Terracotta Warriors

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


have no expectations

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One post ago, we mentioned anticlimactic holiday experiences and now we can actually describe one of them: the Terracotta Warriors. There was no wow factor, there were no goosebumps and all we saw was everything we have seen in documentaries and pictures previously. There had been an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, in 2010/2011, of the Warriors that we went to see and were so utterly fascinated and impressed that we would imagine seeing hundreds and thousands of them lined side by side would be mind-blowing. It partly made us more keen to visit China! But it wasn’t to be…

Warriors in the pit
Warriors in the pit

It probably didn’t help that we were in a warehouse, walking with hordes of other people around the “pit” where all the warriors stood! We won’t deny what incredible workmanship went into carving and painting each warrior: individual features, expressions and even sizes! The level of detail and thought put in is unbelievable however the ambience did not lend itself to allow a sense of wonder! So another lesson we learnt through our travels: Do not have any expectations and then you will NOT get disappointed. We actually thought we had come with little expectations but obviously we still had some!

To be fair though, the other things we experienced in China seemed more exciting possibly because we didn’t know what to expect. For example, we visited Ping Yao which we had never even heard of.

Streets of Ping Yap
Streets of Ping Yao

To visit Ping Yao is to visit an ancient Chinese city. It is so well preserved and still a walled city. Upon entering the gates, it seriously feels like we have stepped back in time. A time where kung fu happened on the streets and ninjas are running across roof tops – there is a strong possibility that image was heavily influenced by Hollywood and Chinese Kung Fu movies! Here we visited China’s first private bank and a Taoist temple, walked the city wall and watched artists in the lacquer museum. We even stayed at a hotel that was, although modern and comfortable, completely decked out to appear authentic. The decor and courtyards set the mood.

The hotel courtyard
The hotel courtyard

And another example was visiting the Wild Goose Pagoda where Tripitaka resided after returning from India and bringing Buddhism to China. Having grown up watching Monkey Magic, this seemed like a very awesome thing to see for ourselves.

So it’s no wonder that the Warriors didn’t stand a chance amongst the other things that we saw in China.

Wild Goose Pagoda
Wild Goose Pagoda