Backpacker Book Review: The Beach – Alex Garland

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I finally got around to reading The Beach. I didn’t want to be one of ‘those people’ reading a dog eared copy on the beach in Thailand so I kept putting it off (- that’s just me being a travel snob!). And now I’ve finally read it, I can’t get it out of my head!

The book is so much better than the film. I mean seriously better. I can’t stop thinking about it. You know when you finish a book and you look up and the whole world is just carrying on as normal. Yet somehow everything seems to have changed?

It’s the way travellers are described in the book, like we are special. We are different. We a group of individuals that fought for a life well lived. It’s a club anyone can join. But not everyone gets it. You know that feeling, that you belong on the road.

The book reminds me of the backpackers life. Even if it’s just because I’ve been to those places or I Know the names of the Island’s. I can picture them, you know. I can see myself saying, ‘oh Koh Pha-Ngan the new Samui’. It’s premise is so true, we all seek a places where know one has been but we follow the same path. But I love backpacking for this same reason, as even though it may not be a road less travelled, it was for me. It is for you. It’s still not normal to give up everything and travel the world. It’s the road less traveled for you and that’s all that matters.

There are some great lines in the book, I’ve listed my favourite below:

Escape through travel works

If I’d learnt one thing from travelling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don’t talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.

Tourists went on holidays while travellers did something else. They travelled.

Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is the generation that travels the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite & never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience— And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.

Reading the beach has inspired me to re-read all my old travelling favourites. You know the books you discovered on the road. The ones you brought in back street in Vietnam from some street kids? Or swapped on a beach, or found in hostel. Shantaram, Holy Cow, Eat Pray Love, Memories of a Geisha, The Alchemist… you get my drift. I’m planing on writing some more thoughts and reviews, but I would love you to get involved. Would you like to write a Backpacker Book Review? Get in touch!

Why travel is like chasing the wind

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I’ve been thinking alot about travel and how it’s like “chasing the wind”.

We leave our homes in search of adventure. We seek the ultimate freedom – a life on the road.  We look for purpose and seek answers. We expect the world to change with us, we expect everything to be the same.  We loose and find ourselves in travel. It something you can’t quite explain and can’t quite grasp. Like chasing the wind.

We demand travel to give us purpose and meaning. But what if our meaning and our purpose is to just do life together. To love each other, to laugh together – to simply be.

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy and how it’s like “chasing the wind”.

We have a finite number of days, they are numbered to give us wisdom. What if those days are spent creating a simple legacy of family, of friends of life! What if  purpose is created through respecting the sanctity and simplicity of life. Living a life of love. Starting with what we have, where we are, now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a life’s work and how it’s like “chasing the wind”.

Instead, what if a life’s work is spending time with the friends and the family you have worked to create. What if a life’s work is to enjoy what you have, where you are now.

What if we choose love, choose happiness and choose joy. Choose light and memories and passion. And if our time is filled with the love of family, the hope of friendship and the joy of life . We will be comforted by the fulfilment of a life well lived. A life experienced out of the box. A life lived not chasing the wind, but dancing with it. Feeling it as it blows  across your face.

My Travel Bucket List

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I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list! I love traveling and the more places I visit the longer my bucket list becomes, I want revisit places and explore them even more! As a backpacking junkie, I think it is really important to have a travel bucket list. It acts as a map, a goal – everyone needs to know where they are going.  A bucket list also acts as a great souvenir and a long list of story prompts and adventure tales.

When you are a backpacker on a budget, a bucket list helps prioritise new destinations and allows you to decided when to splurge on something you have always wanted to do.  Did I tell you about the time I drank champagne in the Burj Al Arab, Dubai? Our last night on my 2nd RTW trip, I used my famous “we don’t do things by half” phrase and splashed out on quite a few glasses of champers in one of the most expensive hotels in the world! There is a reason why things make it on to your bucket list – they are a once in a life time experience. Seize the day. Start ticking somethings off your bucket list!  I feel so privileged that I have been to so many places, seen so many things, I am grateful for each and every experience. But I wouldn’t be a backpacker if I let my wanderlust die…

P.S. These are in no particular order, that would be asking too much!

1. Experience Rio carnival.

2.  See the Taj Mahal.

3. Swim with (wild) dolphins.

4.  Dip my toes into all the 7 seas.

5. Drive the Great Ocean Road

6. See Uluru.

7. Go on a travel adventure with my Dad ( – this one is in the works #Camino 2016!)

8. Walk the Inca Trail.

9. See the Northern Lights.

10. Yoga retreat in India.

11. Camper Van New Zealand.

12. Campervan Oz.

13. Backpack with my kids – Major Life Goal

14. Go on one more RTW trip!  (already done 2).

15. Drive Route 66.

16. Go back to Paris with my Mom.

17. See all 7 natural wonders of the world.

18. Camper van the Scottish Highlands.

19. Inter-rail Europe.

20. Work a Ski Season 

21. Work Holiday Oz

22. Working Holiday NZ

23. Working Holiday Canada.

24. Work in 7 different Countries (6 down!1 to go!)

25. Full Moon Party.

26. Tubing Laos.

27. Singapore Slings in Raffles Hotel.

28. St Patrick’s Day in Dublin (preferably with my Denise).

29. Halong Bay – Vietnam.

30. Visit Easter Island.

31. Trek the Great Wall of China.

32. Mardi Gras New Orleans & Jazz Festical

33. Angkor Wat at Sunrise. 

34. Ride a gondola in Venice.

35.  Great Barrier Reef. 

36. See the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

37. Explore Rome. 

38. Backpack all of central and South America.

39. Pyramids in Egypt.

40. Ride the Trans Siberian Railway & trip vodka with a Russian.

41. Travel to the Arctic Circle.

42. Grand Canyon. 

43. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

44. Island hopping in Greece.

45. Hit the Vegas strip.

46. Gilli Isalnds – Indonesia .

47. Find the Leo Caprio’s ‘The Beach’ (I heard a rumour it was really in the Philippines)

48. Island Hopping in Thailand.

49.  Christmas on the beach. 

50. Shots of tequila in Mexico.

51. Skydiving.

52. Hitchhike.

53. Up Hella Festival Scotland.

54. Glastonbury Festival.

55. Drinks in the Burj. 

56. Afternoon tea at the Ritz.

57. NYE in New York.

58. NYE in Sydney.

59. Ride an elephant. 

60.  Visit Israel and Via Dolorosa. 

61. Drink gin in Casablanca and say “play it again Sam”

62. Glacier Hike – NZ.

63. Yurt Stay in Outer Mongolia.

64. Volunteer Abroad (again).

65. Visit Auschwitz.

66. Christmas Markets in Europe.

67. Climb Kilimanjaro.

68. Visit a really really remote South Pacific Island.

69. Holi Festival – India

70. Pingxi Lantern Festival – Taiwan

71. La Tomatina – Spain

That will do for now… Challenge yourself to write your travel bucket list today!