Let’s face it: not all of us have the luxury of travelling all year round. Real life and more pressing matters beckon us daily but that shouldn’t stop us from planning our next escapade! We’ve got the stuff to (temporarily) transport you to the right destination.

MOVIES

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1. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)

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Walter Mitty is a chronic daydreamer who’s stuck in the monotony of his job at Life magazine. All is about to change when he is given the task to find the pièce de résistance for the magazine’s final print issue.

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With a little help from his encounters, Walter breaks out of his shell and revels in an adventure he has long imagined.

Fun fact: the scenes where he was supposedly in Afghanistan, Greenland and the Himalayas were all shot in Iceland! Visually stunning, this movie has been the inspiration for many to plan their itineraries. Would you be next?

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Grundarfjörður, one of the locations the movie was shot at

Credit: Monthly Brands

2. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

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Warning: this is not your typical road trip movie. Riddles have always been a favourite pastime of 9-year-old Oskar Schell and his father, Thomas. The missions require him to interact with people – not an easy task for Oskar, who has Asperger syndrome.

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After his father’s death in the 9/11 tragedy, Oskar was determined to finish his father’s last riddle. He goes for a scavenger hunt all over New York City, and experiences the diversity and kindness of strangers. Keen to roam the city’s five boroughs yourself? Find the locations here.

Central Park at night

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3. Into The Wild (2007)

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A fresh college graduate, Christopher McCandless estranges himself from the material world to experience life in his own terms. He goes on a road trip that went awry, and is forced to hitch hike throughout the United States. He sets up camp in the Alaskan wilderness, where he learns the harsh realities of nature and total solitude. Based on true events, this is a story of survival that’s hard to forget.

The magic bus in Alaska – home for Chris McCandless

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4. The Way (2010)

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If you’re looking for a travelogue that has a mix of family ties, this is for you. Tom is an American doctor who travels to France after receiving the news of his son’s death. In the pursuit to complete his son’s pilgrimage through the Camino de Santiago, he journeys with others who are searching for a greater meaning to life.

The Camino crosses many charming villages

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The scenic route is about 800 kilometres, and passes through the French Pyrenees and parts of Spain. Quaint villages, open country, and coastal views await! Most pilgrims carry a passport or credencial, where stamps are collected at designated stops throughout the Camino.

The iconic scallop shell symbol of the Camino

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5. Doctor Strange (2016)

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After a horrible car accident stripped Dr. Stephen Strange of the use of his hands, the neurosurgeon finds himself in Kathmandu. Determined for a cure, he gets drawn into the practice of mystic and the battle against dark forces.

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This film features a few sites in Kathmandu that was previously affected by the 2015 earthquake such as the Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO heritage site as well as the Pashupatinath Temple.

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Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur

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Not to forget, the villain Kaecilius also gets his share of impressive visual effects. This scene was shot at the Exeter College chapel, which is part of the University of Oxford in England.


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BOOKS

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1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

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A murder at the Louvre, and discovery of a secret society – the correct ingredients for a thriller. Follow Professor Robert Langdon as he races through prominent sites in Europe to solve cleverly hidden clues in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. This has been a subject of intellectual debate but if you like cracking codes and history, pick this up.

The iconic glass pyramid of the world’s most famous museum, the Louvre

The craze is real: you can even find companies organizing day tours in Paris based on the book!

2. The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

23-architects-apprenticeThis is a historical fiction set in 16th century Istanbul. Young Jahan arrives in Istanbul as an animal tamer and befriends the sultan’s daughter. When Jahan meets the great Ottoman architect, Mimar Sinan, he is taken as one of his four apprentices. As they labour to construct the magnificent monuments, several conflicts arise. 

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The Süleymaniye mosque by Mimar Sinan

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With so many colourful characters and interesting storyline, you’ll need no more convincing to visit the glorious city!

3. Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

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A freelance writer, Monisha decides to return to India after years of building a life in England with her family.  She travels all over India in 80 different trains, lifting the veil to a country that had once been home to her. Planning an Indian journey by rail? Add this light-hearted read to your bookshelf!

One of the luxury trains in India, The Maharaja Express

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4. Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche by Haruki Murakami

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Interested in discovering Japan beyond its tourist attractions? Murakami is best known for his fictional works, but manages to deliver a gripping read in Underground. Based on personal interviews with victims and members of the cult responsible for the 1995 Tokyo sarin gas attack, this book offers some perspective on alienation and societal norms.

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The bustle of nighttime Tokyo

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5. Ripples and other stories by Shih-Li Kow

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A collection of short stories from the Malaysian community, this is an enjoyable read for those wanting an insight to the local culture. The details are vivid, the characters memorable, and the tales delightfully jump across genres.  An easy favourite, this book also made the list in A Year Of Reading The World!

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Be sure to read ‘A Gift of Flowers’!

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Sometimes, you need something more than just guidebooks for a little encouragement. Kick back and relax with these options and let your imagination run wild!

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