With lockdowns easing up and domestic travel considered as the first step in the new normal, international travel to far-away countries may still be a dream for now. With the crisis having us grounded for the time being, the safest thing we can do is pick up a book and use our imagination to fly us to the places we miss the most, plus some classic reads that bring to life the island paradise in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the cool slopes of Japan.

Stories of the Sahara by Sanmao

Travel makes us discover and explore certain sides of ourselves that we never knew existed. Often times, we end up unravelling our own identity when we visit a foreign land. This is what makes travel all the more exciting and unpredictable.

Novelist Sanmao illustrates this exact theme. This travelogue carries us away into wonderful and unforgettable experiences of what a wandering traveller comes across when adventures and misadventures of unconstrained wanderlust happen.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die: The World as You’ve Never Seen It Before by Patricia Schultz

Delve into the world’s must-visit destinations and be inspired, as this book takes you on an ocular tour around the globe.

With 1,100 brand new photographs and 544 pages of buoyant text highlighting, let this book serve as a guide as its useful travel tips will come in handy for that much-awaited trip.

Hidden Places by Sarah Baxter

Leaf through these curated artful pages and get a glimpse of places and locations you never knew about and never knew you needed to be. Let this book be a guide on planning your next adventure of a lifetime, where only a lucky and selected few are conscious of.

Wanderland by Jini Reddy

Britain is depicted as enchanting and natural in this read, wherein all things are possible. Roam around, explore and discover. Take chances and go where your heart (and feet) takes you. The joy of finding yourself in this world is what truly matters.

Here are some classic destination reads:

A House in Bali by Colin McPhee

The memoir of composer McPhee, who stumbled across a gramophone recording of some gamelan music in 1930 and felt compelled to visit the exotic island it hailed from. As McPhee is building his house in a sleepy mountainous village called Ubud (ahem), he paints a picture of the complex rituals, social rules, and musical traditions of Balinese life, and the challenges when western expectations and Balinese culture collide – something the island is still grappling with today.

The Beach by Alex Garland

Yes, you’ve probably seen the film, and yes, the mysterious Thailand in the pages of Garland’s 1996 novel is a world away from the booming country it is today. But don’t let that deter you – this novel has evolved into a cult classic, portraying the backpacker oneupmanship that still rings true today. On arriving in Bangkok, flawed hero Richard is given a map to an island paradise. He finds there a community of other Generation X travellers living in self-sufficient harmony. Or not. Trainspotting meets Lord of the Flies, the novel deals with sinister themes of murder, obsession, and tribalism.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

Moving between Sri Lanka and Los Angeles, this novel follows three children – sisters Yasodhara and Lanka, and their friend Shiva. Their division in the house of their childhood (Shiva lives upstairs while the girls live downstairs) is a metaphor for Sri Lanka’s raging civil war. The story deals with the tragic realities of the war, along with the characters’ sense of displacement and foreign-ness when they move to America. A beautiful, moving novel for visitors who want to better understand Sri Lanka’s tragic history.

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to A Long and Happy Life by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia

Ikigai, is a magnificent Japanese concept which ultimately means ‘a reason for being’. Having a purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes uninhibited and voluntary actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life. Be inspired and comforted, as this book takes you in a journey of finding your purpose, embracing your passion and cherishing relationships.

Open the pages of these travel reads and step into diverse stories and tales. Have your heartstrings gently pulled as you transport yourself to the far-flung places that you miss. Travel may be a dream for now, but as they say – this too shall pass. If you’re curious on how travel would be like post-COVID-19, you can read our predictions here.