Vietnam: Black & White, February 2018

Hello! This will not be my usual attempt to “blog my trip on the paper”. I just want to let you know that I did not plan to post Black & White pictures. When I came back from Vietnam and tried to edit a few I found myself helpless and could not create satisfying results. It made me dislike all the pictures from the trip to the point where I did not want to look at them…
I tried, and tried… and tried. When I couldn’t handle the colors I tried to experiment with B&W.

For my surprise the result was satisfying enough to print a few and put them on the wall (soon!) However,

 

Today I finally created something colorful what I am really proud of. I didn’t give up, settled on B&W and pushed through this unsatisfactory moment. This made me confident that in the future I will be posting something really nice in color. For now I am really happy that I can present you my B&W edit.

 

Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City
Train Street, Hanoi
Lasenta Boutique Hotel, Hoi An
Hoi An
Hoi An
Hanoi
Vietnamese gentlemen, Hanoi
Marble Mountains, Da Nang
Hanoi

 

 

 

Marrakesh Morocco November 2017

Six of us gathered at our place in Acton, where we got picked up at 3am by the best airport service in the world. Some of us didn’t get any sleep. Some… were getting their nails done last minute. … Value goes up. Better price when selling off for camels! She’s happy I’m happy.

Priorities.

Comparing to my last Ryanair flight which was cancelled this one was OK. At least it took us from point A at Stanstead to point B in Marrakesh. The airport makes good first impression. Nice and clean. You could say it gives a feeling of a cheap hotel when entered. But the queues! OMG the airport technical progress stopped 2 decades ago. First you need to fill a paper declaration with personal details. Then you enter never ending queue.

 

If you are flying to Marrakesh with group of people. As soon as you land take few of you and line up in the queue. Let one of you go and grab the declarations which you can fill while waiting in line. Might save you up to an hour. Border control enters your passport and declaration details by hand into their system. Few more checks before you are allowed to leave. I would not recommend exchanging all your monies at the airport. They offer a buyback if you keep your receipt but you will lose about £5 on every £70. Monday to Friday you can go to the bank. Which can be found here. (link with geolocation to be inserted here.) During the weekend there are plenty of currency exchanges which offer pretty decent rates. 

 

We were picked up at the airport and dropped off at the hostel called dream Kasbah. It was located in the old town of Marrakech. Had a nice terrace. Clean toilet and most important hot water. Wi-fi was available free of charge too. The owner and employees were very nice and friendly. Really helpful when asked for directions.

Arriving at 11 am we had to wait for a check in till 1 pm. After leaving or luggage in the secure storage we went to discover the neighbourhood and try Moroccan cuisine .

Asking our faithful friend the TripAdvisor we nailed down a place. 15 minutes one way walking north. Leaving the hostel we started strolling through narrow streets of the old town.

“- The gate is closed. Come with me my friend I will show you the best way. Main street.”

We heard from guys sitting on the cart with few veggies. We hesitated for a moment. As soon as he got aware we listened to him he engaged further. We ended up following him for a while. The guy was blabbering how much he knows this area so well. He will show us the shortcuts only locals know. Entering one narrow street after another. Heading south. With every step getting further and further away from a place of our destination.

It was all so weird. I’m looking at the map where GPS is pointing my exact location and some random dude is saying we are getting closer to the place we are moving further away from.

Whaaat?!

Everyone heard horrid stories where other people’s belongings were convinced away of their owners possession in the gesture off goodwill in exchange for physical well-being. But… !

Well after quick brainstorm we took less known to locals way and using secret path we educated our Moroccan friend about the simplest and safest way straight to the main road.

What happened next was unexpected yet.

“… tip for me my friend!” Whoa. I never knew we were so good at making friends! He even asked us for a tip for his friend we never met. Such a good guy, really nice friend to have.

Our first walk around the neighbourhood ended up like this. Enough said.

 

20 minutes to the destination. Hungry as wolves. Wolves for food. We started marching through the old town. Felt a bit like a mixture of Trinidad and Old Havana with Pringles on the shopfront of small local stores.

 

It’s already November but was so nice and warm. Sometimes I walked in the shadows to hide from the sun. Morocco is full of cats. I have separate gallery (in the making) with those lovely tigers. You can you can find them ‘here’.  (link to be updated) We really enjoyed the stroll. Shops, spices, lamps, scarfs and carpets. We didn’t enjoy being treated like potential targets. Really. I could write a whole book about that but let’s try to keep things nice here.

 

Below picture requires some clarification. I do not know who this lady is. She had quite cool hair matching the trousers but she ended up in the frame when I was aiming at the tiger.

 

DAY 2

Panorama of the city missing

 

DAY 3

 

What’s happening:

Here is what’s happening: 

  • I published few pictures from deeply inspiring trip to Vietnam. All of them are in Black & White. There is a certain reason for that. You can read more about my reasoning here. 
  • Vietnam pictures are not of a standard 16:9 ratio. I am experimenting a bit with different standards. Let me know what you think about that!
  • All Cuba links but Havana, will redirect you to Morocco. 

old news:

  • I finally made my own logo. Really proud. Like a kid who tied up his own laces for the first time.
  • Moroccan trip part 1, has been published. Can you find all the cats on the pictures?!
  • I came across very interesting people on Instagram, I would love to have the time to integrate more.
  • I am saving pocket money to swap my entry level lens and buy something decent for the Vietnam trip in February ’18
  • All Cuba links but Havana, will redirect you to Marocco.
  • I will be reorganizing this blog from scratch.
  • Instead of using my previous premium WordPress template I want to show you that pretty decent travel blog can be created without spending too much money on it. (Rest can be wisely spend on a plane ticket… new lens… , right?)
  • I would like to create tutorials for you at some point showing the technical aspect of configuring cheap server with WordPress.  Currently I am paying less than $3/month to host this and business websites together.
  • I am yet to write about my Cuba adventure. Started and never took the time to finish it. I am already making decent progress on Moroccan trip. (Part of my pictures from Cuba were lost, I will have to recover them at some point.)

 

I have an important exam coming in the beginning of December, but I will try to have the ball rolling prior to that. I will be re-sitting the exam in March’18. …

 

Cuba: Havana, March 2017

Should we get tickets to Vietnam? Flights to Cuba went up recently. Yes. Maybe. Why not… but we didn’t.
After a while. Cuba tickets went down! Are we booking? Yes!
Next day the whole world knew. Every news station in the world was broadcasting the fact that Fidel Castro died. Ouch!

That’s how it started.

The tickets for 2 weeks starting late February 2017 were bought in December 2016. From this time onward Pola has been heavily doing all the research & reading about Cuba. She spent countless hours investigation our next destination. Real dedective! You know the fancy google searches about traveling to Cuba, visiting Cuba, Havana, Trinidad, places to see & differences between Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta. I wasn’t that dedicated at the time. I found out about vaccines, currency, transport in Cuba & got a list of very few things I wanted to see. I though I could always ask locals about the rest! We created a list of locations to stay. Decided on a number of nights in each location. Booked the stays via AirBnB.
Easy.
Simple.
Not.

In reality, it took a while to agree. Soon arrived day 0. I finished draft about 10pm, did some last minute shopping on the way home and packed my luggage. All this by only 3am.