Books for your #armchairtravel adventures
This time last year, our bags were packed and we were ready to go into the wild blue yonder for our the year-end hols. Of course, we can't go abroad this year (boohoo!).
However, that doesn't mean we can't do a little bit of #armchairtravel through the magical portal of books (yay!)
Here then, are our recommendations for books that can transport you to your destination:
Don't Call Me Mrs Rogers. Author Paige Parker is the titular Mrs Rogers, who went on a round-the-world trip with her husband, Jim Rogers, and in the process ended up setting a Guinness World Record. Don't Call Me Mrs Rogers recounts that journey from her point of view, starting out in Iceland, and spending 1,101 days driving across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South and North America, before ending their journey in New York. Yes, it's filled with images of the trip, but this book is more than a travelogue: in it, Paige shares how her relationship with her husband changed and how her worldview was turned upside-down after encountering dangers like armed militias, and embracing strangers, such as oppressed women and young monks, whose circumstances were a world away from her own. And if you plan on doing something similar, Paige has included a packing list and necessary info, including a playlist!
Adventures of 2 Girls. This is another book about a jaunt around the world. It also features another pair of travellers—BFF's Pamela Ho and Ning Cai—who took a page from the movie The Bucket List and decided to explore what our planet had to offer. From Maui to Bali, the friends visited a leper settlement near Molokai, learned to cook at Cordon Bleu, roughed it out on the Himalayas, endured a bus ride from hell across the United States—but still came out smiling at the end of it all. Just about. Those planning future trips to mates can also note the tips on travelling with friends that Ning and Pamela have put together, including a list of what to expect should you visit the same places they did.
The Java Enigma. This is a novel about a librarian, Irin, who receives a combination lock after her estranged father passes away. This clue leads to an ancient map with missing sections and Irin's quest to read the map sends her bouncing around the world, from Malaysia to Paris to the Netherlands. Along the way, The Java Enigma book speculates about the architect of Borobudur, and the lost civilisations that connect Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Some compare it to Dan Brown, but they're off-base—this is actually less clunky than Brown's work. It's also more interesting than a history textbook, and we'd say is a must-read for those love action-adventures that delve into the complex web of trade, cultural and religious heritage and history. The Straits Times called this novel "a diverting beach read, although, really, you can read it anywhere else, too.
How the Man in Green Saved Pahang, and Possibly the World. A little bit closer to home is this novel, about Gabriel and Lydia, two people who get caught up in a supernatural battle that will have terrible consequences should they fail. Gabriel meets the titular man dressed in verdant robes, who tells Gabriel that he has to follow him from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan to prevent an apocalyptic event. Meanwhile, Lydia meets a close friend of her late grandaunt, who fought during the Communist Emergency. But there's more to the old woman than she's letting on. How the Man in Green Saved Pahang explores the shadowy mythology of serpents, Sufi saints and plainclothes gods, as Gabriel and Lydia realise that the theologies, national narratives and histories they once trusted and believed, may not be the whole truth, after all.
Floating on a Malayan Breeze. After Singapore separated from Malaysia back in 1965, the two countries developed along their own paths and have grown differently. But how dissimilar are Singapore and Malaysia, really? Seeking answers to this question, two Singaporeans decided to get on their bicycles and travel around Peninsular Malaysia, armed with nothing but a tent, two pairs of clothes and a daily budget of about S$4 each. They spent 30 days on the road, coursing through every Malaysian state. Floating on a Malayan Breeze is the result of that trip and shows why, even while Singapore and Malaysia have developed economically since 1965, the people of both countries still find themselves struggling to find their identities and their "soul" within their borders.
Malaysia Bagus! We're ending our sojourn with another visit to Malaysia. This time, as seen through the eyes of a Malaysian. Journalist Sharon Cheah decided to visit every state in East and West Malaysia in order to really get to know her homeland. Over a period of five years, she set about her task: she pounded the pavements of Kuala Lumpur as part of a 21km run; she fell off Mount Murud, Sarawak’s tallest mountain (and survived!); she sailed down the Linggi River in Negeri Sembilan in search of crocodiles; experienced a homestay in Kelantan; and visited one of the top three rainforest research centres in the world in Sabah. Malaysia Bagus! compiles her adventures revisiting the history, culture, religion, environment, food, and myth and archaeology, to reveal a Malaysia she hadn't seen before.