My 2-Week Love and Hate Relationship with Morocco

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Jun 20th, 2015, 08:04 PM
  #1
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My 2-Week Love and Hate Relationship with Morocco

Hello everyone,
I just realized that I have not posed on Fodor's for a long time. The last time I shared my trips was, like, almost two years ago. Fodorites were very welcoming and supportive, so I miss the interaction (you can look up my past posts if you're interested in Italy, France & Spain). Since then I have been very lucky to get to visit several new countries. Of all those places, Morocco has been kind of the most special.

First, the distance…I know absolutely no one who traveled all the way from my country Vietnam to Morocco. When I applied for my visa at the Moroccan embassy, the applicant logbook was almost empty, haha. (Vietnamese people do visit Morocco, but the number is few and far between. And those people usually live or study in Europe.) Flights from Vietnam to Morocco are obscenely long (like 40 hours) and expensive, so in my case I chose to fly to Paris first and then waited two days for my flight to Marrakech with Transavia (had never heard of this airline before I flew, but it was quite okay). Moroccans were very surprised when I told them where I'm from; they said I was the first Vietnamese they had never met

Second, the culture of Morocco is very different from that of all the countries I have lived and visited. That and the lack of research on my part made me woefully unprepared for the cultural shocks a solo traveler would encounter. My trip didn't go smoothly, and there was more than one occasion when I felt like changing my departure flight. (Nothing terrible happened; I was just fed up with having to keep my guard on all the times.) But the country's landscape is pretty much out of this world and I met really lovely people, so at the end of the day I'm still glad that I visited the country

I have written about my two-week traveling through the country on my travel journal, including my impressions of Marrakech, Fes & Chefchaouen, practical travel tips and of course a lot of photos with captions. Here is the link if you're interested:

http://goo.gl/RGo1i6

If you're about to visit Morocco, I hope it helps. As usual, if you have any question, let me know. I will try to respond as fast as I possibly can. Have a good weekend
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Jun 20th, 2015, 08:49 PM
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I would suggest that anyone reading this, do as the OP didn't and do your homework. Ignorance can be the mother of much ill will and you read that here and on the linked blog. Knowing what to expect is more than half the battle. Taking advantage is, unfortunately, not uncommon in countries that depend on tourists to the extent that Moroccans do, and who have few other opportunities. Not an excuse, just information..

I'd also like to point out that rip-offs happen everywhere in the world. My very first experience in Vietnam, the home country of the OP, was to be royally ripped off by a taxi driver on arrival by train in Hanoi from China in the wee hours of the morning. I was tired, knew I was being ripped off but accepted it as a lesson in travel in Vietnam. I didn't whine about it nor mention it online until now. It seems pertinent.
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Jun 21st, 2015, 12:01 AM
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MmePerdu: Sorry, you were ripped off in Vietnam. I have no defense on behalf of my country. I think there is value in talking about your experience, be it good or bad, on the Internet as it helps other travelers.

Like I said in my blog, it was not entirely Morocco's fault that I didn't enjoy the country to the fullest. I wish I had done more research. However, I still feel sellers and touts in Morocco are more aggressive than, say, those in South East Asia. A lot of travelers I met echo the same sentiment. What is everyone's experience?
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Jun 21st, 2015, 06:32 AM
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I have visited both Morocco and Vietnam, the latter multiple times. I encountered pushy sellers in Morocco mostly in the medina in Marrakesh, and in Vietnam mostly in the old quarter in Hanoi. On balance I would say the Moroccans were worse, but not up to the standards of the sellers in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. And the worst country for pushy sellers, by far, is India.
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Jun 21st, 2015, 07:35 AM
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I have, of course, experienced enthusiastic salesmen in all those places. But I've never had it be a problem. When it is a problem for people, I suspect it's a lack of sense of humor on the part of the offended. A good humored exchange, I've found everywhere, goes a long way in defusing what otherwise might become difficult. But that may be true among human beings in general when they take things too seriously.
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Jun 21st, 2015, 07:49 AM
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Enthusiasm is one thing. Grabbing me by the arm (Marrakesh) is quite another. (I slapped the offending arm, and the competition had a fit laughing.) Nothing like that in Vietnam, but the sellers weren't confined to one area, so it was harder to evade.
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Jun 21st, 2015, 07:58 AM
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There was a rug salesman in Istanbul who did his best to get us into his store. As he was half a block from our hotel I had to pass him multiple times every day. The first encounter, when I resisted firmly, he finally said "maybe tomorrow" and that was our mantra for the next week or so, every time, he'd smile and say "maybe tomorrow" and we'd both laugh as I answered, "yes, maybe tomorrow". But, indeed, grabbing is another matter altogether.
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Jun 21st, 2015, 08:00 AM
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Thursdays, I fully agree with you. I've been to Morocco, Vietnam, India and Turkey. No one beats the Indians. And the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is pure theater.

Confused20s: You took some really nice images and had a fun adventure. It isn't easy taking pictures in Morocco--there is a "you are stealing my soul" thing, except if you want to pay them. I guess souls are negotiable : ) It is far easier in Burma and Vietnam where the people are much more naturally friendly. However, Morocco is unique and marvelous. I loved it and I loved the food.
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Jun 21st, 2015, 08:49 AM
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thursdaysd: I KNOW. All the female travelers I talked to got their hands grabbed in Marrakech (I mention it in my travel tips post). I can assure everyone that Vietnamese people will not show up out of thin air and grab your hand and start painting it and then ask for money. Haha.

MmePerdu: I understand a sense of humor and a smile go along way. When I travel, I also try to learn a few local words to break the ice. But the thing is it also depends on the other person; it's not always about us trying to be friendly or humorous. When I was walking past a cafe in Fes, a group of young men kept asking if I needed a hotel. I said no thanks and walked briskly. Then they started screaming, f&*ck you. How was I supposed to find humor in that situation? Or how was a female friend of mine supposed to feel anything but shocked when Moroccans asked her, hey lady are you a virgin? I mention it very clearly on my blog that if I had done more research, I would have been able to avoid the troubles I encountered in Morocco. But no amount of research can prepare you for everything. Plus, when I talk about the problems I had in a country I visit, my only intention is to share my experience, not dissuading people from visiting that country. Whether or not they factor my experience in their final decision is purely their choice.

BostonHarbor: Thank you I feel like people in Morocco in general are not open to having their photos taken. Which is completely fine. I respect that so I mostly took photos of nature and architecture.
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