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5 Films That Will Inspire You to Travel

Let’s face it: we’d all travel 365 days a year if we could. However, even the most hardcore traveler takes the occasional day off every once in a while. Whether your feet have been stuck on the ground for too long and you’re looking for the motivation to get away, or you’re simply recuperating from your last big trip before gearing up for the next one, travel movies are a fantastic way to keep your wanderlust ignited while you're stuck at home. 

There are endless fantastic films, whose beautiful sets and adventurous storylines are bound to have you itching to pack your suitcase and jet off, but we’ve picked five of our favorites that are sure to fulfill all your travel movie needs. 

THE BEACH (2000)
This hit film, starring fan-favorite Leonardo DiCaprio is basically the story of every backpacker's dream turned nightmare. When eager traveler, Richard, finds himself exploring the remote archipelago of Thailand, he's excited to push his adventure as far as it will go. 

When he hears about an untouched island of the gulf coast, he’s eager to uncover the secrets it holds. After successfully reaching its shores, Richard and friends find themselves in the midst of an illegal marijuana plantation and almost fall foe to its gun-toting guards before being saved by an unexpected friend.

Richard discovers that the island also houses a small, self-sufficient traveler community and believes he’s found the place of his dreams. Until, that is, it soon becomes clear that maybe paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 

Quick Tip: This film was originally a hit novel, so if you’re more interested in the page than the screen, then you can easily enjoy this fantastic story via that medium instead. 

IN BRUGES (2008)
When two Irish hit men are involved in a horrific accident on a job, they're sent to the beautiful, quaint town of Bruges in Belgium to cool off and wait for orders. They wander the streets, enjoy the sights, and find themselves getting involved in the local culture.

However, the pair is impatient and eager to move on from this seemingly pointless vacation. But when the phone rings and they discover their holiday was not a simple walk-in-the-park as expected, things take a turn for the more dramatic. If you enjoy gun-chases, epic fights, witty banter, alongside quiet canals, ambient evenings, beautiful cathedrals, and wonderful architecture, then this might just be the ideal travel film for you!

When your life feels like it's crumbling around you, and nothing seems to be going your way, what do you do? Travel, of course! Liz Gilbert has just gone through a divorce, and after her rebound fling with a young and spiritual actor doesn't play out to be the fairytale she first imagined, she books herself a ticket across the world to find her truth.

After eating her way through the many mouth-watering delicacies of Italy, finding her Zen in an Ashram in India and re-connecting with an old friend in Bali, Liz believes she’s found her center once more. Ironically, it takes the introduction of a new love interest in her life before she, reluctantly, truly accepts herself for who she really is. This film is a fantastic testimony to the mental journey that traveling can inspire and is sure to have you lusting for your next trip. 

Quick Tip: This film is available to watch on American Netflix, but if you’re overseas, then it’s easy to gain access by using the right tools. 

NINE (2009) 
Set on a backdrop of the super-slick, extra-stylish 1960s Italy, this film oozes continental glamor like no other. The story follows famous film director Guido Contini as he prepares for the release of his latest project “Italia,” a film which he has not yet written.

Struggling under the pressure and drowning between the many strong-minded women who influence his life, Guido begins to lose his cool, and through alcohol and stress-induced hallucinations, he explores his life growing up in Italy and all the events that have propelled him to the present day. 

This film showcases unmatchable Italian fashion from the era where the country found its cultural place on the world stage. It’s impossible to watch without wanting to be sat on the cobbled streets, enjoying coffee and cigarettes with that classic Italian style.

This film's tagline invites you to join the cast as they “make something beautiful out of being alive,” and the adventure that follows is sure to inspire you to do just that. Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney star in the movie that sees a young married couple head to France for the road trip of their lives.

The time on the open road allows them to look back over their time together, and as they remember some of their most poignant moments as a couple, the tension that so obviously has been plaguing their relationship begins to melt away. As they finally reach the southern-most limits of France, they discuss all of their fears and insecurities and, crossing the border to Italy, find a new freedom and lease of life.

Quick Tip: This isn’t the only fantastic travel film Hepburn starred in. For more classic and stylish movies from this wonderful actress, check out this list.

The world of film has allowed us to do almost anything vicariously, and travel is no exception. With these films, you can transport yourself across the world from the comfort or your own sofa. If you know of any more movies that you feel deserve a place on the list, then please leave a comment below, we'd love to hear your ideas!

About The Author: Caroline is an entertainment blogger and a long-time travel-addict. She loves combining her two passions and always sits down with a good travel film when she has itchy feet but doesn’t have the time to get away. You can find Caroline on Twitter here: @CultureCovC 
Image credits: Pixabay


Travel Diaries: Bangkok, Thailand

As a pre-birthday treat for myself, I asked my husband if we could go on a quick trip to Thailand during UAE's long weekend last December. It didn't take much to convince him, and before I knew it, we were packing our luggages and rushing to finish work early in order to catch our late night flight to Bangkok.

We chose to fly from Dubai to Bangkok via Qatar Airways because their flight timing was perfect for our itinerary. My love for Bangkok's vibe was instantaneous that the very minute I stepped out of the airport I knew I'd fit right in. Yes, it's a modern city, but Bangkok also exudes such depth of character and soul that's just so incredibly rich and authentic. And being labeled as the land of smiles? They really got that one on point. Their friendly people are truly their best asset and have made this trip a lot more fun and memorable.

Our hotel, Centre Point Silom is an upscale apartment hotel along Charoenkrung Road conveniently located near major tourist attractions and also walking distance from Surasak Skytrain station and the river taxi station. But aside from its perfect location, we picked this hotel for the amazing reviews on their breakfast buffet selections and amenities and they did not disappoint. In fact, we found ourselves waking up extra early excited for breakfast and a quick swim at their rooftop pool overlooking Bangkok's skyline.

My husband and I have never been to Thailand before this, so we decided to book a tour guide to accompany us during our first day to make sure that we'll be able to see and experience as much as we can in four short days what Bangkok has to offer. I think we've had too much DIY adventures recently, and while that's what we always recommend for travellers who want to get a full-on immersion, having a local with you also has its advantages. Being with a tour guide this time around really saved us a lot of time and headaches, because the only thing we had to worry about was to relax and have fun, which we pretty much managed to cover 101%. It's become extra educational too since they're able to answer most of our curiosities and share the stories and fascinating history behind every spot we went to.
On our first morning, we rode one of the boats in Chao Phraya River after breakfast to get to Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple complex, which houses the Reclining Buddha. The glimmering statue is 46 meter-long and also exquisitely covered in golden leaf. Simply put, the gigantic opulence of it all was just pretty astonishing.

Wat Pho is also known as the birth place of the famous Thai massage, so this is definitely one of the best places to get yourself a proper massage. We opted not to have it there though since we were so excited to roam around and visit the other temples.

For good luck, we were requested by our guide to purchase a pot of coins to be dropped one by one into the 108 wishing bowls lined up inside the temple. 108 is a symbolic number for Buddhism because it represents all the actions and worldly temptations that Buddha managed to overcome in order to reach Nirvana. Of course we can't be certain that all our wishes would come true, but it's nice to know that all the proceeds will go towards the maintenance and preservation of this marvellous temple.

We also visited the Wat Phra Kaew or The Temple of Emerald Buddha, and also Wat Benjamabhobit or Wat Benja, which is nicknamed as the The Marble Temple. Unfortunately, we were unable to tour the Grand Palace since it was closed in preparation for their Nai Luang or King Rama IX's upcoming birthday at the time.

Our driver then picked us up to get to Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo, which is an hour away from Bangkok. We had buffet lunch in Erawan Restaurant as soon as we arrived in Samphran. The food selection was quite okay and the Pad Thai they served was amazing.

The entire day was spent watching an utterly boring magic show, but the elephant show that followed made up for it. Those dancing elephants were too adorable for words.

We fed the crocodiles and elephants after paying a small fee of 20 Baht just for the experience, and of course a trip to Thailand won't be compete without riding on an elephant's back. The only thing I did not like about the whole experience in Samphran was probably the crocodile wrestling show. After three minutes of seeing those poor crocodiles being beaten by wooden sticks, I was a tearful mess. I just couldn't bring myself to watch the entire thing. I know those sticks are tiny but it looks brutally cruel and so heartbreaking to watch.

Before night time, our friendly tour guide dropped us back to the hotel. We rested and freshen up a bit  before being picked up once again, but this time by my husband's cousin Amy, who lives in Bangkok. She was so nice to agree to tour us around and see Bangkok at night. We had so much fun bonding with her and hearing about her laid-back life and adventures in Thailand.

She treated us to a scrumptious buffet dinner in Anantara Riverside Terrace, overlooking Chao Phraya River. I think I gained ten pounds just during this trip. Who wouldn't, right? I mean we were having buffet after buffet after buffet on the daily. We enjoyed the open-show kitchen which served fresh grilled meats and seafood, and also the wide variety of desserts. Thai food is just love!

It rained cats and dogs while we were having dinner, so we hung out for a while inside Anantara. It's a good thing that we were entertained by Thai classical dance live performances inside the hotel over coffee and dessert, which elevated the dining experience into a  rather cultural one.

As soon as the rain stopped, we boarded one of the free hotel boats which took us to Asiatique. It's a riverfront open-air mall and night bazaar. There's a bit of everything in Asiatique, so we did some shopping for souvenirs and accessories. Amy told us not to splurge so much though and told us to do most of our shopping in MBK the next day for the best bargain deals.
She dropped us back to the hotel where we enjoyed a traditional Thai massage and probably the best  and most relaxing sleep ever. I've never felt so recharged. It was definitely what our tired legs and muscles needed after a full day of passionate discoveries and walking.

Our last day was spent doing what we do best, which is shopping of course. We literally got trapped inside MBK Shopping Centre the entire day. The mall is located in Pathumwan, opposite Paragon and was considered as the largest shopping mall in Asia when it opened in 1985. To get there, we tried the BTS and went down to National Stadium station (the last station of Silom line). I was carrying just a small bag when we entered the mall in the morning, but ended up going back to the hotel at night carrying an entirely new luggage filled with clothes, shoes, bags, accessories and what-not's. Everything is just so crazily inexpensive! And for that sole reason alone, I seriously need to come back.
Our vacation in Thailand has got to be one of the most exciting trips we've had in a long time, and I have to say that Bangkok is probably the most tourist-friendly cities we've ever been to. I know that our poor photography doesn't give it justice, but the country has so much to offer and very beautiful to see and experience first hand. Their food is delicious, their people are warm, and the Thai massage is addicting. So addicting that we even had another round of Thai massage from the able hands of Chang's Foot Massage and Spa inside the airport no less while waiting for our boarding time.

I'm actually eyeing another trip to Thailand (maybe next year) but to Chiang Mai instead of Bangkok for a more soulful breather, closer to nature. Attending a short Thai cooking class is surely on the itinerary next time. I can't wait for our next adventure!


A Paris-Inspired Reading List

Ramadan has always been a great ally when it comes to reaching my reading goals and this year is no different. When I'm not catching up with my favorite series or annoying the hell out of my husband, I am usually just curled up in a ball silently reading a book, which is quite nice to be honest. One look in my already-filled up bookshelf however, and it's become more obvious that space would really pose a huge problem for us if I don't stop acquiring more books. Yes, I've amassed quite a home library in our five-year stay here in Dubai, but this bookworm just couldn't bring herself to stop. And no, this isn't me complaining at all. :)

I've spent a good part of today wandering the aisles of Borders in Mall of the Emirates and ended up going home with a beautiful reading list that is, coincidentally, so Paris-inspired. 
You know you've had a good day when you managed to snag fresh crisp copies of Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss, Chris Pavone's The Expats: A Novel, and How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by "four stunning and accomplished Frenchwomen" Anne Berest, Audrey Diwna, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas, without paying a single dirham. No, they weren't entirely free, only ended up redeeming all my card's reward points for these three lovely books and I feel so glad I did *pats self*.

My husband and I have just started a separate travel fund hopefully for a lengthy trip to Europe next year which of course includes Paris. And so while I wait for our wallet to fatten up, for now I'll just hope that these books would excite me and give me a feel of what's in store for us in the city of love.

What books are in your reading list?


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Picks of the week #2

Ramadan is already in full swing, which means shorter office timing and longer timing for everything else and I'm definitely enjoying every bit of it while it lasts. This weekend has been quite uneventful since we decided to stay home-bound, but I did manage to finish off some chores and catch some episodes of Game of Thrones with the husband while dreaming of a trip to Morocco (one of our dream destinations) hopefully this Eid if everything goes as planned.

Here's another round of my hand-picked goodies this week same as what I did last time, which are just perfect for a lazy weekend spent relaxing at home, in hopes that maybe you can pick a fave or two to try and enjoy for yourself too. :)
The sweet gourmand pack has always been my choice when it comes to home fragrances. From cupcakes to ice creams, I really have a thing with the flavor vanilla, and when you add a whiff of cinnamon in its mix, there's just no way I could say no. This is why I just had to get my hands on this Cinnamon Spiced Vanilla scented candle from Bath and Body Works during their crazy sale a couple of weeks ago. Now our home has been smelling so deliciously good because of it.

Speaking of vanilla, Soap & Glory's Clean, Girls body wash smells so divine as well. It has a fruity and floral punch to it also and unlike other harsh soaps and body wash, this one is non-drying at all. The creamy formula is very hydrating and lathers so well, which to me is important to feel clean and fresh after a shower especially in this summer heat. Forgot how many times I've said this about Soap & Glory, but their product line's pink and vintage packaging is just utterly cute!

I'm also all about these two candy-colored nail polishes from Nature Republic which I got from a Sasa beauty haul during our last trip to Hong Kong. These shades look ridiculously summery and fun!

The beautiful cover illustration of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and The Damned had me at first hello. It's his second novel, a lustrous satire of a marriage on the rocks set on a glamorous and Jazz-era New York City. Not yet halfway-through it though and I haven't read a classic in a while to be honest, so this is a welcome change.

I received this bottle of Burberry Weekend perfume as a birthday present from my friends Natasha and Marie and have only started using it this past week. As a loyal Issey Miyake fan, this scent came off too strong at first spray but once it sets on the skin, it's actually quite refreshing. The powdery scent is a mix of clean and sweet that is unexpectedly long-lasting. This perfume received my husband's seal of approval too. So thanks girls for this classic!

What are your favorites this week?


Beauty Haul: Happy Skin Cosmetics

I had a medical emergency in Manila last April which had me stuck at home for almost three weeks, and I'm telling you, my skin (along with my spirits) has never been duller. Thank goodness for sweet family and friends popping by every now and then to keep me company bringing with them not only yummy food, but a lot of thoughtful gifts as well.

My favorite out of all the lovely presents I've received while recuperating was this amazing haul of Happy Skin Cosmetics from my sister-in-law. It's a local brand developed in Japan and primarily distributed in the Philippines, promising a line of makeups which "cares for your skin". I've seen a throng of these cutesy products circulating on Instagram especially among Filipino celebrities, and it really got me so curious. The packaging is a cool combo of wit and pretty that's bound to charm just about anyone.

Here's what was inside my surprise beauty loot:
My eyes instantly lit up when I saw two Shut Up & Kiss Me Lip & Cheek Mousse in Fall In Love and Laugh Always shades, a Get Cheeky With Me blush in Sunset Kiss shade, and an Eye Need A Miracle corrector. Such fun names, right?

I've been in the lookout for a good concealer which specifically targets the under-eye area for a long time now, and Happy Skin's Eye Need a Miracle Corrector was exactly the kind of miracle I needed. My body clock has gone totally bonkers ever since coming back to Dubai, and while I still figure out again how to get enough shut-eye, this product is doing such a great job concealing my dark circles and bumps. It's not heavily creamy, which I really like and makes it easy to apply and blend. Plus, you don't need a lot of this product to cover up those unwanted circles. Just a little goes a long way. 

I'm not a big fan of bronzers nor pink blush, but Happy Skin's Get Cheeky With Me Blush in Summer Kiss shade has got the right tint of peach and orange which is right up my alley. It doesn't come with a brush though, but the staying power of this product on my skin is actually pretty impressive. Use your hand or a brush, the color of this blush looks lovingly subtle and natural on the skin. Win!
My favorite from this stash would have to be this duo of Happy Skin's Shut Up & Kiss Me Lip & Cheek Mousse. I couldn't choose a favorite though between Fall In Love and Laugh Always shade. Depending on the look I want to channel, both shades really complement my skin tone well. I go with Fall In Love, a fun and charming color for an effortlessly pretty look; while Laugh Always is my go-to bold shade for a sophisticatedly elegant look. I love that it is a dual-purpose product: both a lippie and a blush. And did I mention that these lippies come in this gorgeous teal and gold box that looks like a book? This booknerd couldn't be more content! :)

Has any one of you guys tried Happy Skin Cosmetics before? How did it fare on your skin? Share with me also your recent beauty product discoveries. Would definitely love to hear them! :)

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