Maroc-Morocco |a travel experience that kept me well cultured|

Marrakech “Land of God”

Everytime I travel  I always come home like a changed person. Something I gained and left behind makes me a better traveler and Marrakech is nothing different but rather extraordinary.

Morocco  a North African country which they said is a good introduction of what Africa would be without being culturally shock. It is categorize as one of the third world countries where daily living is an everyday struggle for many. It is a vibrant country, chaotic and crazy fun, very rich culture, colorful crafts, one of major Islamic religion and with so much respect and love for people.

My trip in Morocco is not without doubts and the biggest factor is traveling as a woman  but knowing what to do and where to go with careful planning … those doubts does not matter at all. Knowing how to get around Morocco made our trip easy and that consist of much research and reading that I have to do.

Our first stop in discovering and learning more about Morocco is Marrakech or AKA Marrakesh, once the capital and a well known destination for many tourist. In every search that you will do… Marrakesh will come up as one of the must visit places in your bucket list (of course for a good reason).

TIPS AND TRICKS WHEN VISITING MARRAKECH:

  • SAFETY: “do not walk alone or roam around at night”. I find Marrakech fairly safe for women. In every street and turn you make you will see tourist – so at some point I don’t feel isolated. It is very wise though to get a certified tourist to guide you through the street of Marrakech. It wards off scammers and a great way to learn the history of the place. [ from our B&B host recommendation we did a walking tour of the major sites in Marrakesh for 4 hours and paid 100 Dirham for 2 people about $10 each.)  


  • PHOTOS: We all want to get that best and most unique shots right? [ guilty as charge! ] but be careful when you click that shutter because everything comes with a price specially with the street performers

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snake charmers in Djeema El-Fna

A perfect example of what I was talking about. Using my small go pro I went at the back of this crowded scene and snap a shot of what was going on as quickly as possible. LUCKY enough I got caught as I was leaving the scene and was asked to give money. I did not have any change only 10 Dirham. I gave my coins and was asked how much was it. They wanted me to give more but I FIRMLY said NO! and walked away. Thankfully I was let go or I would start running as fast as I can…DONT WORRY I HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON ]  .


  • MEN: “wolf whistle-catcall-men whistling to women as they walk by”  name it …they all sounds very annoying and yes very disrespectful to women,  but in Marrakech this seems to be normal.  [ I followed all the advise and guides I have read particularly dressing etiquette.  I wore pants and long sleeves tops or always with a cardigan but unfortunately I was not exempted with this catcalls and whistling game. take note that Morroco in the month of Septmember is hot and humid ] The best thing to do is to IGNORE and KEEP ON WALKING they will eventually stop and shut up.


  • STREET NAMES: The Maze Runner” have you watched or know the concept of this movie? well this is what I felt like in Marrakech. You better have a good photographic memory to survive the nameless turns or you are lost as a sheep. (the TRICK in finding your way home is to know the name of your place and ask the store owners. NEVER EVER ask the hildren in the street or any stranger because mostly likely than not you will be led to a different place than your destination ]


  • SOUKS:  “the practice of bargaining” this is the place where you will go gaga and must have a good self control of knowing when to stop buying good stuff. If you don’t know how to bargain you are definitely over paying [ easier said than done! for I am not a master of this skill. My first stop is to buy some good hand-sewn leather shoes or sandals. All along I thought I did a good job of asking a lesser price only in the end I realized that I could have gotten it much less…DON’T YOU JUST HATE THE FEELING OF GETTING RIPPED OFF!]  

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Marrakech Souks

  • PUBLIC TRANSPORT: taxis are abundant but learn how to negotiate before you get in. If your hotel or B&B can arrange your transport go for it! less hassle, better deal and you can trust that you are in good hand. [ we are lucky that we picked a very good B&B with very helpful host which had everything ready for us. Our taxi driver was ready to pick us up at the airport with our name banner and have to pay him 100 dirham about $10 to bring us to our Riad]


Riad chez l’Africain – 307 rue de La Kasbah

our very welcoming and kind host Luc & Sarah are superb. They made everything easy for us including: tips for a good place to eat and what to try, tour guides, taxi to bring us to the train station and anywhere we want, booking reservations for us, cooking good breakfast and dinner. The Riad is very clean, comfortable and well taken care of. You will feel at home. It has a very good location to major sites in a walking distance.


A TYPICAL RECEIVING AREA OF A RIAD CONSIST OF A FOUNTAIN WHICH THEY TURN ON WHEN THE CALLING FOR PRAYERS ECHOES AROUND THE VILLAGE
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roof top of “Love Nest Cosy Riad”. Perfect for some siesta and fresh air.

TASTE OF MARRAKECH


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A COMPLIMENTARY STARTER OF KASBAH CAFE
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TRADITIONAL MOROCCAN DISH OF COUSCOUS
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an authentic lamb and chicken Kebob
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CAMEL BURGER FROM CLOCK CAFE (NOT THE SAME I RODE AND THE FOOD THAT I WILL ONLY EAT ONCE AND NEVER AGAIN)

THE SOUKS AND STREET


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MOROCCO IS KNOWN FOR ITS CERAMIC WORKS HAND PAINTED USING BRIGHT COLORS
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GOAT SKINS DYED AND DRIED READY FOR TRADE AND SELLING FOR LEATHER GOODS
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SPICES AND HERBS MARKET
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COMMONLY USED CERAMIC TO COOK THE FAMOUS MOROCCAN TAJINE
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HAND PAINTED CERAMICS
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ALL BAGS MADE WITH GOOD QUALITY LEATHER
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MOROCCO IS ALSO KNOWN TO PRODUCE GOOD QUALITY RUGS WHICH COMES IN DIFFERENT SIZES
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Moroccan Rugs ( the details and colors is just amazing! it shows the effort one put in to make this handmade craft)

WHOLE DAY TOUR WITH 4X4 CAMEL

DAYTRIPS OF MARRAKECH TO A BERBER MARKET, OURIKA VALLEY, ARGAN OIL FACTORY, LUNCH AT A LOCAL BERBER HOUSE, RIDING A CAMEL, DRINKING MOROCCAN MINT TEA, TRIP TO THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS, EATING CACTUS FRUIT, ALL PROVIDED BY THE BEST TOUR GUIDE ADIL AND a very COMFORTABLE CAR.


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Berber Market ( a once a week market for people to buy what they need for the whole week)
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Straw Rugs
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Donkey (main form of transportation and the only one allowed inside the market)
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Camel Ride (bucket list checked) this is “Asia”
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Women of the Argan Oil factory (a cooperative that benefits the women of Morocco who are widowed, single and need a job) The natural process of producing a 100% natural argan oil requires no machinery and long hours of work.
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MOROCCAN MINT TEA: I ALWAYS WONDER WHY IS IT SO SWEET – THE SUGAR AIDS IN KEEPING THE WATER IN THE BODY RATHER THAN SWEATING IT OUT DURING THE SUMMER HEAT.
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How to serve Moroccan mint tea (the bubbles are crucial)
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Cactus Fruit (filling and very good source of fiber)
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Lunch at one of the houses in the mountain ( a taste of home cooked meals and the best food I ever had)
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Salon – a common area in the house in the mountain where people wait while being entertained or served with mint tea
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happy and full tummy (home cooked meals served)
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a traditional chicken tagine (a 4 hour dish well cooked)

ATLAS MOUNTAINS


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Asni Valley
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Ourika Valley
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Ourika Valley
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Red Mountain (red=iron) shows how abundant this mineral for this part of the high atlas

THE MOSQUE AND MEDERSA “KORANIC SCHOOL”


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Koutoubia Crane (a guide to direction of Mecca)
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Koutoubia Mosque (oldest mosque)
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Ibn Youssef Medersa (oldest universities) – inside the old Koranic school in Marrakech
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Fountain – an important part of any riad for the purpose of washing before entering a mosque
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Mosque – a common find in every village for Muslim to pray 5 times a day

Jardin Majorelle

A garden that was once abandoned and left out was found by Yves Saint Laurent. Made major renovations, opened it to the public. When YSL died it was donated and now became one of the major attractions to see when in Marrakech.


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THE USED TO BE HOME OF YSL NOW PART OF THE MUSEUM
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Majestic Blue
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Jardin Majorelle

THANK YOU FOR COMING ALONG TO MY MOROCCAN ADVENTURE. I HOPE YOU HAD FUN READING AND DID  ENJOY THE BLOG. DONT FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS. I WILL CERTAINLY WATCH OUT FOR IT.

IF YOU WANT MORE – DO NOT FORGET TO FOLLOW MY BLOG AND KEEP UPDATED OR ADD ME TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIAS TO KEEP EACH OTHER UPDATED.

 


5 REASONS why I chose NATURE over NETFLIX

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”
Lao Tzu

Please don’t get me wrong or even hate me because I totally agree that NETFLIX is so freaking addicting. I find me contradicting myself most of the time when I say to myself “one more episode then that’s it!” but then it usually results to lack of sleep trying to finish the whole season and the rest after that.

The reason I am writing this blog? just a reminder that there is a different world beyond tv, remote control, Netflix, DVR or other means of being a couch potato. Please allow me to share to you my top 5 reasons why WE ALL  should take the chance and drag ourselves out there. It is a great feeling of FREEDOM !!

Manhattan Beach, CA |2015| Nikon D750
Manhattan Beach, CA |2015| Nikon D750

REASON #1: A GREAT CURE FOR A LOW ENERGY LEVEL WITHOUT THE SUGAR CRASH! 

Where there times where you felt so bored, sad, depress, lazy or just can’t explain why are you not in the mood? … I did! and exactly all of that on a gloomy Sunday with frequent showers.

I called in sick from work 2 days, refused to go out and have to drag myself to take a shower… oh boy I am on a major depression track aren’t I? but as soon as I saw the sun shiny and bright… I grabbed my shoes and went for a hike at the top of the mountain overlooking the city. Then I was back to my old me.

Sometimes all we need is just a change of scenery. I felt the rush of blood through me as I push myself on that steep slopes and felt so good when I made it to the top. Choosing to lay in bed all day and watch my shows I don’t think I would feel any other different.

Healthy sun is a NATURAL ANTI-DEPRESSANT why not try some. NOT A HIKER? no problem…sit at the porch or park or anywhere with a chair and just enjoy the outdoors. Nature always guarantee to give you back the energy boost like any other energy drink only without that crash after a few hours. NOT SATISFIED? 100% RETURN OF YOUR DEPRESSIVE MOOD GUARANTEE 

REASON #2: A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Portland, Oregon |2014| Nikon D5100

If you are living in the city like me then we all know our fresh air consist of smog and polluted air. Therefore, it is highly recommended that we immerse ourselves to the fields of greens for some lung treatment.

A breath of fresh air helps us to exhale all the airborne toxins we breathe in everyday, it keeps as relax and happy by affecting our serotonin thru the amount of oxygen we breathe in, which results in lightening our mood. Fresh air helps us feel rejuvenated, prevent respiratory distress and most importantly it can boost your immune system.

REASON #3: IT HELPS YOU TO RE-FOCUS AND APPRECIATE WHAT IS OUT THERE

The Grotto Portland, Oregon |2014| Nikon D5100

Being a home buddy is acceptable up until to the point that we get too comfortable and forget the other part of the outside world. It is very easy to get into that moment of all day sitting and lying down but DO NOT allow that moment to suck you into an unconsciously stagnant state of lifestyle. GET UP GET MOVING get that blood flowing.

Forcing ourselves to get out there and explore even just once a week is a big step and always a good starting point. It will help you to take a pause, meditate and re-focus on life. It will clear your mind with all the stress and non-sense BS of everyday life.  It will make you appreciate the beauty of nature and your life most importantly.

REASON #4: IT FEEDS YOUR ADVENTUROUS SOUL

Yosemite National Park |2015| Nikon D750

To be adventurous doesn’t mean you have to take on risking your life. I always believe that l have a soul of an adventurer. I always want to do something different ,try something unusual. I always want to discover new stuff through exploring, but I am also guarded to take the riskier side of this challenge. I only limit myself to the potential that I can and willing to give but I  make sure that I make the best out of it and that is the KEY point.

The unknown path you choose to take are sometimes the best discoveries you will ever have so don’t hesitate or even doubt yourself without even giving it a shot. TRY… if you succeed GOOD!…if you fail OH WELL! we all learn from our mistakes don’t we?  experience always counts no  matter what.

REASON #5: IT GIVES YOU SELF-WORTH 

Washburn Point Yosemite, CA |2015| Nikon D750

Have you felt that feeling of accomplishment doing a thing you thought you could not do? The feeling of being on top of the world?

NATURE gives you all that opportunity without pressure, no expectations and no time frame. It gives you that self-worth that you are capable to do the impossible. A simple hike, a 10 mile distance, a climb up the mountain, getting from point A – B….always a good feeling! It makes you realize your potential, strength and weakness.

COMPROMISE always does miracles. BALANCE is important. FUN and HEALTHY is the way to live so TIME MANAGEMENT between NATURE and NETFLIX should be YIN and YANG.

El Nido Philippines |a beyond expectations discovery|

 

El Nido here I come !!!
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March |2015| Samsung Note4

I was raised and born in the Philippines and migrated to US at the age of 14. I came back 2008 to pursue my studies for 4 years then immediately went back to US for work. After 7 long years I decided to re-visit my homeland and to explore its beauty everybody seems to be talking about. First stop…. EL NIDO!

To start is to board a private plane to El Nido, Palawan via ITI, a 50 seater ATR aircraft which will bring you to your destination in 55 minutes. Booking for ITI is through lights@elnidoboutiqueandartcafe.com. They are very strict when it comes to the weight of your baggage so be mindful or you will end up paying like me! You can also take the alternative of flying to Coron, Palawan which is more accessible to most airlines like Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. The downside, is the 6 hour bus/van ride to El Nido. I chose the alternative of a private jet ITI due to time management, but budget wise of course it is not advisable.

We got to the Island of El Nido early evening. We checked in to our Hotel Ipil Suite El Nido which provided us with a very good walking distance to the beach. We stayed for 3 nights with total of $193.00 with a delicious breakfast buffet  (NOT BAD!), good WIFI and good service (IMPORTANT). When it comes to booking my hotel I always choose  http://www.booking.com. It is very convenient and much cheaper compared to other sites. They also have a pay later and free cancellation option, which gives you a good window to change your mind if ever you found a better deal.

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March |2015| Nikon d5100

I am a big fan of sunsets more than sunrise only because I am not a morning person. I also think that the sky during sunset is more magical in colors, but anyhow above pictures is my first sunset in El Nido and I was not disappointed. Oh, I attest that Philippines frequently treats you with a perfect painted sky, don’t you agree?

March |2015| GoPro hero black

Our Day 2 begins with Island Hopping. El Nido by the way have 45 islands and Islets depending if its high tide or low tide. We are lucky to know someone in El Nido and gave us a good deal with the tours. There are 4 type of tours in El Nido and we took the Popular ones: Tour B for 1,500 Pesos each about $35.00 and a discounted Tour C of 1.200 Pesos each about $27.00 including lunch. Cash Only!

March |2015| Nikon d5100

From top: entering the Big Lagoon (this area of the Island can only be accessible by boat during high tide. It was also featured in the movie Bourne Supremacy for the all the movie fanatics). Secret Beach (accessible only by swimming  while our guide and boat patiently awaits for us).

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March |2015| GoPro Black

Hidden Beach (a true paradise. Clear water and fine sand, just perfect for a good nap but of course we have to keep swimming). Small Lagoon (this is the most challenging swim I did because there were too many parked boats before us so we didn’t have a choice but to dock farther from the entrance of the lagoon) You can also get here by renting a kayak but I opt to swim, i think its more fun that way. The greenest clear warm water,  just amazing!.

Tour B
March |2015| GoPro black

7 commando beach (white sands, swinging by the tree and coconut palms! great way to end our tour. There are available lodging here so you can choose to stay here overnight if you want  the more quiet side of the island.


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March |2015| Nikon d5100

The best part of the tour…. is the fresh seafood and veggies served and cooked by the locals. These food are cooked inside our boat. The centerpiece  veggies are made by our guides using their own creativity. No school or training done, just plain mastery of the craft.


Some shots of the last leg of our Island Hopping. The white sands of  another hidden beach, the clear aqua green water of El Nido, the lovely fish and corals of Palawan. Snorkeling fun chasing these fishes for a snapshot. Major Sunburn of course! and that’s with SPF 70 haha. March |2015| GoPro hero black


I know I mentioned that I am not a morning riser and I enjoy sunset more than sunrise, but I can always make an exception if I want too (wink!) especially when it is beautiful as this! This is a must try hike when in El Nido. The top of Taraw Cliff meaning Steep Cliff. A continuous steep slope of sharp limestone

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March |2015| Nikon d5100

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Jay our guide
               with Jay our local guide


I wasn’t ready for this hike at all!. it was an abrupt spur of the moment to take on before we leave for our flight in the afternoon. Also, because it was highly recommended or better yet we just needed some CHALLENGE! haha!

 First I have nothing but flip-flops! but hey!  our guide is wearing flip-flops too! therefore, “I am good.” WRONG! =/

We left the hotel at 5:00 am to catch the sunrise. As we got to the place I immediately knew I am in big trouble. PITCH BLACK! but wait! we have flashlights… we came prepared after all. Second challenge is the entrance…an immediate effort of climbing those sharp stones, not even a warm up, but the show must go on. As I start my rock climbing skills I can hear popping sounds from my knees  and every possible sound one makes when making an effort…that’s me! (I am active and I do some steep hiking but I guess my knees are not meant for this kind…oops) In short we made it to the top! 170 meters high.

The hardest part … against the gravity, which has 2 possibilities to why it was hard. It was harder because  I was slower or because my legs are shaking non-stop signaling me I AM GIVING UP! one thing is for sure, without our guide we are LOST as a SHEEP.

After the hike…my flip-flops is unrecognizable, worn out and ready to be thrown away, hence I said I was WRONG when I said earlier I AM GOOD, but thankfully it remained intact. The worst that could happen is for it to break and I have to use the sole of my feet for those solid sharp limestone OUCH!  I don’t think I could make it alive. TIP: mosquito repellent. DO NOT try to do this without one or you will be a feast !!!


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Matinloc Island. March |2015| Nikon d5100
The beaten path of El Nido: MATINLOC ISLAND

BEAUTIFUL and PICTURE PERFECT! the clear sky, the color of the sea and lesser crowd. It is not possible to do lodging at this part of the Island but recent news said that tourism is actually considering because it is a paradise. There is an abandoned house inside this island which used to be a monastery for bishops and higher officials of the church when visiting El Nido, but unfortunately politics got in the way and everything is gone. (shame face). This shot is taken doing a little climb up the limestone. People take turns because there is not much space up there and like other limestone no flat area but rather sharp ones so be careful!


It is INDEED more fun in the Philippines! this is just one of more than 7000 islands, there are more reasons to pack your bag and explore. So what are you waiting for?

ALL PICTURES BELONGS TO ME AND MY BROTHER SHOT WITH GOPRO AND NIKON CAMERAS. FOR INQUIRIES… SOCIAL MEDIA LISTED ABOVE ARE THE BEST CHOICE!

HOPE YOU ENJOYED MY FIRST BLOG ENTRY AND HOPE YOU WILL ENJOY THE REST THAT I WILL PUT UP SOON.

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