New Blog Series: ‘My Travel Illustrations Journal’

New Blog Series: 'My Travel Illustrations Journal' | By Yaansoon IllustrationI’ve always wanted to keep a travel journal where I could glue train ticket stubs onto the pages, or draw tiny drawings to remind me of my experiences in the 20+ countries I have been to. I guess that’s the main drive behind my illustrated travel posts series, dubbed ‘My Travel Illustrations Journal,‘ Naturally, as a former PR gal, I want to take this blog series to the next level by introducing a special badge that sort of ‘brands’ it all and makes it a fixed section in my blog.

I come from a PR and media background, so there is nothing more exciting for me than to engage in a mini branding exercise. I like to create badges (or logos) for each and every blog series I introduce into this blog. The illustration above is my new travel series badge. What do you think? Do you like it?

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationHaving a travel journal has always been a dream of mine, but I never got around to it. Over the years I sort of opted to keep my travel pictures, plane tickets, and post cards in a small cardboard box that sat on one of my shelves (mostly collecting dust). I also have another box where I keep my souvenirs and the trinkets I have collected from the different handcraft markets and tiny indie shops I’ve been to around the globe.

This series basically started back in June when I was marveling at the contents of my souvenirs box. That’s when I felt a strong urge to illustrate these knickknacks and baubles and sort of tell their story. As a result, my first official travel post was born and it was about my collection of Tunisian ceramics.

New Blog Series: 'My Travel Illustrations Journal' | By Yaansoon IllustrationWhy I Love Travel

Travel for me is a reminder that life is about endless possibilities. It makes us realize that there is so much more to life than our own narrow experiences. It helps us expand our horizons and keeps us from getting fixated on our own set ways.

Not all people who travel end up expanding their understanding of the human condition. Some take their prejudices and narrow-mindedness with them everywhere they go. They get all judgmental about the customs and traditions of the countries they visit, and constantly keep comparing them to their own. That’s definitely not the kind of traveller I ever wanted to be!

Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You're Traveling to Morocco | By Yaansoon IllustrationTravel and Cultural Respect

When I was lucky enough to visit Morocco a few years ago, I remember going off on my own to visit the local Souk (market). I wanted an authentic experience that wasn’t affected by some of my colleagues’ moods, or maybe the lack of respect they seemed to have for other cultures. The age range varied so much and some of the people in my group were too self-involved for my taste, so I decided I didn’t have to ruin my trip on their account.

In my post, Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You’re Traveling to Morocco, I talk about suitable attire for visiting public and spiritual areas in Morocco. I had to learn that the hard way, as I went completely unprepared with my sleeveless shirts and torn pair of jeans. I remember buying traditional humble clothing from the market because I wanted to enter a small spiritual mosque, traditionally called ‘Zawya’ in Muslim countries that have a strong Sufi and spiritual heritage, like Morocco.

Respecting other people’s traditions is really the backbone of travel. It helps tame our own judgmental nature and be open to a different way of life, even for just a little while. Otherwise, what’s the point from travel if we are going to come out of these experiences exactly the same people as we first started?

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Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You’re Traveling to Morocco

Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You're Traveling to Morocco | By Yaansoon IllustrationEverything about Morocco is exquisite and special! Its architecture, home decor, food, local fashion and traditions, are all a delight to the senses. Rich with colour, motifs and patterns, Morocco is not like any other country. This North African gem is steeped in tradition, yet very hospitable and welcoming of visitors from all corners of the globe. To make sure you are prepared to experience the Moroccan culture, here are a few fundamental packing tips to help you pack.

The following suggested list includes the very basics, but you can always build on it. It’s also a list for the ladies, as I am sure men have different needs that I myself wouldn’t know very much about :)

  1. Souvenirs: Bring along a few light-weight souvenirs that reflect the culture of your country, but make sure nothing in there is too controversial or culturally offensive (I drew a Dala Horse in my illustration above, assuming the traveller in question is from Sweden). Moroccans are very hospitable, so don’t be too surprised if a total stranger insists on inviting you over to a family meal at their own home. Be prepared with a few interesting trinkets as a thank-you gesture.
  2. 1 pair of sneakers: You will need them for hikes and long walks around Morocco’s beautiful souks and markets.
  3. Socks
  4. 1 pair of flip-flops
  5. 1 pair of loose-fit jeans: Baggy jeans are your best bet as they won’t attract unnecessary attention in public souks. Since it can get very hot during the summer, a loose-fit will also help you stay cool. The general etiquette in Morocco for Women usually involves modest clothing.
  6. At least one long-sleeved shirt, that is also loose-fitting: If you’re planning to visit one of Morocco’s beautiful Mosques, you will need modest clothing for the occasion.
  7. A scarf: Having a scarf on hand is a great idea, especially if you happen to pass through a religious corner (Zawya) or district.
  8. Sunscreen: The sun in Morocco can be very intense during summertime. You will most probably get a tan by just walking down the street during daytime!
  9. Your mobile phone
  10. Your charger + adapter

My enchantment with Morocco began as a little child. Back then I had no idea I actually had Moroccan ancestry from my mother’s side. I found out relatively recently that I have a great great grandfather from Morocco, and then one of his descendants married a Moroccan lady. I couldn’t be happier knowing I actually had roots in a culture I so admired and found to be so inspiring and resourceful.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s illustrated post. I look forward to seeing you in my next one!

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Dreaming of a drenched-in-blue Moroccan town

blue, morocco, travel, YaansoonI mentioned in a previous post that a great grandmother of mine was from Morocco. I dreamt of visiting this beautiful country for many years, until one day I did. I went to Casablanca as part of a music tour in North Africa. What I regret the most is not extending my visit to see this beautiful blue town, named Chefchaouen!

With summer comes my life-long craving for the color blue (check this post for blue and white inspirations from Pinterest). But nothing beats these photos of an old Moroccan town, nestling in infinite hues of the color blue north of Morocco.

Please see image credits at the end of the post.

blue-streets-of-chefchaouen-morocco-15I just found this post by boredpanda, and with it came a healthy dose of blue walls, blue doors, and blue visions of every sort. This is where I need to be this summer, to finally live the blue dream.

blue-streets-of-chefchaouen-morocco-11The color blue is such a soothing and calming color that reminds me of the sea, the sky, and nature’s abundant beauty. When the sky is blue, everything is alright. When an ocean is blue, it’s a sign of stability, prosperity, and a weather that promises great possibilities.

blue-streets-of-chefchaouen-morocco-10Morocco… it’s a piece of heaven on earth. The farthest places, the houses, the souks, and every nook and cranny of this North African country is a unique work of art. And it’s not any kind of art… it’s livable, every day art that you get to breathe, taste, and experience in infinite ways.

blue-streets-of-chefchaouen-morocco-9Image credits: 1 by Brian Hammonds, 2 by WordPress fellow blogger oneworldtwoexplorers.com, 3 by ‘unknown,’ 4 by Beum Photography, 5 by Cherry Bharati.