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How to "truly" visit a site

Author KSTraveler
#1 | Posted: 31 Jan 2016 20:19 
What methodology do other World Heritage travelers have in visiting sites? For me it is difficult to quantify if I have actually "visited" a site, so I was wondering if anyone else had an approach that left them feeling more satisfied with saying they have visited a site.

Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 1 Feb 2016 01:29 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I am sure that more can usefully be said on this subject but you may be interested in having a look at the last time we discussed it back in 2008!!

Author Solivagant
#3 | Posted: 4 Feb 2016 02:46 | Edited by: Solivagant 
pikkle's reminder in the "Wikipedia as WHS" post about the future of Virtual Reality (VR) raises an interesting possibility under this subject!!
It appears certain that, in the coming years, a VR experience is going to become available via the Web which would provide what, in many respects, would be a "better" viewing experience of many sites than can be obtained in person. I am thinking particularly of archaeological sites and buildings. Never closed, no hordes of people, access to all areas, ability to "fly" in close up, World class knowledgeable "guide" etc.
Where would that leave the actual "visiting" experience in comparison? I understand that there is a Taoist saying "the journey is the reward" (more frequently in English - "it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive"). Is it not a fact that for most/all of us the journey TO/FROM a WHS is an aspect of a visit which is absolutely necessary in order to provide a "complete" experience? However, we may need to accept that actually "seeing" a WHS in all its detail, may well be "better" achieved via VR!
An analogy which occurs to me as an opera lover is the comparison between watching a live opera given by what might well be a "provincial" middle ranking company or watching the Met or La Scala on an HD livecast with world class performers. I would USUALLY (but not always!!!) choose the live opera and would also choose the "live" WHS visit over the VR. As an inveterate "listophile" I actually keep a list of "seen" operas BUT do NOT include operas seen by transmission on that list!! I suspect that, even if top quality VR visits to WHS become possible, I wouldn't be "counting" them - though I would be very happy to view them!

Author clyde
#4 | Posted: 5 Feb 2016 11:55 
Interesting point on VR, Solivagant. I wouldn't sacrifice a real visit for a VR experience and ideally I would first visit the site in person and then go for the VR as a way to have an overall added value or focus on certain details. I'd use VR mainly as a 'revisit' after a couple of years or to be able to visit hard to get to or impossible to get to WHS such as Surtsey or Cocos Island or remote areas of the Galapagos or the original Lascaux Cave.

Author meltwaterfalls
#5 | Posted: 5 Feb 2016 14:19 
I was talking about this the other day. The one that came to mind was Chauvet cave. I watched Werner Herzog's film Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D, which shows the interior of the cave in great detail (one of the few times seeing a film in 3D actually adds something!). It is probably the best view of the actual cave interior any layman will get. I certainly don't count Chauvet as a visited site.

But if I'm ever in the area I will probably count it as a Visit once I've walked inside some partially arbitrary boundary line, taken a photo of a locked door or fence and perhaps gone to a gift shop. I'm just left wondering why I would feel like that, it isn't especially logical if one is using travel to enhance ones understanding the OUV of a site.

I think Solivagant's point about the journey being the reward is the key to it. Some of my favourite site visits have been because of my journey to a site. The somewhat arduous trips to Skellig Michael, Chaco Canyon and Preah Viher were enhanced by some wonderful sites at the end of it. But likewise the extremely uninspiring spectacles at the end of trips to Pile Dwellings and Struve measuring posts are ones I regularly bring up as fond travel memories.

All that has taught me is that I am illogical and inconsistent, but anyone that knows me could have told you that anyway:)

Author clyde
#6 | Posted: 5 Feb 2016 17:26 
I think that's rather logical ! It's one thing "watching" a site but it's a completely different experience to live the experience to the full with its ups and downs and with all your senses not only your eyes. The joy of a new avifauna spotted, an unexpected change in the weather, the element of not knowing about something or being impressed by a minor detail. This is mostly true for natural whs and mixed whs. However I would also extend it to cultural whs too. For example I saw the Last Supper in several books, sites, films and 3D images but I'll never forget when I actually saw it. I saw the Pyramids of Giza a zillion times but I'll never forget climbing inside the pyramids and gazing at their sheer size. That said, I didn't achieve any logical value added for sure by climbing up a claustrophobic space such as that in the Giza Plateau (I remember enjoying the desert heat as soon as I came out of the Pyramid !!!), yet as illogical as it might sound it made for an unforgettable experience I'll surely remember for a longer time than the most sophisticated VR! Just my 2 cents

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