Morocco: Legends, Spices and Beautiful Desert

The first things you will notice while in Morocco are the warm sunlight, the spicy scents, and red houses that blend with the color of the desert sand. It is really beautiful country which can easily free your imagination. The beautiful beaches, the wonderful Atlas Mountains and the eternal Sahara Desert will make your vacation in Morocco a real adventure.

Moroccan Desert
Moroccan Desert

Morocco is very multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious country. That is because of the rich ancient history of the country, dotted with many major events and significant changes. There are many ancient monuments and attractions which are great evidence for the glorious past and bright future of the country.

The first signs of civilization in the recent Morocco dated more than 10 000 years ago. First, the territory was inhibited by the people of the Capsian culture. Then the Phoenicians settled there. They built many towns, ports and trading centers. After that the Berbers and the Romans left significant traces of their culture, language and religion.

Several centuries later, North Africa and Morocco were subjected to attacks of the West Goths, Vandals and Byzantines. They also left pieces of their culture and traditions. That’s why Morocco is so colorful and interesting for the rest of the world. All the civilizations that ruled over the territory of Morocco enrich in their own way the great history and culture of the country. Today, many examples of the glorious past of the country can be seen everywhere in every part of Morocco.

The Arabs played the main role in the history of Morocco and the development of the country. They conquered the territory in the 7th century A.C. and their religion, customs and traditions still can be observed in Morocco. The main religion of the country is Islam.

Nowadays, Morocco is really beautiful country with its desert winds, fascinating oases, royal palaces, and friendly people who speak many different languages; all will make your vacation pleasant and unforgettable. The unique colorful buildings, the delicious cuisine and the ancient monuments will definitely make you stay in Morocco as long as you can.

Colorful Moroccan Doorway
Colorful Moroccan Doorway

There are many beautiful cities rich in history and emotions which you can visit in the country. Some of the most visited cities are Marrakech – The Pink City and Casablanca. Marrakech will be your last stop before the endless sands. The city is divided into two parts; desert and mountain, old and new, traditional and modern. Casablanca is the biggest port of Morocco. The city is very beautiful, with great beaches and many options for entertainment.

In Tangier – the White City you will see the living Berber, Roman and Greek culture. The beautiful white houses and the hot bright sun will easily make you a part of this wonderful city. There are many stories and legends which will keep your attention for hours. Rabat- the capital of Morocco is also very amazing city. The city looks like a “labyrinth” with all the narrow and confusing streets. Most of the houses are in white and blue color, bathed in light reflected from the Atlantic Ocean.

Morocco has become a more and more desirable travel destination for many tourists. The rich history and culture combined with modern attractions will really make your vacation in the country one of the best trips you will ever have in your life.

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Visiting Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui is located south of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand about 31km east of the Ang Thong National Marine Park. Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island and is surrounded by 80 smaller islands. About a dozen flights a day arrive from Bangkok and feed this island with a steady flow of tourist. I wanted to save money so I took the evening train to Surat Thani so I could sleep during the 11 hour trip from Bangkok. Once at the train station you will need to catch a bus for the short ride to the boat pier where you will be able to catch a boat to the Na Thon dock on Koh Samui. There are usually plenty of other travelers following the same route to the island so it is easy to figure out which way to go.

View of Chaweng beach from the southern tip.
View of Chaweng beach from the southern tip.

Upon arrival at the Na Thon dock in Koh Samui, I went straight to a motorcycle rental shop. The island is not very large, 247 sq. km., and one paved road encircles the whole island with a few side roads that lead into the interior, so I figured a motorcycle would be an excellent way to get around. I was using an internal frame backpack, so my luggage was not a burden while riding, just strap it on, drop the bike first gear, and I was off.

The motorcycle was a small 100cc bike, which is sufficient for the small island, and I was able to get a good rate for three days. With a motorcycle I was able drive around the island at my leisure stopping wherever I wanted to explore. It was handy to make multiple stops when I was first trying to find a room. Renting in Na Thon is cheaper and convenient since I would be catching another boat from the same pier in few days.

Interesting rock formations on Koh Samui.
Interesting rock formations on Koh Samui.

Koh Samui is a popular destination especially along the Chaweng beach area (northeast side of the island), which is were I planned to stay. After many inquiries I finally found a good place on the southern tip of Chaweng. This place had palm-thatched bungalows, roomy, with views of the Chaweng beach coastline. I had a mere 40-foot walk from my room and I was swimming. The room was simple with my own shower and a porch to lounge about. The beach area was picture postcard perfect, with an inviting blue-green ocean to enjoy. Being away from the main commercial strip in Chaweng was a good idea because it is noisy until all hours of the night in the restaurant and bars. Unless of course that is your taste, then that is the place to be. I however like to enjoy all the tranquility the beach and ocean have to offer, and be able to sleep when I want without blaring music and loud voices of inebriated tourists.

Popular rock formations on Koh Samui.
Popular rock formations on Koh Samui.

One day I rode out to see the Grand Mother Rock and Grand Father Rock (Hin Yai and Hin Ta). These are about 5 miles south of Chaweng along the coast. Some maps will label them as Wonderful Rock. These are natural rock formations that simulate the male and female genitalia. Believe it or not, these rocks are real and are very close to each other, coincidence…hmm. Well, they do appear natural and they do attract many curious visitors (See the photos and guess which is the father and mother…I think you will figure it out). I thought it is worth the visit and the surrounding beach is beautiful. There are the usual souvenir shops and a few restaurants nearby. After about an hour here it was time to jump on the motorcycle explore more of the island.

Since I was using a motorcycle I was able to follow some of the dirt trails to the top of the mountain of Koh Samui. From the top you get a panoramic view of the island. When walking up in this area keep your eyes open because there are scorpions around. This viewpoint was inaccessible by car or bus; only a motorcycle or walking would get you there.

View from above Koh Samui.
View from above Koh Samui.

Koh Samui is the place for swimming, diving or beach lounging. If you enjoy the beach communities this island is recommended. There are numerous beaches in all price ranges. If you just want to party or find a quiet beach bungalow, you will find it here.

Back to the dock to catch a boat to Koh Pha Ngan.

View more photos of my Thailand trip.

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Skiing Powder at Mt. Waterman

The snow gods rewarded us with some fantastic powder up on Mount Waterman. The recent storm brought about another foot of fresh powder on top of a 3-4 foot base. It seems not too many people thought to come out and enjoy it because there was no wait at the lift lines…don’t you wish it was like that way all the time? Even later in the day when there were plenty of tracks on the slopes, the snow was so soft and forgiving you could cut right through it and make your own line.

Mt. Waterman
Mt. Waterman – going up Chair 1

Mount Waterman has the same three, no-frills lifts, and still has the lowest lift ticket prices in Southern California at $45.00 for an all-day pass; half-day passes are $10.00 less and start at 12 noon. The ski area has much less acreage than most other ski areas in the San Bernardino Mountains, but the runs are far superior, the crowds are virtually non-existent, and you can’t beat the convenience to Los Angeles.

Not many people know about Mt. Waterman which is in the San Gabriel Mountains and part of the Angeles National Forest along the Angeles Crest Highway. It’s just 55 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, 34 miles north of the 210 freeway, making it a convenient ski area for Los Angeles skiers.

Lodge at Mt. Waterman
Lodge on top of Mt. Waterman

Mount Waterman does not have snow-making equipment so it relies on natural snow. When Mother Nature delivers some decent snow, this mountain can have some the best skiing in Southern California. Most of the ski runs are for intermediate and advanced skiers, but there is a beginner area in one of the bowls at the top. It is a low frills type of ski area with a small lodge at the top that will serve burgers, chili, and beer, so don’t expect the piped in music and other entertainment like other popular ski resort areas; less is better at this place. Mount Waterman comes off more as a skier’s venue where it’s all about skiing or snowboarding, without all the extra fluff and expense.

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