Seeing China the Muslim way - The Star, Malaysia
- Seeing China the Muslim way
By NORLIN WAN MUSA
CHINA has been an exciting destination for visitors
since the days of Marco Polo but, for Muslims,
travelling around can be a bit of a bother. There is
much to see but, come meal time, there are few choices
available, and there is always doubt as to whether the
food served is halal. Some of the tourist attractions
on the itinerary may also be inappropriate.
Now, Muslims can take in the sights, and the food, all
with total peace of mind. Since October last year,
Reliance has been offering packages to Beijing and
Shanghai, specially tailored for Muslims.
The response had been positive, said Reliance Shipping
& Travel Agencies Sdn Bhd marketing director Tan Kai
Seng, adding that they recently introduced a similar
package with Air China (CA) to meet growing demand.
China Air wanted to instil confidence among Muslims
that it is capable of providing in-flight services
that cater to their needs, he said.
Providing halal food on board CA flights out of KLIA
was not a problem since all flights out of KLIA get
their food supply from Malaysia Airlines (MAS)
catering. The challenge was in catering for the flight
back from Beijing.
HALAL GUARANTEE...Muslims can enjoy piping hot dishes
such as shabu shabu, which is similar to steamboat.
As it turned out, the food served on board was not
much different from that served aboard MAS flights.
The menu included fried noodles, bread and scrambled
eggs, as well as rice and fish or chicken, depending
on the flying time.
The five-day Reliance-Air China Muslim package to
Beijing includes a four-night stay at a four-star
hotel, Downtown Holiday Inn, return air tickets, three
meals a day and sightseeing.
Breakfast is provided by the hotel, which serves halal
food upon request. The breakfast menu includes
scrambled or hard boiled eggs, fried noodles or fried
rice, breads and rolls, cereals, fruits, tea, coffee
and fruit juices.
Food served during lunch and dinner can be a hit or
miss affair. A word of caution the food may be halal
but tends to be too salty and too oily at some
restaurants. Even the soy sauce tends to be a bit too
salty. So, be warned.
To be on the safe side, ask the tour guide to inform
the kitchen if you have certain preferences. Those who
cannot go without spicy food for even a couple of days
should bring along some chilli sauce.
In general, the food should not cause any worries.
There shouldn't be any doubts, as Reliance makes sure
that for this package, the guests are taken only to
Most restaurants served, meat, lamb, and chicken.
Seafood is very rare and expensive in Beijing. Most
dishes are either deep-fried or stir fried, and most
restaurants serve at least six dishes at a meal.
Usually, there are more.
Reliance tour manager David Yin said the Muslim
packages are less hectic than the others. This is
because the tour does not include trips to the
However, he added, As most of our Muslim clients
enjoy shopping, we allocate more time for them to do
Shopaholics can look forward to shopping at places
like the Lido Market, Silk Street and Ya Sui market.
Clothes, DVDs, VCDs, shoes, tablecloths, cushion
covers, quilt; it really is a shopping haven.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Muslims who go for the special
package get to visit the Niu Jie mosque in Beijing,
which is not on the normal tourist map.
Shopping here requires a certain technique, though.
Once you master the art of bargaining, the game is on
In earnest! The best part is you don't even need to
speak Mandarin to be able to haggle! Remember always
haggle, and never pay the opening price quoted by the
There are, however, places where the prices are fixed.
These are normally the government-run places like some
of the jade, silk and pearl factories. Shopping at
these places comes with a guarantee that the items are
Other exciting places include the must-see Great Wall
of China, the Forbidden City, the Underground City and
the Summer Palace. This part of the trip involves a
lot of walking which means it is essential to bring
along a comfortable pair of shoes.
Another part of the package that makes it different
from other tours is a visit to Ma Tian and Niu Jie
mosques, as well as a chance to meet the Muslim
Air China now operates three direct flights a week
from KLIA to Beijing but, beginning March 29, the
airline will increase the frequency to four flights a
Chat instantly with your online friends? Get the
FREE Yahoo! Messenger http://uk.messenger.yahoo.com/