Overrated, litter-scattered or completely charmless; some places just aren’t my jam. Given the chance to return I’d politely decline an invitation to these four places.
My Fodder’s guidebook sang high praise for Battambang. (I visited in mid-2012) It touted colonial charm and a glorified bamboo train. A train described as “one of the world’s all-time unique rail journeys” by Lonely Planet. By all means I had it on good authority that Battambang would be a home run.
What I recall most distinctly were disappointing accommodations, a bucolic riverfront restaurant operated by the world’s least attentive proprietor (British and grass smoking – neither which I am necessarily offended by), rats the size of small raccoons scurrying around the market after dark, and under cooked peanuts offered up by a street vendor. Soggy peanuts, just imagine. Sorry, not sorry Battambang.
Olympic Village, Beijing.
Yawn, even for sporting fans like us. (I can’t help but tear up when Olympians receive their medals. They’ve worked so hard.) I’m not sure what we expected but basically we were greeted by a massive boulevard, framed by the bird’s nest (stadium) and cube (pool). We should have spent our time poking about the hutongs, Summer Palace, shopping at the Pearl Market or getting scammed by a pedicab (again).
When they say Vientiane, Laos could possibly be the world’s sleepiest capital city, they aren’t being trite. Sure, there are a handful of attractions to see: the eclectic Buddha Park, Patuxai (or Victory Gate, an Asian twin of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe), and Pha That Luang; all of which can be seen in a day. Otherwise life drums along slowly in Vientiane without much fanfare. Except for the traffic; it’s awful. Shuffle down the banks of the Mekong River and poke about the old town, and then get out of dodge. Is it worth visiting, yes, absolutely. Do I need to venture back. That’d be a no, albeit a soft no.
Beach 2, Cát Bà Island, Vietnam
Foregoing a boat trip through Halong Bay, we opted to make like the locals and base ourselves on Cát Bà Island. Seemed like a good idea. Dining options were meh. Repeated attempts to short-change us were meh. Beaches were okay, but like clockwork, at 4 p.m. a busload of tourists swept over our sandy retreat like a frenzied human tide. Nothing says relaxing like a chaotic swarm of fully dressed visitors elbowing for group shots at the foot of your rented lounge chair.
The nail in proverbial coffin for this beach though, was the mass of internal organs that washed up on shore. I can only presume they were the entrails of a hog or cow. The milky white entrails bobbed about the shallows, making their way closer, closer, closer. We evacuated the water and gawked in horror as they made their shore landing. Gag. The beach attendances – suited head-to-toe in what appeared to be non-medical grade Hazmat suits – advanced down the beach, garbage can and shovel in hand to remove the intruder.
BONUS: Paksi, Laos.
This wasn’t a destination so much as a necessary stop-over but Paksi was my least favourite place in Southeast Asia. I recall our television shorting and started smoking. The hoteliers reluctantly resettled us in their brother hotel. But the most horrifying thing to happen was witnessing some indecent solo activity demonstrated by a man standing between a van and a building. Hint: fapping.
So there you have it! Where is a place you wouldn’t run back to? Let me know, drop a line below.