Tangier – The Hometown and Final Resting Place of Ibn Battutah

I landed in Tangier on the 1st of May and after dropping my backpack at the hostel, I went about to find the tomb of Ibn Battutah.

The Mazaar (Masoleum) of  Ibn Battutah

The Mazaar (Masoleum) of Ibn Battutah

Of all the travellers I met during my travels in Morocco only two had heard the name Ibn Battutah, and neither of them knew who he was! It was a sad fact especially since each traveller I met knew very well who Marco Polo was.

Even more disappointingly neither of the three guys who worked at the hostel I stayed at in Tangier (Ibn Battutah’s hometown) knew the way to Ibn Battutah’s tomb, arguably the most important site in all of Tangier, even though it was hardly a 3-5 mins walk from the hostel..

Armed with a very primtive vocabulary of Arabic I set out to locate the tomb by asking around. Barely a few steps from the hostel door I ran into a bunch of young guys trying to sell me Hashish (after a few days in Tangier, I realised selling hashish was no big deal, in fact smoking it was very common and even socially acceptable in the cafes). Hamza who was standing with the group said he knew a good local eating place as well as the location of the tomb and said he could show me both, not realizing that everything in Morocco comes at a cost especially over eager locals and touts giving you directions.

Inside the Mazaar, the tomb and final resting place of  Ibn Battutah

Inside the Mazaar, the tomb and final resting place of Ibn Battutah

Inevitably after a very long stroll circumambulating around the medina we reached the tomb. All the while I stayed inside the small approximately 8 * 12 feet mazaar (mausoleum) Hamza waited outside, even though I had thanked and bid farewell to him. Eventually he walked with me back to the hostel and I realised why we took the longest possible route to Ibn Battutahs tomb when he asked me for massive tip for showing me ‘such a difficult to find way’ and for hanging around all that time (uninvited)

After getting ripped off on the first day of my journey, I worked out a successful tout avoiding strategy for the rest of my trip – only ask the shop keepers for directions if you get lost in the winding, never ending streets of the medinas, they will guide but won’t leave their stalls to come along and show you the way .

Uzbekistan Visa And My Stock Picking Strategy

In stark contrast to the smooth and pleasant experience of applying for Tajikistan Visa, my visit to the Uzbekistan Consular office in London was extremely distasteful and unpleasant. The woman at the visa window was exceptionally rude. Having put up with her demeaning attitude for 45 mins I decided to leave without submitting my application with the intent of writing to the Uzbekistan Ambassador to UK about my ordeal in the hope that it will redress the obnoxious and disparaging attitude of the staff.

So as soon as I got back from the embassy, I Googled the name of the ambassador. And surely he came up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. So I wrote to him on all three forums. And Yes, I activated my Twitter account for the sole purpose of getting in touch with the Uzbekistan Ambassador. Let’s see if I ever get a response back (!?) I have been thinking of “investing” (sounds grand but it really is just putting a few hard earned pound sterlings into a worth while Tech stock for rainy days) in LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter for sometime but was never really convinced they offered good long term prospects. Whichever forum if any (and ever!) I get the response to my message/email/tweet from the ambassador would be the stock i’ll go long on..savvy stock picking strategy eh !?

However I’m determined not to let this experience ruin my plan for visiting Uzbekistan. One of the places I noted down while reading The Travels of Ibn Battutah was Uzbekistan and I had put the following excerpt next to my notes entry

‘The melons of Khawarizm have no equal in any country of the world, East or West, except it may be the melons of Bukhara, and next to that the melons of Isfahan. Their rind is green, and the flesh is red, of extreme sweetness and firm texture..’

Would hate to miss out on these delicious melons, so the alternative plan is to apply for Uzbek visa at one of their consulates along the way insha’Allah..

The Map of My Proposed Journey

I plan to hit the road on 01 May 2015, starting from Tangier in the footsteps of one the greatest travelers of all time Abū ʿAbd al-Lāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Lāh l-Lawātī ṭ-Ṭanǧī ibn Baṭūṭah. Ibn Baṭūṭah set out from Tangier in 1325 for Makkah to perform Hajj and continued to travel for almost 30 years before returning to Morocco.

Due to time limitation, visa restrictions and countries which are inaccessible due to conflict I wont be able to travel as much as I would have desired and would only be able to visit a tiny fraction of all the amazing places Ibn Baṭūṭah saw.

I don’t have a strict itinerary either only a few hard deadlines to get to certain places by certain dates; I intend to improvise and adapt as I go along. Below is a very rough sketch of my itinerary.

First Leg (01 May to 19 June)

Tangier -> Marrakesh -> Sijilmassa -> Fes -> Tlemcen -> Algiers -> Tunis -> Alexandria -> Cairo -> Luxor -> Aydhab -> Jeddah

Second Leg (20 June to 19 July)

Jeddah -> Makkah -> Medina -> Petra -> Wadi Rum -> Amman -> Jerusalem -> via Jordan ->  Lahore

Third Leg (20 July to 05 Aug)

Lahore -> Tabriz -> Shooshtar -> Esfahan  -> Shiraz -> Bukahara -> Samarkand -> Termez -> Mazar i Sharif -> Dushanbe -> Murghab -> Khorog -> Ishkashem

Fourth Leg (06 Aug to 25 Aug)

Ibn Battutah travelled from Termez to Mazar-i-Sharif and via Kabul to Multan. For various reasons and the fact that I had wanted to see the Wakhan Corridor and the Northern parts of Pakistan I intend to take a different route into Pakistan:

Ishkashem -> Sarhad Boroghil (Wakhan) -> Wakhan Corridor -> Irshad Uween Pass (4979m)  -> Baba Ghundi -> Misgar -> Sost -> Gilgit -> Skardu

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