Our next port of call would provide a stark contrast to many of the previous ones in Indonesia. Whereas in earlier ports, we saw a lot of extreme poverty, in Brunei we saw a lot of extreme wealth, especially when it comes to anything relating to the sultan, who is one of the richest people in the world. His palace has a whopping 1,788 rooms! He does spread the wealth around, however. Both healthcare and education is free to all citizens, and there’s also no personal income tax. The city is very nice and the streets are very well-maintained.
In Brunei, we visited a museum focusing on the life of the sultan and displaying various items belonging to/given to the sultan, most of which were either solid gold or gem-studded. We then walked around the downtown area, photographing some of the water villages, which are unique to Brunei. The highlight of our visit, however, was the Omar Ali Saifudin Mosque, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Asia. It features giant gold domes and its own lagoon. We spent a lot of time photographing there before returning to the ship. Here are some images from the day:
We went from the Canary Islands to Morocco, and what a difference that short distance makes! We visited Agadir and Casablanca and both were worlds apart from the vacationer retreats we saw in the islands. I admit that one has to have a bit larger of a comfort zone to feel at ease walking around in these ports, but if you ARE comfortable then the photo ops are great! We visited Agadir first and then Casablanca, the latter of these being the one where we spent the most time exploring. We spent a lot of time at an internet cafe in Agadir getting some mandatory work and holiday shopping (thank you, Amazon!) done before exploring there. Once we got out and about, we walked to two mosques (mosques usually have unique architecture) and then a traditional Moroccan souk (market) that was full of vibrant clothing, spices, jewelry, etc. You just have to get used to the fact that persistent vendors will literally follow you around trying to sell you their wares.
We spent one night sailing from Agadir to Casablanca and after dinner, the movie, “Casablanca,” was played in the ship’s theater. Karen and I like to watch movies set in the locations we visit so this was perfect. We docked in Casablanca the following day and spent the entire day exploring, starting off with a long walk through the local outdoor market. The market was essentially several city streets completely lined with vendors selling all kinds of foods (including some that we couldn’t identify) and other wares. We definitely stuck out here in that it was not at all a tourist location and we were walking around with huge cameras and clothing that didn’t fit in at all. We did know ahead of time that, because of the local religion, we were not to wear shorts or anything that exposed the shoulders (for Karen at least). We both got loads of photos at the market. With the colorful foods and expressive faces, it was a photographic haven… if you were ok with the odd stares and the fact that you stood out like a sore thumb. I did gesture to many of the folks with my camera to make sure that they were ok with photos. Some were and others weren’t.
We then walked to the Grand Mosque, which is the second largest mosque in the world. Unlike the market, the mosque was filled with tourists. This was also a great shooting location, especially if you use the unique arches to create a frame for your subject. All of the colors and tiles were beautiful as well. Eventually we did the very touristy thing to do when visiting Casablanca, which is eat at Rick’s Cafe, which is the setting for the movie that made this city famous. Now we know that it’s not the actual cafe from the film, but that’s ok. It was close enough. We actually got some yummy Moroccan food there… and we can now say that we’ve eaten at Rick’s Cafe.
By the time we were finished with lunch, it was time to head back to the Crystal Serenity. That evening, we would be setting sail toward Cádiz, Spain with one full sea day before we arrived there. More on Spain later. For now, here is a photo journey through Morocco!