Almost every post I write, and every post I love writing, comes from a reaction to a post I love or hate reading. Which is a great thing for inspiration, but it sometimes leaves me a little worried about being too reactionary. I don’t wanna be known as the ‘negative blogger’ but I DO want to be known for honesty. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m nothing if not honest. Mostly….cos’ some things are sacred guys!
So I’ve shied away a little from writing about this topic, because I think it’s totally subjective and open to interpretation. It’s not that I’m worried I’ll offend anyone, I just never found the right space to write the post. If that sounds a little strange, it probably is. In fact, I’m starting to get bored of my own words as I write them. As a travel blogger, I used to LOVE nothing more than writing about my experiences and sharing my pictures….I loved reading them too. But things have changed recently, and subscribers know ALL about it already…..(hint, hint: sign up to my newsletter!)
Obviously, I love travelling. I believe the journey is the destination, the world is my oyster and life is short. All those cliches have seen me at airports all over the world and on flights so long-winded and awkward it took me several days to get anywhere. Anyway, y’all know I flipping hate competitively counting countries so I tend to only go to places I know I wanna go, as opposed to hitting up a new place every year for the sake of it. However, I’m also a total Lonely Planet sucker, and I J’ADORE hitting up some of the sights wherever I go. I’m not really a big museum gal, and if you tell me I simply MUST do something I probably won’t (contrary much?).
Even so, I’m not averse to doing the ‘Top 10’ stuff, if it seems compelling enough. Most of the time, it’s up there for a reason (Hampi, Taj Mahal, Spanish tapas, Angkor Wat…..) but sometimes, those things suck. Big time. And it’s so much more disappointing when you’ve been told you should love it. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, and I’ve had many a conversation with friends about a place one of us loves, the other hates but neither has any idea why. Often it’s about a feeling, or your state of mind when you visit (being tired, stressed or simply not in the mood is a total travel-buzz killer).
These are some of the places that left me completely underwhelmed on my travels.
The Golden Rock, Myanmar
Mt Kyaiktiyo (The Golden Rock) is without question the WORST THING EVER. If that sounds dramatic, let me paint you a picture. There is literally nothing else to do in Kinpun town apart from see the Golden Rock. And you have to take a crazy truck which you might have to wait hours in before it leaves up to the top of the mountain (or you can hike) before getting to a pretty underwhelming golden rock perching atop a mountain. And, FYI, you can’t get up close as a woman so I just watched from afar as Oli ‘enjoyed’ the experience. The whole experience was such a pile of crap I wrote a post about why you should skip the experience.
FYI the Lonely Planet RATE this experience so much it’s even on the top ten list. They love it! The line that really annoys me from the book is this one: “You can’t say you’ve been to Myanmar if you haven’t ascended Mt Kyaiktiyo”…..seriously. Piss off. You can DEFINITELY say you’ve been to Myanmar if you skip this because….I dunno, if you’ve been, you’ve been FFS.
The two dudes who wrote the Myanmar book, Bob David and David Bob, ostensibly, visited when their life was severely dull about 50 years ago. We cannot understand what they saw in this totally mediocre sight.
This is tricky…..because when we arrived in Mysore (which is in Karnataka, in central India) I had, quite recently, thrown my guts up on a packed bus full of people. It was a 12 hour winding drive and holy crap did he drive fast. And I have motion sickness…..so, not the best start.
But still, I don’t know what I was expecting but I just found the place a bit….snore. The palace was beautiful, but I felt I’d seen it before, and the markets, people and food were just okay, you know?
I always feel like I totally missed something in Mysore, and we were not sad to leave at all!
Chiang Mai, Thailand
If you’re planning your first trip to Thailand I can almost 100% guarantee you’ve planned to visit Chiang Mai. Am I right? Well, consider skipping it. Because I think it’s dryer than Gandhi’s flip-flop, and here’s why.
I have been to Chiang Mai approximately six times, and it never fails to disappoint. It’s a touristy city, filled with annoying digital nomads, even more annoying gap-yah backpackers and lots of, admittedly, coffee shops. Okay, so Wat Doi Suthep is awesome, and wandering through the gazillions of temples is nice too but the rest of the tourist trappings are not.
Most people opt to book one of the ‘white water rafting/trek in the hills/elephant ride’ tour where they are promised to meet authentic Mon tribes etc etc. Most of these aren’t ethical and, FYI, you should NEVER ride an elephant (read here if you want to know why) and the ‘white water rafting’ is often afloat down the river…..and the Mon people? I mean, I’ve never seen any but I’m sure they exist and I’m positive it’s all authentic.
My advice? See the temples and head straight for Pai instead.
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Luang Prabang, Laos
Another tricky arrival, as we got to Luang Prabang after a looooong trip from Thailand during Songkran aka my LEAST favourite festival (having a water fight while trying to drive a scooter is rarely a good idea) so it wasn’t a great start.
Even so, I found Luang Prabang to be pretty…..also pretty dull. The people were THE WORST, and I thought I didn’t like Laos because my first stop was in this snores-ville place. I actually loved Laos, and every single other place was amazing — weirdly Vientiane, which most people seem to hate, I loved!
No accounting for taste, eh?
I lived in Australia waaaaay back when I was 25, and I initially thought I’d be based in Sydney. But after a couple of weeks, I realised I hated it there and got the Greyhound up the East coast (along with approximately 25 million other backpackers) and eventually settled in Melbourne instead.
I honestly don’t know why I didn’t like Sydney, but I just found it to be a bit clinical. A little bit dull, and, don’t judge me on this one, the roads were really big!
I don’t even understand it myself, but the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge both underwhelmed me. Melbs was the one for me, and I guess that’s because it’s a little more interesting. There’s a super cool art scene and people were less ‘busy’…I dunno.
Sorry to ALL Game of Thrones fans! Actually Dubrovnik is beautiful. And totally worth a trip if you are staying for a day or two. NO LONGER. At least, not for me anyway!
The place is chock-full of cruise ship passengers between 10am and 4pm-ish so any and all magic is lost as passengers in matching arm bands obese from the all inclusive dining hustle you out of the way as they take terrible selfies and get tripods out for no apparent reason. Unbearable.
Plus, the food was…….mediocre. We had to wander for hours to find something a little more interesting than overpriced pasta.
But, again, this was really a lesson learned & I would definitely still recommend Dubrovnik as a fab day trip.
Have you travelled anywhere that totally underwhelmed you?
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Also published on Medium.