LIFE LESSONS FROM TRAVELLING THE WORLD PART 1: Don’t Believe the Hype

Mona Lisa painting

The Mona Lisa – The most famous painting in the world. Or as Andy Sandberg from the Lonely Island put it “Mona Lisa, you’re an overrated piece of shit”. Painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503 it’s worth $800 Million USD

Amazing!

Incredible!

Unbelievable!

Unforgettable!

WOW!

OMG!

5 Stars!

Once in a lifetime!

Really?

I don’t think so.

Don’t believe the hype. Nowhere on earth is like it’s advertised.

Advertisers, bloggers and travel agents are lying to you. They’re selling you a fantasy not reality.

HOW TO RUIN YOUR VACATION: Get your hopes up and believe the over the top hype from advertisers, bloggers and travel agents who try to convince you that Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand or some other place you’ve never been to is like heaven on earth, a magical paradise, and if you only went there all your dreams would come true.

Don’t believe the hype. Most things aren’t a thing.

The world is full of boring tourist traps just waiting to suck you in and take your money.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru – One of the “7 wonders of the world” and like most things completely overrated.  

Machu Picchu

It’s cool to look around in and explore for about an hour before it starts getting boring. The entrance fee to Machu Picchu is $61 USD but you need to get a train there from Cusco and that’s going to cost you $335 USD for a 2 hour return trip.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia at sunrise – An incredibly overrated, overcrowded and overpriced ($37 USD entry) tourist trap overflowing with lots of annoying and pushy beggars and vendors that won’t leave you alone or stop trying to sell you or scam you from the time you walk in until the time you leave.

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer – Another one of the “7 wonders of the world”. A “wonder of the world”? I don’t think so. The photo is much better than the reality. The statue is surprisingly small up close too. (Only 38 meters/125 feet which is about 1/3 the size of the Statue of liberty.) Entry fee is $22 USD.

Rio de Janeiro

It’s not only the Christ the Redeemer statue that is overrated but the city of Rio itself. What does Rio de Janeiro have going for it? An OK beach? An overrated Jesus statue? Lots of crime and poverty? What else?

Speaking of tourist traps…

Eiffel Tower Paris

View of Paris from Eiffel Tower

Entry fee to the top of the Eiffel Tower is €17 Euro but is it worth the incredibly long and boring 3 hour wait in line just to get inside to get this mediocre view and photo? I don’t think so. I think the best photos of the Eiffel Tower are taken from OUTSIDE with it in the background.

The Terracotta Warriors

The Terracotta Warriors

The Terracotta Warriors, an overrated boring tourist trap in Xian, China. Nothing to see here people. Save your money. Don’t waste your time. The photo is much better than the reality. 1/3 of the Warriors are missing towards the back which they don’t want you to take photos of. I was only here for 45 minutes max before leaving. I can’t believe I went to Xian for this. Entrance fee is $22 USD.

Today you can’t even trust ratings and reviews because businesses and advertisers have found a way to game that too.

5 star reviews mean NOTHING. Less than nothing. Everyone and everything gets a 5-star review. Everything is the best thing ever. Everywhere is the best place ever.

Most of the time the vast majority of people who didn’t think something lived up to the hype don’t take the time to leave an honest and detailed review to warn others. They’re just glad it’s over and happy to go home. On top of that businesses often get friends, family and employees to leave them fake 5 star reviews or they pay people to do it. That’s why Amazon now has a sign saying “verified purchase” on their reviews due to the high number of fake reviews.

Don’t trust the photos either. Photos don’t show you the reality they show you the fantasy. They don’t show you everything, they only show you the highlights and best parts with everything else cut out. Instead of seeing it as it really is, you’re only shown the perfect picture on the perfect angle on the perfect day, often photo shopped to make it look so much better than it really is.

Google “Salt flats Bolivia” and take a look at the images.

WOW! AMAZING! Look at how WHITE that salt is!

But this was the reality when I went:

Salt flats bolivia

The Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia – look at how white the salt ISN’T! It was like I was looking at some kind of light brown crap salt. I feel like Karate Kicking the crap outta the fool that told me dem lies!

Talk about a LET DOWN!

That’s the reality of so many places around the world. Overhyped and overrated and if you believe the hype you’re begging to be disappointed.

I’ll never forget the 1st (and only) time I went to Las Vegas. It was my 30th birthday and the first time I had gone to America. I’d seen TV and Hollywood movies promote Vegas as the ultimate bad ass party town to have the time of your life. Babes everywhere! Party! Fun! Excitement! “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”

Man was I disappointed. Las Vegas sucks. What a shit hole. Don’t believe the hype. Nothing to see here folks. Sure Vegas has Casinos but that’s all it has. If not for the private BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) lessons my friend and I were taking and the David Copperfield show we saw (which was OK at best), the trip would have been a MASSIVE disappointment (which it still was for the most part).

It’s not only famous attractions and landmarks that are overrated but many of the world’s most famous cities too.

Everyone seems to talk about these amazing places that you “MUST SEE!”

“You HAVE to go!”

“Trust me!”

“You’ll love it!”

They’re so damn confident and sure of themselves when they say it too.

Well I went to many of these places and in my opinion most of them aren’t that great.

To be fair I live in Melbourne, Australia which has been voted as “The world’s most liveable city” for the past 6 years ahead of Vienna, Austria and Vancouver, Canada, so I have high standards for a city and what impresses others probably won’t impress me as much.

Melbourne

The size of the average house in Melbourne

Here are a few cities around the world I thought were overrated:

London

The Queens Guard outside Buckingham Palace

Yep, London.

TBH I’ve never had much interest in seeing London and it’s never looked that good to me in photos, movies or TV. However everyone I knew raved about it and said I would LOVE it so I decided to go and see it for myself.

Did I like it? I thought it was OK. 5/10. I’ve seen better. I’ve seen worse. I can take it or leave it.

I know millions of people around the world LOVE London but I’m just not one of them. I’m not saying that London sucks, I have nothing against it, I’ve just don’t understand what all the hype and fuss is about. Is it the food? The people? The sights? The weather? The proximity to other European cities? I really don’t know.

Red Bus, London

The funny thing is that when I speak to people and ask them what’s so great about London, I often get non-responses…

Me: What’s so great about London? (Inquisitive, genuinely curious to know, non-accusatory tonality)

Person: Everything! Lots of things!

Me: Like what?

Person: Oh there’s tons of things!

Me: Like what?

Person: You just have to know where to go!

Me: OK, where should I go? What’s the best place to go? Is there anywhere you can recommend I should be seeing?

Person: I’m not sure, it’s up to you really.

Me: OK, bye.

I literally have friends that get angry with me when I say that London isn’t that great, but when I ask them what’s so great about it they can’t tell me, apart from something about “pubs” and “nightlife”. But to me pubs and clubs aren’t a thing. They’re not a good enough reason for me to like a city.

I even asked the Hotel staff when I was staying in London where I should be going and what I should be seeing but NO ONE could tell me.

The most common responses I got were:

“Sorry I don’t really like London”

“I don’t know”

“I don’t like this city”

“I don’t like it here”

Berlin

Berlin. Germany

Another city I’d heard a lot of hype about was Berlin. I’m not sure why though. Berlin is a ‘nice’ city but there is nothing about it that makes me say ‘WOW’ and I can’t think of anything there that is a ‘must see’. I was here during the 2014 Football/Soccer World Cup when Germany won in double overtime against Argentina.

Budapest

Budapest, Hungary

I’d heard a lot of good things about Budapest before I arrived. Many of my friends from Australia love it. I liked the people in Budapest and found them to be very nice and friendly, but something about the city made it feel like it was stuck in the 1980s.

Budapest does however have a great pool complex worth visiting if you’re ever there…

The Szechenyi Spa Baths, Budapest

The Szechenyi Spa Baths: 18 pools/spas = one relaxing day!

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong – A poor man’s New York

Another city I’d heard a lot of hype about was Hong Kong, especially about the shopping, however in my opinion Hong Kong is nothing but a poor man’s New York. Everything that Hong Kong has New York has.

But New York does it better.

WAY BETTER.

Maybe the shopping used to be great in Hong Kong but it definitely wasn’t worth mentioning when I was there. It was no better than any other large major city. As for the ‘walk of stars’ (Hong Kong’s ripoff of the Hollywood Walk of Fame) it completely sucked. 0/10.

I don’t know what all the hype and fuss is about Hong Kong. I wasn’t overly impressed.

There were a couple of things I did like in Hong Kong however…

The Ngong Ping 360

Hong Kong, cable car

The best cable car I’ve been on anywhere in the world: A 25-minute ride with see-through glass floors and EPIC views high above the Hong Kong harbor. It’s well worth the $33 USD price of admission. However I don’t like it when it pauses for a minute and rocks back and forth in the wind high above the water. When that happens I need to go to my ‘happy place’

The cable car takes you to the Po Lin monastery to see the very cool Tian Tan Giant Buddha (34 meters/112 feet high)

Singapore AKA Singabore   

Singapore

Singa-bore – oh so boring. I’m not going to say Singapore is boring but OK fuck it: Singabore is boring. Singabore is SUPER BORING. Singabore is one of the most boring places I’ve ever been to. It should be renamed Singa-bore because of how damn boring it is. I’m not even sure what makes it so damn boring. It just is. The atmosphere is boring. The city is boring. The people are boring. Singa-bore you boring.

For a holiday I definitely wouldn’t recommend Singabore over anywhere else. There really isn’t much to see or do. It’s also very hot and humid so everyone tries to stay inside as much as possible.

Many people go to Singapore for work since job opportunities are abundant and many large corporations have their headquarters there (due to the low corporate taxes). I don’t know what it’s like to live and work there but friends of mine who do all say the same thing: Everyone in corporate works L-O-N-G hours and doesn’t go home until after the boss does. Why? It’s not because there’s work to do. It’s just to keep up appearances and kiss ass.

Buenos Aires

How I’d imagined Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

But this is the Buenos Aires I saw

I didn’t spend a lot of time in Buenos Aires because I didn’t like it. It had a dangerous feel to it. Lots of dodgy people and armed police with guns everywhere. Nothing to see here people. I’d recommend 100 other cities before Buenos Aires.

San Francisco

San Fransisco

Yup – San Francisco.

One of the most overrated cities in the world.

In my travels I’ve seen thousands of beggars, bums and homeless people and I’m pretty desensitized to every form of begging:

  • Aggressive/hostile/threatening
  • Friendly
  • Fake stories
  • Crying
  • Stalking

But I’ve never seen as many homeless people as I did in San Francisco. It’s literally overflowing with homeless people. Everywhere I looked I saw homeless people. There must be at least least 10, 000 or more. I don’t know how it got to this but the situation is OUT OF CONTROL and something needs to be done about it. Seriously it’s ridiculous. These aren’t ‘harmless’ homeless people either, many are aggressive drug addicts that walk into local businesses and retail stores and just start yelling and screaming, acting crazy and going off.

I asked some of the locals how they felt about it and they told me that although it sucked and they hated it – they were used to it.

San Francisco gets good press. People speak highly of it and I was excited to go there. But to me, you can’t have that many homeless and crazy people walking around your city and not have it affect your experience.

I think I would rate San Fran 8/10 if not for the excess amounts of homeless and crazy people, but because of that though it drops it to a 5/10.

I did however LOVE the Golden Gate Bridge!

Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransisco

The Golden Gate Bridge – My favorite bridge in the world. I walked across this bad boy every day when I was in San Fran. I love it! It’s Epic!

In conclusion: Hype really does ruin everything and I don’t know why so many people love to hype up things and blow them way out of proportion, ruining them for everyone else.

“It’s AMAZING!”

“It’s INCREDIBLE!”

“You MUST go!”

“You’ll have the time of your life!”

“You can thank me later!”

“Say hi to the babes for me!”

Why do people do this? Why do they say these things? Are they really impressed that easily? Are their standards that low? Do they like sending strangers to crappy tourist traps as a joke? Are they secretly getting commissions on sales? Or are they just making conversation?

Hype might be good for selling tickets, but for the user, the actual person going on the trip, it never makes anything better and it always makes everything worse.

If you believe the hype and go to many of the places people recommend, you will often find yourself thinking: “Really? This is what you were going on about? Why? What’s the big deal? What’s so good about it? This isn’t THAT good!”

If you want to go somewhere – GO!

BUT:

  • DON’T believe the hype
  • DON’T hype it up yourself
  • DON’T get too excited
  • DON’T start talking and fantasizing about how great it’s going to be
  • LOWER your expectations/have NO expectations
  • Go in with an open mind and see what you think

There are just NO advantages or benefits to believing the hype.

If it’s good – it’ll be good WITHOUT the hype.

If it’s not good – hyping it up will RUIN it.

Hollywood walk of fame – Bruce Lee

The Hollywood Walk of Fame – because sometimes you know it’s a tourist trap but you want to go anyway.

In fact, some of the best places I’ve ever been to have either been places that have had NO hype or have been strongly hyped negatively to me.

I’d heard NO hype about Tokyo despite the fact that it’s one of the greatest cities on earth and I can’t think of many places that I had heard more negative hype about than India.

I was expecting everything to suck about India and for it to be like hell on earth so when I finally arrived I was ready for the absolute worst. But actually, it wasn’t that bad. I’m not saying that it was good, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as I’d been lead to believe. My expectations for India were so low, that it actually made India better than I expected.

Now I drop all expectations for everything and I let each place speak for itself.

If it’s good it’s good, and if it sucks it sucks. Whatever. I’ll soon see for myself.

This is part 1 of a 9 part series: Life Lessons from Traveling the World

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 2: Wherever you go, there you are

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 3: Things that surprised me

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 4: Highlights of the trip

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 5: My favorite travel destinations

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 6: My least favorite travel destinations

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 7: Travel tips – Part 1

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 8: Travel tips – Part 2

Life Lessons from Traveling the World – Part 9: Why you should travel the world

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