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Celebrity Travel: Go Away With Roger Mooking

By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency on

A. Like with any new adventure, I always like to walk around as much as possible and try to talk to some local who appears to be in the know. I find striking up a conversation in a coffee shop, at a checkout counter while shopping or just speaking to the people next to you at a restaurant can end up being the best concierge known to humanity. In Tokyo, we struck up a conversation with the people sitting next to us at the bar counter after a great meal and before you know it we found some new friends who kept DM'ing us reams of local hotspots and good vibes. Talk to people and you never know what you will unearth.

Q. Where have you eaten a meal so amazing that you'd go there again if you had the time?

A. In Phnom Penh, we went out for an incredible spread of local Cambodian food. The spread filled the table with about two dozen different dishes all plattered up for a family meal. I love vegetables and the majority of the dishes were stewed, steamed and braised vegetables of all kinds, scattered with a healthy balance of warmly spiced meat dishes. Every Cambodian meal is served with rice and a meat broth, so with every bite you can cleanse your palate and wash down the last bite with a clear super flavorful broth. That meal in Cambodia is one of the best meals I've had in my life.

Q. Where is the most romantic destination?

A. OK, my wife had a childhood dream to visit Paris, and we made that a reality a few years back. I went into that trip solely to make my wife's dream come true and went in with a bit of a chip on my shoulder about it. But there is something truly magnificent about Paris, the smooth cadence of the local French, the flippant yet helpful manner toward tourists and the overall ambiance and architecture. I left Paris with my chip sufficiently and rightly knocked off and in love with the city. Paris is truly special.

Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?


A. When I was in my teens, my grandmother and I went back to Trinidad for a couple of weeks. I have very fond memories of my grandmother and especially of this trip, seeing her back in her element and hanging out with friends that I only previously heard stories about. I also took a short weekend trip with my cousin and his wife to Caracas, Venezuela, during this trip and that is when I discovered my love of arepas.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. Kuala Lumpur is a magical place. It's tropical and humid with the benefits of all the bustling commercial hub and cosmopolitan amenities. It also has a very raw gritty feel that reminds me of New York City a few decades ago, before all the big box stores took over Manhattan. There is also a very unique blend of Indian, Chinese, Thai and local Malay cultures and cuisines in a way that I have never seen in any other part of the world.


(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)




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