Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Prayer Journey - Saigon (Vietnam)

6 – 9 December 2009

Travel Mate/s
Jack & Sat

6/Dec/2009 Jakarta (Indonesia) – Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
7/Dec/2009 Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnel – Mui Ne
8/Dec/2009 Mui Ne – Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City
9/Dec/2009 Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City – Jakarta (Indonesia)

Personal Notes
What always make travel interesting would be: travel often placed us in an unusual condition to do our usual activities. And it will change our perspective on our usual activities forever.

Visit Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) - Vietnam in 2009 exposed me to new level of traveling experience. I am a moslem, Saigon was my first visit to a city which moslem is not the majority unlikely in Jakarta (Indonesia) or Malaysia. The challenge was higher related with the food and my routine prayer.

Before my departure to Saigon, I had some ‘really’ serious discussion with my Vietnamese boss to gather information and facts. He confirmed that it will be difficult for me to search for moslem halal food since pork is very popular in Vietnamese. Moslem area will be very limited. Okay as the only moslem in the group, it was kinda of scare me at the first place. I don’t wanna ruin others’ holiday but yet still need to fulfill my responsibility as a moslem. Being a responsible traveler kept those things in a right place are important :)

About the food, seafood and chicken will be my choice. No meat. Ensure that they do their best effort to separate those meals from pork/pig/bacon. Bismillah :)

Now about my prayer time, as a moslem I have 5 prayer times in a day which during the traveling time God give waiver to combine those into 3 prayer times: Morning, Noon and Night. Morning and Night prayer will be easier since I should be able to do it in hostel room. Noon will be the real challenge ^_^

Before my flight departed from Jakarta, I prayed in the airport prayer room, asked God that I will do my best to fulfill my responsibilities during the trip but please God, if I failed, hope You could understand and forgive me.

Here we go, let’s start the journey.....

Day 1
We arrived in Saigon at night. After took a short strolling and had our dinner near the hostel neighbourhood. I did my night prayer in my small room before I slept.

We went to the famous Chu Chi Tunnel and Mui Ne.
Did my morning prayer in my room.

We arrived from Chu Chi Tunnel at 2 PM & would depart to Mui Ne at 3 PM with condition I have check out from my room in the morning. Explain to lady of the house with English and a lot of body language about my need to pray quite difficult until she understand that I need a room for my prayer. But she understand that I need a clean and private room to do the prayer. End up did my noon prayer in her kitchen, near the trash can and bathroom. But yet it was the cleanest spot in the room.

Had my night prayer (peacefully) in my room at Mui Ne before I slept.

Day 3
We planned to chase sunrise in Mui Ne sand dune and spent some time in the beach before heading back to the city. I wake up before the dawn.
And I had my morning prayer in my room.

My noon prayer done under a pretty ‘chaotic’ situation. We forgot the check out time; thus we end up packing in a rush. The check out time was at 11 AM; we came back to the hostel at 1 PM with condition we still need to pack, took a bath and me need to do my noon prayer. And I did my noon prayer behind my room door with people keep knocking to remind us we need to leave ^_^ Don't mention how hard I tried to concentrate on my prayer :)

My night prayer as usual done in my hostel room back in Saigon, peacefully of course.

Day 4
Our last day in Saigon, we had city sightseeing and shopping ^_^
Had my morning prayer in my room.

Noon prayer would be my last prayer in Saigon. Tried to ask a decent room to our hostel; end up with the owner ask the front desk to told me to do the prayer in..the hostel lobby.
Shocked! Because it is a little bit humiliated considering every prayer is a sacred moment between we are human and our God. Could not imagine if I need to do the prayer in the lobby where so many people passing by :(
BUT in a second I gather myself to say thank you and smile. Try to digest the information and think another way around, I went to search the hostel public toilet. And there it was a big and secluded clean kitchen near the toilet. There are two Vietnamese ladies talking in the kitchen and immediately I made a gesture to say that I need a moment to do my prayer here. Although I was not sure whether she understand or not but she smile, I took it as yes. That moment was so amazing! I took my prayer near the clean dishes accompanied sounds of water dropping from the dishwasher and those two Vietnamese ladies whispering (maybe about me ^_^).

Thanked to God for all the bless I had over the trip and also wished us a safe and nice flight back to our home.

I believe, I will often find myself in an unusual environment and different situation during the travel. I must be ready for that; more precisely I should expect those differences. Those differences add gorgeous color on my travel.

In Saigon, mine is my prayer journey. Started with how you will define prayer in common Vietnamese body language. It was interesting and amazing when in some point, two people who talked in different language understand each other.
And by the way, I did not miss any single of my prayer time during my trip in Saigon:)

Looking back to those memories..I always have the option to tell the story in a negative way, but I won't! For me, the journey is as lovely as it was. I am proud of myself. I was brave enough to try to ask, I was discreet enough to sort a successful way around in a peaceful way and I am wise enough to laugh also enjoy for all the beautiful imperfection happened :)


  1. Good post! To inspire people "jangan lupa sholat" hehehe, its indeed very challenging, hehehe. Btw, itu canggih bgt itinerarynya, huehehehe

  2. Thank you Nian! Hehehe challenging: start with how to describe 'solat' in common Vietnamese body language. Itinerary nya hohoho..gampang ko banyak free app di web buat itu (*tp emang sedikit gaya kan)