Xi’an

weekly photo challenge: blur

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Most of our photos that are blurry, we delete straight away. So this challenge was hard for us but we managed to find one of the Xi’an wall.

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Do you keep photos that are blurred?

Have a great weekend!

Feel free to drop us a line here.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

cultural shows of china

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As a tourist in China, there is the opportunity to see a “cultural show” of some sort!

In Beijing, it is usually the Peking Opera. In Xi’an, it is probably a Tang Dynasty Show.  In Shanghai, it is likely to be the acrobatic show. We saw all three and our favourite was none of these but instead an outdoor  zen music performance by the Shaolin monks in Dengfeng.

Whether the shows are worth watching or not is really up to each individual. And for us, it was a case of “now we’ve done it – we know which one NOT to see again!”

So, what did we really think?

Beijing – Peking Opera

To watch a Peking Opera, one needs to keep an open mind (a really open mind)! The costumes are fascinating however that is probably where the fascination for us ended. The story lines (as there are about 3-4 mini plays in the overall show) are difficult to follow as the subtitles are on the wall alongside the stage (our eyeballs are not skilled enough to look at two different things in opposite directions). We mean no disrespect for this traditional cultural performance but the singing is high-pitched and whining and can be quite unbearable after a while.

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Xi’an – Tang Dynasty Show

We were a little wary of seeing this show following the Peking Opera, however we were pleasantly surprised. Firstly, this show came with a buffet dinner. The buffet dinner had quite a fair bit of variety and the food was rather tasty. The show was colourful with beautiful costumes and stage settings. It was definitely engaging and entertaining. The instrumental performances were most enjoyable.

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Shanghai – Acrobatic Show

This particular show didn’t allow photography, which was different to all the other shows we saw in China, but we could understand why. The acrobatics in this show were unbelievably fast and camera flash could have dire consequences if performers were distracted. Picture Cirque du Soleil but without the comedy and clowns – the performers somersault through hoops and balance plates on poles. There was even a magic show with audience participation which was amusing! The show was rather upbeat.

Photo courtesy of www.chinatourguide.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.chinatourguide.com

Dengfeng – Shaolin Zen Music

We have never seen a show that has blown us away as much as this performance did. It was set in a beautiful outdoor theatre with the billion-year-old mountain ranges behind it. There was music, there was kung fu, there were monks on zip lines re-enacting fight scenes across the mountains (imagine Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and there was a light show. The entire performance was mesmerising yet so calming.

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Earlier in the day, we had witnessed a Shaolin Monk performance at the temple which was a true display of training and what the body is capable of doing. The discipline demonstrated by those trained here is just mind-boggling.

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Our verdict:

We appreciated being introduced to the different cultural shows of China. But we won’t be rushing back to get tickets next time we are in China, especially not for the Peking Opera. Our favourite is, without question, the Shaolin Zen Music performance and is worth experiencing if you are ever in Dengfeng. Just be warned that in April – the night temperatures drop below zero degrees (Celsius) 🙂