‘I’ve been travelling for longer than I care to recall and there are genuinely very few places I’ve been that I haven’t enjoyed in some sense…’
I’d like to preface this by saying that Dallas is the site of one of the eeriest places I’ve ever seen in that it’s the home of the Texas Book Depository. As someone who is a huge fan of true crime, getting to stand on the road where JFK was assassinated back in 1963 has always held a strange appeal for me. It remains one of the highlights of my travels. However, it was the rest of the city that didn’t grab me. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time there, or didn’t go to the right places, but it just left me really unimpressed. What spiked my anxiety initially was driving into Downtown, in a multiple lane, spaghetti junction type road/interchange/highway from Hell and this got me so worked up that I though I might actually stop breathing by the time I parked at my hotel. I found the Downtown area really lacking (we’re talking 2007 here) and perhaps I built up the whole Grassy Knoll/JFK thing too much in my head; I’m really not sure. The JFK experience was mind-blowing as it’s the area is so familiar, despite having never seen it before. I’m just not sure about the rest.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
As with Dallas, Siem Reap was firmly on my bucket list for no other reason than it’s the home of Angkor Wat Temple, which remains at the top of the list of most incredible sights I’ve ever visited. To say it’s jaw dropping would be doing it a dis-service. To be honest, my time in Cambodia was more shocking than anything else; from the dodgy border guy I bought my Visa from; the sheer poverty on the stresses, and the plethora of posters warning tourists not to sexually abuse and exploit the nation’s children. I was constantly taken aback by everything I saw there. Siem Reap itself was like a small and very poor Las Vegas in the sense that its’ in the middle of nowhere and appears to be a collection of fairly smart hotels catering for the type of visitors you don’t always want in your town. I could be wrong, of course – I was only there for a short time. On the immediate outskirts of the town, the poverty was breathtaking, with random huts thrown up along the roadside and snakes slithering along the tarmac. It felt very wrong that there was so much to appeal to foreign tourists when the nation’s own citizens seemed to have very little.
Any Spanish Island
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have visited many Spanish islands and did so when I was probably way less grumpy than I am now. I was also way less appreciative of other cultures, so it probably suited me just fine. These days, I have zero interest in going back to any of them and haven’t visited for more than a decade when my step son was young and wanted to splash around in a pool all day and all-inclusive beach holidays were perfect for keeping him amused. For me, package type holidays are an instant turn off. Particularly those attracting tons of other British people. I LOVE British people, but I have them at home. Despite some incredible scenery, the fact that so many islands are geared up towards Brits and other Europeans completely negates the point of going. I want to experience authentic Spanish culture, not people in England football shirts with bulldog tattoos, eating fish and chips and packing Tetley’s tea bags in their hand luggage because they don’t like ‘foreign’ stuff. Anywhere that offers a full Scottish/Welsh/English breakfast is not a place I want to be. I travel to experience the things I don’t get in the UK and genuinely see no point in hopping a flight to somewhere that sells Heinz Baked Beans and HP Sauce in their local supermarket.
I loved exploring Thailand, for the most part, but I wasn’t overly comfortable in the capital. I’m not even entirely sure why, but it’s one of those place that I’m happy to have seen, but have no plans to return to. Anyone who knows me is aware of how introverted I am, so being in a city that’s so crowded was probably never going to work out well for me, regardless of how incredible some of its sights were. There never seems to be a time when Bangkok isn’t absolutely crammed with action and, although it serves my favourite food, I had a *bit* of trouble getting past the displays of deep-fried cockroaches on display at the local night market. Parts of the city were deemed no-go during the trip as there was riots going on over the then Government’s policies, so I guess that didn’t help me relax any. I’ve also never seen quite as many stray dogs as I did during my trip to Thailand and that just made me genuinely sad. I did, however, run in the Annual Midnight 10k through the city and it was one of my favourite ever experiences.
I know, I know, it seems to be somewhere that people aspire to visit, but I found it (the city centre, anyway) grimy and fake for the most part. There are parts I did enjoy, like the Hollywood tour where I got to visit OJ’s house, Hotel California (Chateau Marmont), when it looked deliciously creepy at dusk, and Redondo Beach (where I was based), but the Walk of Fame and the general feel of the city wasn’t for me. It also has the busiest roads I’ve ever had the displeasure to be on. It’s literally rammed with cars day and night. Venice Beach was a short respite from the madness – albeit for a different kind of madness – and the PCH was absolutely gorgeous up through Malibu but, overall, I just didn’t get it. Since visiting, I read celebrity news and genuinely cannot comprehend why people are so desperate to be there (apart from the weather, obvs). I guess the fact that, while driving through darkened and lonely residential streets at night I heard a loud bang and assumed I was coming under fire didn’t exactly help. I wasn’t actually being shot at, you understand, it was just the impressively loud locks on my hire car crashing into place and it almost gave me a heart attack. I should probably stop reading about LA gang life so much.
I’m a Scot. And I love my little nation over all others, but having worked in the Borders region for a few years, I never quite took to Hawick the way I did with its neighbouring towns. It’s likely that I’m comparing it unfavourably against other local town without seeing it on its own merits but, unfortunately, that’s just how it is. One of the best B&Bs I ever stayed in was based there, and I loved staying there, but it was always somewhere I never really settled. I have no real clue as to why I felt like this, but I was possibly realising at the time that the job I was doing really wasn’t for me and the constant travelling was taking its toll. Also, there are only so many tweed factories a girl can inspect in any given day before she wants to scream. I’m genuinely sorry, Hawick…don’t hate me. There’s some truly lovely scenery surrounding the town, thought, if that makes my reluctance to go back seem less mean? No? OK, then.
Have you been to any places on your travels that you haven’t connected with? If you want to tell my any of them are in Scotland, I don’t mind as long as you break it to me gently.