Thanks to cinematic finesse, an escapade around the world could be as closeas a screen in your living room
Miss the good old days of trekking around the globe? Agoda has the perfect solution to keep your wanderlust alive — all from safety of your own home!
Even in lockdown, travel is still clearly on the minds of many. According to a recent survey by Agoda on post-pandemic travel, 34% of Malaysians are eager to embark on vacations once it is safe to do so. Out of this group, 18% can’t wait to take a holiday abroad and 16% are looking forward to a trip or staycation locally after the pandemic ends.
While travel plans are beyond reach for now, you can still keep the travel spirit alive through the magic of cinema. In these times of self-isolation, movies can provide a much-needed dose of escapism to satiate your wanderlust and immerse yourself in faraway lands.
Here, Agoda lists five films and TV-series that take you on a variety of adventures regardless of age. From heart-warming family journeys to romantic escapades with a significant other, and thrilling road trips with friends to the travels of older adults, these cinematic experiences will help you scratch that travel itch without leaving the comfort of your couch.
A Fairy-Tale Escapade for Lovebirds
Crash Landing on You (2019 — 2020)
Looking for romance and adventure amidst gorgeous settings? This hit Korean series has you covered. Crash Landing on You is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story with a particularly Korean twist. After a paragliding mishap, wealthy heiress Yoon Se-ri finds herself in the North Korean Demilitarised Zone. She is discovered by Ri Jeong-hyuk, a North Korean army officer, who decides to help her hide and safely return to South Korea. Despite the political tension between their countries, the two get to know each other and fall in love.
Aside from an addictive plot and a strong cast, a big part of this K-drama’s appeal lies in its knack for picking stunning locations to amp up its romance factor. In fact, the story’s iconic opening scene featuring Yoon Se-ri’s “crash landing” was filmed in the stunning forests of the Hallasan National Park in Jeju Island. Another classic scene takes place over the Hatan River Sky Bridge, a long suspended bridge located in Pocheon, South Korea that overlooks a dramatic landscape of mountains and greenery.
The series doesn’t just settle for the sights and sounds of Korea, as it offers a tantalising glimpse of Switzerland’s travel spots as well. These include the cosmopolitan city of Zurich with its pre-medieval lanes and historical buildings, the majestic Swiss alps, and the charmingly picturesque Lake Lungern.
Discovery of Familial Ties
The Journey (2014)
While we may dream of being whisked away to exotic far-flung places, The Journey reminds us that we have plenty of travel gems right at our doorsteps.
The movie revolves around Uncle Chuan, who is awaiting his daughter Bee’s return home to Malaysia after years of living abroad. Much to his chagrin however, Bee turns up with a British fiance named Benji. Uncle Chuan reluctantly agrees to the marriage, with the condition that the ceremony is done according to Chinese customs — and tradition requires that his future son-in-law deliver the wedding invitations with him. As Uncle Chuan is insistent on inviting his old school mates scattered across the country, he and Benji go a nationwide road-trip together while navigating language and cultural barriers along the way.
The Journey is a whirlwind tour of some of Malaysia’s most scenic spots, including Uncle Chuan’s home high up in the greenery of Cameron Highlands. Other standout spots are the oceanic wonderland of Aur Island off the coast of Johor, famed for colourful corals and blue lagoons; the waterfront settlement of Chew Jetty in Penang, a lively neighbourhood of wooden stilt houses; and the idyllic and snapshot-worthy paddy fields of Baling, Kedah.
For many of us who have been physically distancing from loved ones, the movie is also a poignant reminder of the Malaysian spirit of family and community. Uncle Chuan and Benji’s journey captures the ups-and-downs of family trips; despite all the arguments and disagreements, the shared experience of travel creates opportunities for strengthening familial bonds.
Adventurous Exploits for the Solo Traveller
While solo travel may sound daunting to some, the young protagonist of Queen learns that travelling alone can kickstart a journey of self-discovery and empowerment.
Rani Mehra, a sheltered and timid 24-year-old from Delhi, gets dumped by her fiancé just days before the wedding. Shaken by the news, Rani decides to go on her planned honeymoon trip to Europe alone. She is at first overwhelmed by being in a faraway land, but soon embarks on adventures with new-found companions in the cities of Paris and Amsterdam.
From the quaint elegance of Parisian streets, to the hip and thrilling nightlife in Amsterdam, Queen gives audiences the vicarious experience of soaking in a foreign city’s vibe while charmingly showing Rani’s blooming confidence. The movie perfectly captures the unexpected joys of travelling solo — from making lifelong friends out of strangers to carving out a sense of independence.
The Travelling Seniors
Sweeping up three Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards, Nomadland is not your average travel flick. The film follows 61-year-old Fern and her life as a modern-day nomad, as she travels across western America in search of work.
Inspired by a non-fiction book of the same name, Nomadland depicts the world of older Americans who found themselves living as transients following the 2008 recession, moving from place to place to pick up whatever seasonal jobs they can find.
As we travel with Fern, whose only real home is her live-in camper van, we get to experience the variety of natural landscapes in five American states. Some of the standout locations include the rugged rock formations of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, which feature an awe-inspiring collection of deep canyons and dramatic spires. You might also identify with Fern’s love of redwood trees, said to be one of the tallest living things in the world, as she treks through the lush coastal redwood forests of California. If you’re yearning for the freedom of open spaces, Nomadland presents a haunting portrait of the real wild west.
Voyages for Young Adults
Emily In Paris (2020)
At the start of your career, and dreaming of jobs that can take you across the world or give you the chance to immerse yourself in a foreign country? Indulge in your globe-trotting fantasies with the comedy series Emily In Paris. The titular character Emily, a 20-something marketing executive from Chicago, lands a coveted work transfer to Paris and has to adjust to life in a new city. She’s unable to speak a word of French, feels unprepared for her new work responsibilities, and clueless about the local culture; but Emily tries her best to adapt to the change.
Emily In Paris offers a dreamy look of Paris and gives you a handy tour of many the city’s iconic tourist spots. These include the grand Palais Garnier, a grand 19th century opera house; the opulent Pont Alexandre III that spans the Siene river; and the Rue de l’Abreuvoir which has the honour being “the prettiest street in Paris” for its trailing vines and one-of-a-kind architecture. The show also spotlights the city’s more contemporary sights; in one episode, Emily visits a stunning Van Gogh exhibition at the L’Atelier des Lumières, a digital art museum that turns classical art pieces into immersive multimedia experiences.
The heart of the series however is the way Emily finds her footing in a new environment —something that would be familiar (and inspiring) to any young person trying to find their way in the world.
Whatever type of travel escapade you’re yearning for, be it family-friendly vacation, a soul-searching solo journey, or an inspirational senior citizen adventure, cinema is something you can turn to relive your best travel memories and spark inspiration for new ones.