Do’s and Don’ts when travelling in Xi’an, China

If your New Year Resolution is to travel more and explore the great outdoors, then Nashata’s blog is the right page to follow. For 2019, I am delighted to share my experiences. Traveling and the great outdoors not only enriches our lives – it is also encouraged by our religion to explore: “It is He who made the earth tame for you – so walk among its slopes and eat of His provision – and to Him is the resurrection.” – Surah Al-Mulk, 15.

So exploring did we go. For this episode of traveling, we went to Xi’an to experience winter in China. As one of the few Muslim-friendly places in China, I highly recommend for anyone to come here. To make your traveling experiences easier if you want to come here, I have summarized a list of Do’s and Don’ts:


  1. Go to the historical sites
  • As one of the ancient capitals of China, Xi’an has witnessed various dynasties, with emperors trying to outdo each other with their palaces, defense structures, and tombs. A historical place that you must not miss is the Terracotta Army.

  • Xi’an is also said to be the starting point of the Silk Road. So immerse yourself in the unique local culture that is a product of thousands of years of intermingling with India, Mongolia, Persian, Arabs, and Greeks. A cultural place that you must not miss is the Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque of Xi’an.

2. Thorough research

  • Read on historical sites to gain appreciation of their significance
  • Find a reputable hotel with a strategic location, preferably near landmarks in the city centre like the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, or Muslim Quarter.
  • As China is moving towards a cashless society, credit cards and debit cards are phasing out. Ironically, travelers will need extra cash because we could not use the cashless system as we do not have a local bank account. So make sure you budget accordingly.

3. Try the local food

  • The Muslim population in Xi’an is sizable, thus, there are many halal options. Most of the items listed are easily found in the Muslim Quarter, but there are many halal restaurants out of the city too. Top 5 food you must not miss are:

    Dumpling soup

    Lamb Kebabs

    Yangrou Paomao

    Biangbiang noodles



  1. Go shopping
  • Most of the products is not that unique and mass produced. In fact, I saw the same handicraft that was available in Bangkok, Phuket, Indonesia, etc, It looks like everything produced in this world really are “Made in China”!

2. Never forget to bring tissues

  • Always pack wet tissues and dry tissues
  • Soap is not widely available at most toilets

3. Don’t expect everyone to understand English

  • Unfortunately, I don’t speak and read a word of Mandarin. And English is not widely spoken in Xi’an. There will be moments of frustration when people don’t understand. To overcome the language barrier, download a Mandarin-English translation app.


Your Nashata traveling essentials

It’s almost the end of the year, and that means holiday season is here for most people. Regardless of where you are heading to, don’t forget to pack a piece of Nashata into your suitcase!

Nashata was designed with the athlete in mind, but that also means the pieces are versatile. You can wear it in almost any casual situation – while exploring cities, boarding a flight, lounging at the beach, or my favourite, “runcations”.

Here’s how to pack your Nashata traveling essentials, based on your type of vacation:


Your vacation will most likely revolve around discovering modern cities, or walking to museums, or cafe-hopping. It’s going to get hot and humid with all that walking and navigating around the city, so opt for some sun protection like a sunglasses and hat. A quick-dry top will keep the sweaty smell at bay. Keep it casual and presentable in with a pair of jeans.


Crossing different timezones is a normal thing for you. That long haul flight is going to get chilly, so layer up a hoodie to keep your warm and give you privacy so you can sleep. Don’t forget some entertainment to keep you occupied on that 10 hour flight – it’s the perfect time to catch up on a tv show or finish a book.


Sun, sand, and sea – it’s about to get wet! But that does not mean you have to compromise your modesty. Swim to your heart’s content in the Sibaha. Who says you can’t have fun under the sun while covering up?


Another weekend, another run, another city. Don’t forget your race gear, you don’t want to be stuck in an unfamiliar city looking for a top, pants, or worst, shoes! Also, soothe that tanned skin after hours in the sun with some natural remedy.

So where will you be travelling to? Don’t forget to post your OOTD and tag us!

Travelling essentials

Scratching your head over packing for traveling? This post is for you!

Scratching your head over packing for travelling? This post is for you!

Besides working out, I wear my activewear from Nashata to almost everywhere – while running errands, buying groceries, lounging at home, and most importantly, while travelling. They are practical, modest, functional, and you have to admit, with their flattering cut I feel good wearing most of Nashata’s outfit. Almost all of Nashata’s range of products make good travelling outfits, but after experimenting a few pieces on short and long haul flights for vacations of various purposes, I have short-listed 4 of my favourite that I simply cannot leave home without:

  1. Riada SweatpantsSlide1

  2. Sibaha Modest SwimsuitSlide2

  3. Heather HoodieSlide3

  4. BackpackSlide4

I hope that this will be helpful for ladies who are always on-the-go and wants to find practical solutions for their holiday outfits. Do you have any favourite products from Nashata that you just cannot live without?


Until next week,

The Weekend Runner



Weekend Runner takes Australia

I took some much needed break from any running activities after Cameron Ultra and spent slightly over one week in Melbourne and Sydney. I could write a million things about Australia – the coffee and café culture, the koalas, kangaroos, and natural wildlife, the multinational population… but my most favourite part of the trip was the Great Ocean Road and Blue Mountains National Park.

  1. Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road (GOR) is not just any stretch of road. Spanning over 243km, it is actually a war memorial, built by soldiers dedicated to their comrades who died in World War 1. It is located along the coastal line, and along the highway there are several points of interest and historical significance. It is perfect for families, surfers, and even runners as there is a pedestrian walkway too.

However, from my personal point of view, the main attraction for GOR is it’s diverse natural formations. From dramatic cliffs, to unique limestone formations, friendly campsite and beaches, surfer waves…one could not get enough of the beauty that surrounds GOR. I wish we had more time to complete all 243km. We did not even make it to the 12 Apostles, but on the bright side, I have reason to return again soon!




14753690_10210813226636562_2728491184366127058_oNatural formations carved by wind, water, and time

  1. Blue Mountains National Park

When in Sydney, the first image that comes to your mind is the iconic Sydney Opera House. However, after about 1 hour 45 minutes of train ride from Central Sydney, just off the Katoomba train station, lies the magnificent Blue Mountains National Park. Inside the Blue Mountains National Park is the Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls, and various trails and hikes. I wish I came there prepared in my trail running shoes with a few hours of trekking supplies. There was just so much to explore!

Three Sisters

Three Sisters


Since time was also limited, the best way to enjoy was taking the train, cable car, and moving “skydeck” at Scenic World. Just like it’s name, Scenic World offers a panoramic view of the national park, and it also leads to trails of various difficulty levels. Scenic World is also a live museum dedicated to the pioneering European settlers who worked as coal miners, working several meters deep into the mountains. On a bright, sunny day, you can view for miles away and even spot the ‘blue haze’ that this region is famous for. I wonder what it’s like to go for a trail run among the trees and behind the waterfalls. Once again, it gives me a reason to return again soon!

"Blue Haze" that gives Blue Mountains its name

“Blue Haze” that gives Blue Mountains its name

Remnants of past mining activities

Remnants of past mining activities


Australia has left me with a bigger hunger for adventure and a renewed appreciation for nature, and the only cure is to start planning for the next vacation.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

The best runcation so far!


I remembered reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” where she travelled to Italy, India, and Indonesia, but her memoirs about Bali struck me the most. I have been to Bali several times before, but just like the author, I can never get enough of it. Perhaps I should move there too? There is a lot of things that is yet to be discovered on this mystical “Island of Gods”, and luckily enough, a few years later, I was given the opportunity to participate in Bali Marathon 2016.

Set in Gianyar, Bali Marathon took us away from the stereotypical tourist spots such as the beach and town. There is certainly more to Bali besides surfing and partying. The route for all categories (full marathon, half marathon, 10K) showed a softer side of Bali that is often forgotten and under-appreciated: it’s green, terraced paddy fields, the calm, picturesque villages against the dramatic background of the volcano, and the friendly, warm smiles of local children cheering for you.

As the runners are weaving in and out of the village streets, the adult villagers, on the other hand, go about their daily affairs as usual – women balancing market purchases on their heads, everyone going to the temple to perform their morning prayer, putting a little pallet of offering by their doorstep, or busy weaving flowers and leaves for the next ritual of the day. It’s as if nothing is happening, allowing foreigners like me to observe this daily routine that is uniquely Balinese. The world and its inhabitants is such a beautiful place, we should learn more to appreciate this diversity so we can respect our differences. Maybe, this calls for a future trip to Bali again for a crash course on their culture?

The event started after Fajr prayers at 5.30 am so runners can enjoy the sunrise

The event started pretty late (after Fajr prayers at 5.30 am) so runners can enjoy the sunrise

A typical house or temple in the village (both of them look almost the same to me)

A typical house or temple in the village (both of them look almost the same to me)


Local kids giving a high 5 and cheering for you along the way


Gamelan and dancers at several every water stations along the way, giving the perfect opportunity for a photo op

Apart from observing the local villagers, Bali Marathon also gathered a lot of running crews from all over the world. They are very proud about their origins and the club that they are representing, often carrying the flag towards the finishing line or the supporters accompanying them towards the final kilometers. After checking their social media accounts, prior to this event, they have showed immense team spirit and fostered strong teamwork through training together, going on trips regularly, or attended non-running events together. However, that does not mean that they are not open to new friendships. These running crews are definitely a fun and friendly bunch of people, and thanks to them, we had a good time before and after the marathon, plus, they also assisted us on making the necessary ground arrangements so our stay in Bali will be as smooth as possible.

Hello from your neighbours across the ocean!

Hello from your neighbours across the ocean! (image courtesy of Kyserun Krew)

Different countries, crews, and culture, united for the love of running

Different countries, crews, and culture, united for the love of running (image courtesy of Naked Spirit Runners)

Bali Marathon might be the first running event overseas for me, yet it won’t be the last. If God wills it, there will be more runcation (running + vacation) events for me in the future!

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner

The Weekend Runner: Snorkelling in Weh Island, Acheh, Indonesia

For this week, I swapped my running shoes with flip flops, packed my bags, and flew to Acheh. My main destination is Weh Island, a hidden Indonesian gem not known to many yet. This island is about 1 hour ferry ride away from the main city of Banda Acheh.

IMG_2674Upon mentioning Acheh, the first image that comes to almost everyone’s mind is the 2004 tsunami tragedy. Banda Acheh has made tremendous progress since then. However, the road to full recovery is still long for the locals. This boat was carried by the waves about 1km away from its dock and landed on a villager’s house.


Pristine, raw, and untouched, Weh Island is not for the faint-hearted or those expecting luxury. Instead, this place is suitable for those seeking an adventure of a lifetime. The amenities and infrastructure here might not be up-to-date, but the view is definitely 5-star worthy. Upon arriving, not wanting to waste another minute, we quickly changed into our swimsuits and head to Iboih Beach to snorkel. There are many spots on the island to go snorkelling, however Rubiah Island which is accessible from Iboih Beach, is recommended by the locals to have the best view of the coral reef.

IMG_2576It is adviseable to respect the local customs such as dressing conservetively, even while swimming. The Nashata skirt allowed me to move freely while snorkelling, while keeping it modest.


The next day, we explored the village and Sumurtiga Beach that was near to our hotel. Since we did not hire any guide, we just went swimming and did not do any snorkelling. Despite being close to the village and the hotel, the water was surprisingly unpolluted and clear but there were not many coral reefs since the waves are pretty choppy.

IMG_2569Our hotel might be basic, but the view is award-winning for sure!

IMG_2622The sea beckons for a swim. How can we say no to that!


Going to a country where life is tough makes you appreciate what you have at home. Despite all the hardship, there are hardly any beggers on this island, and only a handful at the harbour on the mainland. We were glad that we decided to travel here because we are indirectly helping the local economy and promote the tourism industry.

IMG_2570Despite all the hardship that they have been through, the locals here are friendly, hardworking, and pious.

For accommodation and arrangements, contact Freddie Santai Sumurtiga

P/S: Shout out to all full, half marathon, and 12K runners who have successfully completed the Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon! I spotted so many ladies who ran in a Nashata top/ hijab/ skirt-pants yesterday, thank you for your continuous support. Give me a high 5, sisters!


Until next week,

The Weekend Runner

Tips on What to Wear for Vacation

The world is the best classroom, says an avid traveler friend. Indeed it is. There is so much to see and learn when you travel. So do plan for a mix of different types of travel throughout the year for a colorful journey of life; city trips, art and culture, sea & sun, backpacking, nature & adventure, snow & ski, cruises and trips on train.

Whether you travel solo or with family and friends, make sure you pack for an awesome comfy experience.  We have put together some fashion suggestions for travelers who want to pack light, stylish and smart.

1. Double Purpose Outfit

If space is a concern, you would want to bring double purpose outfits that you could use for both wet and dry. If you planning for a sea & sun vacation or a even a cruise, you could choose outfits made of fabrics that are uv-protective and fast-drying. There are hijabs, tops and pants that are made of such material and designed for dual purposes. Get the ones you could get wet and dry in so that you could reduce time to change outfits in between.

If your destination is cool and cold, pack some tops than can be used independently or as jacket. The ones with a front zip like a jacket are always flattering work independently or for outer use.

Double Purpose Outfit

Double Purpose Outfit. Suggestion for Sea & Sun, Cruises & Water Adventure

Double Purpose Outfit

Outfit Suggestion for Nature & Adventure, Backpacking

2. Fabric Matters

Know the weather of your destination and bring outfits made of the suitable fabric. For hot and humid weather, light color outfits made of moisture-wicking, lightweight UV protective and fast-drying are recommended. For cool and cloudy weather you could choose fabrics made of slightly thicker and as for ski and snow travel, you would have to bring outfits made of waterproof yet breathable fabrics to keep you warm and comfy for outdoor activities. Check the weather forecast of your destination and bring raincoats and lightweight waterproof outfits if needed.

Snow & Ski

Outfit Suggestion for Snow & Ski, City Trips


3. Suitable Footgear

Based on the weather and type of activities, pack for suitable footgears. If you plan to get wet, bring slipper or flip flops. For sea and sun travel, it is good to bring aqua shoes to protect your feet in the water. Some footgear like training shoes and sandals can be used for city tours and backpacking. A good rule of thumb is to wear dual-purpose footgear and pack one purposeful footgear in your luggage.

City Tours, Trips on Train, Backpacking

Outfit Suggestion for City Tours, Trips on Train, Backpacking


4. Pockets and Pouches

A traveler can’t run away from having to carry travel documents, IDs, wallets, hotel key, tickets and passes with you. This is when you need to wear outfits with ample pockets. Travel pouches and purposeful handbags can be handy too, but make sure they are not too big, easy to clean and lightweight. They can be smart pockets like the wrist pocket below for you to keep IDs and room keys with you.

Wrist Pocket on Zip Up Azeeza

Wrist Pocket on Zip Up Azeeza

5. Practical Headgear, Roll and Wear

Reduce accessories, bring practicality. Instant shawl, sports hijab, multi-purpose inner and headgears that are easy to wear and lightweight are ideal for travel. They are good for cold weather as well, so do bring the ones made of suitable fabric. Also, make sure you pack colors that are fun and easy to match with your outfits.


Multi-Style Raazglove


Bring outfits you can just roll and wear, but don’t forget to bring at least one nice evening dress just in case you have to go to a fancy restaurant for dinner!

Lastly, I would pack for outfits that are ablution-friendly. You may not find mosques, praying and ablution areas while travelling so wearing outfits with designs that are loose or stretchable around wrist, arms and ankles. They are definitely useful.


Happy & safe travel!

Fun-Packed Explorations at Langkawi Geopark

I like to end the year doing something different. This year I got to explore Langkawi Island with family and pretty happy that Langkawi has grown so much with loads of fun and educational activities to do. The rainy season in Langkawi is in September so it is a safe destination to get a sunny vacation by the beach in December.

I would like to share 4 exciting explorations I had with my family:

1. Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park

2. Machinchang Geoforest Park

3. Temurun Waterfalls by Mount Raya

4. Exploration to Pulau Rebak Kecil from Cenang Beach by foot

1. Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park Exploration

You need to get a boat ride to Dayang Bunting Island. My party of 5 got a boat ride, on a sharing basis with 15 other tourists from AB watersports. The fee was RM25/adult and RM20/child below 12 years old. En Mohd Ashtar was very helpful to accommodate my booking via the internet, two days in advance. You can call his office 04-9551037 to make a reservation. He provided 2-way shuttle service from my hotel to the jetty located close to Langkawi Porta Malai Resort. We took the 9 am half-day trip.  The first stop was Pulau Beras Basah followed by eagle feeding at Pulau Singa Besar. You get to see two types of native eagles; the White-bellied Fish Eagle and Brahminy Kite Eagle, flying right above the island and diving onto the surface of the water to catch fishes. You can’t miss these stunning birds as they would dive pretty close to the boats. The last and the most interesting stop was Dayang Bunting Island.

You need to hike for about 230 meters from the jetty to Dayang Bunting Lake. It is quite an easy walk, educational too, featuring rock formation on the island. Once you reach the lake, you can take a dip into the lake, put your legs into the water or can rent a kayak or boat. The lake is 33 feet deep so if you are not a good swimmer, you better rent a life jacket available on the platform. You can also save a few ringgit by bringing your life-jacket from your boat to the lake. The swim was really nice as the fresh water is clean and refreshing.

Dayang Bunting Lake

Dayang Bunting Lake

Dayang Bunting Lake

Refreshing Dip in Dayang Bunting Lake

Dayang Bunting GeoForest Park

After an hour on the island, we got onto the boat and said goodbye to beautiful island of Dayang Bunting.

Dayang Bunting Island

Did you see a pregnant lady lying down on the back?

2. Machinchang Geoforest Park Exploration

A ride on the cablecab followed by a walk on the skybridge is a must in Langkawi. You need to get a ticket (RM30/adult & RM20/child below 12) to go onto the cablecab up to the Machingchang Mountain (second highest mountain in Langkawi, 850 m above sea level). Make sure you bring your Malaysian ID to enjoy local rates. Before you reach the top, you could stop at the middle station and grab some food. They offer nasi lemak and other local delicacies at the cafe. You need to queue back to continue your ride to the top station. Below is the view of Telaga Harbour Area & Seratosa Island (far left), a little unnamed island and Pulau Burau (far right) from middle station.

View from Middle Station : Langkawi Cable Car

View from Middle Station : Langkawi Cable Car

After a couple of minutes on the cablecab, you would reach the 709 above sea level of Machinchang Mountain. The view from the top station is majestic.You could see Skybridge (as below), Andaman Sea, and other parts of Langkawi.

machingchang hills

View of Skybridge from Top Station

view of andaman sea from machincang mountain

View of Andaman Sea from Machincang Mountain

After that, we walked to Skybridge. You could walk (RM5/pax) or take the skyglide (RM35/pax)  to Skybridge. If you want to burn some calories while enjoying the nature, you should walk to Skybridge. However, I do not encourage elderly, little ones and those who are not used to hiking to walk to skybridge. The steps were quite steep and can be difficult to some. It was a more-difficult walk than the one to Dayang Bunting Lake.

On the way back on Cablecab, try look for waterfalls right below you. We saw two waterfalls on the way back. Our experience was much better than the cable car rides in Hong Kong and Sentosa Island, and a lot cheaper too!

3. Temurun Waterfalls by Mount Raya (881 meters, highest mountain in Langkawi)

Temurun Waterfall

The Temurun Waterfall at the Top

If you are a fan of cold fresh water and love the feeling of water running on your back, you should visit Temurun Waterfalls. There are a few levels you could walk to, but the one at the top is worth dipping into. We were greeted by many friendly butterflies, and everyone who reached the top could not resist taking a dip. So, make sure you dress to get wet when you climb all the way to the top. The only changing area available is at the entrance.

Try the mee kuah at the stall by the entrance before you go back. The makcik cooked very good friend rice and mee kuah for us at a very reasonable price.

Temurun Waterfall

Temurun Waterfall

4. Exploration to Pulau Rebak Kecil from Cenang Beach

Cenang Beach is popular for its gorgeous sunset. Other than the gorgeous sunset, we got to experience something different, out of curiosity. But do not try this without a knowledgeable local with you.  At 7:30am in the morning, during low tide, we saw a couple of sand banks close to the island across the Cenang Beach and a few people walking in the sea, towards the island. So, one morning, we decided to check it out. We walked in the knee-level water for a few hundred meters away from the beach, along with a few locals who were busy collecting sea snails on the bed of the sea.

A walk from Cenang Beach to Pulau Rebak Kecil

Pulau Rebak Kecil from Cenang Beach

I wanted to walk to the island, known as Pulau Rebak Kecil, so three of us kept walking in shallow waters for a few more hundred meters towards a visible sand bank. Along the way to the sandbank, I saw many interesting combination of big and small sea creatures; crabs, clams, sea-snails, baby octopus, prawn and baby leapord / zebra sharks. They were visible due to the shallow clear water. The estimated distance from Cenang Beach (A) to Pulau Rebak Kecil (B) was 0.86 km.

Estimated Distance From Pulau Rebak Kecil and Cenang Beach

Estimated Distance From Pulau Rebak Kecil (B) and Cenang Beach (A)

baby zebra shark

Baby Leopard/Zebra Shark

Crabs easily visible

Crabs at Pantai Cenang

Clams & Sea Snails at Pantai Cenang

Clams & Sea Snails at Pantai Cenang

From Cenang Beach

As we walked leaving Cenang Beach on the backdrop

After a long walk, we reached the first sandbar. It was not a straightforward walk but interesting as we saw baby leopard / zebra sharks and a few others we dare not go close to. We had aqua shoes on, so we need not worry too much about risks on our feet. The path was a zig zag as we follow the shallow path towards the first sandbank.

On Sand Bar Pulau Rebak Kecil

Reached the first sandbar

Then we ran along the sand bank towards Rebak Kecil Island and quickly returned. At the end of the sand bank was a steep drop into the sea which we managed to escape. We then walked towards a group of people closest to us, as we could see the water level around them.

Walking towards Pulau Rebak Kecil

Walking along sandbanks towards Pulau Rebak Kecil

Running back from Pulau Rebak Kecil

Running back from Pulau Rebak Kecil

Then we walked back towards Cenang Beach. The water level was rising and the current was against our direction, so it was super tiring. At one point the water level was thigh-level. Again, do not try this. It gave me a good adrenaline rush but I would not try again unless with the presence of knowledgeable locals.

Walking Back from Rebak Kecil Island

Rising water level on the way back

Prawn at Cenang Beach

Prawn at Cenang

Octopus at Cenang

Octopus at Cenang

Lastly, the other activity I enjoyed practicing in Langkawi was yoga during sunset.

Sunset Yoga Plough Pose

Sunset Yoga Plough Pose

There are so many other exciting activities you could do in Langkawi. Some historical, sometimes mystical, mostly enjoyable. I found this map pretty useful and handy to plan my trips whilst in Langkawi. You can get one FREE at the airport. So visit Langkawi and enjoy the Geoforest and beautiful beaches!

Free Langkawi Map