Saturday, 26 September 2009

The cheapest way to get from Morocco to Taiwan

We thought that getting a train at two in the morning would guarantee us some space to sit and possibly stretch our legs out. Of course, if we did have our legs stretched out and somebody else needed to sit down, we would have sacrificed this small amount of comfort and allowed them to take a seat. No such luck for us. As we moved down the narrow aisles with our bulky bags we had people coming out of their seats and trying to push past instead of waiting for us to pass first and walking down an obstacle-free aisle. We got nowhere until it made me cross and I was a bit more aggressive. This was perhaps the one place I have been where the people are less courteous than London.
Without fail, the Moroccans follow horrible experiences like this up with something particularly impressive. A young man came up to us as he was getting off the train about an hour into the journey and told us we could have his and his friend's seats. Unfortunately we were getting off at the same stop, but he made sure that we knew where we were going to get our connecting train.
Standing up next to the out-of-order toilet in the gangway at the end of a carriage meant that we were constantly assaulted by smoke from cigarettes and joints. It was unfortunate that the lad that started talking to us was so attached to marijuana, rap music and blatant half-truths, because it made it difficult for us to relate with him on any level despite his being overtly friendly. He grew up in the US and counted us tales of $30 000 rap contracts, US tours, getting in 6 fights a week and people annoying him because they want to speak with him because they recognise him off the telly.
And if that first leg of the journey from Fes to Tangiers was bad, Sally preferred it to the next one. Having learned that shy and retiring types get nowhere on Moroccan trains, we pushed into the first cabin we saw with some space in it and got settled. Sally was able to sort of sleep stood up on the first train, but in this cabin the train jolted you from side to side so every time you almost dropped off you were startled out of slumber and Sally was next to an old bloke with bad breath who slept with his mouth open.
We had no desire to visit Tangiers as we had heard that it was a haven for frauds, pickpockets, sleaze and scum, but in retrospect this was probably a good reason to go and try it because everything we've heard about Morocco has turned out to be backward.

When we planned this trip I was really looking forward to travelling across the Strait of Gibraltar, moving from one continent to another separated by a mere 14 km of water, but when we got on the ferry it was just a chance to get some sleep. We hadn't had a shower and knew that we wouldn't be able to have one tomorrow either. Now I wish I'd looked a bit more at the landscapes and scenery.
We stayed in the port at Algeciras and waited for our bus. An eight-hour journey to Madrid in a coach of superior comfort to any National Express we've ever used set us back a mere £25 each.
Madrid was very convenient, we dumped our luggage at the airport (attached to the metro system) and took off for the temple.

Sally said that the vases look like trophies.

We like street art.

After being disappointed that the end of Top Gun wouldn't play, we got the plane to Luton and met Matt and Tabi, friends who live nearby, and went to stay with them despite having booked a hotel room. We didn't regret it, we got to have a lie in, Tabi made us pancakes for breakfast and we finally got to have a shower. On Saturday morning we went with them to get some fish.

We got the train from Hitchin to Heathrow.

Taipei via Bangkok.

This is the view from our hostel when we woke up at 5pm local time

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