The Beach Film: Inspiration For Backpackers

The Beach film has inspired a generation of backpackers to circle the globe, in search of adventure, cultural understanding, and to break away from the monotonous routine of an office cubicle.

the beach film

The Beach film is also responsible for the avalanche of backpackers who find their way navigating the mean streets of Bangkok, the alarming roadways of Phuket, and the picturesque beaches of Koh Samui. Backpackers can find beauty in every corner, on every street, and in every locale that they frequent and explore, but more often than not, they’ll agree that Bangkok is a hectic, polluted city, that Phuket’s exploitation of the sex industry (including the illegal side) ruins it completely, but that all is salvaged once Koh Samui welcomes their arrival.

the beach film

The Beach film is perhaps best known for flinging travellers and tourists towards Koh Phi Phi Don, as they hitch a boat towards the beaches of Maya Bay – the famous location where The Beach film was shot. Although the film has received questionable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, one has to look beyond what the critics say, and reflect on what this cult film does for the legion of backpackers who relate to Richard (played by Leonardo DiCaprio).

Richard embodies the typical backpacker, who is in search of something more, in search of something  different, more visceral, more real. They wait for it to hit them. They go out with a group of friends, or they go out with their partners, or perhaps, on their own; whatever number accompanies them, they search for their own piece of paradise – something which is as much mental as it is physical. Legions of backpackers just like Richard come to Maya Bay in a ritualistic, rite of passage journey – let’s call it the backpacker’s mecca, because that’s exactly what it is. But backpackers soon find that the mecca is just that – overrun with hoards of people, leaving nothing to the imagination of what this place was like when Richard, Etienne and Francois discovered it.

the beach film

The great, leaping metaphor of The Beach film is that it compels travellers to get out into the world, and discover their own piece of paradise. I’ve found on my journeys that more often than not, deviating from the beaten path has been more rewarding than trampling the weathered roads. This isn’t about being elitist, and pointing the finger at somebody and saying “Hey, you, the Eiffel Tower sucks compared to the Catacombs,” or approaching Greek Island hoppers and laughing, telling them “You don’t know the real Greece until you’ve weathered the long road to Serres, Thessaloniki, and the remote areas of Rhodos.” Because what I’ve come to find is that, like Richard from The Beach film, people travel for their own reasons. I often wonder what backpackers say about Australia, using this line of reasoning, when ousting Bondi Beach, Byron Bay, and the Gold Coast from their list of special places Down Under.

the beach film

I wonder this because sometimes, these places are popular for a reason. You would, in fact, be hard pressed to find a beach as amazing as Bondi in New South Wales, or a rainforest as sublime as the Daintree. If The Beach film taught backpackers anything, it’s exactly that: Paradise is whatever paradise is to you. Paradise is not a universal place, it’s a personal refuge that suits our ideals, values, and ethics.

The only thing that ruins paradise, as The Beach film projects, is that paradise can only be kept a secret for so long. Once the crowds come, the development comes, and special places end up being overcrowded by hotel conglomerates and cruise ships. It sucks, but understanding that everybody has the equal right to travel in whichever way they please, I can’t argue with it. I don’t want to be unfair, and exclude people from the opportunity to experience something special for them, simply because it doesn’t match or agree with my thoughts on the situation.

the beach film

The Beach film has inspired me to travel all over Australia, Fiji, Switzerland, France, Malta, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Spain, The Netherlands, USA, China, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore. It’s the reason I’m leaving in 7 weeks to backpack through Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Brazil, Colombia, San Blas Islands, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cuba, and the Caribbean. Damn, I might just chuck Belize in there for good measure too ;) The Beach film is the reason for this, which is why I have dedicated a post to the movie.

The Beach film has done more than that though, and I’ll share those thoughts with you all over time. My question is this: Have you seen The Beach film (if not, hire it now), and if so, has it inspired you to travel? I’d love to know the places you’ve been to, so feel free to leave a comment and share your own piece of paradise – if you dare….

Barcelona: Everybody’s Favourite City

A bold title, I agree, but everybody I have met to date has claimed that Barcelona is their favourite European city. It’s very, very hard to not like the city, because after all, what’s not to like?

Can you honestly say that the festive atmosphere of the Gothic Quarter doesn’t get you going? That Camp Nou doesn’t captivate you, even if you’re not a football fan? What about the magnificent street art that colours the cityscape, transporting you into a happy world of delicious Spanish paella, garlic prawns, white wine, red wine, gin, pumping nightclubs with flare, pulsating alleyway bars with class, and a perfect beach adorned with famous clubs such as Opium, and relaxing restaurants serving up patrons in the sun?

Barcelona is my favourite city, as it no doubt is yours. If you disagree, I’d love to hear what makes your favourite city, well, your favourite city! But for now, let’s concentrate on the reasons why every backpacker should visit Barcelona. I’ll try to give a brief outline that doesn’t ruin the magic for those who haven’t been – otherwise it would be like explaining to you why the Notebook  is so sad, because everybody dies in the end (that spoiler alert was purposely after the fact): If I delve too much into the detail of Barcelona’s story, then your experience will be less of a surprise, and more of an expected showcase. And honestly, as a backpacker, I don’t want to ruin new experiences for anyone.

Las Ramblas: Hectic, pulsating, and definitely not the best place in Barca (but still good)!
Las Ramblas: Hectic, pulsating, and definitely not the best place in Barca (but still good)!

Las Ramblas is the street that most people tend to talk about most. It has everything you can think of when it comes to nightlife, and is a central area for tourists. Restaurants and bars line both sides of the street, as well as a middle island that separates both road lanes. Las Ramblas is, if nothing else, exhilarating for the amount of people it packs in, who are either trying to lure you into their ridiculously overpriced restaurants and bars, or are trying to sell you coke on the street. I wouldn’t say Las Ramblas is shady, although the common thought of drug dealers would scare most people away (they aren’t scary, they’re trying to make a living off tourists in a collapsed economy – not that that’s an excuse for drug dealing, but it’s a reality of the world we live in, so it must be accepted).

How should you prepare for Las Ramblas though? Especially when you hear about how touristy it is? Instead of giving away the flavour of the strip, I’ll just say this: Las Ramblas should be approached with the same expectations and realities that come with Times Square (NYC), Piccadilly Circus (London), and Rome (Italy): It’s interesting, overpriced, and a bit of a tourist trap when it comes to the genuine culture of the place. There is by no means anything wrong with the aforementioned areas, but if you really want to experience Barca, this is what you should do:

Gothic Quarter:

A maze of ancient streets, each with tiny shops, bars, and tapas restaurants. Hole-in-the-wall kind of places to hang out in. Beautiful, fashionable people. Want to hit the clubs while staying in the Gothic Quarter? Well, why do that when the alleys are filled with hipsters, boom boxes, and people dancing in the streets? That’s right, the Gothic Quarter of Barca is filled with enough vibrant night activity to really keep you going. After all, you can go to a nightclub at home, but can you party in the festive streets with an endless stream of friendly Spaniards? I think not.

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Hit the beach:

Going to Barca and not hitting the beach on the daily, is like going to Italy and not seeing Venice: It might be packed, but you’ll still regret it.

Barcelona Beach
Barcelona Beach

The beach is a bright topaz blue, and it is immensely popular in the summertime. There is plenty of space on the beach and on the sidewalk (where my dad fell asleep as people walked on by), and just off the boardwalk, you’ll find plenty of places to indulge in Spanish cuisine and local wines. People watching is a real spectacle here, and even the typical tourist shops selling cheap merchandise can be fun to check out.

Not too far back, there is a range of clubs, bars, and restaurants for people to enjoy
Not too far back, there is a range of clubs, bars, and restaurants for people to enjoy

Barca has one of the best beaches I have been to in Europe, outside of the Greek islands, and it’s highly recommended you go here at least twice during your Spanish adventure.

Park Güel

If you don’t know what this in, then here’s a hint: You know how you’ve been following my travel blog, or other travel blogs, and reading up on Barcelona, looking at all the colourful photos and vibrant streets? You know how you’ve been Google Imaging Barcelona for the past few hours, and thinking to yourself “This looks so beautiful,”? Well, all those images you’ve been looking at are of Park Güel, a real life “Alice In Wonderland” by architect Antoni Gaudí, who started construction on this renowned park in the early 1900s.

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It’s difficult to describe the feeling once you arrive here. You feel like you’ve recaptured your childhood as you explore eye-catching building designs, benches, and towers, all within the confines of a lush, green garden. Spanish mosaics make an appearance or two, and at the end of your massive walk around the hills, you begin to wonder to yourself: Why doesn’t the rest of the world look this good?

Camp Nou

If you’re not a football fan, it doesn’t matter. It’s sacrilegious to not visit the beating heart of this illustrious city. Camp Nou is home to football powerhouse Barcelona FC, the team of one of the greatest footballers in history – Lionel Messi. Camp Nou is impressive: While the stadium itself is huge, and the pitch well maintained and exceptionally green, the real treat of going to Camp Nou resides in its museum.

Yes, Camp Nou has a museum.

Featuring countless trophies from the club’s history, as well as projectors playing important moments from past games, the glory of this superior team can be felt emphatically. Emotional, uplifting, cinematic music plays all around you, while you observe pop art by Australian artists on the walls, tributes to legendary players, take a walk in the change rooms, and eventually, find yourself in the club’s official store, which is complete with the coolest sneakers, jerseys, and merchandise that money can buy.

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I know people who have zero interest in football and still  loved it here. So next time you’re in Barca, make sure to check it out. After all, the club is the talking point of the city!

What are your experiences of Barcelona? Share below so our readers can learn even more about this iconic city!

The Craziest Hotels In The World!

How cool are these hotels?!

1. Äscher Cliff, Switzerland

Website: myswitzerland.com

Website: myswitzerland.com

2. Hotel Kakslauttanen, Finland

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Website: kakslauttanen.fi

3. Ladera Resort, St. Lucia

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Website: ladera.com

4. The Manta Resort, Zanzibar

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Image credits: Genberg Underwater Hotels

Image credits: Genberg Underwater Hotels

5. Rayavadee Krabi, Thailand

Website: rayavadee.com

Website: rayavadee.com

6. Shangri La, Paris

Website: shangri-la.com

Website: shangri-la.com

7. Hotel Ristorante Grotta Palazzese Polignano a Mare, Italy

Website: grottapalazzese.it

Website: grottapalazzese.it

8. Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island

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Website: conradhotels3.hilton.com

Website: conradhotels3.hilton.com

9. Panchoran Retreat, Bali

Website: panchoran-retreat.com

Website: panchoran-retreat.com

10. Hotel Ubud Hanging Gardens, Indonesia

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Website: hanginggardensubud.com

Website: hanginggardensubud.com

11. Attrap Reves Hotel, France

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Website: attrap-reves.com

Website: attrap-reves.com

12. Katikies Hotel-Oia, Greece

katikies.com

katikies.com

13. Hotel Le Sirenuse, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Website: sirenuse.it

Website: sirenuse.it

14. Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

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Website: icehotel.com

Website: icehotel.com

15. The Cambrian Hotel, Adelboden, Switzerland

Website: thecambrianadelboden.com

Website: thecambrianadelboden.com

16. Dedon Island Resort

Website: dedonisland.com

Website: dedonisland.com

Website: homesteadresort.com
Website: homesteadresort.com 

 

18. Villa Escudero, Philippines

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Website: villaescudero.com

Website: villaescudero.com

19. Hotel-Restaurant Öschinensee, Switzerland

Website: oeschinensee.ch

Website: oeschinensee.ch

20. Astarte Suits Hotel, Greece

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Website: astartesuites.gr

Website: astartesuites.gr

21. Montana Magica Lodge, Chile

Website: huilohuilo.com

Website: huilohuilo.com

Know of anymore? Leave them in the comments below!