Go Away With ... Tahereh Mafi
Best-selling author Tahereh Mafi says that one of her favorite trips was to the Philippines, where she went scuba-diving and swam with clownfish. (Ransom Riggs / February 11, 2014)
Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. Brazil. It wasn't that the country reminded me of home, exactly. It's just that it felt so much like home. I was able to travel all around Brazil, and found it to be a land made up of some of the warmest, kindest people I'd ever met. I didn't want to leave.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. Palawan, an island off the coast of the Philippines. It's quiet, remote and fairly unknown, so it's like having a private beach all to yourself. I went scuba-diving for the first time in Palawan, kayaked down the Philippine Sea, snorkeled with clownfish and saw bioluminescent fish light up the water at night. It was really magical. And Idyllwild in the mountains of California. It's a sleepy, lovely little town. We rented a house for a couple of days and spent our evenings drinking cocoa and building fires. The sky is so unfiltered and open; the starry nights are really lovely.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. One of the first trips I ever went on was to the Mall of America in Minnesota! A little anticlimactic, but I remember loving it. There was a rollercoaster inside the mall!
Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A. Always be flexible. You never know what's going to happen, so you have to be ready for anything.
Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. It's a tie for me. We spent our honeymoon in (the Greek island of) Santorini and Cappadocia (in the countryside of Turkey). Both destinations were just astoundingly romantic, remote and breathtakingly beautiful.
Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. Over the years, I've found that the ideal places to rest are not just beautiful, but best equipped to help you through the hardest parts of travel: lost luggage, misplaced passports, a great place for dinner, a personal pick-up and drop-off from the airport. A kind, knowledgeable hotel staff is especially helpful when you're traveling abroad and struggling to speak the language. Or when you're sick in bed and need a hot bowl of soup and extra blankets.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Cappadocia, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam and Barcelona.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. A great travel companion, a camera and a good book.
Q. What would be your dream/fantasy trip?
A. I'd love to go into space.
Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. The ones we discover after a long day of getting lost in a new city. Those meals always taste the best, somehow.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A. Internet access! I try to cut myself off, but I can't help it. I'm always checking my email whenever I get a chance.
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. Most of the time my husband (author/filmmaker Ransom Riggs) is the one doing the research. We'll head to the bookstore and buy a couple of travel books specific to our destination, and then he'll read them all and share the best bits with me. Then we'll reread the books together on the plane ride over.
Q. What is your worst vacation memory?
A. I was traveling around Germany one weekend and decided to check out Salzburg (Austria) while I was there. But I was late getting back, so I missed my flight home out of Munich. There were no flights out that same day, so I had to spend the night in the airport and ended up dozing near some garbage bins. Not one of my favorite nights, but definitely memorable.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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