A piece of shopping heaven
As explained earlier, the souks are the equivalent of a bazaar in Turkey or night markets in Taiwan or Singapore (except it works the whole day). The prices are not fixed and negotiable. The shopkeepers like to assure you that it’s a “democratic” price. Judging by how much the regular folks have been screwed over by the upcoming US election, I’d say that’s a fair comparison.
I’m genuinely confused by the souks and was very, very lost a few times. Yes, even with the help of google maps. So I’m really not an expert on this. I’d recommend you to get a guide to bring you around. More often than not he might bring you to expensive shops and try to pressure you into buying something but STAY STRONG, I BELIEVE IN YOU. DON’T DO IT. Even with this risk in tow, I think going around with a local is really the best option.
First, we went to the tanneries to see how leathers were being treated for sale. How do you know you’re in the tannery quarter? Well, you can SMELL it. It’s a repulsive odour like no other. Dead animal with sulphur maybe? After you’ve gotten used to it, you start to realise how much work goes into dyeing and treating the leather and it’s absolutely beautiful. The tanneries in Marrakesh are not as large or multi-coloured as the ones in fez but it’s still fascinating nonetheless
This super friendly father-and-son duo was telling us about the family business and the traditions that have been the same for centuries (through the interpretation of our guide of course). They posed for a photo and asked us to send it to them via Facebook but alas, I couldn’t find them and hopefully if you recognise them, please tell them that it’s on here!
Our next stop was the leather auction. After the animal skins were treated, they were auctioned off in this impromptu set-up literally in the middle of the street. Men would gather here and shout their highest bid. I could never tell who was bidding what to who. It was chaotic, organic and I loved every second of it.
It was quite interesting to see how processing, craftsmanship and commerce happened in the same quarter. After we saw the leather auction, we went to see the finished products and my goodness, they were so beautiful. Handbags made more intricately than your designer label and at a fraction of the price (if you bargain properly). Needless to say, being cheap students, we bought nothing and went on our way.
A random shopkeeper showing off his skill of making wooden figurines and things using his feet.. wha? I can hardly walk in straight line and you can make a giraffe with your toes?
The next souk we were to explore was the fabrics.
When you do get there, the first thing you will see is the red strings hanging above you. Makes for a beautiful shot (self-praise=no praise)
Look at the beautiful dyes!
This was also where we got scammed. So with more shame and remorse I’d rather not talk about it.
BUT, If you must know, we bought a scarf which the seller claimed was made with “best quality dyes” and the colour will not run. No matter what. BUT GUESS WHAT MISTER. It did. Being kiasu (afraid of losing) Singaporeans, we immediately put the scarf under running water when we reached the hotel. And WHAT THE HELL. It turned into a fountain of blue. We went back to the souk, trying to look for the shop to give the owner a piece of our mind. But alas, the old rulers were right. We were lost in the labyrinth. Life goes on. We overpaid about 4 USD each, it could have been worse.
Please be extra careful when you do visit Marrakesh! It’s a beautiful place but due to the high volume of tourists, nasty things like these happen.
Knick knacks for you? We spent the rest of the day just having a wander around. There was a section where everyone was welding metal. Didn’t look very safe with sparks flying everywhere and the abundance of gas tanks, but who cares about safety regulations, right?
You can also buy fruits and vegetables.
Spice shop for spice gurlz
So there you have it! Souks in Marrakesh! Get lost, get found but don’t pay a little boy to take you back! Here are three smiling for the camera and this really cool dude riding away standing on a cart. The things you see
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for little animal friends in the streets of Marrakesh as well!