Abu Dhabi – Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque

Having read quite a few articles on the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, it has always been on my “must visit” places. I have been privileged to visit the two largest mosques in the world – Mecca and Madina and with this, the third largest.

The grandeur and beauty can be seen from the outside just a few km away from the entrance rising 11m above sea level. Glistening pools surround the mosque amplifying the stunning architecture.

With over 1000 columns and 80 domes, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s dream was brought to life by skilful calligraphers from the UAE, Jordan and Syria. The wandering tourist sees beautiful verses from the Quran embedded in arabic.

The largest dome (The main dome) is 85 meters high with a diameter of 32.8 meters. With lavish open spaces, the mosque is open for prayers to both muslims and non muslims. Despite the large crowds, you feel a sense of serenity and absolute peace. You feel the presence of power and kindness.

First opened for prayers in 2007, the mosque can host over 40,000 worshippers in the main prayer hall that show cases a hand knotted carpet of 5,600 square meters that tok over 1,300 craftsmen to complete.

Another astonishing feature of the mosque is the 5,625 m2 large carpet in the main prayer hall. It has been hand-knotted by about 1,300 Iranian craftsmen.

A prayer for Dad and one hour later, well worth the visit and as long as I return to Abu Dhabi, this will always be my place of serenity.

The (true) servants of (God) the most gracious are those who walk the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, reply with (words of) peace – Quran 25:63.

Battambang – A lonely charm.

Known to be the second largest city in Cambodia, Battambang exudes a small-town feel. It seems deserted, quiet and quaint. You can visit the city for just a day or a weekend, but if you are in Cambodia, then Battambang is a must especially with the world famous bamboo train ride!

You can travel to Battambang via Siem Reap by car and it will take you around 3 hours. This is well worth the trip although the journey to Battambang is not very eventful. A ride on the Norrie as they call it, is a bamboo flatbed on wheels, and is powered by a small engine.

Navigate the green fields and enjoy the stunning country side and pristine air as they chug their way through 7km of beautiful scenery. These trains were traditionally used by the local people to transport cargo. It will cost you around USD 10 for this mini adventure and you really should not be paying anything more.

You can also stop by Wat Kandal, known to be one of the oldest temples in the city. Known for its beautiful wooden doors and paintings,  you can complete the visit in a very short time.

Another popular temple in Battambang is Wat Tahm Rai known as the elephant temple and it’s enroute.

We spent just half a day here so I can’t really recommend a list of restaurants or hotels, but you really must check out the train ride!