In 2005, Brook Silva-Braga quit his job at HBO in New York City to go backpacking around the world. Only Brook wasn't your typical backpacker. He had a background in video production, and planned to create a documentary about long term travel based on his year-long experience.
I had a sneaking suspicion that watching A Map for Saturday after my own 'round the world trip would be pointless, and sure enough there were few surprises. On the other hand, Brook did a great job of capturing often-overlooked downsides to long term travel, such as burnout and the concept of five-hour (or disposable) friends.
I recognized scenes and cities from many of the countries he visited, including Australia, Thailand, Nepal, India, and a variety of western European countries. I even stayed in the same Original Backpackers hostel in Sydney (2008) that's shown early on in the film. In that regard, it was like taking a stroll down memory lane.
Brook's adventures did happen to coincide with several noteworthy news stories, which made the documentary more interesting. He arrived on beautiful Koh Phi Phi in Thailand a few months after the tsunami, thus capturing the scenes of backpackers helping to clear debris. And he was in Nepal at a time when there was greater concern about travelers' safety due to the Maoist resistance.
Buy this DVD if you want:
- A well-edited, honest, inside look at the modern backpacker lifestyle.
- A way to kill time keep yourself inspired until you can take your own trip.
- To reflect on travel experiences you've taken in the past.
A Map for Saturday costs $19.95, and is available for purchase online through Brook's site by the same name.