EXPERIENCES I SHOULD HAVE SKIPPED
I like to tell myself that I've learned to be opened minded and flexible during my travels . The idea is that if I go into a new city or attraction with little to no expectations then the reward will be greater, and hopefully disappointment nonexistent. This is great in theory, but of course rarely the case. I easily get excited about new places or adventures. The result when a tour or attraction doesn't live up to the hype is underwhelming at best, annoyed and put out at worst. Occasionally, it’s not my heightened expectations that are the problem. Some places are just un-engaging, at least for me anyway. My list isn’t long, but I have a few travel sites that I probably could have skipped without regret.
WHITE TEMPLE While visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand for a month, I decided to take a day tour to visit the iconic White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) and make some other stops in northern Chiang Rai Province. Tour is used loosely as it was basically just transportation, which was fine with me. Lucky it was cheap, because it was hands down the worst tour I’ve ever taken. Every stop was at a small shopping complex made for tourists. There was nothing to see or do, except at the White Temple, which was early on in the tour.
For whatever reason, I didn’t do a quick search on the history of the temple, which would have led me to discover that it had no history at all. It is a privately owned, contemporary temple. More of an art installation than a place of worship. Adjacent to it is a shopping complex for tourists with coffee and souvenir shops. Inside the temple were depictions of superheros (you heard me right…Spiderman), robots, and characters more at home in a comic book. There were also bigger than life cutouts of the owner around the property. In exterior photos the all white complex is exquisite, never suggesting the unusual story behind it's creation. The really weird part was that I seemed to be the only person who noticed that something was amiss. Everyone just walked around like this was normal.
The day wasn’t a total loss because after returning to the bus, I met a lovely girl who shared my views of the tour. We made light of every ridiculous stop, and enjoyed chatting for the rest of the day. We even visited the night market together when we finally arrived back in lovely Chiang Mai (it was a very long day). After returning to my apartment, I realized we hadn’t exchanged names. We were too busy talking each others' heads off to notice. So sweet girl who works in a hotel in Monaco, if you happen to stumble upon this...I'm Niki.
SKYDECK Long lines, chaos, and a hefty price tag are all reasons I would suggest skipping the Skydeck in Chicago. Sure it’s a great view of the city, and I wouldn't have been super bothered by the huge amount of visitors if the end result was worth the wait. The problem lies when you finally reach the glass ledge, there is pressure coming from the long line behind you to hurry, snap a photo, and move on. There also may have been obnoxious people in the enclosure with me to add to the experience. I am all for going out of my way to get an aerial view of a city, but this wasn’t worth the money or hassle. I really enjoyed Top of the Hub in Boston and Bar SixtyFive in NYC. Both were pricey, but at least I got food and/or drinks out of the deal. Maybe I was just visiting on a bad day. Maybe a worker called in sick, and the tourists were hungry. Maybe I won’t be visiting a second time to find out.
THE JACOBITE So there is a famous train in Scotland, a steam train, which travels through gorgeous scenery and was the inspiration for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter books. On paper all of these things seem great. In reality, my experience was not so great. This is one of those instances where the full blame of my disappointment lies with me. I wanted it to be something it was not. I imagined getting an inside look at the engine, riding in a beautiful interior, and a romantic journey through the countryside. What I encountered was a speedy boarding process, grubby interior, and my window seat in a whole train car of retirees who were bothered by my requests to get up and take photos. Also, the windows were dirty, and I didn’t get one decent photo. Sad face.
I went far out of my way to make this train journey happen, and I was sorely disappointed. I would have preferred to drive the same route and watch the train pass from afar. I won’t let it put me off trains for long though. They are my favorite mode of transportation, and I look forward to my next stream train journey. Hopefully, the second time is the charm.
ZIP-LINING This one time in Costa Rica, I went zip-lining and it didn’t end well. It’s a long, hilarious, but also personal story that will be saved for another time. The gist of it, leaving out the details, is that I had a minor accident (on the first day of my trip to Costa Rica) that was exacerbated because I was on a mountain in the rainforest and had to zip-line down to get treatment. Lets just say, I walked away with stitches, embarrassment, and a trust that no matter where you are in the world someone is always willing to help. It was all over in a couple of hours, and I was able to enjoy the rest of my trip. I’m sure most people zip-line without issue but for me, I would have preferred to skip this little episode of my life. Although maybe not, because it is a great conversation starter.
Wow, I feel like this post is nonstop complaining. Don’t get me wrong. I usually make the best of a situation and try to stay positive as much as possible, but sometimes it’s good to share the not so great experiences. Just so you know that it happens to all of us. In the end, none of these experiences have tainted my overall enjoyment of a destination or put me off traveling. They are all just a part of the story.