SINGAPORE – Restless globetrotters who have nowhere to go for more than a year now can still holiday from home stylishly during the pandemic.
This restlessness was captured in a Klook survey last December. Nearly 70 per cent of more than 15,000 respondents across the Asia Pacific said they were tired of staying in to watch another drama instead of travelling.
The same proportion of people reminisced about overseas trips by looking at photographs of their previous journeys.
Given the continuing battle against Covid-19, it seems wise to combat wanderlust from home, for now.
From creating a weekend of virtual tours to whipping up international meals, here are five holiday-from-home ideas to transport travel enthusiasts to popular destinations such as Japan, the Netherlands and France.
1. Experience a virtual Japan-style weekend
Equipped with an Internet connection and a vivid imagination, one can truly go anywhere in the world.
With virtual travel, a two-week itinerary of Japan’s tourist hot spots can now be done in a weekend – sans passport.
For starters, watch a three-minute video of a 360-degree virtual tour of the country on the Japan National Tourism Organisation’s YouTube channel.
Once that whets your appetite for adventure, head to the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo or skip to the next prefecture’s Kyoto National Museum to admire its treasures online.
Themed virtual tours such as a visit to a tea farm in Kagoshima (about $24 an hour) and to Tokyo Station to explore the capital’s sprawling business district and the high-speed Shinkansen railway (about $12 an hour) are available here.
Or virtually explore a variety of sites like the Tokyo Tower, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and Zojoji Temple on Google Earth.
An e-trek up Mount Fuji is also possible with Google Maps’ Street View.
End your “holiday” with a bowl of ramen and green tea, and have your meal while virtually perched over the mad scramble of the world’s busiest traffic intersection – the Shibuya crossing – live on YouTube.
2. Prepare a New Yorker’s brunch in your kitchen
Send yourself to The Big Apple with a classic New Yorker’s brunch of eggs benedict and a mimosa, straight from your kitchen.
The combination of toasted English muffins, runny poached eggs and slices of bacon slathered in Hollandaise sauce promises to be delicious and quick to make – about 40 minutes is all you need. Easy recipes can be found online at simplerecipes.com or allrecipes.com.
A mimosa – a cocktail of champagne and orange juice – can be stirred up in even less time. Try making a bellini out of prosecco and pureed peaches for a sweeter concoction.
Some of the best brunch spots in New York, such as Sarabeth’s and Cookshop, come with a view of the city and an opportunity to linger all afternoon. So arrange your brunch set-up facing the city, if your window offers one, and make like it’s Manhattan.
Brunch recipes from around the world are limitless and provide easy escapes during mealtimes.
For a “trip” to India, try a spice-infused meal of idli – soft, steamed cakes accompanied with chutneys and sambals. Also, savour a cup of chai tea.
Those missing the Oriental flavours of Hong Kong can put together a dim sum feast of dumplings and fritters, with a cup of pu’er black tea as a post-brunch palate-cleanser.
3. Spruce up the home with Holland’s seasonal blooms
In the Netherlands, an annual tulip festival is held in spring from March to May when Dutch tulips in shades of purple, red, yellow and more bloom in sprawling fields of green.
Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in the world located in the municipality of Lisse, houses approximately seven million flower bulbs and offers gorgeous views of the flower fields.
In Singapore, Holland’s seasonal blooms are available in local nurseries.
Varieties of orchids, astrantia, tulips and peonies native to Holland can be bought fresh from wholesalers like G Flower Wholesale or Far East Flora. Arrange the flowers artfully for a slice of Europe at home.
To keep the flowers and the spirit of travel alive a little longer, place your fresh blooms in a cool location and change the water completely every few days.
4. Have a wine and cheese night for a taste of France
Whisk yourself away to France with a selection of cheeses, a warm baguette and a bottle of wine.
Cheese platters require little set-up time and even the most aesthetic of displays consist of a few standard elements such as fruit, nuts and some honey.
French cheeses such as brie, mimolette and Roquefort can be picked up from local grocers like The Cheese Shop and La Petite Boutique while a French merlot or chardonnay can be bought at the supermarket.
The French cheese-eating etiquette involves having cheeses with bread rather than crackers. So, for a fresh loaf, visit a French bakery like Maison Kayser or a home-based outfit like @marymount_bakehousesg on Instagram.
With all the components assembled at the table and Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose playing in the background, the wine-and-cheese experience can be a romantic escapade to France for a night.
5. Visit African safaris via 24-hour live streams
Cameras set up in various game reserves and wildlife parks across Africa capture animals in their natural habitats and offer viewers a closer look at them without compromising safety – all in real time.
On explore.org, multiple free live streams are available and the cameras are left switched on around the clock, promising new views of the safari from dawn to dusk daily.
Try spotting wildlife like the lion, gorilla, elephant, rhino, leopard and Cape buffalo.
The website has informative tidbits on each location and animals that can be found there, and encourages viewers to share special moments caught on their screens with other viewers, by typing in the comments panel.
Some contributors post screenshots of their animal sightings, such as hippos sunbathing and impalas grazing, while others post screen-recordings of strange animal behaviour for discussion.
The experience is especially immersive when using earpieces as the sounds of nature – crickets chirping, birds squawking and the occasional splash from an animal in a watering hole – bring the safari atmosphere to life.