Based in California, Charong Chow is an internationally exhibited artist and author. She caught the traveling bug young and circumnavigated the globe by the time she was 20 years old. Her debut novel Random, was inspired by her best friend’s death. Also a food lover, she writes a recipe and lifestyle blog, Eating With Hudson.
So you’ve traveled quite a bit, can you give us a brief overview of your travels?
I have traveled to Asia, Europe, North America, Central America and Australia. I was lucky enough to start my world traveling while I was at university, and I studied in Sydney, Australia. I circumnavigated the globe in one direction by the time I was 20 years old.
And what is your absolute favorite destination?
I always love going back to London because we have lots of good friends who live there, many of whom are American transplants. However, I do not have one favorite destination. I like discovering new places.
Have you visited any places that were unexpectedly nice?
I was surprised by the diversity of Australia. You feel like you are in a faraway place with its unusual plants, animals and landscapes.
What’s your favorite activity when traveling, how do you pass the time?
I enjoy wandering around like a local. Going off the beaten path is my motto when traveling to a new destination.
Do you speak any other languages?
I speak Chinese fluently, and I speak passable French and Spanish.
Interacting with locals can be a rewarding part of travel, any friendly local stories?
I always learn a few phrases, so I can interact with locals. They can help you find the best sights and restaurants.
On one trip to Copper Pedy, Australia, which is a famous opal-mining town, we met a local who showed us his underground home. Many residents live underground because of the intense summer heat. We thought the homes would be dark and strange, but his house, which was blasted from dynamite, was an amazing cave-like dwelling with quartz veins on the curved walls. The well-lit rooms were created from skylights and dug out pathways. He even had a sustainable vegetable garden with reclaimed rainwater.
What’s the one place you’re dying to go back to?
China is undergoing massive changes. I want to go back to Shanghai to see how it has changed, especially the Western influence on the city.
Any trips planned, dream destinations, etc?
I have young children, and we are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, which is the quintessential American family trip. We also want to visit Hawaii as a family.
My dream destination is an African safari or Antarctica cruise to see penguins.
Last question, what’s the most over hyped destination you’ve been to?
Costa Rica was a disappointment. All the sights, such as the rainforest, seemed to cater too much to tourists. I felt like I couldn’t find the real Costa Rica.