their other huge source of revenue. From a financial standpoint, I don't think they need tourism and I'm not sure they really even want outsides wandering the country. Even on Hajj and Umrah visas, you can only enter and exit through either Jeddah or Medinah. I've read that a pilgrim found outside of Jeddah/Mecca/Medinah and the immediately surrounding areas will be fined and detained. A few years ago my father in law and I were considering a trip to Riyadh but after reading that we thought better of it.
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:35 am

GlenP wrote:
Thanks for sharing what is a thoroughly interesting and unusual; as in different from leisure and business trips, report.

The shot of the Prophet's Mosque is beautiful whilst I'm always gobsmacked when seeing the pilgrims circling the Kaba.

Also interesting to read of an experience with Saudia; which isn't an airline we see to many trip reports for.


Thanks! Saudia provides a decent service but nothing remotely close to the ME-3.
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:37 am

lychemsa wrote:
United are insane to serve lunch on an 8 AM flight. Do United employees / management eat lasagna for breakfast? I took a 9 AM United flight from Geneva and also got lunch. At least their meals have recently improved compared to the crap they served 5 years ago.

As to Lufthansa their meals have gone downhill since 2 years.


LOL! Yeah pasta 8AM was a bit weird. Maybe they want to knock us all out with the carbs :D
 
lysflyer
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:14 am

Very great TR! Thank you for sharing!
 
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:22 pm

Hi Idries, first of all thank you for taking the time to write this beautiful piece of narrative and sharing it with us a.netters.
Indeed I just added your trip report to my list of favorite links on my MacBook as I truly enjoyed not only the reading and detailed description you carefully crafted but felt in a sort of way the kind of emotions and expectations that you experienced during this outstanding and memorable trip.
Indeed a memorable and fascinating trip not only for the spiritual theme at the base of the destination but for the uniqueness of the travel experience which of course, as a non Muslim, I'll never have the opportunity to enjoy (although I'd be eager to see the Kaba).
I'm not a religious person, nor a believer in a specific god (more on the ancient alien theory) but having lived in several countries in Asia, and now in Thailand for a good part of the year when in Asia, I fully respect the full cosmogony of different religions and how people feel in respect to that no matter the color, race, religion or philosophical belief.
A couple of years back I had the opportunity to fly Saudia from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur.
I was keen to try Saudia and being a Platinum for Life with SkyTeam I gave it a try on a one way MXP-JED-KUL as Saudia is a member of SkyTeam, and frankly I enjoyed a pleasant flight experience.
And with the exception of myself and my travel companion as the only western passengers onboard the Saudia B777-300, most of the pax were flying back to Malaysia after their Haji and Umrah, and could notice the sense of calmness and serenity they were in some way emitting after probably a one-of-a-kind experience like this pilgrimage.
Thank you again for sharing this wonderful trip memory, and when I happen to be in Chicago I'll be happy to say hi in person and share a coffee chat.
I wish you and your wife all the best. Tony
It's so Miami!
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:16 am

lysflyer wrote:
Very great TR! Thank you for sharing!


Thanks!!
 
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twindocstravel
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:20 am

ExpatFlyer wrote:
Hi Idries, first of all thank you for taking the time to write this beautiful piece of narrative and sharing it with us a.netters.
Indeed I just added your trip report to my list of favorite links on my MacBook as I truly enjoyed not only the reading and detailed description you carefully crafted but felt in a sort of way the kind of emotions and expectations that you experienced during this outstanding and memorable trip.
Indeed a memorable and fascinating trip not only for the spiritual theme at the base of the destination but for the uniqueness of the travel experience which of course, as a non Muslim, I'll never have the opportunity to enjoy (although I'd be eager to see the Kaba).
I'm not a religious person, nor a believer in a specific god (more on the ancient alien theory) but having lived in several countries in Asia, and now in Thailand for a good part of the year when in Asia, I fully respect the full cosmogony of different religions and how people feel in respect to that no matter the color, race, religion or philosophical belief.
A couple of years back I had the opportunity to fly Saudia from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur.
I was keen to try Saudia and being a Platinum for Life with SkyTeam I gave it a try on a one way MXP-JED-KUL as Saudia is a member of SkyTeam, and frankly I enjoyed a pleasant flight experience.
And with the exception of myself and my travel companion as the only western passengers onboard the Saudia B777-300, most of the pax were flying back to Malaysia after their Haji and Umrah, and could notice the sense of calmness and serenity they were in some way emitting after probably a one-of-a-kind experience like this pilgrimage.
Thank you again for sharing this wonderful trip memory, and when I happen to be in Chicago I'll be happy to say hi in person and share a coffee chat.
I wish you and your wife all the best. Tony


Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it! Definitely, if you are ever in Chicago drop me a line.
 
LAXdude1023
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:33 pm

A very unique trip report! Thanks for sharing. :)

Saudi is actually a place that Im extremely curious about. Id loved to visit at some point, but as Im not Muslim nor would I have any reason to take a business trip there, I don't think Ill make it there. :(
It is what it is...
 
directorguy
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Re: Hajj-My Journey of Forgiveness, Redemption and Rebirth.

Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:10 am

Thank you ever so much for posting this report.

I myself will be performing the Hajj this year, at the end of next month, and so was pleasantly surprised to find your report because I had been looking for material on Hajj online these days-never thought I'd find it on A.net! I look forward to reading your report in detail-most other reports focus on the rites and gloss over the conditions at Minna etc.
Jazak Allah khul Khair to you and your wife, and I hope Allah accepted your Hajj and supplications.

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