Friday, 29 June 2018


Mohammed V Square

  • Being the largest city and business centre of Morocco, I bet many have mistaken Casablanca to be the capital of Morocco...
The busy streets of Casablanca..

  • The landscape of Morocco can change quite drastically from one region to another, ranging from land with lush vegetation to desert barren land to snow capped peaks of the Altas mountains and not forgetting the sandy beaches along the coast...

  • Why do the men in morocco wear a robe with a hood?

  • Who cares for the cats on the streets of Morocco?

What? You mean I have to earn my own keep? T_T

  • Was the Todgha Gorge really carved out by river that once flowed through it?

  • If each visitor to the Sahara Desert were to bring some of the fine sand out as keepsake, would the sand in the desert eventually run out?
The magnificient Sahara Desert!

  • There is a certain charm to the elaborately decorated doors in Morocco...

  • Why are the walls in Chefchaouen painted blue? Why blue and not other colours?


Friday, 22 June 2018

Dear Diary.....Rabat (Morocco)

Dear Diary,

It has been a week spent in Morocco and this day marked the end of our tour in this beautiful country. Rabat was the only destination on our itinerary for this day as majority of our time would be spent on the long journey on the roads. In order to have sufficient time to tour Rabat and also to make it in time for our flight out of Morocco, we set off from Chefchaouen much earlier than usual at around 6am. It was so early that we had to request for the hotel to pack our breakfast for us to have it in the van. It was pitch dark when we walked out of our hotel to the van and Chefchaouen was eerily quiet at such hours, nothing like the bustling and lively place that we had seen the day before.

Hassan tower

Most of us went back to sleep the minute we board the van and after what seems like a super long drive, with our breakfast untouched, we woke up to a cheery sight welcoming us to the Rabat - the capital city of Morocco! Our first stop in Rabat was a visit to Hassan tower, which is a minaret of an incomplete mosque. The entrance to the whole area enclosing the Hassan tower, several of the erected walls and columns of the uncompleted mosque and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, was guarded by two guards on their horses. They were dressed in their elaborately designed uniforms and it was interesting to see how the guards were trying hard not to be distracted by the tons of tourists trying to take photo with them. Upon entering, we could immediately spot the Mausoleum to our right and the numerous rows of columns of the mosque to our left. The minaret was located on the extreme left, situated behind the rows of columns. It was originally intended to be the largest minaret in the world but was left half-constructed when the construction of the mosque was halted after the death of its commissioner, Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, the third Caliph of the the Almohad Caliphate, in 1199. The current height of the minaret is only about half of the originally intended height. With this huge land space, filled with the numerous columns of the mosque and the half-constructed red sandstone minaret, we can only leave it to imagination on the scale of the mosque had it been fully constructed! It is no wonder that this site has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, given its importance as a historical and tourist attraction in Rabat.

Guards on horses

The columns of the uncompleted mosque and Hassan tower

The erected walls meant for the mosque

Walking to the opposite end of Hassan tower, we arrived at the foot of the stairway leading to the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, which contained the tomb of the Moroccan King and his two sons. It was a stark contrast to the incomplete mosque that we had seen earlier. The exterior and interior architectural design of the Mausoleum was stunning, with a great amount of details incorporated into its construction as shown by the many delicate cravings and exquisite tile designs all around. The close proximity of the grand Mausoleum and the humble uncompleted mosque, each with a different fate and charm, certainly does evoke mixed feelings and thoughts to those who visits and what’s more, when set against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, it is truly an unforgettable sight!

The Mausoleum

Look at the amount of detail that goes into the roof!

Bidding farewell to the Hassan tower, we ventured off to visit the final destination of this whole Morocco trip - Rabat old town (or Medina). As with most old towns in Morocco, Rabat Medina is walled up as well. However, as we walked through the fortification walls of Rabat Medina, we realised how different it was as compared to the other old towns that we had visited. The pathways within the walls of Rabat was cleaner and neater, with some of the smaller alleys bearing some resemblance to that seen in Chefchaouen. It was also less crowded and messy when compared to the other old towns. As we ventured further into the Medina, we arrived at a doorway which leads to an edge overlooking the sea. It was a relaxing moment just enjoying the sea breeze and watching the tides go in and out. This last lookout point also served as a good reminder of the scene at the Miami beach of Casablanca that we visited on the first day of our tour.

The fortification wall of Rabat Medina

A striking resemblance to the doors in Chefchaouen!

Even the alleys too?

Big waves crashing into the shore...

Lovely view

We had certainly came one full round and explored Morocco rather extensively. The view and experiences that we had in Morocco were beyond words and is something that my husband and I were glad to partake and to have as cherished memories! Morocco, you have been a superb host and we are certainly looking forward to our next trip back. Till then...ciao for now.....

Goodbye Morocco!

Yours Truly,


Friday, 15 June 2018

Dear Diary.....Fes and Chefchaouen (Morocco)

Dear Diary,

This second last day of our tour was literally a day full of ups and downs. Many of us, including myself, had succumbed to either the common cold or stomach flu and the mood in the group was rather down at the start of this day. After a quiet breakfast at the hotel, we proceeded to board our van to head to the old Town of Fes. Many of us had expected this day to be a relaxing one as Fes was the only item on the itinerary.

The expression on this cat pretty much sums up our mood for this day...

However, due to concerns that it would be too rushed to cover two towns (Chefchaouen and Rabat) and make it in time for our return flight out of Morocco the next day, our guide decided to push forward the tour of Chefchaouen to this day. Upon hearing this, there was quite a commotion among our tour mates as Chefchaouen is the place that all of us had wanted to visit and explore the most out of the three remaining towns and we would want to visit it in good weather conditions rather than on this forecasted rainy day. The commotion lasted throughout most of the journey with some even suggesting that we forgo Rabat totally so that we can have more time at Chefchaouen. This suggestion spiraled down to a crazy debate over the fairness of striking out one item on our itinerary due to the lack of foresight on the person who planned this itinerary. The initially gloomy mood started to erupt into one that is filled with anguish and frustration and the commotion just got louder with time, definitely not the best condition for those who were feeling unwell to rest in. Eventually, our guide made the decision to stick to the plan for visiting both Fes and Chefchaouen today and to leave Rabat for the next day. We could only secretly pray hard that the weather would turn for the better when we reach Chefchaouen!

Entrance to Fes old town

The short journey from our hotel to the old town of Fes felt like eternity as the whole van was filled with an awkward silence after all that commotion. Upon reaching the entrance to the old town, everyone was eager to get out of the van and into the open space for some breather.

The Royal Palace in Fes...great spot to take photo!

Love the vibrant colors!

The dead silence and awkwardness was broken when we were joined by a Fes local guide. He was a young and handsome chap and certainly did wonders in lifting the cloud of negativity surrounding the group. When the Fes local guide started to go into detail with regards to our route for the day, we all started to get rather hyped up and excited over the tour and had completely forgotten about the argument earlier on.

Saw many interesting doors while walking along the maze-like alleys...

More colorful doors...

Prior to this trip, I had done some research on Fes and had noted that it was a chaotic and messy place with numerous scams on tourists reported on the Internet. However, the old town of Fes was nothing like what I had read about in this early hours of the day. Most of the shops were not opened and there was barely anyone in sight. This was probably a blessing in disguise as we did not have to deal with any touts and could safely wander about and explore the old Town of Fes in peace.

The narrow alleys...

This alley was considered wide...

A sneak preview of what to expect at Chefchaouen?

As we walked through the narrow alleys of the old town, it finally dawned on me as to why did the local Fes guide kept emphasizing to follow him closely and not to wander off on our own. It was literally like a maze inside the old town and we could have easily gotten lost with one wrong turn. The alleys were so narrow that we had to walk in a single file and it certainly did not help that these poorly lighted alleys were littered with rotting trash. Thanks God for our local guide!

The entrance of Al Quaraouiyine Mosque 

Winding through the small alleys, we arrived at our first stop - the leather tannery (with some stops in between to view the exterior of the mosque and Islamic colleges along the way). Although the tannery is the place most frequently associated with scams on tourists, it was also the place that I had been looking forward to visiting here in Fes! There were many online horror tales about scams by some “friendly” locals offering to lead the way to the tannery only to demand a fee upon arrival at the destination or that some tourists were held hostage after they refused to purchase anything or pay a fee after viewing the tannery. Some reviews even mentioned that the smell inside the tannery is unbearable and it certainly did not help that even our guide had advised us to put on a face mask if possible. Bracing myself for the worst, we were led to the viewing terrace located at the top floor of the leather shop. From the terrace, we were able to have a bird’s eye view on the tannery on the ground floor. Being wary of the potential revolting smell, I took a quick sniff and realized it was not as bad as expected and in fact, I was able to breathe as per normal! Heaving a sigh of relief, I kept my focus on the tannery. At first glance, it would seem like we were viewing an whole area filled with oversized painter’s palettes filled with various different colors. Upon closer look, we could see the workers hard at work, soaking the various hides with the dyes and laying them out to dry thereafter. It was indeed an amazing sight and it is no wonder a visit to the tanneries is a must when visiting Fes!

View of the tannery

Workers hard at work

After viewing the tannery, it was time for the leather shop owner to showcase his variety of leather goods and as my other tour mates were excitedly trying on and purchasing the leather products, my husband and I (who are not so much a fan of leather products) found a bench and just sat down and admire the colorful leather products surrounding us. It was also interesting to observe how the Moroccans interact with tourists and how they adapt their business strategies to different individuals.

Moroccan leather shoes...

All the other leather products

The next shop that we visited was a weaving shop where the owner tried to attract our attention by introducing to us the weaving machine that was used to weave his products (such as cushion covers and scarves). However, it seems like the products in this shop did not have that much of an appeal to us and many of us either just wandered about halfheartedly or were just taking a rest at the benches provided. My husband and I were feeling quite stuffy in the shop and had decided to step out for some fresh air and many of our tour mates started to follow us out in no time. I guess this action might have irritated the owner as he started to become quite hostile to us and chased the rest of our tour mates out of his stop. It was at this point in time that we decided as a group to cut short the tour at Fes and to head to Chefchaouen instead. We were even willing to forgo a sit-down lunch and make do with a grab-and-go lunch.

The weaving machine

Beautiful scarves and cushion covers

After making known our request to our guide, she gave us some time to buy some snacks for lunch before we board our van. She also mentioned that we would still have to make a rest stop so that our driver can have his lunch. Happily, we boarded the van and head off for Chefchaouen. However, just as we left Fes, it started to rain and the rain became heavier and heavier as we travelled on. We were quite disheartened and the excited chatters at the start of the journey soon quietened down as everyone started to pray very hard that the sky will clear up by the time we arrived at our destination.

Panoramic view of Chefchaouen (try to locate the blue town)

Lo and behold, we are indeed a very blessed group because the rain actually stopped when we were approaching Chefchaouen. Our dismay turned into relief and we started cheering and everyone was in high spirits again. With the weather turning to our favor, our driver decided to make a stop along the roads that provided a good view of the blue town - Chefchaouen. The whole town, though small, still stood out because of its vibrant blue color! The stop at this viewpoint certainly made all of us more excited then ever!

Did you manage to spot this in the above photo?

After checking into the hotel, we eagerly made our way out to explore Chefchaouen and just as we stepped out of the hotel, a huge rainbow was seen hanging in the sky as tho it was welcoming us to the blue town. It was a clear sign that our stay in Chefchaouen would be an excellent one!

A rainbow to welcome us!

The main square of the town was just minutes away from the hotel and from there on, there was just this one path that will loop back to the main square. My husband and I strolled along the path and we really enjoyed admiring the vibrant blue surrounding us. There are many tales of why the walls of the buildings in Chefchaouen were painted blue, though one can never be sure which is the actual reason. One of the more popular theory was that the blue kept the mosquitoes away while another is that the Jews introduced the blue when they were escaping from Hitler in the 1930s. Whatever the real reason may be, the blue walls of this town is certainly stunning and I am thankful to be able to explore this beautiful town and to get to experience its charming side!

The Grand Mosque in Chefchaouen

Even the street art is in blue!!

The start of the blue walls...

Doesn't it just looks like a painting?

We have the place all to ourselves because of the rain (which stopped just when we arrived at Chefchaouen)

Although the path can be covered in less than 1 hour, my husband and I really took our time and even stopped and admired every little alley that branched out from the main path - you never know what to expect at these off beaten roads! It was a fun time of photo-taking and I must say I have never had this much blue in my photos ever! We are so glad that the rain had stopped just in time and that we were able to explore Chefchaouen and admire its splendid beauty!

Love these blue doors!

Are you feeling the blues already?

Overall, this day had been like a roller coaster ride, with adrenaline and emotions running high and low throughout the day, but most importantly, it is another day of the tour that my husband and I will remember in time to come, and we are indeed grateful to be able to explore two more wonderful towns of Morocco! Looking forward to what’s in store for the last day of our tour.....

Yours Truly,