I first learned some of the few things I know about Islam from the best history teacher back in high school, Sir Beni (I kept my notes color-coded only because they were for his class. I drew penguins on every map of Asia/world a we had to sketch for the tests just because I knew he wouldn’t mind hahahaha). He was also traditionally the Philosophy professor for 4th year but he went on a trip to Europe just when I got to 4th year. Sadness. Anyway, I honestly don’t know if he still teaches in Assumption Antipolo but when I was still studying there, he was one of the “legend teachers.” And while I can write a paper on the greatness and wisdom of Sir Beni (he is a teacher that transcends time!!), I have to remember that this post isn’t about him but of my KL trip.

Point of the intro was, supposedly, how most of what I know or remember about Islam was really still from Sir Beni. I only fed my curiosity about their beautiful calligraphic images from museums (such as the gallery at the Asian Civilizations Musuem).

I haven’t been to KL (or anywhere in Malaysia, for that matter), so I decided to hit two birds with one stone and join the NUS Muslim Society to their one-day Islamic Awareness Week trip to KL. Based on what has happened to me in the past week (self-injuring myself accidentally), my friend warned me to take care and since I’m blogging right now, luckily it only means I haven’t encountered any serious mishap. But my trip wasn’t without any interesting experiences either. I’m going to flood this post with my usual silliness and senseless ramblings so be warned.

TADA! me at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization
TADA! me at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization

The S$50 trip was primarily an excursion into Islam and while it wasn’t exactly a vacation trip, one of the best things about going on that trip were:

  1. meeting a lot of wonderful, friendly, very nice and thoughtful people. Not just NUS students or organizers but even their friends/family members that went on the trip. NEW FRIENDS FTW! The guys were all so funny, haha, that it made me realize that most guy-groups are really kinda the same wherever I go.
  2. Getting to know the Islam religion and culture. Maybe not so much (I wasn’t able to attend most of their lectures during the Islamic Awareness Week) but I have learned quite a few things too! There are quite a lot of Muslims in the Philippines also and I’ve had two teachers in the past (back in high school) who’s either from the south or taught/had experiences living in the South. I’m the type of person who enjoys learning about cultures and new places!
  3. Trying new food and eating LOTS of ice cream (simply because it’s cheaper in Malaysia).
  4. Getting held up at the immigrations because I forgot my student pass in the bus. And then learning that the bus driver lost his passport.

I start with #4 because well, that’s where the trip technically starts. I mean, I was THIS CLOSE to stepping into Malaysia until oh, apparently we need our Student Pass to get to the other side. I just thought that we only needed our passport (UHH I’ve only traveled once in my life, and that was to Singapore, so I thought it was the same process going to Malaysia) but as it turned out, one of the security people escorted us (there were three of us who forgot our student pass) back to the bus (we went inside this small room where a lot of security people in uniform were also huddled! It’s like the movies, but not that bad because we’re not smugglers or criminals or anything but I was getting excited, I tell you!).

So when we got to the other side (the side you supposedly cross over to after getting cleared. We went there assuming the bus had already arrived), we got the news that the driver couldn’t find his passport. So we go back to the other side again to get our bags (and student pass!). Mas’uud was so nice to accompany the three of us back and forth, even with the security escort already leading us. So anyway, we got cleared but the driver obviously had to stay back. See, we weren’t even out of Singapore yet and passports have started to go missing already.

We were delayed around more than 1 hour because we had to wait for the new driver replacement. Everyone formed this circle on the bus terminal and started playing some games like Fuzzy Wuzzy and Polar Bear. I didn’t get the first two games because I don’t think too hard (haha) but the Polar Bear game was quite interesting in a way that I saw how everyone in the group interacted with each other. You’d know who was the more-silent type, the really loud and funny ones, and the less-shy ones, etc.

Eventually, the new bus driver came and we could all resume the trip! At this point, I should say that I’m a thoughtless traveler. First proven by the fact that I should just have brought all the probably-important IDs with me (like the student pass). Second, I wasn’t able to exchange money. I was too busy trying to finish our NM2216 prototype (or do as much as I could) that I didn’t even go to a money-exchange. I asked Eukee and he said he had his dollars exchanged in Malaysia already so I thought there would be a place to exchange money nearby. But apparently not. I don’t even want to say how I was able to eat late dinner when we got to Malaysia except that I was able to and even if my first Malaysian meal was spicy, it was good! :D

Nasi goreng daging merah: literally means "fried rice and red meat"
Nasi goreng daging merah: literally means "fried rice and red meat"

I just got what the other guys got. I had teh tarik with it and it’s warm milk tea! I think it’s the same tea as the tea in bubble tea from PGP canteens.

The bus ride was long and I slept for the most part. We arrived at the International Islamic University Malaysia at around 7am, freshened up, and had some breakfast. Er, yes, I still borrowed money at this point.

sunrise in the horizon!
sunrise in the horizon!
beautiful stained-glass (?) pattern in the university lobby
beautiful stained-glass (?) pattern in the university lobby
university facade
university facade
very pretty, yeah?
very pretty, yeah?

We listened to a professor on comparative religion and in her lecture, her main focus was the question, “what is being human?” When she introduced the topic, I mentally went, “HELLO DR. GARCIA!” I was making mental comparisons on the similarities of what she was saying and the things I’ve learned from both Philosophy and Theology classes. I have this belief that most religions are essentially worshiping the same God and it just went to show how the important principles among different religions are all quite similar.

the professor. I admired her for standing up during the lecture despite the difficulties she had with her legs just so we could see her.
the professor. I admired her for standing up during the lecture despite the difficulties she had with her legs just so we could see her.
Singaporeans, Malaysians, exchange students, Muslims, non-muslims
Singaporeans, Malaysians, exchange students, Muslims, non-muslims

We went to the library after (the library back home always pales in comparison with the other libraries I’ve been to here!). There was a Philippine version of the Qur’an but even though I could read it, it was in a different dialect so I couldn’t understand a word. A local student told us if we were staying longer, she could have introduced us to students from the Philippines (and Thailand) who were studying at the university.

We went to have lunch afterward (and by this time we managed to find a money-changer!). We (by “we” I mean me and the other exchange students: Minnie, Bela, and Alice) didn’t know what to call the food there so we just pointed at the food we wanted to eat. I had the yellow-rice thing, chicken (chicken curry?), and fried squid. THE SURPRISING PART WAS THIS: when we asked for the receipt, the guy asked us, “how many pieces of chicken? How many pieces of fish? How many pieces of squid?”

I'm glad I counted while I was eating: 3 pieces of chicken, 3 pieces of squid
I'm glad I counted while I was eating: 3 pieces of chicken, 3 pieces of squid

This was the first time ALL of us had to pay for the food we bought this way (because isn’t it just easier and more efficient that you have a price for a fixed amount of food than asking each customer how many pieces of what he bought?). “Is this for real!?” was a silent echo in our heads, haha. I think I paid more for my food because I only ordered half-rice and I don’t remember telling him I had half-rice. Anyway, I had two ice creams for dessert (it was cheaper is my only excuse!) and then I also bought another one when we went to Putrajaya (and there I bought from “Dairy King” hahahahaha).

Our next stop was the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization. Apparently it was a school but the place looked like an old, Spanish villa. It took a while before they let us in the main lobby itself but everyone remained free to frolic around the campus, pray at the mosque, and have camwhoring sessions.

this is just the door to the lobby!
this is just the door to the lobby!
and this is me looking stupid in front of the beautiful door of the lobby
and this is me looking stupid in front of the beautiful door of the lobby
beautiful engravings
beautiful engravings

The building itself is pretty recent but they modeled it after the old Spanish-Muslim mosques/architecture.

more stone engravings
more stone engravings
one side of the main bulding
one side of the main bulding
the courtyard! it's so big with a fountain at the middle. it was so hot too haha
the courtyard! it's so big with a fountain at the middle. it was so hot too haha
baby merlions (lol) in the fountain
baby merlions (lol) in the fountain
this side was closed so we couldn't go in.
this side was closed so we couldn't go in.
great view no matter from which side you look.
great view no matter from which side you look.
the lecture hall that looks like the inside of a church O:
the lecture hall that looks like the inside of a church O:

The sun drained all my energy and I was only too excited to get back to the bus to sleep after we looked around and took photos. :)

The bus went back to the university to drop off the local students before we went to Putrajaya. All the while I’ve been completely oblivious as to where exactly in Malaysia we were going since I was just part of a group. So I just googled Ptrajaya right now and it’s in the south of KL. We went around the side of the river, which had many people taking photos also (as in Clarke Quay except this was a city for politics and not for night-clubbing haha). I won’t blame them because the view was just as beautiful as the mosque and the other buildings.

Perdana Putra from afar. Prime Minister's office.
Perdana Putra Putrajaya from afar. Prime Minister's office.
sunset right across the river
sunset right across the river
strawberry ice cream from Dairy KING
strawberry ice cream from Dairy KING. the pic already has a bite, haha, because I forgot to take a pic before actually eating.
the city across at night
the city across at night
the city in bokeh, :)
the city in bokeh, :)

To go inside (well, not deep inside but at least beyond the gates) of the Putra Mosuque, we had to cover ourselves with a pink over-all coat thingy (I don’t know what to call it!) which hid our hair and arms and everything. Someone said we were like pink Dementors hahahaha.

behind us is the male entrance to the mosque
behind us is the male entrance to the mosque

I don’t know where we went for dinner (where in Malaysia) but we ate at A&W. It’s been AGES since I last ate there (and also quite some time since I last ate fast food). I’ve been to the A&W at Greenbelt in Makati waaaaay before it looked like the Greenbelt 3, 4, and 5 today (back when it was mostly trees and some man-made lake where the chapel was located) and then it disappeared (the A&W). I haven’t seen any in the Philippines since. I spent the last of my money buying roti buns!!! Ok, so roti buns aren’t that popular in Singapore, apparently, and it takes such a long time before I get to see another shop that sells them. So I bought two last night and couldn’t resist from eating one after dinner (because fresh-baked roti buns are the best!) and the other I ate when I woke up this morning.

The guys were singing songs (funny songs) during the (long) trip back home and I couldn’t sleep so when they saw I was awake, they asked me to sing a song in Filipino. AND FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I couldn’t think of a lot. AT ALL. But then they were singing funny songs so I thought I should think of a funny song and I ended up singing Sponge Cola’s “O Pare Ko”. I SERIOUSLY FOUND THE SONG FUNNY or maybe that’s because we just always sing it when one’s sawi in the group. But when Bela (Indonesia) and Minnie (Thailand) sang some romantic songs (which were good!!) I wanted to bury myself then and there. I just embarrassed myself by singing with an ugly voice and well, the song wasn’t really the best choice if I wanted to sing something “proudly Filipino” (sorry Sponge Cola fans hahahaha). I can’t even explain why I could only remember beerhouse music, HAHA.

One of the girls suggested going to KL for shopping. I’m very interested in the idea and maybe I could go after uh, well if I still have some shopping money left after buying a new laptop (which I plan to but again, I don’t even know if I have enough money. But a new laptop is more important because I’m pretty sure by the time the next semester starts, my black macbook will start failing me. Some programs are going funky already and Finder‘s been hanging more often). I googled some info on Bus 170 and am seriously contemplating on going alone if I can’t find anyone who wants to go with me.

I will have to buy roti buns again!

I hope to eat more roti buns soon!
ROTIBOY. I hope to eat more roti buns soon!

Unfortunately, despite what the ad says, Rotiboy is not always here with me in Singapore. :(

Everyone I met during the whole trip was so nice and friendly and thoughtful and well, words are not enough for me to express how glad I am that I met them and how lovely the day-trip was for me. It was just so comfortable talking to everyone and even though I can’t remember all their names and even though I’m new, non-Singaporean, and non-Muslim, I had some thoughtful conversations with them. Also funny, senseless conversations. It wasn’t hard to go along with the jokes of the guys so I really, really appreciated their company. Them teasing each other was such a familiar atmosphere that it made me miss my friends a little. :)

I’m looking forward to seeing some of them around school. They’re such nice people! I’m glad I didn’t back-out despite the mountain of work I have to do. I can almost believe it’s alright to trade-off an A or B+ (just not anything lower than B!) for experiences like these.

2 thoughts on “Islam is a beautiful religion

  1. Can I just say what a great idea it was for you to buy that camera instead of your other choice. Look at all those wonderful photos! You can always go back to a place to experience the yummiiness of its cuisine, but immortalizing a certain memory, you can only do that once.
    I’m glad you’re learning a lot over there!:)

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