Muslim Diaries: Blind But Brave - A Trip To ThailandTuesday, July 12, 2011 Read more → community, muslim diaries, sign language, trips and vacations In the name of God, entirely Compassionate, especially Merciful | Peace be with you
Nothing is impossible. Blind, Muslim and a traveller, Balal Hussain visits friends in Thailand
Previously on MUSLIMNESS, Balal Hussain spoke to Kitaba.org about struggling with being blind and becoming a Qu'ran hafidh (memoriser). Kitaba.org is the UK's only Islamic texts resource and support for visually impaired Muslims. Balal recently took a trip to Thailand and shared his sensory experiences again.
Muslim Diaries: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
"I had planned to go and visit my colleague Moulana Muhammad Islah for a number of years but, it just never seemed to be the right time. So, I decided to finally go and visit him in Thailand.
As this was the first time I had visited Thailand, I was worried about how much I was actually able to communicate with the people in the airport as I was going to travel alone. How much English did they speak? Would they understand me?
On the 15th of April, I flew from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi, then to Bangkok airport, and then from Bangkok airport to Chiang Mie which is in the north of Thailand. By the time I had arrived, I was extremely tired. The first thing I’d noticed about Thailand was the heat! It was like walking from a fridge into an oven!
We had some lunch but I wasn’t hungry. All that food on the aeroplane had filled me up. But I did taste a bit of steak though and it was nice. I probably was being greedy, but then how often do you get the chance to eat steak? Especially when it is halal!
So then, after praying Dhuhr (afternoon prayer), we took the final journey to Pie. Pie is located high in the mountains in the north of Thailand. It was a three hour journey from Chiang Mie, and the road was twisty and curvy. I probably was at an advantage not being able to see as I was told if you looked to the sides, there was a big drop down! I must admit, the amount of sharp corners we took, it was surprising I didn’t feel sick. Oh, and another thing that happened whilst travelling to Pie was that someone decided to throw water on our car. When I asked what the noise was, I was told that it was the season of Songkran! A festival where water was thrown on one another.
Three hours later we had finally arrived in pie. Again, it was very warm, and in my opinion, hotter than Chiang Mie. I was very lucky as they had organised a very nice room for me that had air-conditioning so I wasn’t that affected by the heat.
Balal in the waterfall with friends
The next couple of days were spent trying a lot of different foods which I had never tasted before. I probably should have been a little more careful when trying them, as one of them made me sick. But still, they were delicious. I can’t even remember all the different names, although I ate a lot of different varieties of noodles with different flavourings.
I also had the chance to go to a natural waterfall which was a great opportunity for me as I had never experienced what a natural waterfall was like. Getting to the top of the waterfall was very interesting as the path was very bumpy and dangerous at some points as there were no railings at certain points of the climb up to the top. Alhamdulillah (praise belongs to Allah), I had very good guides supporting me during my climb up and coming down. There were some points where I virtually had to sit down to be able to get down a step. Once I’d got to the top, it was amazing to feel the power of the water falling down from such a height. It was also very relaxing standing underneath where the water was falling.
I think the highlight of the holiday for me was probably the elephant ride (pictured above). Scary, but an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I had to climb on this tall tower to actually be able to access the elephant as it was so tall. There was a chair tied to the elephant's back so I could sit on it. Once it started moving, the sensation was strange. The elephant didn’t move very fast, but took big strides moving slowly. It even went through water whilst I was sitting on its back. I was on the elephant for one hour, and during this time, the elephant kept on grabbing large amounts of twigs and leaves to eat. It was quite scary at times because it grabbed them with such force which made the elephant shake!
The rest of the trip was spent going to Bangkok to visit my other friend Moulana Hassan who also studied with me in South Africa. Alhamdulillah, I yet again got to taste a lot of different types of food this time from the south of Thailand where Moulana Hassan was originally from. The generosity that I experienced from the general Muslim public was overwhelming. Everyone was willing to take you out and cook for you. Whilst in Bangkok, I also had the chance to go to the theme park. They had lots of very interesting rides!
And as all good things come to an end, before I knew it, my time was up. I was on the plane, back to Bangkok, through Abu Dhabi, and back in London. As soon as I got out of the airport, I felt the immediate change in temperature.
Back home, it took me a few days to familiarise myself with the time difference, but I was back to normal within a week. Alhamdulillah, the holiday was great, and I had no regrets going. I will never forget the amount of kindness I was shown from the various people I’d met during the journey.
May Allah keep them safe and keep them happy always."
Images & text:: Kitaba.org©
I'm Blind, But A Qur'an Hafidh
Kitaba.org, For Blind Muslims
Message Of The Week - Travelling And Fasting
The Islamic Notion Of Mercy