COUNTRY 31: Morocco, Land of Colors and Much Mor 

“He who hunts for ostrich, will find ostrich.” – Moroccan Proverb


Oh yes, our family is hunting! Hunting hard for our life’s passions fueled by our yearning to be world educated by its unparalleled beauty, diverse culture and history! 

Hunt ostrich, find ostrich. Can’t be more appropriate for our family’s ideals on setting family goals and traveling! Set goals, its necessary! 

Our Country 31/ 100 Countries Travelled Together as Family is Morocco. Also, the second African country after our adventure in Ethiopia, Land of Origins. We’ll update this blog as we go on exploring this wonderful country. 

We visited Casablanca, Morocco’s biggest and capital city,  last March 2017 with only the parents for some travel hacking attempt. That attempt is not as successful as we have imagined. However, it turned out very romantic. It’s just us, though. We can’t state that it’s because it’s “Casablanca” but partly because traveling parents neeeds to be alone every now and then. So we said to ourselves, “we may have travelled Paris with kids, but we have Casablanca. ” Awesome, memorable couple traveling days! 

Travel date mixed with travel hacking in Casablanca! Can you tell we’re stoked and overjoyed?! (March 2017)

But what do we know?! Few months after, kids enjoyed Casablanca with us. Lots of gratitude, no complains. To explore the largest mosque in the country overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with our global children couldn’t be more perfect. 
  

Family selfie portrait I Hassan II Mosque (October 2017)
Kids jumping for joy (October 2017)

Worth noting a brief description of Hassan II Mosque from Wikipedia 

The Hassan II Mosque or Grande Mosquée Hassan II (Arabic: مسجد الحسن الثاني‎‎; colloquially the “Casablanca Hajj”)is a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 metres (689 ft). Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau and built by Bouygues. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca.The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, worshippers can pray over the sea but there is no glass floor looking into the sea. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside grounds.




We just can’t wait to see more of Morocco 🇲🇦 for some serious “ostrich hunting.” 



Type of Family Travelers We Know and Want to Be! 

“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot

Since  our family started our family adventures based on our family travel goals, we meet a lot of family travelers online and offline. Perhaps family travel will be the leading form of travel in the near future. Maybe (big maybe) that’s how Millennial will raise their families. Honestly, we see a lot of wins when kids travel early on with their family. It is our contention that family travel will pave the way to world peace.
 

That Big Family Traveler

More than big in number but more on big in ideas and big in luxury! Family travelers can aim for that one-time BIG adventure and they go all out. Disneyworld, Disneyland, Legoland, Atlantis – yes please! Mainly where commercial travel marketing go crazy at. Yes, after all, It’s A Small World After All!

That Disneyland Dream for Princesses

That Hairy Family Traveler

Shun all the risks, these family traveler will visit exotic places in a heartbeat! But of course, exotic is a relative place, it could be Asia for North Americans or Africa for Asians, either ways it is a dangerous, out of comfort zone place for this type of family traveler.

Off to exotic places we go!

That Audacious Family Traveler

Daring, bold and brave, adjectives we don’t normally use at the end of a fairytale like “happily ever after…” That’s boring because  family fairy tale doesn’t have to have an ending. Long term family travelers life their life without borders, that audacious! It must be really    fantastic  to wake up to days and days of something new and different which turns to weeks and weeks which turns to years to years.. up to , who knows, decades even. 

Okay, technically not long term travel.. but hey, this place we called work home for more than a decade is a place away from other home countries… still home without borders.. ha!
 

That Goal (keeper/oriented) Family Traveler

Of course, that cautious family traveler who are vigilant to source out travel deals, who master the itinerary to ensure productive travel days with family because of limited time, limited resources or any other limitations. They are the family who does not make excuses, yet makes end meet in their own creative ways.

Our first trip as family “tourist” will always be one of the most memorable family adventures: the learning curve is the best for all of us when it comes to family traits, tourism, finances and scheduling – that first jump towards own family milestone is the best!
 
 

Our family is that family who is a little bit of everything, who lives by the acronym BHAG, that Big Hairy Audacious Goal of traveling 100 countries in every continent, who appreciate every family travelers we meet.

Any type, any form, any reason, any rationale of family travel. We strongly believe, all families are unique, so their travels should be. 

Create your own family trail
 
 

COUNTRY 25: Latvia, Best Enjoyed Slowly…(Or Quick and Dreamy!) 

Promised berries will not fill the basket.- Latvian Proverb

 

There are no promises for  family satisfaction. Only commitment and lots of goal setting. In this case, plans how to get berries to fill our basket! It’s either we want baskets full of berries or not. No half hearted berry lover, right! 

There is however, best way to enjoy life… Slowly or quick and dirty… hoops, family blog… uhhmm quick and dreamy! 

With this in mind, Latvia! A very musical, creative, artistic, spectacularly cold country. 
First.. enjoy slowly. Get to know the country. 

Latvia is a not-so-big  country by the  the Baltic Sea . Come on, check it out. It’s really a country! Oh the occupation regimes seems endless… In early times, it was occupied by Balts, and was later ruled by Vikings, Germans, Poland, Sweden, and Russia. It only became an independent country in 1918.  (Corrected by our favorite Rebel Travel Family from Latvia, so this should be accurate. – Advanced Happy 100 Years of Independence, Latvia! Exciting year ahead.)  That’s barely like a person who discovered traveling to new places  and enjoying new found freedom after series of boarding schools after schools after school after 8-to-5 corporate slavery. 

A slow taste of Latvia and you’ll definitely crave for more (oh please stop me with the innuendos!)

We stayed in Riga, the capital city, for ten days. Our eldest traveller stayed with a host family for a Youth Choir trip while we stayed in the heart of the Old Town of Riga. She had a lot of fun with her host family she didn’t want to leave. They are all so musically inclined, something missing from her real family. We were sure that if they offered her to stay for a longer time even after the scheduled choir concerts, she would have said stayed. Sending all gratitude and love to  this fantastic Latvian family 

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

We didn’t see nor appreciate how green the city was. We visited March, beginning of spring. Hence, our desire to go back during summer season. Another wish list in our growing travel to do list with family. 
We did however stayed indoors a lot a experienced a taste of Riga, literally and figuratively. 
 

The Riga Music School…where we left our eldest musically inclined traveler with fellow musicians and off she goes on her own for a week or so…
These kids are just happy being in churches. This one though, St. Peter’s Cathedral, we attended the service :: her choir sang during the service!
Overlooking the magnificent view of Riga Old Town are 4.1 million books in 50 languages, that’s the National Library of Latvia! Hey, a culture nurturing books and reading books, we’re hooked!
We always make it a point to visit the local market when we visit a new country or a new places. Like tourist attractions, there are lots to learn about markets and local products. Plus, cheaper and fresher home cooked meals! #RigaCentralMarket is located at the center of Riga and is the largest and, duh, #centralmarket 😀which is also one of the largest in Europe and probably the most advanced market in the world. Imagine, it’s built with the German army aircraft hangars. This food specialist dad and the quality assurance mom agrees! The experience is really one of the kind, the wet market is not very dry… in a great way! ❤️
The Railway Bridge, the bridge across #riverdaugava, inaugurated 1914 and illuminated since 2007 with two modes, normal and holidays. Daily illumination at night time is blue lights, during holiday is blue and white lights! But hey, we wouldn’t know! We only see bridges daytime, before kids bedtime. 🤣 . .
We need houses as we need clothes, architecture stimulates fashion. It’s like hunger and thirst — you need them both. – Karl Lagerfeld Art and architecture immersion in Art Nouveau District, #riga the second time around is more love! ❤️

The more we stay in Latvia, the more we were hooked. Off we got on the trains and enjoyed this super affordable public transportation. 

Oh the places we’ve been around Latvia

Out of Riga, maybe our quick and dreamy version of Latvia. We head on to Jumarla for three days to freeze our beautiful .. faces.. by the Baltic Sea. Such a shame we didn’t get to swim and see the beach crowded with hot bodies. There still saw  lot of tourists walking by the beach.

 

It won’t be our #turknoy #familyadventure if we don’t include a visit to the beach soaked in rain in freezing temperature. 😘🤣 Hello Baltic Sea!
There was really no one in the streets of #Kemeri when we visited. And we took a picture of their attraction – The water tank! It was a fun walk with the family in the cold in a very quiet village. Priceless! ❤️
 
We took more trains and visited more quiet towns, we have enjoyed the serenity and silence of empty streets.  The kids definitely has their share of echoing screams. We felt like we were in the opening credits of a country movie, eerie silence, solitude. We’ll, it was fun, cold experience. 

Oh the food, wine, cheese and coffee! Let’s not elaborate on that in this blog or we might go booking a ticket to Latvia for a hot wine and salmon. We ate a lot of meat, too. It might be not politically correct to post photos of them, you know…. pork. 

Culinary Journey for all types of senses – burp!

No matter how you travel Latvia or any country in particular , slow or quick, night or day, fast food or fine dining, herbivore or carnivore, medium rare or well done, train or bus, music or story, travel it your own unique busy way! Just be  alive. Let’s be busy being alive



Have you been to Latvia with kids? 

COUNTRY 18 – Malaysia: Truly Asia!

“Being Malaysian is about embracing cultural diversity and harmony between different people and religions. Malaysia will always be my home.” – Jimmy Choo, Shoe Designer

86 floors-high and we are on the tallest twin tower in the world! we spy solar panels down below…
 
Looks like Philippines, feels like Turkey, Malaysia feels like home to the Turknoys! 
 

oh the so many places to visit in a Truly Asia country. we ‘ll be back, God willing

Turknoy Dad has been to Malaysia more than 1o years ago and he fell in love with the country right there and then. The people, the beaches, the coconut trees, the localities, the green environment and yes, even the humidity! It was understandable that he was very excited to show us around the country for the first time.
 

During our travel to Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur, he was the happiest one! Our itinerary was very simple as our time was very limited much to the Dad’s disappointment yet we tried to have a taste of everything the two cities has to offer, but not the beach! The beaches of Malaysia for sure will require another adventure for the family.

Legoland Malaysia – first in Asia and first international park in Malaysia ; authentic Malaysian hospitality at its best!
 
We went to Legoland coming from Singapore which took less than an hour! That was a really pleasant surprise. The family stayed at Legoland Hotel for two nights as a treat to the kids and so the parents can rest! We ended up enjoying more than we expected. Legoland offers Malaysian hospitality at its finest!
 

Even the 5-hour-bus ride from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur is a delight! Seeing all the greens and the organized highways. Every now and then, we discuss how countries with similar resources be so different in economy and international passport recognition.
 

Our two night-stay in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur was spent exploring the Petronas Twin Tower, KLCC, observing people, walking around the city and eating Nasi Lemak! Oh yes, we just can’t get enough of Malaysian food! The coconut and pandan flavoured rice, the sambat (red chili paste) , fresh cooked chicken and fresh vegetables. We gained more than 10 kilos together as family after this trip!
 

Nasi Lemak is ❤️❤️❤️
Nasi Lemak is ❤️❤️❤️

Personally, we didn’t know this can be done, yet Malaysia made us see that this is possible – using the country’s resources, promoting the unique Malaysian culture to the world and becoming so successful at it and yet, encouraging diversity and at the same time harmony and respect among all people with different backgrounds, ethnicity and religions. We have been to some metropolitan cities, yet Malaysia gave us that authentic feeling of accepting diversity with respect to all people. You can’t get that genuine feeling with any effective tourism marketing. It is deeply embedded in the Malaysian culture!

China Town in Malaysia

To use own unique talents and traits, to accept one’s identity, to be accepted for one’s real identity while accepting other ideas of life, culture and religion and having no judgment at all, if we can all be this, maybe world peace is possible. 

Indeed, a country Truly Asia! We’ll be back for more of Malaysia!
 

Central Market

 

Qatar 3: Al Zubarah – Beach, Port and UNESCO Heritage!

 
All who are running on their father’s footsteps, are anyway running. – Qatari Proverb, which means the son will always do what the father does.
 

always fun at the beach early morning! the color of the sea is the color of the public transpo in Qatar!

Did you know that Al Zubarah is the remaining complete plan of an Arabian pearl-merchant town. Al Zubarah is a very unique archeological evidence to the human interaction with both sea and the harsh desert environment of the region.
 

Al Zubarah Fort

Kuwait traders founded the Al Zubarah village, imagine the geography now! When Al Zubarah was nominated to be a UNESCO heritage sites, our family was cynical about the entire UNESCO qualifications as we have been in the country for quite a few number of years. Yet, we started traveling, we have come to realize that Qatar is indeed a country full of treasures. It’s the harsh weather that is fascinating about the country and how the citizens and residents, then and now, respond to it. It’s a peninsula country surrounded by the Persian Gulf with mainly desert terrain and yet, there are lots of treasures in any form with a defined Islamic and Qatari culture embedded in daily lives.
 

old house in old desert village
somewhere in the middle of the desert – a carving yet to be interpreted by archeologists in Qatar.

We have been to other UNESCO heritage sites with less. We are proud Qatar residents that this site is included in the ever famous UNESCO Heritage list and we take every opportunity to visit the area whenever we could!

Discoveries in desert are always golden!
 
family discoveries in the desert are worth more than gold!

The pristine bluish-green beach is a site worth driving 2 hours already! Add in the architecture of the port and the history hidden it the archeological site and if we are lucky, there are camels and sunset!
 

It’s a guaranteed full, stimulating and fun day of exploring in Al Zubarah!

sunset and history in desert, we just love this kind of day

 

COUNTRY 16 – Georgia: Awesome Mountain Views and Turkey Way Back The 80s 

 
“The dog was asked:

Why do you bark? : To scare the wolves.

Why do you wag your tail? What do you think, am I not afraid of wolves?”

– Gregorian Proverb

 

To Travel is To Live

It’s Country 16 and are we are just warming up to family travel and the kids! On this trip, we have combined low cost airlines, with connecting flights both way and absolutely wonderful, albeit a little dangerous road trip using the country’s public transportation! Indeed, one of the highlights of our visit to the country is the Metro fun! Almost 45-degree inclined escalator for two minutes made our hearts excited for several times! Who knew metro escalator could also be a fun ride for kids and adults?! 

Tbilisi Metro escalators are pure delight! seriously fun!

During this trip , we also tried everything local. Well, this is not really saying much because Georgia’s border to the south is Turkey (which is one of our home country!)

Checking our quest status (100 countries in 10 years!) by far, we have achieved 16/100 in three years, it’s really a good feeling to settle in our family’s priorities in life. It’s exhilarating, most of the time, scary sometimes, yet that family satisfaction is reaching to new heights every time we explore another country. We bark loud, we wag our tails and enjoy life in dogs’ years.

We said it again and again, that there are great benefits when traveling with kids, especially when traveling becomes a lifestyle for the family. The routine of preparing for the journey, the joy of seeing new things, the body clock adjustments, that jet lag feeling. All familiar things leading to something new. 

We have explored the city Tbilisi in less than two days and have explored the nearby mountainous city Kazbegi in just one day! Our interaction with the local is limited to public transportation and the local shops we have enjoyed, yet there is something about the Gregorian hospitality we are so familiar with that we love. The country feels like Turkey way back in the 1980s. Most of the locals do not speak English yet, although the country had opened up tourism to nearby countries, with the visa-free privileges!

Overlooking the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi enjoying the summer weather. Found the tree of gold and fountain of youth.. we wish! 🦄🦄😍❤️🦄
Overlooking the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi enjoying the summer weather. Found the tree of gold and fountain of youth.. we wish! 🦄🦄😍❤️🦄
Bridge of Peace, Tbilisi, Georgia
Old Town Tbilisi

A family of five coming from Qatar, we would spend more going to UAE with the visa alone, compared to going to exploring Georgia and staying in a not-so-fancy B&B! It’s a nice long weekend getaway alternative for the GCC countries residence. Of course, we still recommended going to Turkey as nothing beats the history, the landscape and architecture of the cities of our beloved Turkiye. Yet, Georgia, is a close second choice for us, if we are to include travel costs as a defining factor.

Mt. Kazbek at Kazbegi, three hours road trip away from Tblisi
Gergeti Trinity Church! Best way to pray and wish on top of the mountain, reception maybe better! 🤗🤗

Georgia – warm hospitality, awesome mountain landscapes and wine culture! The country is surely a bliss break from desert work. God-willing, we get to enjoy the country in winter season, how we would love that for sure!

Happiest feet have wornout shoes – Turknoy Travels 100

Qatar 2: Sculpture in the Desert Nature Reserve


“I consider space to be a material. The articulation of space has come to take precedence over other concerns. I attempt to use sculptural form to make space distinct.” – Richard Serra
 

One hot sunny afternoon . We were the very first to see the art installion!
Three years on, another hot, sunny, beautiful summer day in Broque Nature Reserve enjoying Richard Serra’s Art Installations

Another favorite weekend place for our family is the Brouq Nature Reserve especially when the the Richard Serra art installations of four steel plates, over fourteen metres in height each with their perfect alignments has been completed in the reserve. Modern steel art in our favorite country by a well-respected artist in his field. That sounds spectacular to call Qatar home for us.

The art by Richard Serra is titled East-West/ West- East. We love the desert nature reserve and wide desert space with its unique limestone formation all over the art installations. The landscape is simply breathtaking. Especially we look far out and see the span of Persian Gulf and walk along its beach line.

Borooq Nature Reserve is really a unique destination in Qatar!

Add in a good desert weather, amidst the season, hot and humid or cold and windy, it’s a full day out for the family. There’s no wrong weather, only wrong clothes, as we always say, so we always come prepared whenever we come to Brouq Nature Reserve.

Limestone formations are such a joy to climb, different textures than sand , soil or dunes!

limestones formation, always a joy to conquer!
top of the world of limestones formation

This place never fails to make us appreciate the beauty of desert landscape and its wonder. There is always beauty in our surrounding, even without the green! The grass is always not better when it’s greener. At some awesome times, the grass is better when it’s wild, free and growing in the desert.

Isn’t it a wonder how some living things thrive in the barren desert? Awesome wonder of nature! And wonder of life.. 🙂

 

This husband/ wife photo is taken by our eldest Turknoy inspired an ode to a 10-year-old -desert-love

 Ten years together. 
 East West/ West East 

North South/ South North.. 

 Together yet not interdependent. 

 You are you. I am I. You I/ I You. 

 Because being together is a choice. 

Not dependency. ❤️❤️❤️