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Old 2009-03-26, 23:30   Link #21
yezhanquan
Observer/Bookman wannabe
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Singapore
Age: 29
Aww... A good 5 miles+. Guess I'll just have to go with documentaries on the city.
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Old 2009-03-27, 10:24   Link #22
shelter
Every word must conjure
 
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: City of No Yesterdays
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Notwithstanding the restrictions on non-Muslims, I would like to visit Mecca. And Medina, to see the Tomb of the Prophet.

From the stories I get from my Muslim friends, the journey (the process of making the Hajj) is an experience in itself.

@yezhanquan: I'm sure some of your friends can give your first hand accounts too.
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Old 2009-03-27, 15:07   Link #23
Fahd
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Cambridge, UK
Age: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shay View Post
What was it like at Mina? Is it crowded and uncomfortable or is it ok?
Sort of. The site at Mina is quite large and the tents (which are semi-permanent structures) are arranged into large groups. In each group you'll have pilgrims from one specific part of the world. The groups were organized, I think as follows:
  1. The Gulf states & Arabian peninsula (Saudia Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, The UAE, etc),
  2. The middle east (Iraq, Iran, Syria, etc),
  3. South Asia (Pakistan, Inda),
  4. South-east Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia),
  5. Africa,
  6. Europe, & North America, and
  7. Everywhere else.

In the tents there are row of foam mattresses arranged like so:

Spoiler for Bad MS paint diagram:


The gap between the mattresses is about 30 cm, so every time someone walked past they'd inevitably be stepping on your mattress, and possibly you as well (if you were sleeping). So getting woken up a few times each night was common. The tents had an air-conditioning system, where air from outside the tent was sucked in, cooled down, and then vented outside. It was winter when I went, so they were switched off. I was told that during the summer, when they're on, if someone in the camp gets a cold, it inevitably gets passed around because each of those air conditioning units is sucking the air expelled by another unit. Since you have 1.5 - 2.0 million people from everywhere in the world all in the camp, you get an international super-virus being bred .

Usually you go on the Hajj in a tour group, so the organizers provide food. At Mina there were also food vans around as well. It was easy to spot who was British because we were all wondering where the queue started, whereas everyone else would just crowd in front of the seller saying what they wanted (just like you see in school cafeterias in animes). My dad turned to me and said: "I guess this isn't the time to be a gentleman" .

The toilets and wash basin areas would become especially busy near prayer time. So I'd usually go an hour before to avoid the queues. If you were queuing, you just had to be patient, although I saw some people get impatient and knock on the doors of the toilets if they thought people were taking too long.

One part of the Hajj has you going from Mina to Mecca, praying there, and then returning to Mina on the same day. So although you have a couple of million people crowding the same route, because there are specially built pedestrian tunnels it's not too bad, just a bit slow.
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Old 2009-03-28, 15:37   Link #24
Shay
Monarch Programmer
 
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Liverpool
Age: 33
^ Well it sounds like an awesome experience which I hope you count yourself privileged to be able to take part in.
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