our top 5 disappointing travel sights and what we learnt

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Hmmm… this post may not go down well but heck, we’ll put it out there and see who else agrees or disagrees.

We read this article recently about the most disappointing travel destinations. And we thought it was a little harsh because we tend to try to see a place for more than just the “tourist”-hype and labels that it has been given.

But then it did get us thinking about how we have been underwhelmed at times during our travels. Our disappointments aren’t blanketed to an entire place but more to a few sights.

Our disappointment with buying what we thought was water only to discover it was sparkling water.
Our disappointment with buying what we thought was water only to discover it was sparkling water.

Here are our Top 5 Travel Disappointing Sights. But please read to the end before jumping to conclusions.

5) Pamukkale

Yes, we recently wrote about how we enjoyed our time there but when we first laid our eyes on it. Were we disappointed? Hell yeh! It wasn’t anywhere as inviting as the pictures we have seen of it. The colours were not as romantic (thanks to PhotoShop no doubt). The pictures that sell Pamukkale are WAY better – but it’s not to say that it’s not worth visiting because it certainly is!


4) The Statue of Liberty

Really? That’s it? We were expecting something taller and bigger and a little more exciting. Maybe we have been brain washed by too many Hollywood flicks where the big scary apocalyptic wave crashes dramatically into the statue. Okay – so that is us being gullible.


3) Sea Lions on Kangaroo Island

Sorry that we have to drag out a local tourist draw card. Let’s start by saying that the scenery is definitely spectacular and what we experienced was no doubt enjoyable on Kangaroo Island.

One thing, we were really looking forward to seeing were the sea lions, relaxing on the beach and we did but as tiny little specks out by the water’s edge. We can completely understand that we need to keep our distance for the protection of the wildlife as well as humans but the distance was so far, we could barely see a thing without our camera zoom.


2) The Terracotta Warriors

Not that they weren’t impressive because they are. It’s just the atmosphere and ambience of the place does not exude significance or excitement. It didn’t stir any thrill inside or “pinch me I’m here” feelings. We can’t quite place our fingers on it but we found it a little anticlimactic. Fascinating but anticlimactic.


And the MOST disappointing sight?

1) Spanish Steps

Hawkers hassling us to buy roses and bubble guns as we stand in front of stairs that are covered in people. So where are the steps? We can’t even see them because of the bodies scattered. All the while being harassed to buy a rose… yeh, it has to be the most over-rated and underwhelming place we have seen. We probably spent a total of 5 minutes there before we were literally chased away by a hawker … to pay for the rose that he threw at us which we didn’t even want!


And anyway, to be fair and honest, we are to blame! We hype these things up in our heads only to be disappointed and then try to blame the place. Uh-uh *shaking head*…. The problem is ours not the sight itself!

Our solution to avoiding disappointment: Don’t have any expectations.

We have learnt to realise that an experience is more than just an impression. And what we describe above are just impressions. Because overall our experience in all these places were nothing short of unbelievable.

  • We loved Pamukkale… actually we loved very drop of Turkey.
  • We were dazzled by NYC … we want to go back.
  • We love how untainted Kangaroo Island is…. we would stay longer next time.
  • We were enchanted by Rome… we yearn to go back.
  • We were mystified by Xi’an… we remember it fondly.

So it just shows that a “disappointment” of an attraction does not necessarily equate to negative feelings on an entire place. What about the atmosphere, the culture, the people, the food and everything else beyond the well-renowned must-sees?

Go somewhere to experience it, not just to see it! 

Maybe we will need to have a follow up post on our top 5 least disappointing or our top 5 favourite sights 🙂

So do you agree with any of the places? Or do you have somewhere else you want to include? 

Feel free to comment here


the day we went to pamukkale

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The turquoise water in the white pools of Pamukkale has always been a major drawcard for us to visit Turkey. The travertine pools and terraces always looked so magical. We knew we had to see them.


The day we visited, the temperature was well into the 30s (Celsius). The glare of the sun was blinding as it bounced of the limestone and the heat was staggering.

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In our haste to take photos and begin exploring the site, we were not concentrating on where we were walking and both stepped into a muddy, sludgy spot along the boardwalk. We probably don’t need to describe much more because everyone should know what thongs (i.e. flip-flops) in mud equals, right? An impeding ungraceful flailing of arms to steady ourselves; Le grabbing onto David, David almost losing his balance and then so forth and so forth. A scene from a black and white Charlie Chaplin film comes straight to mind as to how we must’ve looked.

After what felt like a lifetime of erratic arm movements to steady ourselves, but probably only 20 seconds in reality, we escape the mud traps. Only to then have to walk along a wooden boardwalk with what felt like glue on the soles of our feet!

Off came the footwear as we made a beeline for the travertine pools. It was a welcome relief to be able to dip our feet.

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Wading through knee-deep hot spring water felt simply refreshing until we almost slip on the uneven, slimy floor of the pools. Looking around, we felt like the two most uncoordinated people on land and now in water. It didn’t bother us…. On we walked through pool after pool.

We gave up on photographing by this stage because the entire experience had become “awkward” to say the least. Us juggling our hat, sunglasses and our backpack while we tried to stay upright would just end up with our big camera going for an unwanted dip in the hot springs. It was from this experience we decided to get ourselves a really awesome compact camera for these type of situations.

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The experience was slightly less magical than we envisaged but we still enjoyed our time at Pamukkale and were glad to have visited. Although the pictures we captured are hardly anything like other photos we’ve seen…. We hope the ones we have shared can give a little bit of insight into the beauty that is Pamukkale.

If you ever visit Pamukkale, there is also a swimming pool (with entrance fee) where you can swim among ancient ruins. We didn’t take any photos to share as that might’ve been a little creepy for the fellow pool-goers.

Wise Monkeys Trivia: Pamukkale translates to “cotton castle” and has an ancient city called Hierapolis built just above it. 

Hierapolis-Pamukkale was listed as a

UNESCO Heritage site in 1988.

To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited,

visit our unofficial bucket list

As with all our posts, we welcome your comments and thoughts.

basic introduction to the whirling dervishes

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We need to embarrassingly confess two things:

Firstly, we had no idea what whirling dervishes were before going to Turkey.

Secondly, when we were asked if we were interested to attend one while we were in Pamukkale, Turkey. We said yes thinking that it would be an evening of entertainment because the word “whirling” conjures up images of dancing and spinning around. So we were right about the spinning but not right about anything else.


This is what we learnt during the course of the evening:

  • It is known as a Sema ceremony
  • It is part of Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture
  • It is a religious ceremony symbolising the journey of man through mind and love to perfection
  • There are 7 parts of the ceremony:
    • A eulogy to Muhammad, the Prophet, and to all the Prophets before him – to praise them is to praise God
    • Drums symbolising the Divine order of the Creator
    • Instrumental music with a “ney” – a reed wind instrument. This represents The Divine Breath – the first breath that gave everything life
    • The dervishes greet one another and perform their circular walk three times
    • The dervishes whirl in a circular formation and repeat this “salute” four times. They whirl with their arms open with their right hands directed towards the sky, ready to receive God’s beneficence. They turn their left hands towards the earth and spin from right to left. This is the Sema part
    • A reading from the Quran
    • A prayer for peace of the souls of all Prophet and believers.


Being a religious ceremony, it is respectful not to take photographs during the cermony. The photos we took were after the ceremony when the dervishes performed specifically for photos.


Attending a whirling dervish ceremony is not for everyone.  We do recommend that it is worth understanding the purpose before experiencing the holy ceremony. It will help with a greater appreciation for what is being performed. Be aware that the ceremony takes approximately 60 minutes and most of it is performed with little lighting.

We certainly enjoyed the opportunity to witness the ceremony and found it quite mesmerising, peaceful and spiritual. Watching the dervishes the entire time made us dizzy occasionally –  closing our eyes and just listening to the music was enchanting in itself.  The music accompanying the ceremony was ever so soothing for the soul!

turkey: our 11 day itinerary

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So our excitement to go to Africa has been stunted by nothing other than us. Due to a multitude of reasons and factors, we have decided to postpone this trip and instead venture elsewhere. It was a toss up between several countries and Turkey has beat the rest.

However, about two days after locking it in, the riots began in Turkey. Oh no! We do know a few people who know people who are over there travelling now. Hopefully by September, it is calmer. Well, it has to be okay, everything is locked in and paid for. According to at present it is stating “Exercise a high degree of caution” – which was what Peru was on when we were there. Guess it is comforting that its not on “Reconsider your need to travel”. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all unravels.

All the same, we are very excited. Our itinerary is looking like this:

Day 1 – Istanbul
Day 2 – Istanbul
Day 3 – Gallipoli Battlefields
Day 4 – Troy, Acropolis of Pergamum
Day 5 – Ephesus, Kusadai
Day 6 – Pamukkale, Hierapolis
Day 7 – Aphrodisias, Fethiye
Day 8 – Fethiye
Day 9 – Kayakoy, Antalya
Day 10 – Perge, Aspendos
Day 11 – Antalya
Day 12 – Dubai
Day 13 – Dubai
The countdown can officially begin now that we are only a little over 2 months out! And fortunately as per our travel philosophy, Tasmania for January is now booked so we can breathe easier that we have the next adventure booked. Although we have visited Tasmania before, it is a place that we enjoyed so much and would not hesitate going back to!