The flight from Auckland to Ho Chi Minh is 12 hours, but was very pleasant given that there were only 40 something passengers, less than 20% full. Everyone had enough room to stretch out and the meal service entailed no waiting. The mid part of the flight took a route over Brisbane to Darwin, we had a nice view of the outback from 11,000 m.
Once we got through customs – very fast and easy – we found a our ride to the hotel, it was our first experience of the organised chaos of traffic. The road, packed with mainly scooters, is just a sea of weaving vehicles. Disaster seems imminent but so far no problem. By the time we got checked in to our hotel it was 2 am NZ time so quickly to sleep.
Breakfast in the morning was an amazing spread of cooked and cold tastes. The coffee was excellent, 3 cups set me up for a good day. Our first mission was to find the starting point of our walking tour on the next day, that entailed learning how to cross streets. Apparently the few traffic lights around are for decoration only, you just have to trust and step off the kerb, head purposely for the other side, and believe the traffic will flow around you. It seems to work.
After a couple of hours wandering the heat was starting to bite, we found a lovely small restaurant and had a mango salad, beef and lemongrass salad and some spring rolls. Wandering back towards our hotel, we eyeballed a place offering massages. Behind us a voice said ‘they do a very good job’, and we realised it was a steward off our flight the day before! On his recommendation, we wandered in. They were good!
In the evening we met up with ex Methvenite Ben Jones, now working as an English teacher here. We had a meal together and really enjoyed hearing about his experiences.
Today we had booked an ‘Urban Adventure’, a guided tour around the city by cyclo. We had stops at some markets but the most interesting visit was to the War Remnants Museum, which had a different slant on the history and consequences of the Vietnam war than we are used to hearing. I particularly enjoyed and exhibit of photography by war photographers from both sides; there were 137 photos, all from photographers who died in action. There were some people very dedicated to showing the world what was happening.
http://billandcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/130203_5542.jpg00Billhttp://billandcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/130203_5542.jpgBill2016-10-29 10:04:312016-10-29 10:14:32Ho Chi Minh City - Vietnam begins!
After 6 weeks travelling we were looking forward to some chill time before going back to NZ. Luckily some friends, a young French couple we met in Arrowtown 5 years ago, were running a guesthouse in Taroudant. We last saw Line and Romain about 3 years ago when they were back in Paris. Since we last met their family has grown to include Ernesto, who will soon be joined by a brother or sister. Dar Tourkia was the perfect place to relax and Line and Romain were the best hosts and friends for the week.
Line and Romain has some other friends from Paris also staying, we all had some great day trips to the weekly market and out of town for a wonderful lunch at an open air restaurant.
Finally it was time to head home; an early taxi ride to the airport at Agadir was the start of about 40 hours of travel: Agadir – Casablanca – Dubai – Bangkok – Sydney – Christchurch.
http://billandcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/130203_5542.jpg00Billhttp://billandcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/130203_5542.jpgBill2015-04-25 03:44:392016-02-25 08:10:12Taroudant - Dar Tourkia
Marrakech was the end point of our Peregrine tour. We had two days there for our last city experience. Our first evening, wandering in the huge central plaza was an experience. An endless crowd and endless stalls / vendors / performers who were all determined to extract money from anyone who lingered. The next day we had another market walk – getting quite familiar now – but also saw the Palais de la bahia. It was a 19th c palace (complete with rooms for the harem) built by many artisans, very beautiful.
On the final morning we said goodbye to our travelling companions, their company added a lot to the experience, it was a great group. Mustapha helped us organise a taxi to Taroudant and away we went.
Leaving the Sahara behind we were heading roughly east back towards the coast, past Mustapha’s home town so we got to meet his parents and one brother, really nice to be able to do that. We were headed for the M’goun Valley , an area known as ‘the valley of the roses’. We thought we had been mislead when we didn’t see an actual valley full of roses, but then realised we were a bit early in the season. As we looked more closely we could see there were actually wild roses everywhere.
The little Berber village at Bou Tharar where we stayed was nice and relaxed, completely different from the big city Morocco. We went for a walk, Cher of course found a shop with lots of local jewellery etc. With limited French we had an interesting chat with the owner Said. We were later wandering around little back alleys when we heard footsteps from behind and had to make way for a farmer and his donkey loaded with donkey poo (looked like he had just cleaned out the pen). He (the farmer) was pretty friendly and before we knew it he had us following him down to his little fields by the river, where the organic fertiliser was spread. There were various crops of barley, lucerne, lupins and broad beans growing. We were given the full tour, even stopping for a cup of tea with some women doing the washing down by the river.
Next day we were headed for Marrakech, with a stop at Ouarzazate – or ‘Mollywood’. Many films are shot here, some mentioned were Lawrence of Arabia, The Last Temptation of Christ, Gladiator and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen as well as parts of Game of Thrones.
http://billandcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/130203_5542.jpg00Billhttp://billandcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/130203_5542.jpgBill2015-04-25 03:11:472016-03-01 05:06:54Valley of the Roses
On our way to the edge of the Sahara we stopped at Merzouga to check out a fossil facility. The surrounding land is rich with fossil filled rock, which is mined, cut into slabs, polished and made in to many products. Merzouga used to be the last settlement before the Sahara so had many hotels and other accommodation. Now there are plenty of options further out so Merzouga has many empty hotels.
After a bit of dirt track driving we ended up at accommodation right on the edge of the sand dunes. At this point we were about 20 km from the Algerian border. Most of the group loaded up on camels and went to an overnight camp over a few sand dunes. Roger and I did a cost-benefit calculation on the benefits of camel riding and opted for the comfort of a nice room – I was fighting off a nasty flu which swayed me.
http://billandcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/130203_5542.jpg00Billhttp://billandcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/130203_5542.jpgBill2015-04-24 23:14:152016-03-01 05:16:40Camels and the Sahara