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  • Travel to Sri Lanka for your Honeymoon!

    For the newlyweds (or any couples), start packing your bags for Sri Lanka! via GIPHY   Galle Face Beach - Galle Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka Morning walks along Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches is a must! Even this beach that is located so close to the city centre is a breathtaking sight in the early morning. Take a romantic stroll with your spouse and just spend some quality time to get to know each other.  Beach on Colombo Plan Road However, if you seek more thrill, something like combining beaches with railway tracks, then walk along Colombo Plan Road. It is a tranquil sight of the sea with occasional loud train sounds as the trains pass by the tracks on its way to Galle station. While you are there, stay on to catch a little bit of sunset. All you need is your life partner by your side and a sweet silence as you both listen to the muse of the sea. Negombo beach - Negombo, Sri Lanka If you need some private time with your spouse, Negombo Beach is the beach for you. There are very much lesser people here so you can walk along the beach and have a romantic conversation undisturbed! Amagi Aria Hotel - 640/82 Suhada Mawatha, Puttalam - Colombo Rd, Negombo 11500, Sri Lanka Even better, why not stay at the Amagi Aria Hotel and whisper words of forever as the sun sets leaving you and your spouse with warm lovely feelings. This is the perfect spot to have a heart-to-heart talk with your spouse. Alright, enough about the beaches! Let's go on to talk about just how gorgeous the train ride in Sri Lanka is!  Image Credit: YamuThere are so many beautiful places to visit via train. Places such as Ella, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy are among the top few for the must-visit! The journey to the mentioned places itself is such a breathtaking sight. Views en route from Colombo to Kandy Kandy Train Station  Things to do in Ella: 1.The Nine Arch Bridge Image Credit: Salt in our Hair This gorgeous bridge is located right outside of Ella. It will take about 30 minutes to walk through the woods and reach a beautiful tea field. Be there with your beloved and sip a cup of delicious Sri Lankan tea while watching trains pass by.  2. Swim at Diyaluma Falls Diyaluma waterfall - in Badulla district on the Colombo-Badulla highway, about 6km east of the regional town of Koslanda, and around 30km south of Ella.Image Credit: Pinterest The Diyaluma waterfall is 220-meter high and is the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. On top of the waterfall, it has different levels of natural pools where you can swim. To get to this waterfall is not an easy task! A two-hour tuk-tuk ride from Ella to Poonagala through quintessentially lush Sri Lankan tea plantations followed by a hike downhill through long, dry grass for about 30mins before getting to the upper Diyaluma falls. A short hike further would bring you and your partner to the edge of the world, watching the cascading water drop 220m to the valley below. This is the start of a very challenging honeymoon thus far in Sri Lanka. However, such tasks would allow for a different kind of bonding as you learn more about your partner and even yourself! 3. Climb Little Adam’s Peak  Image Credit: Wandervisions To get to Little Adam’s Peak, you need to follow the trail which is right next to Ella Flower Garden Resort (3rd Mile Post, Passara Road, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka). An alternative entrance is also located at 98 Acres Resort (Greenland Estate, Ella - Passara Rd, Ella, Sri Lanka) and marked by a white Buddha. Just follow the trails and you would only need about an hour before you reach the top and have a lovely sunset view with the-love-of-your-life.    Things to do in Nuwara Eliya:  1. Go to the Tea Plantations Image Credit: Travel Triangle Nuwara Eliya has so many tea plantation fields. One of them is the Pedro Tea Estate. Pedro Estate is about 3.5km east of Nuwara Eliya station and is a 20 minutes drive by rickshaw from the station. You both can have an educational tour of the tea plantations here and learn the process of tea planting!  2. Take a stroll in Victoria Park  Image Credit: Kingsford Residences Well, why not take a stroll in Victoria Park (Badulla Rd, Nuwara Eliya 22200) and have a lovely chat while sipping a nice cuppa tea? This lovely walk with your soulmate will leave you with a tingling feeling and many gorgeous photos together!  3. Gregory Lake Image Credit: Sri Lanka Finder This enchanting lake (Gregory Lake, Nuwara Eliya 22200, Sri Lanka) is a must to visit. It is just a 5 minutes ride on a rickshaw from Nuwara Eliya. Enjoy a breezy walk and cooling weather which definitely calls for a lovely picnic or a sweet ride on the swan boats. Over at this lake, it compels you to show how much you love your spouse by doing things together and caring for each other! THE THING to do in Kandy: Well, we did mention that this honeymoon destination is not for the weak-hearted as the hike at Little Adam's Peak over in Ella was just the start of all hikes. In Kandy, climbing up Adam's Peak is a must if you want to learn the ultimate truth about your partner's character and yours too!  Image Credit: Atlas And Boots Adam’s Peak is located at South Central Sri Lanka and the nearest town is Dalhousie which is the start of the trek up the mountain. Taking the taxi/Grab/Uber/Private car rental from Kandy to Dalhousie is the fastest option to get here as compared to coming by bus or train. The ride takes about an hour and a half. The best time to start climbing Adam’s Peak is in the wee hours (start at 12 am or slightly later) as the climb takes between 2 to 4 hours (depending on fitness levels). This climb will be an opportunity to encourage each other as the total number of steps is about 5000 to 6000 crumbling steps and inclined trekking. Reaching to the 1000th step is already a great achievement but will definitely test you as your legs may go numb or feel very sore. However, with constant coaxing from the beloved, the pain would turn into motivation as watching the sunrise at the peak of the mountain is a glorious sight which leaves you feeling a sense of achievement. It takes a lot for couples to reach the top but hey, love conquers all (even the challenging Adam’s Peak!).  Sunrise at the top of Adam’s PeakImage Credit: The Partying Traveler One of the best feelings in the world is to pray with your spouse. Sri Lanka has a gorgeous mosque located at 2nd Cross Street, Colombo, Sri Lanka. The mosque goes by the name of Red Mosque or Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid.  Image Credit: Atlas Obscura Well, this honeymoon destination has loads of challenging activities to do with your spouse. Despite the pain, it is definitely a worthwhile trip to do together. Marriage may not always be smooth. There may be challenges. Well, challenges are meant to be conquered together, just like how challenging-Sri Lanka was conquered together! ...

  • Furthering Your Studies In A New Country? You Need To Know These Tips!

    While you learn how to be independent, moving to a new country to study can be more stressful than fun. Rest assured, it doesn't have to be this way. The following tips will help you navigate this new life experience.   1) Documents Photo by Sam Johnson from Pexels It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of living in a new country but remember, without the right documentation you wouldn't be able to embark on your new adventure. Make sure all the necessary forms are filled, apply for visa months in advance – do not wait until the last moment as visa processing can take ages depending on the country you are moving to. Do not get discouraged if you fail a visa interview, you can always try again! Make sure you have all your dates right, try your best to leave a few weeks earlier than the commencement date of the course as this will allow you to adjust to the new environment and be familiar with everything before starting university. Therefore, it is important that you purchase airplane tickets in advance as well, look for student offers on tickets, most airlines allow additional weight in luggage for students. Before leaving for the airport do a thorough check of all the documents you need to carry on hand, especially passport and other visa documents. Most universities offer airport pickups for students, so register online for that prior to leaving.   2) Background search Photo by Marek Levak from Pexels Do a background search of the city you will be moving to, it is important to know the local culture and what kind of crowd resides there – not to scare you, but be sure to check crime rates, it is better to be safe than sorry. You can join online student forums, some may even be hosted by the university that you are be attending, and they can help you with any doubts or questions you have. Check cost of living in the area, what supermarkets and shops are close to your accommodation, how far the university is from bus stops and train stations or if it is possible to walk to university.   3) Choosing the right accommodation Photo by Vecislavas Popa from Pexels This can be a tough one, but you will be spoilt for choice with places to stay. There will be accommodation for every budget, the university will also have dorms or halls but they will be on the more pricy end of the spectrum. However, if you can afford it, go ahead as it comes with additional benefits like being very close to the university, having access to university gym facilities on a discounted price (check the university website for more info). The most important thing you need to know about finding the right accommodation is that the further you are from the university the lower the prices. Always find accommodation that you can share with others, as this further brings down the amount of money you will be spending on accommodation. It could be an annex, an apartment or even a full house! Sharing with housemates is fun as you’ll never be alone, and it won’t be as daunting as living alone, however, if you are looking for a place you don’t have to share, go ahead – cause that too comes with perks.   4) Cost of living Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels Before moving it is important to check the cost of living, especially if your parents are going to send you a monthly allowance. This way, you can easily manage your expenditure. You might be able to find a part time job but that also depends on the type of visa you have and the country you are travelling to.   5) Managing finances Photo by maitree rimthong from Pexels The bulk of your expenditure might be your rent. However, it is so easy to spend your money excessively on food, clothes and other things which are not found in your country. The best way to easily manage your finances is to always opt to eat in and cook your own meals as this will save a lot of money! Do meal preps, cook for 2 days and store the food in the refrigerator for later and reheat before eating (using the microwave or stove). This way, you will also be managing your time. That does not mean don’t eat out at all, sometimes during exam season it might not be very efficient to cook all your meals so opt for takeout. Your student ID will be eligible for certain discounts at restaurants so do make full use of it. The other option you have is to go for precooked frozen food, however, this is not a healthy option so do minimise this as much as you can. Remember, maintaining good health is very important while studying.   6) Be open to anything (that's Halal!) Photo by Marcin Dampc from Pexels Don't enter the new country with preconceived ideas of them or stereotypes. You should keep an open mind because you’ll be surprised about how different the country is from your assumptions. Alongside that, do ensure that you also prepare prepare yourself for a culture shock. Perhaps you should spend as much time as possible engaging and learning from the locals as they know the ins and outs of their city and will help you navigate your way through your new environment. Keep track of festivals and events and attend them, especially things like the Sunday market and Christmas sales. The university is bound to host events as well, so do attend those and be a part of the university community!   7) Make new friends Photo by Min An from Pexels You may miss your friends back home, but it is so crucial to meet new people and make friends in your new city as this will help you immensely in the long run. It may seem daunting at first, especially if you are an introverted soul, however, you will be surprised at how nice people really are and they can be very accommodating. If you are very shy and don’t know how to start, join a club or society, universities have many – so sign up for something you like and you will meet enough likeminded people!Most importanly, make sure you surround yourself with people who make you feel happy and good about yourself, not people who have ill-intentions towards you or constantly try to bring you down. You don't need that kind of energy in your new environment!   8) Take public transport Photo by Vitaly Vlasov from Pexels Always opt for public transport because students usually get special rates. Regardless of which country you're traveling to and whether you are doing a part-time job, you need to save money and meet the local people. There's no better way to do this than taking public transport. Who knows? You may even save up enough money to get yourself a car! Yes, people who study in the USA and Australia are are known to be able to afford their own vehicle but that takes a lot of financial planning. If you live fairly close to your university, you could walk, or even cycle to your campus. This will ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle!   9) Study! Photo by fotografierende from Pexels It is so easy to get distracted when you are in a new country and city especially since you are constantly meeting new people and being exposed to many new things at once. However, this is not an excuse to stay away from studies. Remember, the main reason you are here is to study so keep that as your main priority and plan everything else around that. Having said that, it's inevitable that at some point in time, you may feel homesick. But just keep in mind that during those days, you should take a breather and freshen up your mind. Recite a few prayers and then return back to studying. Rememeber that everything will be worth it in the end if you put in the effort. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so make the most of it. You will come back with a list of new skills and experiences to boot, as well as fond memories that you will cherish forever. Remember to balance studies and fun! Good luck!...

  • Why are These 10 Travel Destinations Unusual?

    Everyone wants to go to France, Maldives or the US for a vacation but if you would like to experience something slightly different from touristy destinations, we've collated quite a few amazing places that you could explore! Pristine, secluded beaches, historically rich cities, and a diverse range of terrains in one place – this list has got it all! Keep reading to find out what are the 10 most unusual travel destinations off the beaten path.   1. Red Beach, Panjin, China Credit: Wikipedia Yes, you read that right – Red Beach – also referred to as “ Red Carpet Beach” by locals. The Red Beach national corridor is one part of the Liaodong coastline extending for 118kms. It garners more than 2 million tourists annually, so why not be one of that 2 million and enjoy the absolute splendour of this magical landscape. The vibrant red colour is given by the seep weed which grows from summer to autumn. Panjin is a coastal town with a lot to offer to travellers – beautiful countryside, hot springs and ancient towns offer much for sight seeing and leisure. You can get to this scenic coastal town by a long distance bus. You can even take a train from Beijing to Panjin. There are a few halal restaurants within the province such as Ming Mings Dumplings, Yifeng Moslam park and many more. Check the China foreigners guide for more restaurants.   2. Popeye Village, Malta Credit: @popeyemalta on Facebook This fun, quirky town was originally a film set for the famed “Popey” Musical starring the ever wonderful Robin Williams. So, this should be one of the top destinations to visit on your list! Located next to the turquoise sea, this colourful town is for the young at heart, especially for all you Popeye the Sailor-man fans. The town hosts many events throughout the year and has many guided tours. You can find accommodation at Melliha, there are many hotels and getting from there to Popeye village is very easy, you could just walk the 2Km distance or take a bus from there. The bus routes tend to change in Malta so refer the Malta Transport website for all the information you need. There are many Halal restaurants scattered around the islands and it is very easy travel in Malta, since the islands are small and the distances aren’t that long. There are many Turkish restaurants and a few Indian restaurants which are Halal friendly.   3. Pamukkale, Turkey Credit: @Pamukkale.Hierapolis on Facebook Located in the picturesque southwest of Turkey, this pristine white locale is the stuff of dreams. From the white terraces to the crystalline green pools, Pamukkale, Turkeyis a dreamscape worth experiencing. Pamukkale translates to “Cotton Castle” and rightly so, it is also the home of the well preserved ancient Graeco-Roman city of Hieropolis. An all in one location with its travertine limestone formations, hot springs, ancient temples, bathouses and necropolis all rolled in to one, this is a definite once in a lifetime adventure you should take. Bathe in the beautiful warm pools like the Romans once did, and explore the remains of a once great spa city. The easiest way to get there is to board a flight from Istanbul to Denizli Cardak Airport, Turkish Airlines offers flights to Denizli. Denizli is 65km away from Pamukkale, you can opt for an airport shuttle, or you can get a bus from the Denizli bus station – the ride is 40mins. There are many hotels in the city that suit all budgets, as well as many Halal friendly restaurants in the area, so you can easily find food without having to worry about Halal authenticity. Some of the best restaurants are Mhemet’s Heaven, Cadde Grill House and Yildiz restaurant; you can do a quick Google search and find many Halal friendly restaurants easily.   4. Giethoorn, Netherlands Image by Michel van der Vegt from Pixabay Beautiful, serene, quiet, green, these are a few words that describe Giethoorn, a water village also referred to as ‘Dutch Venice’, however minus the crowds and commercialisation. It is an idyllic village setting, with fewer roads and more canals, most areas are not accessible by car – it is either by foot or by boat. The canals are lined with pretty, traditional Dutch thatched roofed houses and almost each house has their own boat, even the mail man uses a boat! It is best explored by joining a canal cruise or by opting for a guided tour with the help of local skippers. You can get to Giethoorn from Amsterdam in one and half hours if you are going by car, you can opt to hire a cab or rent a car and drive by yourself. There is no direct way you could get to the village by public transport, if you really want to however, you could get the train from Amsterdam to Steenwijk, and then catch a bus from Steenwijck to Giethoorn – this trip will take two hours. Accommodation wise, there are a number of hotels within the village, or you could even opt to stay just outside the village. It may be a little difficult to find Halal friendly places in this area, however, there are a few restaurants scattered around the Overjissel province where Giethoorn is located.   5. Socotra, Yemen Image by danielshimmin0 from Pixabay  An island that is a part of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, a surreal, alien landscape that is sure to leave you mesmerised. It was recognised by UNESCO as a world heriatage site in 2008, and is referred to as “the most alien looking place on Earth”. It is so isolated that it’s wildlife is unique to the island and have evolved to adapt to its dessert environment, it is home to a very distinct species of tree known as the Dragon’s Blood Tree, aptly named as it oozes blood red sap. The Bottle Tree is a quirky tree that looks like the foot of an elephant with pink flowers on the top, referred to as desert rose. The island has its own version of birds, such as the Socotra Sunbird, Socotra starling and Socotra grosbeak. The only native mammal on the island is the bat. It is best to book a tour to better explore the island and get more insight. You can reach the Island via Sanaa, the capital of Yemen; get a flight to the Sanaa Airport and from there a get flight to Socotra. You could even go for a direct flight to the island through the Arab Emirates, Felix Airways has scheduled flights from Sharjah to Socotra and back. Don’t expect luxurious resorts and hotels here, it is mostly eco-friendly and you will find five hotels, one eco lodge and many eco-camp sites. Since the island belongs to Yemen, their cuisine is mainly Halal, so you don’t have to worry about trying to find authentic Halal fare.   6. Taha’a, French Polynesia Credit: Tahaa Whilst Bora Bora garners most of the crowd, Taha’a is almost overlooked, but that doesn’t mean this flower shaped island has nothing to offer. If you are looking for a romantic escape or just a few days of pampering, Taha’a will definitely fulfil your dreams. A true island paradise with rolling hills, and valleys covered with banana, watermelon and coconut groves. It is the home of the world’s most priced Tahitian Vanilla, making up for 80% of the export from French Polynesia. The whole island is intoxicated by the scent of vanilla and will draw you in with its white sandy beaches, coral reefs, and absolute seclusion. The only way to access Taha’a is by boat from her sister island Raiatea. You will have to take a flight which may have stop overs at Paris, Auckland, or Los Angeles, from where you’ll fly to an airport closest to Taha’a depending on the airlines. There are many resorts and hotels to stay at in Taha’a, the more reputed hotels can be on the pricier end of the spectrum. It may be difficult to find Halal food in Taha’a, however, their cuisine mostly comprises of fruits of the sea and fruits of the land, therefore most of the food are Halal friendly.   7. Isle of Skye, Scotland Credit: @IsleofSkyeScotland on Facebook The mystical Isle of Skye which translates to “Cloud Island” from ancient Norse, it is the second largest of Scotland’s islands and the most beautiful! Magical and mysterious, the island boasts deep lochs, towering cliffs and moors, as well as incredible wildlife – a nature lovers dream! Rich in history and culture Skye is a great place to explore, with places like the Mealt Waterfall and Kilt Rock, the Old Man Storr, the Fairy Pools of Glenbrittle, Dinosaur footprints at Staffin Beach, Dunvegan Castle and many more. The closest airports are the Glasgow Airport and the Inverness Airport, from which you can opt to drive to Isle of Skye or take a bus. There is no railway on the island; instead it offers buses and local coaches. The island is full of quaint little cottages that you can rent out; some offer self catering whilst others offer bed and breakfast. The town of Portree is where most tourists stay at; it is the capital of the island and has many hotels, cafes and supermarkets. If you really want to experience Skye, then opt for camping. It is fairly easy to find Halal food in the Island as there is a population of Indians and Pakistanis who live there. They are quite a few good Indian and Pakistani restaurants, as well as some Bangladeshi ones.   8. Bagan, Myanmar Credit: @WonderBaganMyanmar on Facebook This Buddhist temple city was once the capital of an ancient Kingdom, however, now it is an important archaeological zone. Bagan is often compared to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and may even be a rival to Machu Pichu, however, this ancient city has a charm of its own. Witness the majesty of the golden stupas in the temple plain and catch the sunset over the Irrawaddy River. You can witness the beauty of Bagan by Hot Air ballon, the ancient city is a sight to behold 2000 feet up in the air. You can even get more close and personal by biking it on the ground, exercise and a view! Don’t forget to check a local market as well, and get as many souvenirs as you want, also add local festivals to your itinerary as you will be able to taste the best of Burmese hawker food. Flights arrive at the Nyaung-U Airport and it is a 10min taxi ride to Nyaung-U town centre, whilst it’s a 20 minute ride to Old Bagan or New Bagan. When travelling to Bagan it is advisable to go through a travel agent, as they will make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience. However, if you do want to travel independently, do a though search on travel requirements and hotels. The more luxurious hotels and resorts are located in Old Bagan, whilst more mid range and budget hotels are found in Nyaung-U and New Bagan. Nyaung-U is Bagan’s largest town, this is where you will find most of the restaurants and hotels, however, it tends to get quite crowded. There are few high end restaurants that serve Halal food, whilst other restaurants will be willing to serve Halal food on request. Most stalls or small restaurants may not have the regular Arabic Halal sign but instead will indicate the availability of Halal food by the number “786” (this is a substitute used within South Asia), therefore look for this sign when looking for Halal eateries.   9. Lake Baikal, Russia Credit: @baikalia on Facebook Known as the “Pearl of Siberia”, Lake Baikal is a crescent shaped lake which is a whopping 1637 metres deep and contains a fifth of the world’s water! It is the world’s deepest lake, and is bigger than Belgium. Due to these properties it has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Summer is the best time to visit Lake Baikal, you will be able to see its natural beauty in all its glory, with the lake’s clear blue waters, and the mountains. Some areas have remained the same since the ancient times – almost untouched or changed by weather. During the winter the lake turns into an expanse of powder white ice and snow, you can enjoy a fun dog sledge ride over its hard surface. You can get to Lake Baikal by flying to Moscow and then boarding a plane to Irkutsk which is 65km away from Lake Baikal or Ulan-Ude which is 150km away from the lake. If you want to have a more interesting journey, you can use the Trans-Siberian Railway and hop on a train from Moscow to Irkutsk which is 3 days, Beijing to Irkutsk which is 2 days, or the train from Vladivostok which is 2.5 days. After which you will have to board a bus from Irkutsk bus station to Lake Baikal, the journey takes 10mins. The best route to take is Mosco -Slyudyanka, it takes 4 days and you will be dropped off right at the shoreline of Lake Baikal. You can stay at the hotels and hostels located around the shoreline of the lake or even camp out or stay on a boat. Finding Halal food may be difficult especially if you are travelling by train; therefore it is better if you pack your own, like instant noodles and other small snacks. When booking a room make sure they provide a stove or small kitchen as you can prepare your own meals that way. You can get grocery shopping done at nearby cities like Irkutsk, which is just a 10min bus ride away from Lake Baikal.   10. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Japan Photo by Satoshi Hirayama from Pexels Located in Kyoto, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is a must see place before you die, photographed multiple times, but you have to really be there to experience it’s green mystique. The bamboo grove is a great spot for a quiet walk or bike ride, rows of bamboo swaying in the light breeze is not a sight to be missed. Absolutely beautiful and pure, it should be a must visit when in Kyoto. The best way to get to Kyoto is by Kansai Airport, afterwards you can board a train to Arashiyama. You can use the Japan Railways, Keifuku Railways, or Hankyu Railways. There are many hotels and guest houses in Arashiyama, and they are available for every budget. There are quite a few Halal restaurants scattered around Arashiyama, as well as shops. You can find a full Halal menu at the Yoshiya restaurant just 10mins away from the Japan Railway Saga-Arashiyama train station. They introduced this Halal menu in 2018, and have served Japanese Halal food since.   Book your flight and pack your bags, your unusual adventure awaits you!...

  • Perform Your Prayers At These Mosques in Uzbekistan!

    Welcome to the land of tranquility and peace, Uzbekistan. Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has the most amazing desert oasis. Not to mention, its cultural and architectural heritage is also amazing and well preserved. This country is perfect for those of you who crave to experience a journey of the Islamic faith. You can explore its historic mosques, where you can view its beautiful design elements, embrace its heritage and pray in a peaceful serene ambiance. So now, let's take a sneak peek into 6 of the most beautiful mosques in Uzbekistan that you should visit and perform your prayers at:   1) Baland Mosque Image by: dsch1978 on FlickrRegistered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Baland Mosque is a historic mosque located in the city of Bukhara. Bukhara city is a jewel of Uzbekistan where hundreds of historical sites and buildings are protected by UNESCO. Baland Mosque was built in the 16th century and still stands sturdily today. When you arrive at the mosque, you will be greeted with an aesthetic gate. Going further inside the mosque, you will see beautifully decorated mihrabs, interior mosaics, and frescoes. What is nice about this mosque is the fact that it is equipped with two praying rooms adjusted for two seasons; winter and summer. Iman prayers would have the most serene ambiance for their dua and salah in Baland Mosque.   2) Bibi-Khanym Mosque Credit: @yakdm on Instagram Located in Samarkand, Bibi-Khanym Mosque remains as one of the biggest heritage mosques in Central Asia. This enormous mosque was built by a Turco-Mongol Persian conqueror named Timur during his invasion in 1399 to show his love to his wife. Timur then named the mosque after his wife’s name: Bibi-Khanym. In the sahn (courtyard) of the mosque, there are carved verses of the Al-Qur'an on a stone pedestal crafted from ornate marble blocks. There are two tall cylindrical towers (minarets) in the right and left of the main building. The main dome that has a rhombic geometric pattern is dominant with the blue color resembling the surface of a seashell. Adorned with beautiful blue calligraphy streaks on the walls the buildings, Bibi-Khanym Mosque represents the cultural identity of Turkish-Mongol Islam.   3) Chor Minor Credit: @alwayssherr on Instagram Also known as the Niyaz-Kul Khalif Madrasa, Chor Minor is a historical mosque located in the ancient city of Bukhara. This mosque has a unique bizarre architecture design. It was built by a Turkmenistan merchant called Khalif Niyaz-Kul in the 19th century, during the Janid Dynasty. The name of Chor Minor itself comes from the Persian language and it translates to “Four Minarets”, referring to its four unusual blue dome minarets. The elements of its design, architecture and four minarets are believed to be philosophically representative of four religions. The main room of Chor Minor has acoustic properties and the cupola above it makes it perfect for dhikr. It is believed that this mosque is a place where the Sufi perform their ritualized dhikr, singing and recitation, all accompanied by soothing, instrumental music.   4) Kalyan Mosque Credit: @andympics on Instagram The Kalyan Mosque is located inside Po-i-Kalyan complex in Bukhara. Po-i-Kalyan which means “The Foot of the Great” is a complex that was built in the 15th century. Heading back to long before it was built, right during the pre-Islamic era, the complex was a fire worshiper’s central cathedral. Later on in 1514, the governor of Bukhara at that time built this majestic mosque there to compete Bibi-Khanym Mosque. The mosque and the courtyard are separated by a grand rectangular hall called iwan that is beautifully decorated with blue tiles. Kalyan mosque is famous for its peaceful ambiance and size. The whole building itself has 208 pillars and 288 domes, much proof of its grandeur. The most eye-catching part of the complex is its brick minaret, Minâra-i Kalân, also known as the tower of death. This is a place where centuries ago, the criminals were thrown out from the top.   5) Bolo Haouz Mosque Credit: Daniel Mennerich on Flickr Built in 1712 by Abu'l Fayud Khan, Bolo Haouz Mosque is perched on the opposite side of the citadel of Ark, Registan district, Bukhara. The entrance and ceiling of Bolo Haouz are painted and carved with geometric motifs. What makes this historic mosque unique is that it has beautifully carved 40-thin wood pillars. Also, their pillars are 12-meters tall! The pillars hold the summer prayers’ room firmly and it is where tourists usually spend their time praying and take refuge from the heat. Not only does it have a summer praying room, there is also winter praying room in this mosque. There is a pool located just in front of Bolo Haouz which gives it a unique touch. The pool is actually where the name of the mosque was originally derived from because Bolo Haouz which means children’s pool.   6) Juma Mosque Credit: @biguy9431 on Instagram Though this last mosque is widely known as Juma Mosque, its actual name is Khoja Ahror Valiy. This beautiful ancient mosque is located in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It was established in 819 at the highest point of the Shakhristan Center. The mosque was built by Sheikh Ubaydullo Khoja Akhror and it was named after him. Despite having to go through many huge restorations in the past, this mosque still stands as the third biggest mosque in Uzbekistan, after Bibi-Khanym and Po-i-Kalyan. Three huge domes are painted in soft blue color and are located above the building. If you stand on Juma Mosque’s land, you can view city skyscrapers!    So there you have it! Those are 6 of the most beautiful mosques in Uzbekistan that you should visit and perform your prayers at. Start planning your trip now and visit Uzbekistan, a country of Islamic heritage....

  • If You're Living Abroad And Feeling Lonely, Here Are Some Tips to Brighten Your Mood!

    Moving out of your family home to venture out into the world can be a lonely journey – that’s the least fun part about writing your own adventure.  Getting out of that dull feeling can seem difficult, however it’s not impossible. Just know that you truly aren’t alone, especially when you have Allah SWT by your side. Having said that, here are a few tips you can follow to get out of your negative headspace:   1) Don’t leave that door closed Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay Living alone doesn’t mean you have to actually be alone. Open your curtains in the mornings and let the sunlight in. It can instantly brighten up your mood. Invite people over, it can be your neighbours or new friends you’ve made. There doesn’t have to be a special occasion for people to come over, friends coming over even for a just an hour and a cup of tea can easily eradicate any feelings of loneliness, even if it’s for a short while. As fun as being alone is, it can also lead to overthinking which causes a build up of insecurities and makes small problems seem bigger than they are, so it is ok to let people into your space once in awhile and just hangout.   2) A friend in need, is a friend indeed Image by Gracini Studios from Pixabay Take time to connect with a friend who is also going through a tough time just like you. Focusing on helping someone else deal with their issues can help you get out of your head and even help you better understand your own situation. It will also show you that you are not alone in this and you can both help each other out in solving these problems.   3) Daily rituals Image by tookapic from Pixabay It’s the small things that count! Find out the things that you like about living alone, it could be the freedom of wearing whatever you want around the house, wanna stay in your PJs all of Sunday? Go ahead, enjoy it to the fullest! Love breakfast? Take time in the morning to truly enjoy a cup of tea with some pancakes while you catch up on a TV show or read the latest in news. Feel free to let loose and dance to some music while you are cleaning your place or reorganizing your wardrobe. Learn to enjoy the peace and quiet of living alone while catching up on some reading. Sometimes living alone isn’t all that bad.   4) Social media: the good and the bad Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay  Looking at other people’s posts on social media can also make you feel lonely, so try to reduce the amount of time you spend on apps like Instagram or Facebook , and remember that the happiness and luxury portrayed on social media aren’t always true, it’s just that no one posts their bad days.Instead, focus on the real world. Put aside some time from your busy schedule to catch up with friends and family physically or via Facetime! Staying at home can be mentally draining so talk to a loved one and let ease your mind! However, it is important to note that you should learn to enjoy your own company as well. Understand that it is just the troubled mind that needs reassuring words and support to get it back on track. So take the time to comfort and love yourself because if you won't, who will?   5) A furry friend? Image by Ty Swartz from Pixabay If your landlord allows pets, why not have one? Pets are a great source of happiness; they are great companions and will love you unconditionally. You will always have a buddy waiting for you at home, someone to talk to, and someone to love you. We depend on pets as much as they depend on us for food and care. True, emotional companionship is a great healer altogether. If pets like cats are not allowed in the premises, opt for pets which are easy to maintain – such as fish. If you feel pets are too much work, install a bird feeder outside, near a window or on the balcony, it’s the interaction with another living creature other than yourself that counts.   6) Take up a new hobby Image by SplitShire from Pixabay  Surely, learning a new skill will keep your mind occupied and stress-free! Don’t be afraid to try something new, you can join an art class or any other outdoor hobby activities in your city. This is also a great way to make new friends, all while gaining knowledge. If you aren’t an outdoor-type-of-person, you can always visit sites like YouTube that has a myriad of free tutorials or sites like Skillshare which has online classes for everything! Gardening is a great hobby as well, because the rewards are bountiful and highly enjoyable – who doesn’t love seeing a flower bloom? If you have no garden, opt for houseplants. They can be quite low maintenance depending on the types of plants you plan to have, therefore does not require much effort and you don’t have to worry about them dying by your hand. Keeping yourself occupied is a great way of keeping loneliness at bay!   7) Go out for a meal Image by rawpixel from Pixabay  Going out for lunch or dinner by yourself is not as daunting as you would think; it could actually be pretty fun! Find a cafe or restaurant that you like and visit it frequently. This way, the staff will get to know you and there will be another place in the city that you are familiar with. It’ll be a sort of second home, as you will find comfort in the familiarity of the place. Grab a good book or take your laptop along with you so that you can get some work done while enjoying a nice meal. The change in scenery can really help and even make you feel motivated.   8) Step out of the house Image by silviarita from Pixabay A change in environment is always good. If you feel down and need a quick pick me up, head out! Going for a small walk around your neighbourhood is a great way to occupy your mind and keep your thoughts distracted for a bit. If you have work to get done, opt to go to the university library or a public library in the city, being surrounded by people could help alleviate loneliness. Don’t be afraid to try something new, go on mini solo adventures – like visit a historical site in the area, go to a museum and take as much time as you want walking around, check out the cultural festivals in the area – keep track of events in the city.   9) Seek professional help Image by Tiyo Prasetyo from Pixabay If things are becoming too much to bear, it is completely OK to reach out to a professional. Talking it out with someone who studies human behaviour and listens to you could be the most helpful thing to do for yourself, and you'll thank yourself for it later. There is no shame in seeking for external help. Everyone feels sad sometimes and asking for help is the first step to feeling better and healing.  Bonus point: Always remember that loneliness is temporary! It is not permanent; these blue feelings can easily be dampened. All you need to do is look inside yourself and, reach out to others and most importantly, turn to Allah SWT.    Hopefully these tips can help you move past this temporary loneliness and into the life that you deserve. Lots of hugs and love, my friends!  ...