About Me

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am married to my loving husband for more than 38 years now. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children, until 11 years ago when I lost my youngest son. Since then my life is forever altered but yet unbroken....

My Travel Journal

"There isn't much I haven't shared with you along the road and through it all there'd always be tomorrow's episode" - Elton John

I started traveling around the world since early 80s when I had the opportunity to combine business trips with vacations. Then later when my rezeki is in abundance, there were numerous other trips along the way for vacations, most of the time with hubby and the kids when the timing is right. I have also started to compile the journal and photo-pages covering almost more than 25 years of world wide travel. Some destinations I visited just once, others many times. Many of those places are the obvious famous places people would like to visit but some, the casual traveler doesn't even think to try. I have placed links to my travel at the side bar of my personal page, My Life Reflections, and will be updating them from time to time.

My wish is to continue my travel and complete circumnavigate the globe, insyaAllah…

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Algeria Day 10: Ghardaia - The Home of the M'Zab Tribe...

“Life has a plan for each of us; we may not understand the whys on our journey but every event is meaningful nonetheless...” - Ken Poirot

(A one-eyed woman of the M'zab tribe)

Day 10: 13 October 2016 (Thursday)
Route: Ghardaia City Tour
Hotel: Hotel El-Djanaub, Ghardaia

Ghardaïa is the capital city of Ghardaïa Province. It is located in northern-central Algeria in the Sahara Desert and lies along the left bank of the Wadi M’zab. The M'zab valley in the Ghardaïa Province was inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982.

(Hotel El-Djanaub, Ghardaia)
(An old hotel with large compound and garden)
(A roundabout with a replica of the watch tower)

Today we had a full day tour of Ghardaia. Our first visit was the old town of Ghardaia. Ghardaïa is part of a pentapolis, a hilltop city among four others, built almost a thousand years ago in the M’Zab valley. It was founded by the Mozabites, a Muslim Ibadi sect of non-Arabic Muslims, including the Berbers. It is a major center of date production and the manufacture of rugs and cloths. 

(A view of the M'zab Pentapolis)
(Hilltop view of the villages)
(The valley is surrounded and protected by high mountains)
(Dates palm plantations in the villages)
(Mud brown brick colored houses with blue roofs)
(A tall watch tower and mosque minaret at the center of each village)
(A panoramic view of the old Ghardaia) 
(A good viewpoint from higher ground)

Divided into three walled sectors, it is a fortified town. At the center is the historical Mʾzabite area, with a pyramid-style mosque and an arcaded square. Distinctive white, pink, and red houses, made of sand, clay and gypsum, rise in terraces and arcades.

(The old Ghardaia, a well-preserved living museum)
(The burial ground of famous people)
(The common cemetery at M'zab Valley)
(A unique burial place for the M'zab tribe)

Here we noticed that all the women follow the tradition of wearing the haik, a large white cloth that is wrapped around the body and face, allowing only one eye to be seen. Before marriage, girls are allowed to show their faces but after marriage only one eye can be shown. These women are camera shy and it is strictly forbidden to take a photo of them without consent.

(Visiting the marketplace at Al-Shahid Bal-adis Kassim street)
(The main square of the marketplace)
(A Berber elderly in the marketplace)
(Ceramic containers for carrying water)
(Admiring local hand-woven carpets)
(Buying local souvenirs and handicrafts)
(Aromatic incense with variety of fragrances)
(A traditional pleated trousers of the Berber)

Next we visited the marketplace of Ghardaia. It was fun to just linger around to watch the daily life of the local people. The marketplace is located on the southwestern outskirts of the Ksar. Frequented by caravan traders from distant lands, this place remains to this day the most dynamic market of the entire region.

(A place to sell and buy local produce and products)
(A cozy meeting place along the corridor)
(An elderly visiting the souk)

Rectangular in shape, this place is surrounded by a shopping arcades in various shapes and dimensions selling local produce and handicrafts. The marketplace had in the past used to be an assembly point of the notables who would discuss the affairs of the city.

We had lamb kebab and fries for lunch at Restaurant Bik in the middle of town.

(Brick mud houses of Ghardaia)
(Lunch at Bik Restaurant)
(Roadside fruit seller)
(A young couple of the M'zab tribe)
(A replica of a fort in Ghardaia)
(A road leading out of city center)
(Public transportation to nearby towns)
(Passing a busy street in town)
(A simple form of transportation)
(The Headquarters of the  National Guard)

Next we visited El Atteuf, an old town and a commune. It has a population of less than 15,000. It is located in the M'zab valley about 6 km from the city. El Atteuf is the oldest town in the area and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(Another UNESCO World Heritage site)
(The oldest town in the M'zab Valley)
(School children not accustom to visitors)
(Entrance into intricate passageway)
(Stairs leading to their houses)
(Small maze-like corridors)
(Some houses with intricate outer deco)
(A cemetery next to the dwellings)

The little white-washed mosque of Sidi Brahim is situated in El Atteuf. It has a unique futuristic architectural shape. The prayer room which is in a circular shape with the qiblat marked by a mihrab with rounded niche. For the call to prayer, there is an opening in the wall facing the hill to have an echo and amplify the call of azan. Women had their space in a semi-circular upper ground room and listened to the imam through a hole in the wall. It is believed that Syeikh Sidi Ibrahim was buried next to the mosque.

(The entrance to the Mosque of Sidi Ibrahim)
(The outer yard of the mosque)
(Sidi Ibrahim was buried next to his mosque)
(The main prayer chamber of Sidi Ibrahim Mosque)
(A rounded niche marked the mimbar)
(A staircase leading to the upper courtyard)
(Underground prayer area)
(Upper level is for the woman prayer area)
(The mosque is surrounded by houses on one side)
(One of the many open windows)
(Walking back to the main square)
(Many twists and turns leading to the main passageway)
(Uncomfortably quiet and abandoned)
(Back to the main square)

As it was already late, we drove direct to the airport escorted. It was windy and dusty when we reached the airport. Our 5:00 pm fight to Algiers was cancelled because of a bad sandstorm. We were requested to wait for the 7:00 pm flight but the sandstorm was getting worse. The thick orange haze that had blanketed the airport had severely reduced visibility, threatening to continue delays and cancellations for the rest of the night. The last flight was called off too.

(Waiting for the National Guard escort)
(Arrived early at Gardaia Airport)
(Also known as Noumerate Airport)
(A hazy afternoon, a sign of bad weather)
(The beginning of strong wind and sandstorm)
(Reading my E-book while waiting for the announcement)
(Stranded in Ghardaia Airport, all flights cancelled)

After more than three hours waiting and doing nothing in the airport, and after much discussion and persuasion between our ground agent, the policemen and the National Guards, the group was driven back to Hotel El-Djanaub for dinner and a short night rest. It was decided that we will travel back to Algiers early in the morning by van escorted as we had to catch the 3:30 pm flight tomorrow.

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