Friday, June 23, 2006

Hup! Hup! Holland.......


Holland 2006
Originally uploaded by rushmooradt.

I was in Netherlands (Holland) early this month on business purposes. Transit 2 nights in Amsterdam, 6 nights in The Hague (plus Scheveningen) and 1 lonely quiet night in Assen - 3 hours drive from The Hague, 35km to the west of Germany border.

Masa kat Amsterdam, sempat jumpa ex-colleague kat PTP dulu, depa ni ada meeting/function kat Copenhagen, but transit kat Amsterdam. Maka we all merayau ler sekitar Amsterdam, thanks to Abang Joe, belanja makan sedap kat Indian Restaurant, to Shahril thanks for your kata-kata perangsang, hope you will success also- hidup orang Kulai! Dua hari kat Amsterdam, tiba masa depa nak balik ke Malaysia, aku menuju ke The Hague. Stay kat Park Hotel Den Haag (click to see the hotel), bersebelahan Queen's Working Palace. Sengaja aku pilih hotel kecil molek ni, ada esthetique value, ada european ambience atau flavour kalau berbanding hotel moden. Lagipun betul-betul kat centrum, semua kedai, restaurant, taman dan tourist attractions sepelaung, jalan kaki je. Every morning kena jalan kaki 15 minit to the railway station, nice and lovely morning walk. Ambik train/tram pi Rijswijk, kat sini ler ofis yang aku kena pergi for this whole week.

Hari Rabu, counterpart aku yang kat Holland ni, Henk Van Asbeck bawa aku lunch ke area Montfroot, tak jauh dari Utrecht, kawasan kampung, terpencil, tapi cantik, bersih, aman damai, nama restaurant tu DeBurgemeester (click to see the restaurant). This is one of the best lunch I ever had! Maklumlah, restaurant ni antara yang terbaik di Belanda dan termasuk restaurant dalam senarai KLM. We all makan ikan cod from northern sea, then main course local river fish.....emmm... speechless la, memang fresh dan sedap ditambah dengan Italian wine. Khamis ke Assen, ikut hi-way, si Hellen pandu punyalah laju, tapi seronok. Jumpalah pulak dengan colleague kat Assen, especially Anita yang ramah-tamah dan friendly sungguh, siap boleh share smoking and stories. Jumaat petang dah sampai The Hague semula, aku naik train almost 3 hours. Malamnya aku buat hal sendiri la kat sini, nonton movie kat Pathe, makan etc. Hari Sabtu sempat ke pantai Scheveningen, cuaca panas, around 28 Celcius. Kalaulah aku dapat sambung cuti, sure aku dah melepak2 kat tepi pantai, sambil cuci mata........


Friday, June 16, 2006

Essouira - Kota Damai Lautan Atlantik

Essouira

To see the slideshow of Morocco Trip 2006, do click the icon: View slideshow
To see the slideshow of Essouira-Morocco, do click this next icon: View slideshow
My 6th day in Morocco, early in the morning after simple breakfast of soft roll and orange juice, I hopped a bus for the seaside town of Essouira from Marrakesh. The journey took almost 3 hours by 'normal bus' and it cost less than 40 Dirham. Essouira is an old Portugese enclave so it's got this amazing blend of European/African/Arab charm. Whitewashed houses with blue shutters are built on top of each other over a dizzying maze of rambling passageways. This town too, was built inside the walls of the medina. It's outer walls were built into a large fortress, fortified against invaders from the sea. You stand on the ramparts and feel like Christopher Columbus, waiting to dicover the "new world". I spent the days wandering through the old medina while watching the locals doing their daily activities and chores. It is more relaxing, less stress and the people more friendly yet less aggressive compared to the Marrakeshi. I even met 2 friendly local who accompanied me for the rest of my trip in Essouira, thanks to Abdul Hamid and Mustafa!
Kalau nak ikutkan plan, sepatutnya aku ke Casablanca dan Fez, nun jauh di sebelah utara. Setelah 'travel buddy' cadangkan dan nasihat, mereka kata lebih baik ke Essouira (esau-we-ra). Memang betul pun, kat sini lebih aman, kurang pelancong dan penduduknya tak sepadat Marrakesh. Mereka lebih beradab kepada pelancong dan pembeli, akhirnya aku banyak shopping kat sini. Budak kedai yang nama Yousef tu betul2 berkenan kat aku, dapat diskaun sampai 70%, dah tu siap beri cenderamata percuma lagi. Banyak ler aku beli tembikar, especially pinggan yang colourful tu, wood carving, barangan perak, aksessori wanita etc. Dia jemput minum 'mint tea' atau teh pudina sambil bertanya mengenai Malaysia dan penduduk Islamnya. Tips: kalau ke Morocco, terus saja kata yang kita dari Malaysia, nama penuh kita dan beritahu yang kita Muslim, mereka akan lebih mesra, kurang agresif dan boleh dapat harga lebih murah atau harga yang kita mahu. Jangan takut2 untuk tawar menawar, start dengan separuh harga dari yang ditawarkan, mostly aku tawar 70% dari harga asal, pandai tawar, pasti dapat gak.
Masa kat sini, aku sewa bilik kat guesthouse, maka aku stay dengan family rumah tu sekali, cuma bilik aku kat tingkat atas. Bersih, kemas dan jauh lebih murah dari Marrakesh. Buka tingkap jer terus nampak laut membiru, udara segar dari bayu laut, dah tu ada banyak ketul2 batu putih segi empat betul2 depan bilik ni, setelah aku lihat peta betul2, rupanya tu ialah kawasan peninggalan perkuburan orang2 Yahudi beratus2 tahun dahulu, tapi masih elok dijaga. Aku tak kisah pun, yang penting guesthouse ni betul2 strategik, dekat souk, medina (kota) dan dekat pantai. Aku berkenalan dengan 2 orang jejaka tempatan, Abdul Hamid dan Mustafa, so depa ni ler yang ajak aku jenjalan kat sana, pi melepak (kat sini tak der disko ke hapa), lepak tepi pantai jer la, sambil hirup cafe latte dan perhatikan orang yang lalu-lalang.
Setelah 3 hari di Essouira, aku pun berangkat ke Marrakesh semula, ada flight ke Amsterdam petangnya. Sempat juga aku ke Hammam di Hotel Ali, upah tukang 'cuci' atau tukang mandi, mana larat nak sental segala daki kat badan ni, so budak nama Omar ni ler yang mandikan, seronok plak rasa kena mandi, macam masa kecik2 dulu. Mandi air panas, kemudian diwapkan. Disapu sabun seluruh badan, kemudian disental atau digosok dengan kain kasar seperti sarung tangan, beberapa kali digosok dan dijirus. Puas rasanya mandi, rasa bersih seluruh badan, hilang segala daki terkumpul semenjak datang ke bumi Morocco. InsyaAllah, kalau ada rezeki, mau ke sana lagi.....

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Excursion To Sahara Dessert : Night 1

Evening In Sahara
Crossing the Moroccan Sahara is exhilarating - the Atlas mountains tinged mauve and amber. And the kasbahs are just wonder. The Tizi 'n Tichka, or Tichka Pass, is one of several notching the High Atlas Mountains south of Marrakesh. In a land blessed with splendid scenery, this lofty route into the Moroccan Sahara is as exhilarating as they come. We paused among Boutiques de Mineraux to admire the tortuous road wriggling through dun hills and glittering ravines - and slurpped some of the best cafe latte in Morocco.Across the Tichka there's a change in colour scheme, the mountains' southern flanks tinged mauve and amber. The south is renowned for its kasbahs, or ksour, large fortified homes or villages with crenellated towers. Built with pise or sun-dried mud-bricks, they are among Morocco's definitive sights.
The main road winds down the Imini Valley past stacked villages whose brilliant green fields are offset by stark cliffs and mountains. While Telouet has the history, Ait Benhaddou, a short detour near Ouarzazate, has the looks. It's a magnet for film crews, with movies such as Jesus of Nazareth, The Man Who Would Be King and Gladiator having, in part, been shot here. We stopped here for our lunch, again we were served with Couscous and Tangine (Jane & Lee-Anne, I know you will laugh). Across a shallow river rise a cluster of toffee-coloured ksour, their tapering towers etched with geometric patterns. The snow-tipped High Atlas fill the horizon. Unesco and even a few film companies have had a hand in restoration.
Beyond the ksour's walls and small fields of wheat, the river meanders through the broad valley and on to a scrubby emptiness. It drains into Lake El Mansour Eddahbi, which in turn feeds the Vallee du Draa, among the most fabled of Morocco's southern valleys. Despite droughts, depopulation and unemployment, traditional life endures. South-east of Ouarzazate and over the last ridges of the Anti-Atlas, the Vallee du Draa snakes all the way to Zagora and the first tentative dunes of the Sahara. When Moroccans speak of the green serpent they mean the Draa's ribbon of palms rather than reptiles. The main appeal of this route are the ksour lining the fertile valley. Tamnougalt, a few kilometres beyond Agdz, has some of the most atmospheric.
The road to Zagora, 90km south-east, is lined with slender oases of lush palmery (the local claimed that they produced the best dates in Morocco). Ksour, too, are plentiful, many set at the foot of mountains with surreal, swirling patterns. Among the hottest towns in Morocco, Zagora used to be a major staging post for caravans to Timbuktu. That old-world trade in salt, gold and slaves is long gone and hard to imagine now amidst the smart hotels.
Pengalaman menunggang unta bukanlah satu pengalaman yang menarik, terutama untuk kaum lelaki - sampai melecet dibuatnya kerana bergesel dengan bonggol unta, bukan aku sorang jer yang merungut, semua kaum Adam yang ikut serta juga merungut dan ada yang duduk bertenggek atau duduk senget, tersengeh2 sampai merah padam muka. Sambil tu sempat aku buat jokes supaya hilang rasa sakit. 2 jam tunggang unta baru sampai ke destinasi, di tengah2 padang pasir Sahara Morocco - cukup lega. Tercapai hasrat!!!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Excursion To Sahara Dessert : Day 1

The Excursion To Sahara Dessert

I've been away for almost 3 weeks, since then I only updated this blog once while I've promised to try my best to update it constantly, well....... the travelling in Morocco was so great, so many things to see and places to visit and people to understand.... and nice things to bring home as well.....and the ultimate reason being... I hardly can find any Internet Cafe around. While in Holland, I'm so obsessed with work and meeting cum workshop agenda. Will try my very best to recollect the memories and put it up together in my writings to come in this few days. Bytheway, I'm going to write in Malay language with some English hints. So, go and get your dictionary.....
Dah lama sangat tak menulis dalam blog, maklumlah baru kelmarin pulang ke tanahair. Ni pun masih sibuk dengan kerja dan pelbagai paperwork yang nak kena siapkan. Banyak foto menarik yang belum diupload, cuma pic yang ni dulu buat masa ni. Dah lupa-lupa ingat pasal excursion 3 hari dua malam kat Morocco, Secara ringkasnya, pic kat atas tu dalam perjalanan beratus2 kilometer ke kawasan gurun Sahara, melalui perkampungan pergunungan, kota2 purba dan lama (kasbah), oasis, perkampungan orang Berber, naik turun gunung, tepi lereng, gaung, lurah semuanya kami lalui. Hari pertama bermalam di tengah2 gurun Sahara bersama unta dan orang2 Berber, setelah berbelas jam perjalanan menaiki van (2 buah van, 15 penumpang), kemudian 2 jam menaiki unta. Tidur dalam khemah, makan malam kat situ gak (Tangine panas dan roti keras bersama mint tea), si Hassan ketua Berber tu main gendang sambil nyanyi dan aku penari geleknya. Aku, Giovanni, Leigh dan Jane dah bercadang nak tidur kat luar khemah, di bawah pancaran bintang, berbumbung langit, tapi tetiba ada ribut pasir, akhirnya semua tidur berhimpit2 dalam satu khemah bercahayakan lampu kerosen/minyak tanah yang malap.
Malam kedua pula tidur di kawasan Pergunungan Atlas, Auberge atau guesthouse tu terletak 1850 meter dari aras laut. Sejuk dan nyaman, kerana dikelilingi gunung, ada sungai mengalir deras di belakang bilik, kicauan burung yang bertenggek kat dahan2 pohon zaitun dan fig, sepi, syahdu, aman dan damai. Semuanya akan diceritakan berserta gambar2 yang menarik (hopefully menarik, as for me all the pictures have their own meanings and tells their own stories).