By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Media Services
4:37 PM EST, January 17, 2012
When Samantha Brown was growing up, her family took road trips to visit nearby relatives, but that was about it. So when she got the opportunity to work with the Travel Channel, Brown "realized that my input would be as a layman. I wasn't an expert traveler like Rick Steves or Rudy Maxa, but I could show people that if I could navigate my way around Nicaragua, they could too." The New Yorker is now the congenial host of "Samantha Brown's Great Weekends" and is making appearances on the Travel & Adventure Show circuit, offering traveling tips and anecdotes, as well as autographs. Check out adventureexpo.com for remaining dates.
Q: Where do you enjoy visiting?
A: I always love places that have a difficult history, which people find a little odd because my show is very positive, and I have a very positive spin and am what some people refer to as perky.
Q: What is your favorite destination?
A: Right now it's Cambodia. I fell in love with it. Before going there, I had read all the books that prepped tourists and warned you about what you might see in terms of people missing limbs and children begging in the streets. I had been to lots of places in Asia before, like Vietnam and Malaysia, and felt I understood Asia a bit. But Cambodia was so completely different. I loved it. The people are so warm and inviting.
Q: Where did you travel as a child?
A: We're from New Hampshire, so we stuck kind of close to home. We went to Pennsylvania to see relatives and to Cape Cod. Also to Quebec.
Q: How old were you when you got your first passport?
A: I had just graduated from college, so it was my early 20s. I went to Paris.
Q: How adventurous are you eating overseas?
A: Food is not to be feared. I absolutely eat whatever the locals do. But I do have to have an American breakfast of eggs, toast, coffee and bacon. Then for lunch and dinner I'm good to eat anything. One of the reasons I love Asia so much is the food is fantastic, and you want to eat what they eat. There's a fantastic Korean restaurant (in New York) called Moim, but you don't really know how good the food is till you go to the country it originates from.
You can't know how good real Chinese food is if you never leave America. When you come back to the U.S., you really don't want to eat at a "Chinese" restaurant because the food is so different. I know the flights to Asia are expensive, but it's taking you so far away. And it's balanced off by the food, which can be so cheap.
Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been?
A: I read a novel called "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts. I had no desire to go to India before, but now it's the place I'd love to visit.
Q: If you could spend a few months somewhere — other than home — where would it be?
A: Beijing. I wouldn't want to stay anywhere luxurious. I'd want to be someplace where I could be a part of everyday life. I know I get to stay in some amazing hotels because of my work, and they can be great, but they can also create a barrier between you and the culture you're in. Resorts kind of cordon you off.
For more from the reporter, visit jaehakim.com.
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