My Photographs: Top 5 Setti Fatma, Morocco.

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Approaching Setti Fatma, October 2008. The peaceful, picturesque little Moroccan village of Setti Fatma sits neatly nestled in a canyon beneath The High Atlas Mountains Mountains at the southern end of The Ourika Valley. Keen to do some foothill hiking, I arrived here on a day trip from Marrakech by minibus. The trip took just over an hour and a half and the scenery was fantastic as we closed in on the village.

Ourika Valley, October 2008 I’d read that Setti Fatma gets swamped during the summer, with bus after busload of tourists descending upon the place day in day out. Happily, there was very little going on as I entered the village through one of the wooden footbridges over the straggly river.

Setti Fatma, October 2008. If you’re hungry you can stop by one of the restaurants set into the grassy hillside terraces. Otherwise, follow the blue signs and start your walk up to the waterfalls. You won’t need a guide, despite the various offers you’ll no doubt receive, as in truth the hike is a light one and the route is well signposted.

Mountain Shop, October 2008. Forgot to bring a packed lunch? No problem! There are a number of amusing mountain shops selling soft drinks, snacks and fruit. In this one the display shelves had been carved out of the hillside itself, while the joint also served as a functioning waterfall. Kitschy, but cute!

Setti Fatma Waterfall, October 2008. While by no means stunning, Setti Fatma’s collection of waterfalls is undeniably pretty and a few of them can only be accessed by clambering up a tricky section of rock and slippery stepping-stones. Once again my late October visit proved a wise decision and we had the place to ourselves.

 

My Photographs: Top 5 Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca.

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Hassan Mosque, October 2008. “There’s nothing to see in Casablanca”, a misinformed Australian once told me. Ok… the city may not be packed with an abundance of sights, but this jaw-dropping mosque is pretty much reason alone to make the journey. As the largest mosque in Morocco (third largest in the world!), Hassan is an architectural delight stunningly perched on a promontory overlooking The Atlantic Ocean. It also boasts the world’s tallest minaret, at a neck-craning six hundred and eighty nine feet.

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My Photographs: Top 5 The Great Wall Of China

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Jinshanling Section, May 2010. I’ll never forget my first ever Great Wall experience, back during my maiden year in China. I was living in Beijing at the time, which meant there were a bunch of routes to choose from. While I had no desire whatsoever to subject myself to the overcrowded Disney circus act of Badaling, I also figured It might be wise to leave some of the more wild stretches for later on. In the end the Jinshanling section fit the bill perfectly, a ten-kilometer trek that took in some of the country’s most stunning Great Wall scenery.

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My Photographs: Top 5 798 Art District, Beijing.

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798 Art District, March 2010. Only in a city as wondrously contradictory and confusing as Beijing could a place like 798 Art District exist! Formerly a huge network of factories built by the East Germans in the 1950s, by the mid 1990s the entire area had fallen into a state of abandoned disrepair. It was around this time that The Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts setup shop here to take advantage of the cheap rent and vast working space. Soon after independent artists began trickling in and the community grew and grew…

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My Photographs: Top 5 The Summer Palace, Beijing.

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The Summer Palace, January 2010. I’ve always considered The Summer Palace to be Beijing’s crowning achievement! For me you can keep the organised chaos of The Forbidden City and the anticlimactic expanse of Tiananmen Square. While these places are definitely worth seeing, China’s largest royal park has way more charm, with breathtaking temples, gardens, pavilions, bridges, a huge lake and dazzling hilltop views. This shot was taken as I closed in on the top of Longevity Hill for a look in The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. Guarded by a selection of fearsome bronze animals, its focal point is a giant hardwood throne.

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My Photographs, Top 5 The Forbidden City, Beijing.

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The Forbidden City, April 2010.
Home to a succession of Chinese emperors; Beijing’s incredible Forbidden City served as the very heart of China for over five hundred years and is said to be Planet Earth’s largest palace complex! And right enough you’d be hard pushed to doubt this claim as you walk under The Gate of Heavenly Peace, the disapproving stare of Chairman Mao tracking your every step.

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My Photographs: Top 5 The Killing Fields – Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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Choeung Ek Killing Fields, December 2015. After a couple of hours wandering around the unwaveringly grim Tuol Sleng Genocide Centre, the last thing I felt like doing was going out to The Killing Fields, the place where so many Cambodian prisoners were finally put out of their misery in the mid 1970s. But in many ways seeing Choeung Ek felt like a rite of passage, as if my travel mate and I had no right heading off for the beach oases of Sihanoukville and Ko Rong until we’d finished the historical journey we’d started.

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