Kate Whitehead

Award-winning Hong Kong-based journalist

A cure for coronavirus cabin fever

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For people around the world who have shelved their travel plans and are spending more time indoors, virtual travel is the perfect way to explore the world from the comfort and safety of home.

You can use this time to research your next big adventure or simply indulge in some escapist armchair travel. Technology can transport you there – whether it’s to the edge of a crevasse, or the inside of a museum – and not only will it not cost you a cent, it’s carbon neutral.Anyone feeling the pinch of cabin fever can break that sense of claustrophobia than with a trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. You could take the archaeological tour as a chance to revel in all those sweeping, wide open landscapes, or dig a little deeper and learn something about the formation of this impressive canyon in Arizona.If you have got a head for heights, venture out onto the glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska and take the challenge to climb down into a crevasse. The imagery is fantastic, and you get the chance to also kayak between icebergs.

This is one of five national parks that Good Arts & Culture has teamed up with to bring the raw beauty of the natural world to your living room. My personal favourite is the virtual tour that explores Nahuku Lava Tube in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park – I’ve never been in a lava tube before, nor traced the tunnel to the sea and seen what happens when the lava runs out of land (hint: it starts becoming land).Even if you have already visited New York’s Central Park, the online tour is still worth exploring as the narration gives you a potted history of the key landmarks. And if you are planning a New York trip when the world returns to normal, then you will know your way around. Likewise, the stroll through Hyde Park on a blue-sky autumn day is sure to lift your spirits.

The Rocky Mountain National Park is closed to visitors, but you can get a sense of what it’s like to be there with the Soundscape Library. Listening to the sounds at dawn at Moraine Park – elk mews, coyotes barking, the gurgle of a river – will magically transport you to this large open meadow at an elevation of 8,160 feet in northern Colorado. The sound of the wind rushing across canyon walls helped me breath more easily after a day spent working from home.

If it’s late and you do not want to stare at a screen and have the blue light keep you awake, consider a travel podcast. “Experiences you should have” features a wide range of adventures from diving with manta rays at night to abseiling in a glow worm cave in New Zealand.

The 35- to 40-minute episodes will introduce you to trips that might already be on your bucket list, ones that you’d never go near (swimming with sharks?) and things you might not even have heard of (Sailing Stones in Death Valley, California, a strange phenomenon where boulders appear to be moving on their own across the dry, cracked mud).

There are also live webcams that will keep animal lovers enthralled.The San Diego Zoo may be temporarily closed because of the virus, but the animals are still there, and you can watch them 24-7.

I spent a very chilled 10 minutes watching the rise and fall of a koala’s chest as it slept in a tree – who knew that watching a koala in the land of nod could be so restful? You can also check out the baboons in real time, as well as the tigers and giraffes, and a baby ape.

For fans of culture, the absolute cannot miss hang-out spot during the virus is Google Arts & Culture, a digital platform which has teamed up with more than 2,000 cultural institutions around the world to bring you smack bang into the world’s most phenomenal art spaces such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Russia.

The virtual tours use the Google street view function that we’re all now familiar with and allow you to wander around the museums.

Wander through the galleries at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, stroll around the sunny courtyard at the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico or walk up the stairs at London’s British Museum to explore the upper floors.

The Covid-19 coronavirus may have spoiled our immediate holiday plans, but it will not kill the travel bug. If you use your time wisely now to explore destinations and find out about possible adventures you might try, then when the world returns to normal, you will be ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Original Link: SCMP

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About author

Kate Whitehead

Kate Whitehead is a Hongkonger and has made the city her home since she was eight. She got her first degree (BA English Lit) from Warwick University and her postgrad (MA English Lit) from Sussex University. She was on staff at the Hong Kong Standard and South China Morning Post and was the editor of Cathay Pacific’s inflight magazine, Discovery.

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