KUALA LUMPUR: After a 150-day cycling journey from Kuala Lumpur, three Malaysians including a married couple successfully arrived in Madinah, Saudi Arabia last Friday (April 19) on a mission to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj.

The trio, Ahmad Mohd Isa, 36, his wife Noradilah Mohd Sapie, 37, and a Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) employee Abdul Halim Talha, 57, arrived at the destination after traveling 12,000 kilometres (km).

Ahmad said this ride was shorter than the same journey nine years ago because the main goal was to perform Hajj and they had to use other transportation modes such as train, plane, ferry and cars due to unavoidable factors for half of the journey

“In 2016, my wife and I had just got married and the cycling adventure was more like a honeymoon involving 14 countries that took a year and three months to reach Makkah before performing the Umrah.

“But the mission this time is more focused, which is to perform the Hajj involving the route through seven countries anmd took only five months to reach here (Madinah),“ he said when contacted by Bernama recently.

Apart from Malaysia, the countries they passed through were Thailand, then took a flight to India and continued cycling to Pakistan and Iran before boarding a ferry to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and continuing cycling to Saudi Arabia.

Speaking further, Ahmad said that another friend who is also a former part-time journalist of the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama), Che Saad Nordin, 74, who was cycling together at the initial stage failed to continue due to health factors and the cold weather when they arrived in Pakistan in January.

According to him, although Che Saad has the experience of touring Malaysia 22 times, the geographical factors of the mountains and the cold weather in Pakistan, was a big challenge for Che Saad, not to mention that he is already past his prime.

“Upon entering Pakistan, the cold weather with a temperature below 10 degrees Celsius caused the health of Pak Ad (Che Saad) to deteriorate with a prolonged cough, loss of appetite, so it became difficult for him to ride (bicycle) and had to be treated in hospital.

“After discussing together and listening to the doctor’s advice not to continue cycling, Pak Ad agreed to take a flight ticket back to Malaysia. Alhamdulillah, after arriving in home safely and receiving follow-up treatment, his health has now improved,“ he said.

Meanwhile, on the sales of postcards inspired by each country they visited to cover the cost of the Hajj for the three of them, Ahmad said that so far they have managed to sell 1,558 postcards with a sales value of over RM141,000.

“There are several options available in our efforts to perform this Hajj and one of them is through a mujamalah visa from the Saudi Arabian Embassy which is given to selected Hajj agencies or managers from Malaysia,“ he said.