Its Christmas soon, but it is not as cold and cosy as it used to be. Its like 20+ Celsius in Hong Kong at the moment, the only thing reminding me its Christmas is the decorations all around the city but that’s it. Obviously when its my dad’s birthday its Christmas day so that’t something to look forward to! We are going to Taiwan this christmas for his birthday, a place where controversy and politics rule. I have never been there and it is surely going to be a good trip! i just love to travel and i am pretty excited to be somewhere where i am not used to or be seen as an “stranger”. You tend to get a whole different atmosphere and feeling from how people treat you and i love it.
Talking about travelling…
5 months ago today I was still in Langford, which is a tiny village in-between Crediton and Exeter. I was at one of my best friend’s (Rafa) grandma’s country house, being all excited and paranoid about our Morocco trip with 6 other friends who were coming along! We packed and discussed so many times about the climate there and of course how mental it is going to be that a few days later and we would be in North Africa. That thought just blew my mind every time we talked about it. On the other hand, things weren’t as smooth as we thought it would be ; packed, check-in, fly and arrive. Before everything began, i remember Rafa came in and told me that he has booked the hostel for the wrong month and i thought his sense of humor deserved an Oscar as i totally believed him for a second… and didn’t believe he would make such a silly mistake. But he was for real! All the hostel were booked one month earlier and the funny thing was that none of us noticed this when he booked it. Obviously everything were just like a dream for the both of us, we asked each other What…..why…….Ay?….How……Really?” Super puzzled! In the end of the day we needed to rebook it and pay the extra, thanks to Rafa’s kind father we managed to change everything in no time and don’t need to worry about the money just yet.
It has began!
Moving on, the day has came, after a heavy night out, most of us didn’t sleep at all and we were all hanging and testing our own very limits. We all met up in Exeter coach station heading to Gatwick Aiport. Our Maroc “Zombie” crew started turning up one by one gradually. We were all powered by our excitement but from an intense night out before, that energy didn’t last long and we all crashed out and started resting. .
Walking through the Airport at night and knowing we can’t get a comfortable sleep while we have to wait like 6 hours for our flight, this was killing alot of us. Cider and salmon salad didnt help much. Rafa was getting on the booze again as he cant sleep. Me, Georgia, Emma and Joel just closed our eyes and pretended we can sleep when we cant because of the bloody airport lights! They are the worst light ever, so bright and irritating….
Ding Ding Ding…Time to fly, going through the normal procedures and finally sitting by the gate with our duty free bottles of rums and Southern Comfort. Seeing we were all shattered and literately K.O. Rafa and Georgia just can’t handle it anymore, Rafa turned green and Georgia ran to the toilet as the night caught up with her.
We landed after we were all well rested and we all had our excitement back in our soul, heated up with the Maroc sun. Things just all got better, we went through immigration and the well organized Caitlin started to get down to business and found the driver who will take us to the souks where we will meet our guide and showed us the way to Equity Point, our 5 stars rated hostel. It didn’t take long to get the feel of the real local side of Marrakesh, normally in other countries the airport area is just a different country compare to the place but in Marrakesh, once you leave the gate of the airport car park and be on the road for about 5 minutes. You will start seeing camels, people riding a motorbike with a thousands eggs attached and the city landscape with its very unique eastern Africa architectures.
We were all surrounded by curiosity, being in a place where Arabic and Muslims are the majority makes me want to get out in the street and explore every single objects i am confused about. When we passed the old city wall which built with red clay and stone, i had a feeling like going through those giant gates in the Jurassic Park movie. Things were all suddenly got busier, traffics were mad! people were mad! the language was mad too! We stopped at this crossroad, everyone just staring and we paid and started to follow this old man who is our porter/guide. All the building looked the same, same color, same layout and same height. But when you start walking through the alleys, you began to feel this culture blast exploded in you and it was just waiting for us to explore. Everything there was old school, felt like we went back in time. Everything was manual, nothing high-tech involved, it was authentic! But we felt so lost, because everywhere looked the same and the souks and alleys were all the same, we won’t have a clue how to get back to our hostel without a guide!
But after walking through this maze, we got to the reception of the hostel and started to check in, there were a few boys standing outside the hostel door and looking doggy and we knew what they will offer, me and Ozzy went outside and started to communicate with theses people, they were friendly and few can speak English. Then we asked them for hash and they offered this “secret agent” looking joint to us. People say Moroccan hash is so strong and pure, and i can tell you they are not lying, me and Ozzy both had about 6 tooks on it and i felt like i needed to sit down and clear my mind for a second. I was high within the first few hours of being in Morocco and it was just mind bubbling. Shookran (thank you in arabic), we said to the receptionist and we finally sorted our rooms out, got changed and jumped right in the pool and relaxed for a moment.
The style of the hostel was beautiful, it used to be an old palace, everything were symmetrical and combine with the rich and bold curves and pillars. It was still a palace to me! The pool sat right in the middle of all the rooms, the open roof let the sunshine shone right through the pool and it was a like a Roman bath. For 17-25 Euro a night, this place worthed every single pennies of it. We were all so pleased with it, for me who never been to a hostel before, this is just an luxury for 17 euro! Bargain! The hostel provided breakfast too! OH MY DAYS things was going down! It was like a treat after all this hours of us suffering from the travel, we were finally in our swim wear, laying down in the boiling sun, listening to the water dripping from the fountain, chilling and thinking…. Damn! things can’t get better for that exact moment.
Luckily we arrived early and we had a lot of time before it gets dark, a few of us were getting hungry after a few swim and sweating too much ( i cant believe how hot it was in Morocco) we decided to go out to start exploring and get lunch! We got changed and all that, putting our bags in the lockers and be good and organized, packing stuff away that i won’t need. leaving my diary on my bed to mark my territory. And then the 4 of us – Ozzy,Robyn, Joel and I went out. We asked this guy to take us where food was sold, i would be expecting the square… We walked through hundreds of alleys, turning left and rights and finally we ended up in this much more spacious area with tons of metal and bronze products, it was all shiny and very crafty.
We thought : What the hell and where are we and what are they going to do to us. And the guy who was leading us put his hands behind his back and didn’t say much, then this older folks held our hands and sat us down… By this time we have all realized it was a trap and just tried to get us to buy something from his shop. Then this old guy took out 2 tins and in there were hundreds of images of him with lots of different tourists. I was so confused and just kept my smile on and be polite, so we listened to the guy and explain how hungry and poor we were, we took some pictures together and start searching for food again…
In this alleys of shops and tunnels, they called it souks this is the most complicated roads i have walked in my entire life, but it was a great place for getting right into their culture and feel the foundation of Marrakesh. The shop’s products were all amazing, their crafty work especially, because they all had their own characteristics and it was so rare and we hadn’t yet seen so much of it in our life.
We started to smell food, hallelujah! there were tons of different food, fried fish, kebabs and just things we didnt even know about. So for the ignorant travelers, we went to for the fish because it looked fantastic and its the most safest meat. We didn’t want to get ill on the first day! We got 5, its funny they gave you a piece of Nan bread and chili with you, i was thinking what? is it like a lunch deal or something. By the time i didn’t know they eat everything with bread, and i mean everything! We got our food and we walked around for a bit, we started to walk back. We began to anticipate the barrier of not knowing where to go but trying to remember the way we came, took us about half an hour i would say.
Picking up from the guide an smoking it on the roof of the hostel, over looking the city of Marrakesh, we finally sensed the way of life in Marrakesh. we sure loved it! It was in the evening where we were waiting for the others to come back to go out in the square for dinner. When we were all chilling, suddenly there were this mumbleling coming from the other side of the city, it was getting louder and louder, closer and closer and soon it surrounded us. Every towel in the city started broadcasting the prayer and it was just so awesome to hear it right on the roof. This is call to prayer where it is the Muslims daily’s religious practice, most people go to the mosque and pray! It was an eye opening experience but i was too high at that point, so kind of freaked me out to bits. And thinking back of it, it does make me laugh.
The Hectic Square
We regrouped, the others who just got back said they got lost and we weren’t surprised but we were so worry as they went for hours! Now our job was to get to the main square safely and smoothly, so we thought it was best to follow someone again. We follow the guy who was with us earlier today and he showed us the way, when we stepped out of the alleys and suddenly into this massive, spacious area. it was just shocking. it was at night, so it was cooler but the people and its energy still flowing like it was during the day! The fist store we reached was the orange juice session, i called it session because there were about 30 of the little stores who sells orange juice and there were millions of oranges… They shout : AY AY HELLO! WELCOME! TASTY ORANGE JUICE HERE….and stuff like that, once they had eye contact with you, they will just keep throwing lines at you. Anyway the juice was so nice, its so sweet! We asked for no ice and sugar but the juice still taste like no other! And plus it was only 7 Dirhams!
The amount of people and salesman tried to get you to dine at their store was overwhelming. It was so competitive and they all said the same “chat-up lines” once they analysed you and knew which language you speak, they have practiced different lines so they can grabbed your attention and sat you down at their table. For example this guy knew we were from UK and he said things like :
Come to our store, its cheap as Primark, Our food is Finger licking good! Quality like Mark and Spencer!
I got to give it up to them, they did put a big smile on our faces and plus the accent they put on its just hilarious and for that reason we chose their store. I chose lamb kebabs with the bread and some salad with coke, i just didnt know what i should eat and what not, but i went for it anyway. planning out to try different things every night! We all sat around and talked about how mental today has been and how we felt about the first day, taking pictures and enjoying the fresh and curious scenario in front of us. I would never forget how busy it is at the square at night, the noises and how much were happening at the same time. After our food, we went to walk around more, there were story tellers, performers, monkeys and dancers, so much to see. But i walked around with my video camera trying to take videos with the thought of they might charge me for the videos. So i turned into a paparazzi that night and i was acting so doggy. Kept trying to film from the longest distance as possible. I actually used one cigarette to trade a picture with this old man, he kindly accepted this deal and let me took a photo. It was fair i thought, so i can use more time to play with the SLR camera to get this amazing picture. I wish i understood the story tellers, they looked and sounded so interesting and so many people were crowed around.
There will be a certain point you thought you have had enough in the square and we were all knackered from the day, time to head home and just pass-out in bed. We went to the roof to have a few smoke before bed, enjoying the privacy and peace up in the roof. It was the perfect things to do to end the day with, and i am sure that very day has been one of the most exciting and exhausting day in my life. And i am missing it so much, having some spices in my ordinary life!