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 was so busy, back in March, that I forgot to spread the news about a long feature article of mine that was published that month: “Ghosts of Hong Kong”, in National Geographic Traveler. Consider the news spread. It’s about a place very near and dear to my heart. As many of you know, Hong Kong’s been my adopted home these last 7 or so years, and I have been chronicling it (lately, alas, sporadically) in my other blog, Learning Cantonese. Looking at the article today, I remembered it was cut and rearranged in the editing process. Like all high-strung creative ego...

It's official: New York City is the most walkable city in the U.S. But what's even more exciting, for me, is that my Brooklyn neighborhood, Park Slope, ranks even higher in walk-ability than the city as a whole, chalking up a score of 97 out of 100 on the walk-o-meter. As a hard-core walker who's never owned a car in her life, it figures I'd end up in one of the most foot-friendly corners of the walking-est city in the nation. "Until I learn a place with my feet, I never really feel like I know it." That's what I wrote in a Real Travel column of mine...

As readers of my Real Travel column in National Geographic Traveler already know, I'm not much of a fan of cold weather travel spots. Since I started traveling around the world, I've always been drawn to the hot and steamy places. So as the temperatures here on the East Coast pushed past the 100 F mark (I'm currently in Brooklyn, NY for a couple of months), I didn't break a sweat. Because the time I've spent exploring the world's hot spots have taught me a thing or two about how other cultures deal with hot and humid climates. Along with my...

I'm packing again. It feels like I always am. I suppose I should be grateful for a life that lets me run footloose, but I never fail to get stressed out when confronted with an empty suitcase (or two) and a pile (or three) of folded clothing. I suppose this is another form of the leaving anxiety that I write about in my column in this month's issue of National Geographic Traveler. The happy thing, though, is that this whole process made me remember an old Real Travel column I wrote about bags. It's from 2005, so it's not recent enough...