Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech January 17th 2014

Today as we continued on journey south and west we made a stop at Dades Gorge and continued along the route of 1001 Kasbahs. This was the old caravan route from the Atlantic to the Sahara, although the ones further south were used most often. Along this route are the remains and restorations of the most surviving kasbahs. We stopped at one called Kasbah Taourit, now a UNESCO site. Built in 1764 and used mainly for administraton of the area and was a center point in the rebellion of the Berbers against the Sultan in 1912. We finally made our way to Ouazazate, pronounced "whereizit". This area has been used for many movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Ten Commandments, The Mummy and many others. The hotel we stayed in even had some of the ... read more
Sunrise on Sahara
Sunrise on Sahara
Staying warm

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Merzouga January 14th 2014

Today we moved from Fes across the primary mountain range in Morocco called the Atlas Mountains. We are moving into Berber dominated area. The Berbers are the original people of this area and other parts of North Africa, named such by the Greeks who called everyone not Greek barbarians. The Berber name is a derivation of the word amongst several dialects over time. The Berber language was just added as an official language of Morocco along with Arabic and French. The Berbers even have their own calendar and we are here during their New Year. No major celebrations though as this is an agricultural society and very poor. On the way we stopped in a town called Infram which many have called the Switzerland of Morocco. It was very cute and many buildings had the Swiss ... read more
Barbary Apes

Africa » Morocco » Fès-Boulemane » Fes January 13th 2014

Today we explore Fes. There is an old section from the 9th century and a "new" Fes from the 14th century. The new, new town is on the outskirts. We visited the palace from the 14th century, still used by members of the Royal family so we could only see the outside. There are 7 huge gates because 7 is a lucky number in Islam. However, the highlight of the day was spending about 3.5 hours walking through the 9th century medina or marketplace. Fes is known for this medina. It was crazy! Narrow alleys, 9400 to be exact, that wound through the place like a maze. If you didn't know where you were going, you might as well just sit down and hope some nice person comes along. There is a meat section, vegetable section, ... read more

Africa » Morocco » Meknès-Tafilalet » Meknes January 12th 2014

(publishing with pictures now) Headed out early today for Fes but made of day of stops before getting there. Before we left Casablanca we drove to the Hassan II mosque which is reportedly the 3rd largest mosque in the world. Forty thousand people can get in there during prayer. Of course we found cats outside and had to have picture of them, too. We also took a swing by Rick's Cafe. For those Bogey fans, you'll know what I'm talking about! :) Now we start our 2 hour drive north to Meknes. Meknes is one of the four Imperial cities founded in the 17th century. It's famous for the kasbah (fortress) around the city and it's mosque and shrine for the Sultan Moulay Ismail, who brought Meknes into great power. Many ambassadors from European countries were ... read more
with our tour guide, Abdullah
we can't resist
still cute

Africa » Morocco » Grand Casablanca » Casablanca January 11th 2014

Here I am in Morocco checking one more continent off my list. We flew Royal Air Maroc out of JFK when it was 34 degrees. The plane trip was not long, about 6 hours. We decided to splurge a little on this trip so we are flying business class. Now on Royal Air Maroc that just means we get some good food and slightly wider seats. They were not as wide as on US Air. Movies were old but they did have Casablanca. We arrived very early this morning, about 5:30 local time. The hotel is nice, a 5 star but those of you who travel know that is relative to the country. After a massage for me and quick nap for Ernest, we had lunch then set out for a little stroll. It is in ... read more
outside front of our hotel
teaching us how to pour Moroccan mint tea
boardwalk by the ocean

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap September 17th 2012

We only have a half day left so this should be a relaxing morning just traveling around sightseeing, right? WRONG! Going with the spirit of this active vacation we made use of every moment of our last few hours. Our guide saide we were going into the countryside to see some rice farms and villages. Then we pulled up to these 2 rickety carts pulled by water buffalo! In Thailand we stopped on the side of the road one day to watch a group of water buffalo from 50 yards away. Now I'm going to be sitting behind one's rear end. We climb into the cart and were told to sit sideways but since I was at the back, I just hung my legs out the back. We rode for about 20-30 minutes, not sure, over ... read more
Water Buffalo carts
Water Buffalo carts
Water Buffalo carts

Asia » Cambodia » North » Angkor September 16th 2012

This is the day I've been looking forward to since after the Tiger Monastary and why we booked this trip so I have a lot to 'ooh and ahh' about. Although we refer to the whole area as Angkor Wat, the entire area is called Angkor and includes many temples and sites in addition to Angkor Wat. It was the capital of the Khmer empire from the 9th - 14th centuries. I was also spurprised that the park is still inhabited with villages that may even date back to the original Angkor period. There is a plant specific to the area that looks like a type of grass but when you touch the leaf, it folds up like a venus fly trap, then reopens. We spent the entire day at the Angkor Archaeological Park seeing the ... read more
plant that closes when you touch it then reopens
temple outside Angkor Thom
bridge to Angkor Thom

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap September 15th 2012

Today we travel to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see Angkor. Four of us from the Thailand tour continued on to this part. We took Bankgkok Air from Chiang Mai through Bangkok. This airline was pretty efficient. On a 1.5 hour flight to Bangkok then and hour flight to Bangkok, we received a full snack meal, drinks and even free beer. Wonder if we'll get that same service on Delta when we go to Atlanta? :() Since this was a travel day, not much to say but we did arrive in Siem Reap and had some time to visit the Angkor National Museum. With incense in the air, this was very helpful for me to it reset some of my expectations about the ancient city of Angkor and the temples there. One thing that was really ... read more
this was on the 1 hour flight
Angkor National Museum
our guide taking us through the museum

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai September 14th 2012

Today is our last day here, and in Thailand itself, so it was back to the temples. One thing, we did learn was that the levee broke in Sukhothai a couple of days after we left. The ruins weren't flooded but our hotel was on an overflow canal so we were all thinking about them and the nice people we met there. We first stopped at the crematorium of the Royal Family of Chiang Mai. Called Wat Suan Dok, it was laid out in 1370 from a royal garden. Everybody can be cremated there for free except cost of coffin. Temple will pay that if the family can't. We saw one man's coffin in a place for flowers and people to gather, like an open air funeral home. Our guide said this man had died 3 ... read more
Monks going out to get alms
Wat Suan Dok
man's funeral awaiting cremation

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai September 13th 2012

Today we spent the morning at an elephant camp. There's not much to say that the pictures can't. The elephant we rode was named Oz and was 25 years old, a youngster, and weighed 4000 kilos. The camp has 79 elephants and think Oz was second heaviest. When had lunch at an Orchid Restaurant that was very pretty. Not a flower person myself. Then back to rest and go that night to a Thai massage the tour group arranged. I thought it was pretty wimpy for a Thai massage. Nobody tried to do any contortions on my body or walk on my back. Guess the tour company was afraid of injury. We came back about 9:00 and went across the street to have dinner in the night bazaar. The place is so huge it's overwhelming!... read more
feeding elephants
feeding elephants
feeding elephants

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