The deep, dark secret of Hong Kong's world famous eating culture is this: Nobody likes Chinese banquet food. That's the topic I tackle in this month's National Geographic Traveler magazine--my article is part of their terrific new all-food issue.   “Banquet food is always too salty, too rich and too greasy. And the dishes are always more or less the same.” This is not a person speaking, it is actually the translation of a Cantonese dialogue I had to memorize from an early lesson (“At The Banquet”)  in my language classes. Little did I know how useful the phrases in this chapter would...

Welcome to all Frugal Traveler fans who've landed on this page from the link in Seth Kugel's well-written and thoughtful article about women and travel. As some of you already know, I was the NYT Frugal Traveler from 1998 to 2004--an amazing, intense, and wonderful time to be frugal traveling (way back then, 1 USD =85 Euro cents. Eat your heart out, Seth!) If you're one of my readers from those days, and finding this blog for the first time, a special warm hello to you. Hope you enjoy poking through the other entries on this blog. BTW, if you're not...

    Part 2 of my series on traveling in post-disaster Japan was the most difficult to write. I went to a hot springs resort in Fukushima, called Noji Onsen, and unexpectedly ran into some of the most unlucky survivors: the fishermen of Namie-machi. Namie-machi (machi means village in Japanese) is four miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. The village got hit by the earthquake, and then by the tsunami. It rolled in so fast and high that it took boats, houses, and people away. Here’s a part of an interview with one of the fishermen that I couldn’t fit into my Slate.com...

  The first installment of the three articles I wrote about traveling in earthquake-devastated Japan, for Slate.com came out today.   A little behind the scenes story. I was in the middle of writing part 2, the part about the radiation-exposed fisherman in Fukushima, when suddenly my house in Brooklyn started shaking. At first I thought somebody was doing construction somewhere in the neighborhood. But the shaking got harder, and finally I ran out into the street. There, I found my California-born neighbor, Chad. "Earthquake," he said nonchalantly. (I figured he had to be an expert). So while I was writing about one earthquake, I...

  I spent most of my first three weeks in Kerala covered from head to toe in warm, sticky, earthy-smelling oil. Every day three female technicians dressed in cotton saris and aprons at the Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort would drizzle it slowly over me while I lay on a hand-carved treatment bench. Soemtimes they would apply the thick orange-brown unguent over my entire body, while I struggled to remain still on the table, which was not flat, but slightly bowed, hard and slippery. Other times, working in a graceful tandem, the two women would take turns heating batches of oil, and...

  I split my year between Hong Kong and New York, and just got back to my Brooklyn apartment a couple of weeks ago. Of course I'm feeling discombobulated--brutal jet lag and all--but I think that's a good thing. One of the advantages of never completely settling into a place is that you never get a chance to stop seeing it with fresh eyes. That's the great gift that traveling gives all of us. Even (especially) when we're in the most familiar surroundings, we can still feel the thrill of discovery. At home, we're tourists. (Apologies to new wave rockers, the Gang...