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Celebrity Travel: Go away with Keiko Elizabeth

Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency on

A: At the end of my MFA program, five of my classmates and I went to Russia. When we were in St. Petersburg, one of my classmates had her wallet pickpocketed as we were getting onto the bus. We got out at the next stop, determined to find the guys who had taken her wallet. We finally found the three of them. They were total Russian gangsters. We were terrified as we approached them, but they recognized us right away. Without a word from us, they opened their bag, which was filled with stolen wallets! The main guy casually took my friend’s wallet from the top of the pile and handed it back to her with a big smirk on his face. I have no idea why he gave it back to us, but we got her wallet back intact.

Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A: Ear plugs, lip balm and a good novel are always in my carry-on. Also, I love coffee first thing when I wake up, so I always bring instant coffee and this grain-free breakfast porridge mix that I make myself. Especially if I’m crossing time zones, having a hot cup of coffee & breakfast at my fingertips is the best way to start a trip off on the right foot.

Q: Do you speak any foreign languages?

A: I speak Spanish slightly less than fluently depending on where I go — Cuban and Chilean Spanish is so fast and different it is harder for me to follow! I also had to go to Japanese language school on Saturdays as a child. I think that early exposure to language has given me a really good ear for picking up languages and accents. I love listening to the rhythm and cadence of people’s voices in any language. When I was about seven, we went to a family reunion in Georgia. After a few days, everyone teased me because I started speaking with a Southern accent.



(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.)

©2021 Jae-Ha Kim. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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