Monday, 23 November 2015

SIPADAN MAGIC - Malaysian Dive Article

I'm going away for a few weeks of scuba diving and exploration in Thailand, so I thought I'd leave you with an article I wrote for Air Niugini's in-flight magazine about scuba diving in Sipadan. 
You should be able to zoom in sufficiently to read the text.

I hope you enjoyed it - please leave a comment - and I'll see you when I return in time for the festive season.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA - Mini-Market series

Mention Kuala Lumpur and the iconic Petronas Towers spring to mind.  

Although a visit to the towers is pretty much mandatory - I wanted to see some market life too. My time in KL was limited, but I managed to find time to explore Chinatown's Petaling Street.

I have to confess that these market stalls didn't excite me too much.

But the area had quite a vibe and seemed popular with the tourists.

Although there were plenty of locals too.

Ultimately I became more interested in the clash of old and new architecture than the market stalls.

Back near my hotel, close to the Petronas Towers, this covered eating area was full of locals with not a tourist in sight (which is a good indication of authentic food). I adore eating in simple eateries with the locals. People are almost always surprised and delighted when foreigners choose to eat in their establishments. It was a good decision because the unpretentious service was great and the food was utterly delicious!

I should have time to squeeze in one more post next week before I go on my travels in December.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

OUZOUD - MOROCCO Part 3 - Market Mini-Series

Ouzoud in the Atlas mountains of Morocco is famous for its waterfalls - the Cascades d'Ouzoud. 

 Whilst the Cascades are a stunning sight, I'm going to focus on the market I visited in Ouzoud instead.

The area for cars to park was limited compared to the utterly delightful donkey parking, set within a glorious, shady olive grove.

Overflow donkey parking was also available on the football pitch.

The market setting by the river was serene and beautiful.

Vendors had erected awnings to protect their produce - and themselves - from the searing sun. The comforting smell from the slowly warming fruits and vegetables was strangely reminiscent of the kitchen of my childhood. 

The pumpkins in particular smelled gorgeous.

The relaxed atmosphere was palpable and the locals were more than happy to allow me to take their photograph.

The meat section was strategically shaded and whilst I didn't fancy one of those unrefrigerated turkeys, fortunately there was no whiff of tainted meat. 

I was slightly surprised that it seemed to be only men who were doing the shopping. 

Although there were plenty of women doing the selling!

Some of the children were taking market day seriously.

Others less so.

So there you have my experiences of Moroccan markets, in three parts. I haven't decided where to take you next week - watch this space.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

MARRAKECH - MOROCCO Part 2 - Market Mini-Series

Following on from last week's post - our next big city was Marrakech. 

Finding our way to the car park where Motorhomes can park overnight was a nightmare. My navigator role was tested to the limit – as was my driver husband’s. How he held his nerve as we kept teetering on the verge of being killed, I’ll never know. 
Imagine a cacophony of cars, mopeds, tuk-tuks, bicycles, trucks, buses and donkey carts - all ignoring the marked lanes, no indicating, no entering and exiting round-a-bouts correctly, jumping red lights… you name it – they were doing it.
And that’s not forgetting the pedestrians stepping into the road whilst looking the other way. Inshallah that they make it to other side.

We were almost hysterical – but found the whole challenge strangely exhilarating.

I could hardly believe it when we found our car park. 
We were directed to a quiet location round the back next to a lean-to containing sacks of garlic.

A few men were sitting in the shade opposite us. After we’d settled in, we gave them French walnuts in exchange for tiny glasses of teeth-clenchingly sweet tea.
In the heat the pungent smell of the garlic was rather overpowering. 

We were a short walk from the main action in the famous Marrakech square: Jemaa el Fna (spelt how you will!) 

There were African drummers, snake charmers, men with monkeys and hawks, women offering to paint Henna patterns on my hands, fortune tellers, storytellers, clowns, dancers, singers and beggars. 

The hustling was good natured and friendly. 

At dusk the food stalls cranked up the action. Tagines, couscous and kebabs were all on offer. We chose a non-touristy stall and ate ‘Arabic’ soup with small wooden ladles and sweet sesame pastries called Chabakia.

Mint is massive in Morocco. We saw the aromatic herb being sold everywhere.

We returned the following morning. Things were much quieter, with people restocking their stalls.

All in all, the iconic square in Marrakech is an unmissable stop on any itinerary to Morocco whether you’re in a Motorhome or not.

Next stop Ouzoud in the Atlas Mountains…