Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DAY 6; MOROCCO TRIP WITH PRINCESS DR BECKY LEOGARDO AND MICHAEL MANTZ

KEE@FSWMAG.COM

GOOD TIME IN AGADIR
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Princess Dr Becky Leogardo and Michael Mantz on their thrones in Royal Atlas
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Princess Dr Becky Leogardo and Kee Hua Chee on their thrones
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The dramatic internal courtyard of Sofitel hotel facing the entrance. The roof, now open to the sky, can quickly be closed within minutes should the weather turn inclement
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This is the favoured wateringhole of Sofitel
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Elegant fountains are an integral part of Moroccan design
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Michael Mantz looking like a Sultan
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Princess Becky looking like a Sultanah
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The Sultan and Sultana of Sofitel
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Still at it
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The pool complex of Sofitel
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Sofitel's pool
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The alfresco courtyard can be completely covered when its roof is electronically closed
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Maybe due to the world economic crisis, the courtyard was remarkably empty
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Michael Mantz and Princess Becky making full use of the empty space
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The new Marina
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The new Marina is filled with trendy restaurants, cafes, shops and condos
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The new Agadir reminds me of Spain's Puerto Banus
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We lunched at Gourmet at right
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Kee Hua Chee carrying his RM 36 box of only 6 macaroons which Princess Becky bought for him. She ordered without asking the price or I would have stopped her
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One of the mooring piers
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The new marina


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Agadir's Old Souk is called El Had
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Michael Mantz bought 2 avocadoes at El Had

DAY 6; MOROCCO TRIP WITH PRINCESS DR BECKY LEOGARDO AND MICHAEL MANTZ 20 OCTOBER 2011

AGADIR AGAIN

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For whatever reason, these pair of high-backed, leather thrones were placed at the entrance of the lifts so we felt obliged to sit and pose on them!

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Princess Dr Becky Leogardo and Kee Hua Chee

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Nutritious olives are cheap and delicious

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One of the dozen entrances to Agadir's Old Souk

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Savvy tourist stocking up on dates, nuts and preserved fruits

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All the fun of the fair


TODAY WE SPENT ALL DAY IN AGADIR AND ENJOYED THIS SEASIDE RESORT SO MUCH WE DECIDED TO EXTEND OUR STAY UNTIL WE RETURN TO CASA BLANCA FOR THE FLIGHT BACK TO DUBAI AND KUALA LUMPUR!

AFTER BREAKFAST IT WAS TIME FOR SHOPPING AND WE CRUISED AROUND TILL WE FOUND A ROW OF SHOPS SELLING LOCAL GOODS. AGADIR IS NOT THE PLACE TO BUY LOUIS VUITTON, PRADA OR GUCCI UNLESS YOU ARE INTO FAKES AND COUNTERFEITS OF WHICH THEY ARE PLENTY!

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One of the alleys of El Had souk

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Oils and essences are great buys as they are as pure as pur can be!

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Local beauty products contain argan oil which has been scientifically proven to fight signs of ageing as the Berber women have been using it for centuries as protection against the harsh winds of Atlas Mountains

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Preserved fruits are great buys as they can be brought back to Malaysia

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Olives come in many colours and tastes

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Lilly the owner of Colours of the Orient which specialises in artisanal products for home and body. I bought what she was holding in her hands

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Enticing products from Cadeaux Artisanal Decoration

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Interesting and unusual ideas for the home and body

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Delightful, deluxe ideas for the home

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Everything can be shipped home to KL. Call +212 48 84 84 26. Colours of the Orient is at 2, rue Mlys Driss QI, 80000 Agadir, Morocco

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Royal Atlas Hotel and Spa at night

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Night view of Royal Atlas from my balcony on second floor

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Morning view from my balcony

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Dinner at Les Mauresques which is a fine dining restaurant

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Pouring mint tea is an artform

Princess D Becky Leogardo decided to buy Moroccan made leather house slippers for herself, family and friends. Of course my eagle eye spotted a gorgeous pair of golden slippers which looked like the sort any Sultanah would love. She bought a dozen pairs for her fortunate friends.

Lunch was at Gourmet in the new marina. Its purple d├ęcor attracted our attention so in we went. The food was good but expensive. The 6 macaroons cost RM 36! More expensive than Paris! On top of that, they did not accept credit card, only cash!

Then it was back to Royal Atlas to watch the final death throes of Muammar Ghadaffi which shocked me to my bone marrow. Since I do not know him personally I have nothing good or bad to say but from the wild jubilation and scenes of exultation after his death, he had few fans left.

What pissed me off most is the fact the Western powers of Europe and America kept quiet for the last 42 years while Ghadaffi ruled supreme with an iron grip.

Why didn’t the virtuous and morally pure Europeans and Americans attack and depose him since he was an evil incarnate? Why did they establish diplomatic links and embassies in his name in their capitals? Why did they wait till now to (Arab) spring into action?

I almost vomited when I saw western potentates greet him as a head of state. But I didn’t vomit because I had a very expensive lunch which would be an insult to Gourmet’s chef who was very handsome by the way.

Anyway, CNN showed video clips of Tony Blair, Britain’s ex-Prime Minister, arriving in Tripoli and kissing Colonel Muammar Ghadaffi on both cheeks in public and doubtless licking his asshole in private. If he was not such a hypocrite, Tony Blair should have punched Ghadaffi on the mouth instead of mouthing pleasantries and greetings on behalf of the British people and Queen Elizabeth II.

The European and American leaders were total hypocrites for the last 42 years as they allowed what they called Mad Man of the Desert to roam free and do what he liked. Come to think of it, what Muammar Ghadaffi did to his people can be considered a massage compared to what Pol Pot did to his fellow Cambodians! Pol Pot slaughtered 2.5 million of his people but where were the European and American saviours who were supposed to promote democracy, peace and jobs? Sipping champagne and out playing golf I bet.

Thousands died under Ghadaffi’s rule but the figure does not reach a hundred thousand or the number would be trumpeted nonstop. The late Shah of Iran and President Ferdinand Marcos fled the country to avoid bloodshed when the writing appeared on the wall.

Did the Mad Man of the Desert flee to a neighbouring country where he would be safe as houses since the mob or any Libyan forces could not track him. Even if they knew his exact whereabouts in another sovereign nation, they could not barge into another country to kill him. Ok so America did it to Pakistan when they attacked Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil but this terrorist was a different kettle of fish.

Ghadaffi could have seek refuge in any friendly African nation using old friendship, persuasion and tons of cash and conduct his defence from outside Libya. So could his sons. Instead they announced they would fight and die on Libyan soil and they did.

I am not saying they are heroes but they did live up to their words when they could have vanished incognito and lead a life of unfettered luxury in most parts of the world with their billions. After all he had 42 years of absolute power and he could have decided to take a rest and retire.

Ghaddafi used hardware and brute force to wield control and power. Rupert Murdoch used software and phone-tapping to wield control and power. See any difference? The end result is the same, don’t you think?

Like Ghaddafi, Saddam Hussein’s best friend was America. When the tide turned, America dumped him as if this was the first time they ever heard of him. United States also praised the late Shah of Iran for being the policeman of the Gulf when the going was good but if they had supported him, they would not be battling Iran’s president now.

Had the West been sincere and acted on their principles, Ghadaffi would long have been deposed or made to toe the democratic line and dance to the tune of Libyans’ welfare. Forty two years by any standard is a long time!

Such fair weather friends are dubious at best and dastardly at worst!

When Ghadaffi was smirking and shouting mad rhetorics, the West either humoured or ignored him. So what did you expect the poor guy to do? He was accused of the Lockerbie bombing and a Libyan was found guilty and jailed for life in Scotland. What happened? The culprit was released due to ‘health reasons’! He was terminally ill you see. Instead of sending him back to Libya in a body bag, he was flown home and three years later, he is still partying. Rumour has it a deal was struck between Ghadaffi and Britain over some massive oil deal and armament sales.

Since we are on the subject, what are the God-fearing and faultless westerners doing regarding Myanmar and North Korea? I have not heard of NATO’s jets screaming over their No-Fly zones have you?

At 4pm, Michael and I went to visit Agadir’s souk called El Had. Unlike Casa Blanca’s Old Medina, Agadir’s souk has walls and ramparts that are well preserved and like most souks, appear to resemble a fortress.

Inside is a warren of stalls selling everything---from food, fruits, clothes, toys, shoes, accessories, toiletries, household goods, pets, meat, medicinal oils, herbs, dates, you name it. Some cavernous sections have modern roofs with cement floor while some parts are basic with earthen floor. Wear trainers or flatties, not Jimmy Choos.

This is where the locals shop and foreigners were a rarity. So if you wish to experience an authentic souk, this is it. Wandering around was fun and getting lost was unavoidable but I knew sooner or later we would find our way back.

Taking photos was a matter of asking. Some nodded, some shook their heads. Two young men shouted ‘no photo’ which infuriated me as I was taking a general shot of the ENTIRE entrance and not just their drinks stall! They could hardly have been seen in the photo but I decided not to pick a fight lest the unthinkable happen to my precious Leica!

Michael and I enjoyed the souk but the over-crowding and smell were slowly making us claustrophobic. Nothing beats the weekend markets of Bangkok’s Chatuchak, London’s Camden Town and Paris’s Porte Clignancourt!

Dinner was at Le Mauresque as we were attracted by the ornate exterior matched by the exotic Moroccan interior. The freestanding restaurant was built to resemble a grand Moroccan mansion and there were several large dining rooms. Service was impeccable and despite the Moroccan ambiance the menu had many western dishes. I chose leg of duck with crystallised orange which was delightful. The meal for three without wine was around RM 370.

THE END