Traveling during Ramadan – With my Turkish heritage, I have been to Turkey during Ramadan a few times, so traveling during the fasting month is actually pretty normal for me. I can’t think of any reason not to travel during this time.
I remember that I loved to join my grandma during her prayers as I was little. She would unroll her prayer rug and start to whisper silently. First, she would pray with open hands, then wipe over her face three times, and then go down on her knees to touch the ground with her forehead. I had no idea what that meant… “praying”. But I wanted to be with my grandma and so I copied everything she did, just without the prayer rug.
Back home, my mother also prayed and read the Quran, only without whispering and without a prayer rug. That was not as interesting as watching my grandma for me, but still, I always loved to watch her.
Even though my mother is a believer, I was never forced to choose a religion, which I am very thankful for.
I am not a Muslim and do not join any religion. But I understand that religion plays a big role for many people and is an important part of their lives.
And what hasn’t changed since my childhood is that I still love to watch. I am interested in what is going on. And what moves people. And what religion can all do and affect.
But what is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the fasting time when you don’t eat or drink from sunset to sunrise. While working as usual and continuing with other normal daily routines, you abstain from food and fluids. This way, it is said, that you cleanse your body and learn that nourishment is a gift.
Older people, sick people, pregnant women, and children are an exception and don’t have to fast.
Menstruating women, as well as travelers and sick people, are required to replace their missed days and must fast afterward.
Ramadan lasts about a month. Each year the beginning and end of Ramadan are at different times than the year prior because it is in accordance with the moon calendar.
Can you travel during Ramadan?
Of course, Ramadan is more present in some areas or countries than in others.
But here in Kuala Lumpur, you can find food. You can eat as usual and don’t have to be afraid that you won’t find anything.
In the big shopping malls, you don’t even realize that it is Ramadan – other than the green and yellow decorated stands with special offers during this time.
The food courts were always full, and the offer is huge. In some countries, restaurant owners put curtains in their windows so that you don’t see the food from outside. But we haven’t seen that here.
Out of respect we didn’t eat or drink in public.
And, since all the stores are open, you can always go and buy food.
We never experienced a single negative behavior towards us as foreigners. Rather, we only witnessed friendly faces and people who are proud to show us their culture.
So YES! We say that you can definitively travel during Ramadan!
Joining the breaking of the fast
One weekend we decided to witness the breaking of the fast and had a very special experience.
On a Saturday we went and visited the Masjid Jamek.
We love to visit mosques and temples and churches everywhere we travel. The architecture and history behind these places always fascinate us.
As it started to rain, we waited undercover at the mosque and then walked to Merdeka Square. There are many tents there during Ramadan where they sell clothes and food.
On the street, they laid out carpets in long rows and we saw the believers sitting with food in front of them and waiting. Waiting for the sunset, so they can break their fast.
While we were observing all of this, we noticed a man waving and waving. Then we realized that he was waving to us!
We walked over to him and he invited us to sit down with them and participate in the breaking of the fast.
Alisha, from Malaysia Tourism who we also met, told us that they like to invite tourists to show them the process of the breaking of the fast.
We were very happy to be invited and sat down thankfully. We had so many questions in our heads but withheld them knowing that they hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for the entire day.
Then a prayer came over the loudspeakers, and everyone started eating.
We saw that some were also praying, holding up their hands and wiping over their faces, just like my grandma did (and still does).
A lunchbox and tea were laying in front of us. Inside the lunchbox we found dates, which are used to break your fast, so we ate them first.
While we joined them, we were interviewed, many pictures were taken, and they asked us if we could tell others about Malaysia.
In our eyes, Malaysia is always worth a trip: it was very special to be here during Ramadan.
For us, this was a unique experience. The atmosphere was indescribable. The hospitality was unforgettable.
Even though I have been in Turkey during Ramadan, I was just a child and so I never realized what it was about.
We know that there are some places where it is hard (or impossible) to find food. But in bigger cities, traveling during Ramadan is not any more difficult than other times of the year. In fact, it is quite the opposite. In the evening, when the fast is broken, you will find celebrations everywhere and will be rewarded with more incredible experiences!
Because traveling means so much more than just traveling to us. It allows us to learn about new cultures.
In a few days, the fasting month will be over, and unfortunately, we won’t be in Kuala Lumpur for the end of Ramadan. But maybe we will be lucky to attend this big event somewhere in the Cameron Highlands!