Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's challanging, quite, at times

In Fez

In general, to take photos, to start with, is quite a challenge, especially on human beings.

Balinese and Burmese are very camera friendly. Not in Morocco! Most people here do not like to be photographed. I don’t think it’s anything superstitious like you will to lose your soul kindathing. I think they hate to be treated as subjects. I can relate to that because I don’t like it either if a tourist took my picture back home.

So, the best way is actually warm up by creating a small conversation. From there I would have to gauge how camera friendly they are. Some of them waived a straight NO!! when they saw my camera, and worse if you have a tripod with me - which makes me look like I am working with National Geography or something commercial. I was subtly advised by the guide not to take pictures of places where there is a sign that say no camera (duh!), women (especially with their husband around), people in uniforms – policemen and soldiers.

I was actually approached by a man in Casablanca who warned me - "We are not animals". The the worst part is I didn't even photograph him :-(

However, I did meet and conversed with a few friendly people who didn’t mind to be photographed, gave me cups of mint tea - gratuit! – and actually took me to great interesting locations which are not listed in the guidebooks. Several special opportunities I had, will be posted here a bientot – soon. That’s makes the whole journey more deeply interesting and glad to have the chance to freeze them digitally.

Too bad, I am not a good writer.

This man is the best -I hate to call it - subject, I have ever had.

I still remember I was chasing a scene where mules which were loaded with goods on their back. I literally ran in the maze of the medina and I ended up in a small compound where people were doing different activities like packing some grain into a large gunny of grain etc. This man was just around the corner, welcome and greeted me. After exchanging a couple of questions and answers, he actually “pose” for me. I won’t call it “pose” because he naturally sat like this upon my arrival from chasing the donkey. After shaking our hand and said our goodbyes with “salams” and “bon chance” I left happily with this image. He is a nice old man. I felt like having conversation with a grandfather.

Feel free to click on the portraits if you want to appreciate the details. I used tripod in bright day light just to eliminate any camera shake.

Be End

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oil Oil Oil


oink! oink! oink!

Tuesday February 26, 2008

DPM: Oil price to remain after polls

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has dismissed speculation there would be a fuel price hike after the elections.

“No, it doesn’t necessarily mean a price hike,” he said, when asked if there would be a fuel price hike after the polls due to the increase in fuel subsidies paid by the Government.

Is this for real? I doubt it! It's against economic logic, unless the government pump in more subsidy. But then again, what about the crude oil that we export extracted from our field? It must be tagged to the floating global price per barrel!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Food food food and more food

Typically, breakfast is with baguette and endless choice of salami and cheese and they are all fresh fresh fresh, especially the juis d’orange, fresh and sweet.

A glass of pure orange juice squeezed from about 4 oranges and they are about 4 Dirham, less than RM2. I was told in the summer, the taste of orange is even sweeter! You can also have a choice of other juices too, and of course not to forget mint tea.

I was warned by DS that the food could be very expensive because he was in Morocco about the same time last year. From what I gathered, however, the food are very affordable. You can have a nice decent lunch at about 40 Dirham which is about RM16. That's very good price to pay for a tourist like me.

Lots of grilled minced mutton or beef served with fries and fresh Moroccan bread. Most of the bread we had there was fresh from the oven!

In the medina, we also tried the escargot with spices. It's boiled in some spices and I didn’t quite like it - a bit too spicy. It's very popular, sold by the road side where people can just stop by and have a cup, with the soup. It fun to eat it. After eating, you just throw the shell back onto the little pick up.

Idiot Driver WPK 6393

Got this from NS, via email this morning.

STUPID driver!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Casablanca After Dark

After having tajine dinner at the Parc de la League Arabe, we just walked around exploring the city after sunset on the way back to the hotel.

Cercle Militaire. Architect: M Boyer

Palais de Justice - built in Moorish style in 1922. Architect: J Marrast

Casablanca Street

Two days in Casablanca, we spent most of the time in the old city. Around the Centreville (downtown) is the old Casablanca with art-deco architecture circa 1920s and 30s.

Typically like other cities in Morocco, Casablanca also has its own Ville Nouvelle (new town) which not really my point of interest though I passed by it on the way back when I saw high rises of buildings with IBM, HP, NOKIA and other global names.

The old town has its own character. It’s like going back the art-deco era though I think the buildings should be preserved better. Frech influence is very strong, until today. The cafes have small tables along the five-foot ways with all chairs facing the streets.

You can see a lot of men (rarely women) smoking and drinking their mint tea with their friends watching the world passing by. Reminds me so much of cafes and restaurants in France and Turkey. I found out later that this also applies to other cities and small towns where we stopped by and have a cuppa watching the locals passing by. Today, Casablanca is still the biggest port in Morocco.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Size Does Matter

Cought this in Gebeng Industrial Area, Kuantan after my meeting in Kemaman recently.

I could not believe my eyes.

Being a typical Malaysia, kepoh, I had to stop and took this pic.

My guess is it is a part of a perochemical plant which was fabricated in Kuantan Port and shipped into Gebeng Industrial Park for installation.

What ever it is, it was like a 747 crawling on the road of Kuantan.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mosquee Hassan Deux

Woke up at 5am. 

Too cold to shower. 
Mission: To catch the first light to capture the great mosque, Hassan II or fondly called Hassan Deux by the locals. 
From the map it looked near but after walking for almost 30 minutes in the dark cold streets of downtown Casablanca and still no sight of the minaret, we gave up and took the Petit Taxi for a Less than 5 minutes ride mosque. It cost us less than 10 Dirham, which is not even RM5.00.

Impressive architecture, especially its 200m minaret.
Walk around the mosque in semidarkness 9-hectare compound, 2/3 of which are built over the sea. The prayers hall can accommodate 25,000 people! Apparently Hassan II is the 2nd largest religious building in the world after Masjidil Haram in Mecca.

It was still empty the time we arrived. Surety Nationale patrolled the area, stopped by us and asked us in French for permit. We convinced them, we are just tourists with cameras and tripods. They let us go. 
After walking around evaluating the angles and determining the direction of the sunrise, we finally set up our tripod at the center of the compound hugged by buildings that house a religious school and a museum. After a few test shots, we just waited for the sun to slowly rise while having a bar of Hersheys for breakfast.
It was less than 10 degree celsius.

It’s a beautiful building and more impressive if you look at the details. The mosques was designed by Michel Pinseau with 35,000 craftsmen worked on it.

*to realize the propotion of this big structure, please compare the two black dots on the bottom left on the last picture. Those are people walking.

Bienvenue A Maroc

Casa Blanca (Spanish), Dar el-Beida (Arabic) White Hose (English)

Reached Casablanca about noon. The weather was warmer than I thought it would be with clear blue skies.

I arrived trough Terminal 1 of Mohammed V International Airport. The architecture was simple, not intricate. The service was efficient.


Bonjour! Malizia?

Oui monsieur!



Assalamualaikum! Marhaban!


-Passport stamped-


Merci bien!

I can see the French (being an ex colony) touch int the arrival hall – like a gallery with paintings on the wall. A good first impression with the second country I have been to in this dark continent.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Les Artisants

I don’t know for sure, but I am pretty certain this little boy is the coppersmith’s child. Like other trades, I was told they have been handed down from their families for generations. Is the child going to grow up and inherit his father’s trade?

The coppersmith actually “carved” the intricate details impromptu – no tracing paper is used to trace the pattern onto the copper piece he’s working on. Oh well, they are not called les artisants for nothing!

It is not uncommon, I was told, for them to smoke marijuana to be creative with their work.

Reminds me of the advertising industry....

Yusoef de Fes El Bali

I noticed him everyday manning his little shop that sells some kind of pastry. Breakfast or dinner, he’s there. I think I saw an old man once besides him, probably his grand father.

What attracted me about this boy is the way he carries himself while running his or his family little business. Very attentive and hard working. He moves and talks like an adult and his expression means business yet very friendly and warm. I overheard one day his neighbor called him Yusoef (a name he shares probably with 2 million of his countrymen / boys.

One day I passed by on the way back to the hotel after dinner while he was busy cleaning up before closing him little patisserie and in passing I greeted him… “Yusoef! Cava?” He smiled and replied “Oui, merci!” and after that wondered or possibly impressed how the hell this Asiatique know his name. He gave his more than his usual adult smile.

Since he is at the stall most of the time, I wonder whether his family can afford to give him proper education or he is the breadwinner of the family….

Part of me feels sad but on the second thought, at least he has enough to eat and clean. Unlike those children I saw in Mandalay and Yangon.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Salutations du Maroc!

Just arrived at Marrakech after a few days in Casablanca and Fez. It has been a fantastic trip exploring beautiful Morocco, the country and the people.

Land of Medinas, Kasbahs, Masjids and Medrassahs.

Every man are named either Achmed, Ebrahim, Ebdul Rehman or Yusuef!

I took loads of pics but havent got time to process them yet. Some of the pics are very very nice and I couldn't wait to sort them and post them here to share.

TFF sms: Parliament dissolved.

Marrakech is my last leg of the 10 day Morocco adventure and love every single bit of it. Wonderful people, beautiful places and great food!

Au revoir et a bientot!

*pics: one of the elaborate doors or Medrassa Bou Inania, Fez

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dubai Transit

At KLIA earlier, they confiscated my hair gel. Crap! This ruling is totally CRAP!

That was a 6-hour flight from KLIA?

Didn't really feel that long coz I popped half a dormicum after the light snack on board.

Man, the last time I was in Dubai was during my university days. Can't remember much. There were no aerobridges then, so when we stepped off the plane we were exposed to the dessert weather which was very hot.

Now, I don't even know what the temperature is like out there, but its quite comfortable in the airconditioned airport. So comfortable that you can see a lot of foreign workers (I guess we are all foreign here) sleeping, scattered all over the floor.

One thing has not changed, they still have the 1 out of 1000 chance to win a sports car if you buy an AED500 lottery ticket.

I have 4 hours to kill before continue my journey.

Just got an email from a hotel confirming our reservation and someone will be waiting for us at Casablanca International Airport.

And RS just got the confirmation that we can spend 4 nights at Amanjena in Marrakech.


Oh, I just heard the call for subuh prayer in the air, throughout the airport buy the local muazzein.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Piccolo Mondo

Small World No 1

Ms writee drove her dad to the clinique for an eyecheck

Why do you have to go for your eyecheck?

Because my friend advised me to... a few years after catarac procedure.. bla bla bla

Who's your friend Dad?

Ms so and so...

Apparently Ms so and so is Mr Writer's Mom.



Small World No 2

Met up with JC, after 9 years he left Malaysia for San Jose.

We managed to track each other again through Facebook.

Its good to meet up with positive spirited old buddy. We've got loads to share and talk about.


Small World No 3

Met N (Chinese) at Kelab Chempaka. M (Malay), my uni mate is actually N's bother in law! we ised to party together...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

♥@ 1st sight - 13

I went to check out the progress of the FIAT over the weekend. They have completed spraying the car into the original FIAT "blanco" white.

I am the kind of person who expect at least 100% value in return from every single penny I pay for goods or services rendered. Some people said I am very "cerewet" or fussy but I don't care. It's my right as a consumer.

Maniam promised to deliver a good job because I did not haggle too much (I tried!) on the price. I said OK provided he gave something up to my satisfaction.

What I saw today was generally OK but NOT up to my expectation. As usual, I came out with a list of things which were not done correctly. I think Maniam had a migrane after that, or he was such a good actor in a negotiation.

There are more things need to be done after the completion of body and paint work. All the parts need to be reinstalled and the most tricky parts are the windsheilds and windows. They need to be fitted correctly with new rubber to seal the glass to the body.

I am quite happy with the progress ut I didnt show it to Maniam. (I hope Maniam doesnt know about this blog!)

Once I am happy with Maniam's work of art by a team of artists from Myanmar, the car will be towed back to Torino (not in Italy but in UK - Ulu Kelang lah) for those meccanica to reinstall the little fully restored 600cc classic Italian engineering into the rear end of the car. (Yes, rear engine, just like his cousin, Signor Ferrari... hehe)

I have to look for a place to get the upholstry done. Do tell if any of you have a place to recommend. If leather is too expensive, I might have to settle with just PVC.

Now, I have to think of a name to call this car to comemorate the rebirth of the little classic.