I cannot even tell you how long I’ve been waiting to share my photos from Morocco with you all: first stop, magical Chefchaouen.
















I cannot even tell you how long I’ve been waiting to share my photos from Morocco with you all – every time I look at my Instagrams from those last two weeks of our Europe-Africa trip, I miss the sweet mint tea, gritty dry heat, crystal hustlers and being covered head to toe. Then, life takes over and my millions of SD cards take a backseat. But today, in Sydney, I’m slowly wilting and my computer is screaming in heatstroke – so, here’s to wishing I were back in Northern Africa during Ramadan, trying to find some meaning in my broken (non-Arabic) French.

Chefchaouen was our first real Moroccan stop after spending a night in the scatterbrained Northern port of Tangier, meeting Youssef (our brilliant guide – we seriously lucked out), and exploring Hercules’ Cave and Asilah before a nail-biting and winding road up to a little blue town nestled in the waist of a mountain fifty times larger. The town is out of the way of a usual Moroccan Imperial Cities route – it adds at least 24 hours of driving time to your itinerary, but our choosing it was no rookie error. Certainly, even a night or half a day here is worth the fuel and detour. Only in Morocco, can you find indigo paint pigment as vivid and as enduring as this shade. And, as much as Yves Saint Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens made the lapis lazuli pigment famous, only in Chefchaouen is every concrete surface drenched in blinding and baby blues – an Impressionist’s dream, as far as I’m concerned.

And, it keeps the mosquitoes away, said Youssef. Even my jungle deet isn’t doing half as good a job in Sydney tonight.

Being a step down in population from Tangier’s port and even Asilah’s tourist throngs, Chefchaouen was a place of firsts for us. We did our first fast and enjoyed our first Ramadan Iftar, succumbed to sweet talking rug salesmen and thanked or damn lucky stars that a 30kg rug was not physically feasible (for I surely would have been guilted into dropping Dirhams on at least three), and here, I bought my first proper headscarf and, with Youssef’s thorough and patient answers to my questions, began to understand the mentality of a Muslim woman.

Not to say that I was completely ignorant before my arrival – I had packed my fair share of long pants, jumpsuits and head covers in preparation (Princess Di taught me well). But it was first in Chefchaouen that this display of cultural respect went a long way. For all of the forewarning I’d received from friends on the aggression of men in Morocco and gender inequality, I experienced none of that. Curious stares, yes – Asian tourists (let’s be honest), don’t pass through Morocco too often. But racism? Sexism? None. Only the most incredible hospitality I’d experienced in my whole six weeks abroad, and an intrigued hunger for knowledge about Australia and Asia. I didn’t even get pick-pocketed.

Women are not forced to wear anything, said Youssef. If they want to wear a niqab, a burqa, a hijab… nobody will comment. It’s a reflection of your personality and perhaps how progressive or traditional you and your family are, but it’s no longer a written rule. Certainly, I saw a good number of girls and women in some bigger cities with not only no headgear, but also shorter hemlines and uncovered shoulders. And what about foreigners? What are the rules for us? Youssef looked at my new blue scarf in the rearview mirror of the car: it’s against my culture to disrespect your choices. Then, a cheeky grin – but you should protect yourself from the sun.

The next day in Merzouga, I passed a tour group of American college girls in strapless tube tops and short shorts. A week later, while surfing in Taghazout, I wore shorts for the first time since I arrived in Morocco and felt completely naked and utterly offensive. I cringed and understood any reaction that those precautionary friends had received in past trips to this vibrant corner of the world. With temperatures as high as 43 Celcius, of course it would be acceptable in Sydney to be lounging outside in a dress that should be a top (as I am now) – hell, in Corsica, you could be topless at much lower mercury. But in Morocco (and any such similar location, for that matter), you endure some mild discomfort as a way of acknowledgement that you actually care.

You should try it.

Blu Moon Long Sleeved Romper from Planet Blue – Gary Bigeni Kremi Skirt – Equipment Signature Shirt in Regal Blue

  • Qinnie Wang

    Lovely blue…Morocco here I come!

  • a gorgeous place and you look so beautiful in this klein blue!

  • mrs.chaplin

    im moroccan i love your photography ,so beautiful!!!

  • mrs.chaplin

    would you mind if i post some of them on my Tumblr?!! with the link of your blog .

  • Vivian

    please tell me you had a fan blowing your head scarf upwards…otherwise, i’m just at a loss at how you achieved that amazing photo. please share your secrets! i absolutely adore you, btw.


Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese director, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Margaret has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, UNIQLO, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Margaret’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NYLON, Marie Claire, GRAZIA and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for the past four consecutive years. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim.

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