Class of 2017


Don't tell me the sky is the limit
when
there are footprints on...the moon.

I am not saying it's going to be easy but...
trust me it's going to be worth it.

CONGRATS, our Najla :))

Let new adventures begin...

Magical Morocco #5 (Casablanca) & A Glimpse of Doha, Qatar

Travel is the only thing you buy that make you richer.

-Anonymous

This is my last posting on Morocco Trip. Our end of trip was in Casablanca. We just stayed one night here and dropped by at the largest mosque in Morocco, the Hassan II Mosque.  It is the 13th largest in the world while its minaret is the world's tallest reaching 210 meters.
Starbuck at Casablanca (when my friend bought all Morocco tumblers to be sold in Jakarta & yes, they're all sold out)
Souk (market) Waqif in Doha

From Casablanca, we headed to Doha, Qatar, enjoying a one-day-free-trip in Doha, accompanied by the best hosts ever, Pak Nazar and Ibu Neni and also their friend, the owner of the one and only Minang Restaurant in Doha, Pak Herry.  We're speechless receiving their sincere hospitality. We're forever indebted. Huge thanks, Pak dan Ibu #RejekiAnakYangSemogaSoleh
No... it's not Hong Kong, it's ...Doha

All trips have their endings including this Magical Morocco Trip. One of the best highlights in 2017 (perhaps in my whole life). I would like to thank my travel mates, thanks for being so supportive and fun...even at our worst condition. Let's plan another trip next year ...!!! 
Our biggest happiness after two weeks leaving in the desert: Nasi Padang.. #pelukrendang

I am not the same, having seen the moon shine at the other side of the world.

-Mary Anne Radmacher     

Book Review: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

Title: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman
Translator: Jia Effendie
Publisher: Noura Books 
November 2016
496 pages

If you're tired with the political issues that spread almost everywhere, in the social media, on TV, lunch topic and many more, I really recommend you to read this book, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry written by a Sweden writer, Fredrick Backman. The writer with his witty way will take us meeting  Elsa, a seven-year-old-unique girl and her 77-year-old Grandma who is 'crazy'.

Elsa  finds difficulties in making friends, but lucky her, she has the best friend in the whole world, yep...her Grandma. Her Grandma will take her to some crazy adventures such as standing on the balcony firing paint ball guns at strangers. At night Elsa and Grandma will go to the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and no body needs to be normal.

Elsa's life turns upside down when Grandma dies. Although drowning in her sadness yet Elsa also found that her Grandma leaves behind a series of letter that must be delivered to other tenants that live in the same apartment building as Elsa. 

The letters are apologies from Grandma to the tenants there. These letters become Elsa's greatest adventure. Through the letters, the lonely Elsa finally can build bonds of friendship with other tenants in the building. Moreover Elsa also realizes that the make-believe characters in her Grandma stories are all based on real people and real events. 

A very charming and warmhearted tale. Love it.

   

Magical Morocco #4 (Essaouira)

Inside the souk in Essaouira
credit to Rani
After enjoying the mystical Sahara Desert, our next destination was a beautiful laid back coastal city in Morocco, Essaouira.
What a beautiful blue sky
At the moment I arrived in Essaouira, I kind of felt that I was not in Morocco yet it's more like in some coastal cities in Europe instead. Perhaps because  French left its strongly influence here. Just walking along the area, you'll find an old fort, souk (market) that sells all kinds of artisan stuffs, petite yet pretty cafes, awesome paintings, patisserie with really good smell of cookies, birdwatchers, surfers, street performances, bookshops with beautiful collection of postcards (hey...I sent some postcards but it seems none arrives yet), people just lay down on the beach with the family, warm and kind people, art galleries, boutique, and all, everything is beyond belief. You don't need a high skill of photography here since all spots are already beautiful themselves.
Special Tintin Statue from Thoya Wood

One more thing that I love about Essaouira is the affordable price for almost everything such as food, souvenirs, cloths, and many more. When I saw a Carrefour nearby the city, I was curious to know the products sold there. Who knows they've got some alternative local products. So we decided to take taxi to go there. To avoid misunderstanding, before we got on the car, we asked the taxi fare first. The taxi driver fare was about Rp 7.000 (if I converted to Rupiah). We thought it's the price for one passenger while there were four of us. But the driver seriously said that it's a total price. Wow...
 
Choosing Essaouira as our 4th destination in Morocco was just one of our best decisions, this place is perfect for us who spent almost  12 hours on the bus from Sahara to Essaoira. #TenggakMinyakAngin.

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 EXPERIENCE...!!!

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...