On Travel Expectations
Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't. Heard that saying? Use it much? Bet you do. Anyway, it's one of Kylie's classics so if you don't at least belt it out into your hairbrush of an evening then shame on you.
I am definitely not a 'glass half full' kinda girl (I leave the positivity to Oli) but I am a dreamer. If you read my post last week on being an extrovert/introvert personality you will know that I spend a fair amount of time....um......deep in my own thoughts. Narcissistic, yeah maybe. Hopeful fantasist, absolutely! So whilst I err on the side of cautious optimism, like anyone else, I have expectations.
When it comes to travel, expectations can cause bloody murder. You may have come to these expectations by reading a book, watching a film (errrm, hello The Beach) or through travel blogs which by their very nature are less tempered and are peppered with personality. So for a dreamer like me it's super easy to be seduced by the (cringe alert) relationship you have formed with a blogger you regularly read and relate to. It's one of the reasons blogs are such big business, why brands clamour to work with the A List for their ability to transform information and travel inspiration into emotive reading and what feels like, a chat with your mate. It's why you trust Zoella when she tells you that Rimmel make the best concealer, and why you (this is NOT autobiographical, promise) perhaps whack some Tom Ford on your credit card because Anna aka ViviannaDoesMakeup says it's the best eyeliner in history.
Maybe you don't do any of the above but I bet you have listened to a friend relate the time she went backpacking through the foothills of Mount Tippidabo and had the #mostamaaaaaazingtimever. No? Bet you have. I definitely have. Maybe it's why you booked that hostel on the Khao San Road, because your mate had the time of her life on her gap year. Again, this is just an example you know....
I've gone off tangent a bit but basically what I'm trying to write, from my unexpectedly perfect guesthouse in Lanta Old Town (more on Koh Lanta I promise), that expectations are completely normal and a part of the travel experience. Having expectations is not a bad thing as long as you are aware that they are just that, expectations.
Oli and I didn't expect to love Koh Tao, but we did. Oli expected to love Burma (Myanmar) but.....he didn't. We both expected something different when we arrived on Koh Phangan but....it was just different. Not better or worse....just different. We would go back to those incredibly beautiful beaches and swim in the impossibly calm seas but next time, we'll plan for the fact getting around the island requires nerves of steel (biking is pretty dangerous due to the super sandy roads/crazy tourists so we opted out) & the time of year -- we were on a beautiful beach we expected to be less touristy as we went after the full moon party. It was less touristy on the hard party front, but busy on the family front.
Oli and I pat ourselves on the back a lot (seriously, a lot) for always having the same opinions and instincts about the places we travel to. We both like the same kind of thing, and whatever it is we can't really piece it together -- it's not something we can write a nice travel manifesto on, so we never make a mistake. We just know when we get there. It's often not what our favourite bloggers or guidebooks rave about, despite the fact we trust their opinion, and sometimes it's the total opposite of what we expected.
More often than not it's timing. You know what it's like when you leave a place you love too soon? It sort of puts higher than necessary expectations on the next place you go. It's the main reason that Oli and I don't like to plan when we travel. Well, beyond that first flight anyway. Melaka, in Malaysia is one of the most adorably chintzy, quaint and peaceful places we've stayed and we'd happily go back but we've never read anything spectacular about it and we certainly didn't expect to love it so much.
Kuala Lumpur however sucked balls, and I would happily never leave the airport again! I thought I'd like it, it's such a cool city.....or is it? Maybe not. Either way, I expected it to be my kinda place. Laos divides our opinions, in that we agree on the places we like and the places we hated -- we just can't decide what our overall feelings are on the country itself. For the record if I never see Luang Prabang again I won't be sad, but oh my! Vang Vieng is the prettiest!
Have you ever been sorely disappointed by a place or been bowled over by somewhere you didn't expect? Don't be shy, comment away!