Categories

Sunday, 12 January 2014

4 DAYS IN MARRAKECH - MOROCCO

Coming out of the airport, I got a feeling that I went back to Brunei but when we entered the city, the sense of Brunei had vanished. It looked exactly like Kathmandu. More than the fact that I was in foreign land, I was concerned that my driver was using phone while driving and he was driving with one hand most of the time. 

The car that came to receive me stopped in the middle of the road and from there, a man with cart took over. He placed my suitcase on the cart and asked me to follow him. I was surprised but for people there, it looked normal. The man went to the smallest possible road, which reminded me of Newari houses in Kantipur. After a short 5 minutes walk, we reached our hotel. From outside, it didn't look like a hotel but inside, it looked like a typical Spanish house. I was over the moon. 

DAY 1: Marrakech City
Proper first day of the trip and the plan was to explore Marrakech city. This country is ruled by the King though I never could pronounce his name but his picture was displayed everywhere, like a God. I asked our guide why there are King's picture everywhere. He told me that people there treat their King as a God. 

In the morning after breakfast, we headed towards Marrakech city. Our plan was to go to Souk; traditional Marrakech market. The market was not open until 10:30 am, so we decided to explore the city in horse and cart until then. Tourism is the major contributor in Morocco's economy but being tourist, we try to pay as less as possible. Just like any other country, we had to use some bargaining skills there. The man offered one hour trip around the city for 200 dirham but we negotiated it down to 100 dirham. 

Riding on the horse and cart, I felt like a Royal for an instant. I was tempted to wave at people passing by us just like Royals do but I tried not to get carried away. Just like other city, Marrakech has poor as well as rich people. The origins of Marrakech are called 'Berber'. They are mostly located in the small town called Medina, surrounded by the city wall, which is 90 km long. Outside the city wall is the new city, which has KFC, Mac Donald's and other international brands. To make it simple, city wall is the boarder line for new city and original town Medina. There were lots of posh hotels in new city. The guide told us that the land there is really expensive, about 45000 dirham for 1 square meter. 

After one hour trip, we went to Souk. We spent most of the time there bargaining. There were just so much to see in that place. I paid 100 dirham for henna on my hand, which I regretted later but apart from that, we pretty much got everything else in good price. Looking at the shopkeepers trying to sell us their stuffs, it reminded me of lakeside, Pokhara. This is exactly how they do it. They have different price for tourists. I really wanted to buy something that is more related to Morocco, something that would remind me of this place forever. My first purchase of the day was Berber necklace. I managed to bargain it from 250 dirham to 80 dirham. The second purchase was table tray, which I managed to drop down from 450 dirham to 100 dirham. The survival technique in this market is, never tell them you are from UK or USA.
Moroccan Breakfast :)
Glimpse of old city
New City
Morocco is popular for species but shame I didn't buy any of them
I had some henna experience :D
DAY 2: Atlas Mountain
I might be the only person in this world who was born in the place of the highest mountain in the world but goes to Morocco to climb it. 

In the list of 'must see' was Atlas Mountain and after coming all the way, I had to see it. Its not that I am not familiar with these kind of lifestyles or altitude but it was strange feeling when we started our journey. 

The journey started with some beautiful countryside. The scenery reminded me of the road to Baglung from Pokhara. Remembering Medina, I hadn't expected this kind of countryside but it was breathtaking. Our first stop was Berber village. It wasn't exactly in the village but from where we stopped, we could see the village itself. Smokes were coming out of some houses, which according to the guide, people were cooking. 

The next stop was another Berber village. According to the villagers, Fatima; daughter of Mohammed came and stayed there. The village reminded me of 'Malekhu' (a small village between Kathmandu and Pokhara). There were restaurants in each side of the small road. The river was flowing at the bottom of the hill, and whenever the van stopped, people hurried towards it to sell their stuffs. 

After having lunch in that town, our hiking started to Atlas mountain (about 4100 m). Although it was hiking day, I had a formal dress on with blazer and leggings plus flat shoe. Looking at me, no one would actually think that I was there to climb the mountain but the challenge was to climb Atlas as high as possible in formal dress and there I was. Scary stuff! :O Please do not try this!!

For a person like me who is scared of height, it would be like going to death's mouth but I am also a kind of person who likes adventures and challenges. So after coming all the way there, I would have regretted if I had returned without experiencing hiking. For some reasons, I didn't find the hiking difficult. I could see my friends were struggling but I wasn't. After about two hours, we finally reached to the big waterfall. It was so peaceful there. Looking down from that height, it looked like deadly trap. I felt bit of dizziness but I immediately took my thoughts away. More than anything, I was happy that I made it. It was just another winning satisfaction when we made our way down. 
Beautiful day! On the way to Atlas mountain  
We got off on the way to take picture. Beautiful scenery 
Getting closer to the mountain 
I was actually scared to stand there :O
Our hiking started from this town. 
We are already going uphill now
It looked scary but view was worth it!
As we went up, the town from where we started got smaller and smaller! 



DAY 3: Ait Ben Hadou and Ouarzozate
While I was in Morocco, I desperately wanted to go to Sahara desert. When I was in school, I read about this desert but never once I thought I would be in that country one day and there I was. However, to see Sahara desert, we need at least 2 days there but we didn't have enough time. So, we decided to at least touch the place from where it starts.  

As someone said, 'no gain without a pain'. To see the beautiful world on the other side, we had to pass through deadly road through the Atlas Mountain. Playing the song 'Bismillah Bismillah', our van passed through the mountain. The scenery was amazing. Our first proper stop was 'Ait Ben Hadou'. Looking at the village, it reminded me of a movie Indiana Jones. In the middle of the valley were the cliff that came from 4th century and the houses that came from 13th century. 

Our next stop was Ouarzozate, popularly known as 'the film city'. This place surprised me the most. The place has the biggest film studio and production house for Hollywood. I wondered why though. Why would people come there all the way from America to make movie? We went inside it. There was a complete movie set. So, until then, all the time, I thought 'The Mummy' was filmed in Egypt but no! It was in Morocco. Just by looking at the studio, it looked like an abandoned house but it was interesting to know how they convert it to look good and grand in the movie. 
Wow! view on the way to Ait Ben Hadou
Passing through Atlas Mountain, taken from our van
More Atlas mountain pictures :)
Ait Ben Hadou
More breathtaking view

It was like dream to see this type of scenery

Studio: Used as a jail in movie
DAY 4: Bahia palace
It was our final day in Morocco. In the morning, we visited Bahia palace briefly. It’s a historical palace. Ancient Kings used to live there but now it’s an attraction for visitors. When thinking about the 'palace', I thought it would be really grand but it was nothing like that. It was too small to be called palace but the architecture and every small detail they gave to construct that building was mind blowing. Here are some pictures of the palace. 











MOROCCAN FOODS:
Morocco's traditional foods are Kush-Kush and Tagine. It was something completely different than I have had before. They use lots of vegetable in conical shape and underneath that is rice for Kush-Kush and meat for Tagine. The best one I had was mince Tagine with egg but it was not in conical shape. 
My favourite Tagine
Kush-Kush