• Moroccan Adventures Part 2 - The Wedding!

    I first met Harry and Sophia last July, when they came to visit Washington, D.C. from Toronto for a 3-day weekend. Harry is one of Pem’s friends from high school days and was coming to the U.S. to renew his Canadian visa. Harry and Sophia were good sports (as they always seem to be!) about exploring the city in the unwelcoming Washington summer weather and we, as good hosts, made sure they got their fill of D.C.’s best gelato and cupcakes*. Two weeks ago, it was Harry, Sophia and their families who hosted us in Marrakech for a stunning Indian-Moroccan wedding weekend and they made sure it was one that we would never forget!

    Harry comes from French-Indian parentage and Sophia from Moroccan-German parentage, they met at university in France and now live and work in Toronto. Guests truly came from all corners of the world to celebrate the joining of this beautiful couple and their families. There were also little touches throughout the wedding that demonstrated their multicultural stories. It really hit me how small the world truly is when the DJ started playing Gangnam Style. Everyone started dancing - Moroccans, Indians, Europeans, Hanoians, old, young, guests wearing suits, guests wearing saris, all doing the signature moves of a Korean pop artist in the lush garden of a stunning kasbah on the outskirts of Marrakesh, Morocco. That moment and so many others from the wedding were equally poignant and dazzling, making my heart swell in awe of the beautiful experiences life can give us. Harry and Sophia, I hope your journey as husband and wife is full of such moments. Félicitations et vive les mariés!

    Below are some pictures from the three days (!) of wedding festivities, if you'd like to see...

    *and by D.C.’s best cupcakes, I mean Baked and Wired. But I didn’t need to clarify that, did I? 


  • Moroccan Adventures - Part 1

    After ten amazing days in Morocco, we returned back to bustling Hanoi during the Monday morning rush hour. I don’t even know where to begin to recount our trip – the colorful souks, the stunning countryside, a magical Moroccan-Indian wedding... Our travel itinerary was an ambitious one but it worked out well and our friends’ wedding in Marrakech was truly the icing on the cake. More on the wedding in another post, but boy did we have a good time celebrating.

    After three days of wedding festivities, the four of us (we traveled with two of Pem’s old high school friends, Adrien and Marie) drove up and away to the High Atlas Mountains in search of the Valley of Roses. Two days later, we took in the countryside by train as we traveled northward to Fes. After another two days, we entered the Berber capital of Meknes. And then all too soon it seemed we were back at the Casablanca Mohamed V airport, spending our last dirhams on coffee and trinkets and saying our goodbyes.  

    On our 13 hour return flight from Paris to Hanoi, Pem and I pored over the free newspapers since the in-flight entertainment program wasn’t operating (c’mon Vietnam Airlines! **shakes fist**). Reading the news always seems to break the spell of a great vacation. I also realized that at least for me, browsing for souvenirs in the souks had a similar effect. This was partially because I knew I’d have to lug whatever I purchased back to Asia, but mostly because the browsing, the bargaining and the haggling seemed so out of tune with what I was seeing and feeling. A leather backpack, Berber jewelry, a lantern, brightly colored poterie - all things I thought I wanted to buy for myself and others. But I kept putting it off, not wanting to carry anything unnecessary until our last stop in Meknes, where we arrived on a Friday and found most shops were closed.

    At the Casa airport, I had just ten minutes to find some small trinkets to bring back. I expressed my frustration with Pem, who concluded that nothing had stopped me from doing it earlier in our trip. Though I didn’t take his remark particularly well at the time, he was right. I just didn’t want to bring myself into those situations of being quoted a ridiculous tourist price and sensing that familiar pressure to buy, buy, buy. It’s fun for some, an obligation for others, but I think it’s become unappealing to me because it’s a reminder that any souvenirs I buy will soon turn into exactly what they’re meant to be. Small, inadequate mementos of a particular place at a particular moment, never to be seen again as it was for that very first time.

    “Travel is not about finding something: it’s about getting lost - 
    that is, it is about losing yourself in a place and a moment... It’s nice to see the significant centers of civilization, the important buildings, the monumental landscapes, but what seems most extraordinary is feeling yourself lifted out of your ordinary life into something new.” 
     - quote from Susan Orlean, Best of Travel Writing 2007 

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