the beach film

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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!

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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!

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Granada: Is This The Greatest Place Of All Time? Read Why!

Spain: You blew my mind.

For close to 10 years, I was convinced that no country or destination in the world could come anywhere near Greece, in terms of its culture, the aura which glides effortlessly over you as you sip on a Frappe, and the iconic world of ancient history, beautiful islands, and mean Athenian streets that shift from beauty to trash in one block. But I loved it, and I still do. This is why it’s so hard for me to say this:

Spain might just be better, and Granada? Jesus Christ. I will never forget Granada.

Alhambra at night
Alhambra at night

Granada, Spain, is a culturally rich town with ancient architecture, free tapas for every drink you purchase (and by tapas, I mean meals, so effectively you never have to buy a meal when travelling through here), and rows of shisha bars with a distinct Moroccan influence.

A typical teahouse in Granada: no alcohol, just sweets, coffee, and shisha!
A typical teahouse in Granada: no alcohol, just sweets, coffee, and shisha!

Home to the famous Alhambra palace, Granada is a real gem that every traveller to Spain should put at the top of their list! Isolated streets quickly become dark, and suddenly at midnight you find yourself in the thralls of action-packed nightclubs, lively bars, and a diverse mix of travellers who are out on the town for the same reason as you – to explore!

Tapas in Granada...They go overboard and give you a hearty meal! Nothing wrong with that....
Tapas in Granada…They go overboard and give you a hearty meal! Nothing wrong with that….

Granada is that kind of place that, when reflecting on how much of a great time you had in the Spanish heat, discovering little shops in twisting alleyways with art, hand-carved chessboards, and world class bars, makes you sad. Travel should make us happy, but when you long for a place that really got you buzzing, it’s hard not to feel deflated when you’re away from it. Post Travel Depression is a very real construct.

Granada streets make you move to a Spanish beat!
Granada streets make you move to a Spanish beat!

Do you have a place that leaves you longing for it? Spain and Greece have done this to me the most, although in truth, I miss everywhere I have been.

Still, there’s a magic in Spain and Greece that for me, cannot be surpassed. It’s captivating, and the thought of these ancient destinations never truly leaves you.

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Hook Island

Trust Me, It’s Paradise! Hook Island, Australia

“The Beach” film inspired this journey, I’m proud to say. My friends and I were searching for everything Richard was looking for in “The Beach”. It’s harder to find your own piece of paradise than you would think. There are two major components of the backpacker trail that contribute to its culture, and the discoverability of new hidden gems:

1. Being Around Other Backpackers

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2. Being A Lonely Backpacker

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3. Sharing Your Lonely Backpacker Experiences With Other Backpackers, Thereby Making Those Experiences No Longer Lonely

Some would argue that ironically, while the purpose of backpacking is to see places on a budget (and not waste money on unnecessary expenses, like a triple digit hotel room that you only sleep in for six hours a night and literally spend no time in), and to discover secrets that nobody else you know has discovered, the camaraderie nature of backpacking means that secrets are spilt, and places spoilt. Alas, it is a vicious cycle of staying ahead of the curb when you’re out on the open road.

Hook Island, Australia, offered us a remote location, our own perfect beach, not a soul in sight for the entire time we camped there, and the type of tranquility most people would spend a fortune for. This is what backpacking can offer you: The chance to go off the beaten path, and find your own piece of paradise.

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The part of Hook Island we stayed in was abandoned. Around the other side of the island were snorkelers and a couple of boats on day trips, but the part of the island we were on was isolated – nobody came here. At one point, we saw a boat pass by in the distance but other than that, the beach was ours.

With a white coral beach (that isn’t that comfortable to lie down on), bright blue, refreshing waters, large natural rock formations leading into the ocean (which gave us the perfect stargazing opportunity), and only a small fire to keep us warm at night, we were in paradise. The boat operator who dropped us off warned us that if we found ourselves in trouble, that “there’s no way of contacting anyone, but generally if you kayak out into the ocean and find a boat, people are pretty helpful.” A mild concern, but what could possibly go wrong?

Paradise

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For starters, on several occasions I would kayak into the shore with my friend, hop out of the yellow, plastic vessel, and see a shark circling behind us. On two occasions this happened. At night, sharks would regularly swim in as close as 1 metre to the shore, their fins cutting through the water like a wicked blade. Some of the sharks weren’t too big, others seemed a lot larger, but all of them were a decent enough size that they could rip a deadly chunk out of you. This is when we recalled that there is no help, and our phones were in a dead zone. If something were to go wrong, then in the middle of the night, one of us would have to bash through rough, open ocean until we found a boat. That would be impossible, as it’s easy to tip in a kayak in the open water from even the slightest of winds, or smallest of waves.

Luckily, nobody was attacked at any point, but it was unnerving looking behind us on occasion and seeing a fin pop up next to us. In fact, on the very first day within five minutes of getting dropped off, a large, black shark swam up and down the shoreline, only a couple of metres from the sand. We had been found out. We had intruded on its domain, and if we entered the water we risked our lives. This didn’t stop most of us from going swimming though, even though we had clearly seen a few sharks nearby. I stayed on the beach at times, since somebody had to protect all our belongings from being torn to pieces by two metre long goannas! It was strange waking up to a prehistoric beast resting next to the tent, staring at you, but it was the type of experience many people wished they could have, but often don’t. I’ve found with Australia, more so than any other place in the world, that you can really get up and close to some crazy-looking animals and fish. They just exist there. They aren’t too hard to find.

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After a few days of camping, stargazing, listening to Bob Marley while sipping on Jamaican rum, kayaking around the open ocean, and hiking up a dangerous, dry river bed (and being swamped by majestic blue butterflies), we decided to head back to Airlie Beach. The boat ride to and from Hook Island is very rough, so for all the travellers out there contemplating the journey, avoid standing up unless you want to become airborne like I did, and come crashing down on your face. One guy cut his head and elbow open on the fall, and the wounds didn’t look too good.

When we arrived back, the boat operator asked us if we had any trouble with sharks.

“No,” we replied, “we were stalked by a few, but nothing happened, how come?”

“Well, there has been a lot of sightings of large tiger sharks and bronze whalers out that way, up to five metres long. They were right where you were camping.”

This freaked us out, since anybody who knows anything about sharks, knows that those are two of the most aggressive species out there, which are regularly responsible for deadly attacks. Given the amount of people who have been eaten all around Australia lately, I wonder how close we were to joining that unfortunate list. Sharks are fast and it’s almost impossible to see them coming, so I would say that based on the facts, it’s a stroke of luck we didn’t swim into any trouble.

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All in all, Hook Island offered a remote camping experience, complete with interesting (but dangerous) hiking up rugged rocks into the mountain. As advised, it’s the sort of place where if something goes wrong, you’re out of luck and it’s going to take a combination of several good fortunes in order to get help; but the tradeoff is the type of tropical isolation that comes with castaway freedom, the knowledge that there really is no plan B if something bad happens, and that it’s truly up to you to make your new habitat work in your favour.

Between blistering hot sun, ocean predators, tropical perfection, and the adventurous mountain terrain, which contains ancient Aboriginal cave paintings, I suspect that if Australia were more marketable, or less Westernised, Hook Island would be a highly successful location for a sequel to “The Beach” film.

Airlie Beach

Backpacker Heaven: Seen “The Beach”? Then You’ll Love This!

“The Beach” is perhaps the most iconic backpacker film in recent memory, that has inspired millions of vagabonds to pack up their stuff and just go!

Every single one of my travels has been inspired by “The Beach”, hence the name of this website (The Beach Film). What I’ve learned across different continents however, is that we are all searching for paradise. “The Beach” film made Thailand even more famous than what it was, and spurred countless nomads on a Southeast Asian adventure that has continuously boomed since its release.

But what happens when you’ve been to Thailand, you’ve followed Richard’s path, and you have experienced Maya Bay for yourself? What happens when the world’s backpacker mecca becomes overrun with travellers, to the point that you feel like solitude is not possible? I believe I have discovered a backpacker path that offers all the ideals and values represented, and yearned for, in “The Beach” film.

It’s far away. It’s tropical. It’s dangerous, at times, and above everything, it’s on the backpacker trail of Eastern Australia.

Airlie Beach.

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This place, to me, is a backpacker mecca of the world that isn’t nearly as publicised as other spots. It contains sharks, crocodiles, deadly spiders, venomous snakes, and dangerous waters, but it also contains an assortment of travellers from all over the world, from as far as Germany, Sweden, Canada, Holland, England, Israel, and Japan. I have travelled far and wide in search of paradise,  just as Richard did in “The Beach”,  just as many others have that I have come across. Airlie Beach often proves to be the highlight of their backpacking trip around Australia, and dare I say, it has a feel about it that Byron Bay has lost.

In Northern Queensland, you will find the fun-filled, backpacker town called Airlie Beach. Gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. A backpacker town that should be more popular than it is, but for reasons unknown, isn’t. In my humble opinion, this qualifies it as a hidden gem that promises to give you many memories, new friends, and experiences that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Want to skydive over the Great Barrier Reef? Want to cruise through crocodile infested waters? Dive with Great White Sharks? Party like there’s no tomorrow? Want to enter a hippy community that by day, is relaxed, chilled, and hot, and by night explodes with nightlife? Above it all, do you want to do this in a tropical abyss that is far away from home?

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You can’t get further than Australia, and when you land in Queensland you should skip right past the Gold Coast and go up north. Nowhere else in the world have I seen such a camaraderie amongst backpackers, where strangers meet and become best friends, where experiences are lived and the opportunity to do crazy things is encouraged. Perhaps it’s part of the Aussie spirit:

Go for gold, no worries, just do it! 

I was in Airlie Beach only a few months ago, and before then, the start of 2006. It has retained its exact charm; it is no better or worse, it has simply remained true to what it is, and in the world of backpacking, that is an extremely rare quality to find.

As backpackers move around the gigantic continent of Australia, they arrive in Airlie Beach for a few key reasons. One of them is to experience the backpacker life; discovering tropical beaches, falling in love, and navigating one of the world’s harshest environments. Another key reason is to sail the Whitsunday Islands, where they make stops at Hook Island, Hamilton Island, Daydream Island, and of course, Whitsunday Island, home to Whitehaven beach (rated as one of the world’s best beaches).

Whitehaven Beach: The sand is 98% pure silica, meaning you can scrub your jewellery clean in it!
Whitehaven Beach: The sand is 98% pure silica, meaning you can scrub your jewellery clean in it!

Sharing News is Part of a Traveller’s Nature

Australia is at the top of many backpacker’s to-do lists, but due to its remote location and the expense of getting there, not many people get to do it. But you know what? In the words of Richard, “Trust me, it’s paradise.”

Airlie Beach should be at the very top of every traveller’s list who is heading Down Under. It contains a colourful, vibrant, fun-filled backpacker community that rivals the backpacker scene in Thailand, Bali, and Peru. Sure, Australia doesn’t contain the ancient, spiritual culture of the aforementioned countries, and in truth, it’s one of the best places in the world to live (so the cost of travelling there can be quite high). But what Australia lacks in ancient culture, it makes up for in Airlie Beach: A place too far for most people’s agendas, yet it is that exact inconvenience that makes it all the more special.

If you make the effort to take the spectacular journey, you will be rewarded immensely. I dare any backpacker out there who thinks Thailand is the epitome of backpacker-dom, to go out on a limb and experience what Thailand offered before it became overrun with tourists.

In search of paradise? Want to be inducted into backpacker heaven? Before it’s too late and the crowds overrun it, head to Airlie Beach, Australia. It’s impossible to be disappointed, and if you wish to throw yourself into legitimate backpacker culture, there aren’t too many places around the world that can offer what Airlie Beach does.

Malta

Malta: A Place You Have To Visit!

Backpacking Europe was one of the greatest times of my life. I had just graduated from university, and was ready to really start living. I viewed my time in high school and university as a mandatory prerequisite of life, and in truth, an obstacle to overcome before I could start my real education: Seeing the world.

Without doubt, formal education is nothing compared to real life experience. Formal education is largely a rote learning process involving facts and figures, the memorisation of principles which can be applied to real life scenarios, and an ability to basically master lateral thinking. It doesn’t, however, prepare you in any way whatsoever for the real world.

Enter Malta.

Lazy Days in Malta: There is no other place like it on earth.
Lazy Days in Malta: There is no other place like it on earth.

This Mediterranean island is an eclectic mix of Italian, Greek, and Phoenician influence, with a wonderful coating of Islamic rule to measure. The island’s architecture is ancient, weathered, and sunburnt. Italian cuisine is the main food choice, and the servings are very generous. Crepe stalls line the streets, serving chicken, onion, mushroom, and mango chutney crepes that are to die for! Football is more present here than anywhere else I have visited: Huge sports bars line the esplanade, complete with print-out rosters of that week’s games for all major codes (English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and of course, the Maltese Premier League).

The view from above the city. Need I say more?
The view from above the city. Need I say more?

The waters of Malta are some of the best you will find in the Mediterranean. Gozo, Sliema, St. Julians, and the Blue Grotto are particularly memorable, due to their crystal clear waters and rustic surroundings. Imagine large imposing cliffs, that have been worn by the weather, showing dry desert cracks and dusty grounds, blowing over a steep cliff and breezing across blue diamond waters. Imagine that stepping back from these cliffs, you find a city with a Middle Eastern architectural influence, Italian cuisine, and a plethora of alleys leading to the types of dark, interesting, and inviting corners usually reserved for Hollywood movies.

This is that place. It exists. And it is called Malta.

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Gozo, Malta: Rockpools to swim in while watching the majestic ocean sway!
Gozo, Malta: Rockpools to swim in while watching the majestic ocean sway!

I often find that travellers overlook Malta due to its difficult positioning in the Mediterranean. I find this to be a huge mistake, as there is so much on offer that isn’t talked about enough in backpacking circles. Sure, we had to take a dodgy work ship with the worst food imaginable to get there, but once we arrived, boy was it worth it!

The streets had a rustic, weathered feel that transported me back one hundred years. A lot of cities in Europe are ancient, but Malta’s cities actually feel ancient. In terms of nicknacks to buy, Valletta’s streets have very cool items to purchase that will remind me of the quaint, dated aura the island emits, which penetrates your soul with good vibes and fun times.

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If you want to head out for a fun night of partying, then look no further than Paceville: I promise you, this gives Mykonos and Ibiza a genuine run for their money. In fact, imagine removing all of the drugs from Ibiza (is that even possible?), switching the scenery in Mykonos to sepia-tone, and squeezing in some dashing Italian influence, and you have Paceville! The nightclubs boom thunderously with the latest hits, while staff practically throw free drinks in your face just so you enter. It’s clear that the clubs are competing fiercely against each other, so ultimately it’s you, the customer, who ends up winning.

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I’m actually surprised at how much the world raves on about party islands, such as Mykonos, Ios, and Ibiza. These places are fun, that’s for sure, although in recent years I believe Ibiza has gone downhill due to the massive drug influence. But how come Paceville isn’t mentioned in the same breath, when it deserves similar treatment? It’s a mystery to me, but alas, travel is about finding hidden wonders, and if you want a place to really rock out in, that feels special because it isn’t as commercialised as other places, then look no further: Paceville, Malta, is your next destination!

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BREAKING NEWS: PARADISE HAS BEEN DISCOVERED!

Have you ever wondered about the concept of paradise, and if such a place really exists? Is paradise real, or is it a subjective interpretation of perfection, according to one’s ideals and values?

Today I’m going to challenge the latter (against all logic), and tell you that paradise is a real place! While of course, all us travellers have a preferred destination that simply does it for us, I believe there is another place on earth which everybody can appreciate, and that once travelled, explored and experienced, leaves the person in question yearning for more. Paradise is real, believe me, I have been there four times! So where is it, you ask?

It is here:

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Santorini, Greece!

For me, after being around the world and seeing so many beautiful, idyllic places, I can’t see how this isn’t paradise! While I’m a new travel blogger on the scene, I’m by no means new to travel: Starting in 2005, I have travelled overseas every year in search of something mesmerising, flawless, and touching. I discovered it in Santorini, Greece, and I implore each and every one of you to go out there and do the same.

Sometimes I’ll share a great deal of knowledge about the places I’ve visited, and other times I’ll refrain from spoiling it for all the first-timers out there. This is a time when I don’t want to ruin Santorini’s many surprises for anyone, but if you’d love to know more about the hidden alleyways, the delicious cuisine, the remote taverns, and the beautiful hiding spots on this wonderful Greek island, get in contact with me and I’ll help you to organise an itinerary you won’t forget!

Is there a place you’ve discovered that holds true in your heart? A place that screams at you to come back, and never leave? Or have you been to Santorini, and love it as much as I do? Comment and let me know, I’d love to learn more about my fellow travellers! 

Check out the Santorini image gallery for more photos on the home page now! I’ve rounded up a few different shots of what I think conveys Santorini’s beauty, paradisiacal qualities, and liberating charm :)

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On Our Way to Chile! Stop One of South America 2014!

So the adventures continue well into 2014! 

And so they should. Ever since travelling overseas for the first time in 2005, my life has changed for the better: Seeing new places, having fun with new faces, and absorbing culture on a molecular level which has enhanced my mind and nourished my soul.

To all my fellow travellers out there, I know you feel the same!

In April, we will be flying from Australia into Santiago, Chile, where we will travel, explore, and experience everything the good Chileans have to offer! Valparaiso has really caught my eye, and for those of you who haven’t heard about this port side city, imagine a colourful plethora of street art that illuminates the buildings. Imagine true street artists decorating a quiet, Latin American neighbourhood, then picture yourself immersed in the southern city.

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There are very few places in the world I have visited, where a city has literally been painted with such artistic fortitude. I stumbled across this city by chance, actually: Originally we weren’t sure if we would tackle Santiago, followed by a few wine regions, and then thanks to the power of random Google entries and an inkling that Chile MUST offer more than well, wine (not that there’s anything wrong with wine, believe me…), this is what we stumbled upon:

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If that’s not enough to make all you backpackers take a second look at Chile, I don’t know what is! I’m excited to see this all for myself, immerse myself in the street art scene, and discover more great artwork that I can share with you all on Backpacker Adventures! 

Have you been to Chile before? Or have you almost skipped over a country you didn’t think was worth visiting, only to discover, like I did, at the last minute that something truly astounding was waiting to be explored? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you!