Magical Morocco #3 (Sahara Desert)

The bus view from Marrakesh to Tagounite
The Mud Castle in Tagounite
Sahara  is the largest hot desert and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. The Sahara covers the large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Lybia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.
Mr. Ikhlaf, the Berber man, our driver in Sahara
From Marrakesh, we took bus and spent almost 9 hours to Tagounite before heading to Sahara. It's really a long and winding road, ups and downs literally with deep valley, mountain, huge rock and super blue sky around us. Some of us got dizzy and threw up but still the view are totally awesome. All magnificent views are here. You name it.
In front of our camps where we ate and enjoyed the stars and music at night
Our camps.  No worries, they're equipped with mattress, blanket, electricity and a clean toilet.
When we arrived at a small city, Tagounite, we felt kind of flashed back to the year of 1970s. Tagounite is a dusty city, surrounded by very simple terracotta houses and shops however for the fresh fruits (they have the best oranges !!!) and vegetables, Morocco is the best. Up until now every time I order orange juice, I always feel disappointed since there is no orange juice as fresh as the one in Morocco.  Most of Morocco fruits and vegetables are exported to European countries.
Love this pic! (Credit to Mica)

In Tagounite, we stayed in a mud castle owned by a very kind host, Kamal. This was a very special place for us since we shared one big room and slept there altogether. The most 'adventurous' part was the bathroom, it's far from the main house, no electricity so it was a total darkness and you could hear the dogs were  barking all night long. Creepy? Everyone just stayed in the house waiting until the morning came before we decided to go to the bathroom with several of us #BackpackerAbal-abal hahaha...
Yay...we made it. At one of the high sand dunes in Sahara
The next day, we got on in a four-wheel-drive car. These 2,5 hours drive were so challenging. Rocky, dusty, hot, everything covered by the sand. But nothing beats Sahara, the sunset, the sunrise, the sand dune, the view, everything are beyond belief. Never thought that I could visit this place, stayed in a very comfortable camp, slept under millions of stars while enjoying the Berber (one of the ethnic groups in Morocco)  sang and played Morocco musical instruments. WHAT A ONCE IN A  LIFETIME EXPERIENCE111

Book Review: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Title: The Magic String of Frankie Presto
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: HarperCollins
Paperback, October 2016
496 pages

"And where you are going, you will also have to listen. Remember that. In music and in life."
This 7th book of Mitch Albom will definitely make the readers feel lost since the very first page and you can't just stop reading it.  Who is Frankie Presto? He is just a fictional talented musician who will easily capture your heart and at the end of the story, you wish he's real.

The story starts at Frankie Presto's funeral. You will then interact with famous people including  'real' musicians and events (such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles members, Woodstock, and many more) who will share their  moments with Frankie and  how Frankie affected their lives in a very intimate ways.
"This is life. Things get taken away. You will learn to start over many times or you will be useless."
Narrated by music. Yes, music. You will find lots of unique ideas in this book. Beside music as the narrator, the author also connected with the famous people whose lives he has inserted into this fictional character, and a lot of them even contributed their own words to make the story more authentic.

Frankie, a Spanish orphan who was born in a burning church. His life is so rich. He experiences an extraordinary journey around the world. He was raised by a blind guitar teacher in Spain, he then moved to USA. Enjoying his popularity then life changes. More and more tragedies come. His career begins to fall. He feels depressed. But life always has its own magical way to end this deeply moving tale.

For me, this book is Albom at his best. Highly recommended. Still can't get this tale out of my head and ...HEART. 

"At a certain point, your life is more about your legacy to your kids that anything else." 

Magical Morocco #2 (Marrakesh)

On-the-bus view from Chefchaouen to Tangier  
Marrakesh after raining
"Welcome to Marrakesh, the drivers here are crazy,"said our taxi driver  welcoming us who  still got a kind of  'jet lag' after trapped for 12 hours in the train from Tangier to Marrakesh. That's typical Morocco train, never be punctual. We supposed to arrive at 8 am however at 12 noon finally we landed. Starving, feeling cold, and mati gaya.     
Riad Charms Marrakesh, where we stayed and felt in love with the place
Breakfast at our Riad
Marrakesh is the fourth biggest cities in Morocco after Casablanca, Fes, and Tangier. The city is surrounded by terracotta-painted buildings. The soil color protect the eyes when summer hits Morocco since its temperature can go up until 53 Celsius degree. Lucky us to visit Morocco in March when the weather is very cold, even the temperature could drop until 5 degree in the evening. So, taking your jacket or coat is a must.
At Jamaa el-Fna
Not like a peaceful Chefchaouen, Marrakesh is a very busy city. Try to walk along its long and winding alleys, and get ready to meet lots of merchants who sell their products such as cloths, carpets, ceramic, clay handicraft, woven fabrics, homemade cookies (France influence is very strong in Morocco), also the 'crazy' motorbike riders, mixed with donkey wagons, street performers, and more, you need full concentration to survive through this area. 
@Madrasa Ben Yousef, Morocco is rich for its beautiful-patterned of ceramic
We stayed in a very comfortable riad (a Morocco traditional house). A very cozy place with friendly receptionists and chefs (yes, we couldn't stand the fresh smell of new baked cakes and all a.k.a laper terus hahaha). There are several must-visit places in Marrakesh such as Ben Yousef  Madrasa (one of the biggest Islamic schools in Morocco), Bahia Palace (a Morocco palace that open for public), or the highlight one is Jamaa el-Fna, a very popular old market that full of everyone and everything, just sit at one of the cafes there, sip the mint tea (Morocco special tea) plus accompanied by fresh-baked cake that just came out of the oven, you will feel that time kind of stops...for a while...  

15 Amazing Years

MARRIAGE is when a man looses his BACHELORS  DEGREE
and a woman gets her MASTERS DEGREE.


Happy 15th Anniversary to us. Never thought we can go this far.
Hope for another 15 years and many more years to come!

Magical Morocco #1 (Chefchaouen)

The best  breakfast ever with olives, jams, honey, orange juice  and mints tea. 
My plan to visit Morocco has been set up since a year ago. I even had discussed this trip with my late father and he eagerly (as usual) supported me to go plus asked me to buy a red fez or  tarboosh (Moroccon hat). Eleven days before my trip, my father was hospitalized. I thought I'd cancel my trip since I couldn't imagine if something happened to him and I was not around.  But I guess my father and God had a conspiracy to make one of my bucket lists fulfilled. Four days before the trip started, my father passed away.
Aladdin Shop is the best shop for all organics goods, these are solid soaps.
So this trip was full with a mixed feeling. Enjoying the trip and a new friendship a lot however the empty feeling came when I returned to Jakarta. Usually after returning from my trip, I always dropped by at my father's house, reporting the trip, delivering the souvenirs and showing him all the pictures's different now. Well...time is a healer. I am sure this too shall pass. Insya Allah.
The man with the hat is the owner of Aladdin Shop that will explain wholeheartedly about face cream, soap, spices, etc.
Back to the trip, I spent two weeks just to explore Morocco. I went to five cities in Morocco therefore I will divide my Morocco post in five parts. This trip was kind of backpacking therefore we used all kinds of public transports such as bus and train and spent eight until twelve hours on the road. The journey started from Jakarta-KL-Doha(Qatar)-Casablanca(Morocco). After flying for almost 18 hours, we finally landed in Casablanca. Not even got our full consciousness yet but we just hurriedly got into taxi and spent (shockingly) almost seven hours on the road.
Still at Aladdin Shop: The Solid Perfume
Our first destination was Chefchaouen also known as the Blue City. Chefchaouen is one of the  old cities in Morocco built in 1471. Located in Rif Mountains, this city is well known for its building which mostly painted blue.

Some said that this blue color is to avoid the mosquitos since the mosquitos don't like blue color like clean water.  Others associated  this blue color with Jew refugees who came in 1930s. The Jews considered blue color as a symbol of sky and heaven, something spiritual.

After spending 18 hours on the plane and packed in the car  within seven hours, arriving in this Blue City was such an oasis for us. A small yet intimate local house to stay, fresh yet super yummy breakfast, kind local people, almost all of them welcomed us with the greetings of Assalamualaikum, unique merchandises with a very affordable price, and the good looking local people, both male and female, their looks are a combination of several races such as Arabic and European,  what  a perfect combination.

Good food, warm people and beautiful surrounding, what else could I ask for more?

RIP, Dad...

Dedicated to our beloved Bapak,

Rest in Peace.

(14 August 1939 -11 March 2017)

Turning 12

Our curly baby, Najla, was celebrating her 12th birthday yesterday, 1st of March.
One thing to note from Najla is her curly hair which is slowly disappeared.
Yes, the older she is, the less curly hair she has.
But as other girls who just want to have different things, Najla also dreams to have a kind of straight hair.

Selamat ulang tahun, Najla.
Terus sehat.
Makin shalihah.
Dan...jangan lupa bahagia.

Sepenuh Cinta,
Ayah, Mama & Zea

Movie Review: Lion (2016)

Title: Lion
Director: Garth Davis
Based on: "A Long Way Home" by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose
Casts: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Denham, Nicole Kidman

Another movie that will leave you speechless. Lion, a debut drama movie directed by Garth Davis. Received six oscars nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Kidman), and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Lion is based on a true story of Saroo Brierley.  Back in 1986, in Khandwa, India. Saroo was five years old. He was poor yet happy.  Yes, they tried to enjoy everything and be happy with what they got. Saroo and his brother, Guddu, stole coal from a freight train in order to trade it for milk and food then shared it with the whole family members including his sister and his mother. One day Saroo  followed his brother, Guddu to work. As a little boy, he felt tired and fell a sleep while his brother continued to work.  When he was awake, he tried to find Guddu even until he boarded to a train and finally felt asleep again. Then he's awake to find that the train was moving. After several days, he arrived in Calcutta, 1500 miles from his home. Confused and scared, he survived through lots of challenges until he was luckily adopted by an Australian couples who raised him with unlimited love and care in Tasmania, Australia.

After 25 years, Saroo started to get restless. He felt the urge to find his root and to meet his mother.  By using Google Earth, he started another journey to find his family in India. 

A very touching movie. Love everything there. The young Saroo, Sunny Pawar, played his best. He's  very natural. The setting of Calcutta and Tasmania show a very contrast situation. But both have their own uniqueness. Several touching moments are also there. One of the epic moments was when Saroo talked with his adopting mother, Sue (played awesomely by Kidman).  

Saroo: I am sorry that you don't have any natural children.
Sue: What did you say? Your father and I are not infertile. We can have children but we chose not to. Why? Because we want to help children in need like you through adoption. We felt that there were already too many people on earth.

Dear God, only people with big hearts can do such things. Beside Saroo, Sue and his husband also adopted another Indian boy. 

In India now, there are 80,000 children go missing each year and over 11 millions children are living on the streets. the foundation of #LionHeart launched a program to provide financial support for these less fortunate children.

A highly recommended movie. Prepare tissue when you watch it. 

Find more about the movie here

Too Cute to be True

One of my bestest friends, Karin,  gave me this awesome book as a birthday present. I was speechless. Books will always be my favorite things to receive moreover if it is a travel book. The happiness is double since this book is a kind of legitimation for me to travel more.  Huge thanks, babe. Let's go...UK or Russia or New York next year??? #evilgrin.

Other best friend who works at LINE, Rina,  gave me this cute tea, she said that LINE is very famous in Korea with its cafe and souvenir shop. Since I don't know much about Korea, never watch any Korean drama or listen to K-Pop music so basically I learn about Korea from my friend's souvenirs such as these cute stuffs from LINE cafe or some cosmetics products, yes...the face mask, the hand lotion, etc. seems nice. I guess I need to see it myself. Haha....another travel plan option.  

Thanks a bunch for these two awesome ladies. Such a blessing to know you both. 

Book Review: Mata Hari (2016)

Title: The Spy
Author: Paulo Coelho
Translator: Lulu Wijaya
Publisher: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
2016/192 pages

Bunga mengajarkan kepada kita bahwa tidak ada yang abadi: keindahan mereka, bahkan juga fakta bahwa mereka pasti akan layu, karena mereka masih akan memberikan benih baru. Ingatlah ini kalau kau merasa sukacita, kepedihan, atau kesedihan. Segala sesuatu berlalu, menjadi tua, mati dan terlahir kembali.

Mata Hari, --Paulo Coelho

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was a middle class Dutch Family. Feeling bored with her mundane life, she planned to escape from it.  The opportunity came when she decided to marry a soldier and moved to Indonesia. They once lived in Malang. No wonder that the author, Paulo Coelho expressed his greeting in the first page of the book to all Indonesian readers, where parts of this story took place.

However life didn't turn out as expected. Margaretha's husband was an alcoholic-abusive man. Indonesia that sounded  quite exotic in the beginning began to lose its charm and Margaretha thought to start her new life as a new person. Margaretha went to Paris, penniless, but tried to struggle until she came out with a new identity as Mata Hari, a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She shocked and delighted audiences during the World War I.

She soon began touring all over Europe and became a famous performer and with the outbreak of World War I, her catalog of lovers began to include high-ranking military officers of various nationalities.

It was 15 October 1917, taken from her hotel room at Champs Elysees, Mata Hari was charged guilty and executed by a French firing squad because of her crime as espionage. Up until now no one really knows about Mata Hari's espionage activities. Some said that Mata Hari acted as a German spy, and others exclaimed that she's  a double agent for the French as well. Lots of different version stories told and Mata Hari remains as one of history's most enigmatic women. 

Not Coelho at his best but it is still fascinating. Telling a history by combining it with certain fictitious elements. Good points. If you're looking for a light-fast read book, this one is just perfect. 

Cinta adalah perbuatan yang berlandaskan iman dan wajahnya harus selalu diselubungi misteri. Setiap momen harus dijalani dengan perasaan dan emosi, karena kalau kita mencoba menganalisis dan memahaminya, sirnalah keajaibannya.     

La La Land (2016)

Title: La La Land (2016)
Written and Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Casts: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt 

La-la Land means: Los Angeles, or to think that things that are completely impossible might happen.

I lost words to describe this movie. La La Land makes me fall in love and at the same time break it and cheer me up and put me down over and over again.  Love love love all things about this movie. The setting, the casts, the plot, the music, the dance and many more.

Let's follow Mia and Sebastian in chasing their dreams. Mia, a barista at a coffee shop on the Warner Bros lot in LA, and her obsession to become an actress while Sebastian, a jazz pianist,  is dying to have his own club. And when finally the dreams are already on their ways, why do suddenly some things seem not quite right? 

The movie just won seven awards at the 74th Golden Glob Awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Original Song (City of Stars).

An all time favorite movie. Yes, a lifetime one. Definitely a must watch.

Check this website to know more about the movie.

A New Year, Birthdays, and Such

Yes, She is 10 Now!
I know it's already 15 January but I just got the opportunity to flashback a bit into the first day of new year. As usual 1 January means celebrating our new year baby, Zea, who turned 10 this year. The special thing about this year birthday was I had to go to Mecca on that day. This Umroh issue was a kind of sudden idea. Never thought that I could visit this holy land in this January. However just like people say when it's time for you to visit Mecca and Medina, suddenly everything seems so simple and there you are, at the purest place on earth. Masya Allah.

Other important occasion was 14 January as I celebrated my 44th birthday. Such an age. A twin numbers. How do I feel being 44? Honestly, I feel good. I just pray to God to bestow me with a good health. Health becomes a very crucial issue when you reach the age of 40. You discuss about this issue almost every time, anywhere with every one. Just check the whatsapp groups, this health issue is one of the favorite topics besides the politics. Gosh, I guess health is much sexier topic than politic, at least now.

The 44 birthday was highlighted by having lunch with my hubby and the girls at Marco restaurant. I heart this Padang Peranakan Restaurant. Always love the food, snack, drink and everything served there. The taste is just super yummy. A perfect way to embrace the special day.

Road to Mecca & Medina 2017

Terdapat lebih banyak lanskap yang indah di dunia, tetapi tak satupun aku kira yang dapat membentuk spirit manusia yang begitu kuat seperti jalan ke Mekah....;

padang pasir adalah sesuatu yang telanjang, bersih dan tak mengenal kompromi. Ia menghapus hati manusia dari berbagai fantasi yang menghadirkan angan-angan palsu sehingga membuatnya bebas menyerahkan dirinya terhadap sesuatu yang absolut, yang tak bercitra;

yang terjauh di antara yang jauh tetapi yang terdekat di antara yang dekat.

--Muhammad Asad, The Road to Mecca