Several years ago I went to Greenland on a travel writing assignment. Getting there was a trip in itself. First I flew from New York to Ottawa, then from Ottawa to Iqaluit, Canada on commercial airliners. In Iqaluit, I hopped an eight-seater charter jet for the journey over the Greenland Sea.   It was an exciting flight. Halfway there, at 25,000 feet or so, one of the baggage compartments popped open, releasing the Canadian pilot’s gear into the cold, cloudless skies. I couldn’t see what was happening from my side, but I heard him groan, “Oh shit!” and I thought we were...

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...

In my latest Real Travel column for National Geographic Traveler I talk about how I always like to sample the local brew (or grape) when I travel--it's one of the fastest ways I know to dive into another culture. Usually, I'm doing my tasting in the same place where the drink is made--wine tasting in Mendoza, warm cans of beer at a football match in London, tequila in Mexico, etc. But lately, in Hong Kong, I've been using spirits to explore far away places. Hong Kong doesn't really have an alcoholic drink to call its own. (In this hyper-intense business and finance...

I've been writing essays lately for Silverkris, the magazine of Singapore Airlines. They don't have an online site, so the only way to read my magazine articles is to take a flight on Singapore (highly recommended!). But that's not always possible, so I'm going to share them with you here, after they've flown around the world in the seat pocket for a few months. This one is my meditation on comfort food in three of my favorite cities: New York, Hong Kong and Bangkok: I thought I knew everything about som tum--the yummy shredded papaya salad that's one of the...