TravelInsurance.org is proud to announce the first in a series of interviews with travel bloggers and globetrotters around the Web. This week we spoke with Monica Wong, owner and author of A Pair of Panties and Boxers, a fantastic resource and entertaining read for anyone with an interest in international travel.
Monica Wong is a social media account coordinator and native of New York City. She writes that traveling “makes me feel alive to discover bits and pieces of myself and of humanity along the way.”
TravelInsurance.org: What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?
Monica Wong: Asking a traveler what their favorite place is is like asking a parent who their favorite child is. It depends on my mood. Right now, my favorite place is China. I’m mesmerized by its history, its culture, its people and most of all, it’s a part of who I am. There’s nothing more enlivening than discovering who you are.
TI: What place do you most want to see?
MW: This depends on my mood too. (I’m a girl. I’m hormonal. Give me a break.) Nepal is at the very top of my list right now. There is something peaceful and beautiful about prayer flags waving in the crisp breeze in front of snow-capped mountains and a rich blue sky.
TI: Where do you live permanently? Why?
MW: I live in NYC – born & bred. I don’t really have a reason why. Home is where the heart is. NYC is my home because my family is my heart and that’s where they live.
TI: Best and worst thing you’ve eaten on a trip?
MW: The best thing I’ve ever eaten is Beijing duck. It was a melt-in-your-mouth goodness that I’ve never tasted before. It was the perfect meal after climbing the Great Wall. The worst thing I’ve eaten is Afghani food. I’ve only had it once so maybe I should give it another try, perhaps at another restaurant…in Afghanistan (maybe).
TI: What’s the scariest situation you’ve been in while traveling?
MW: Fortunately, I have yet to come upon a situation that really scared me. The closest experience was being flashed at Macaw Mountain in Honduras. It was pretty empty that day and it was just me and my girl friend. The minute I saw his schlong I was like, “OMG, I am getting the F out of here. There is no way in hell I am getting raped in this jungle.”
TI: What was your first travel experience? How was it?
MW: I’ve been traveling since I was a few months old. Most of my family is in China so my parents always made an effort to take me back at least every other year. I’ve probably been to China over 10 times.
My first solo travel experience was when I went to study abroad in Shanghai. It was different from all the other times I had been back to visit China because in Shanghai, people speak Mandarin. My family is from the south. We speak Cantonese.
The language was definitely a barrier and it was a bit intimidating but I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world. It had its ups and downs but studying abroad in Shanghai has been the highlight of my life (so far). It ignited my wanderlust.
TI: How do you finance your travels?
MW: I had a 4-year college scholarship so I don’t have any loans to worry about and I’ve worked every year since I was 14. All my travels have been financed by my own tears and sweat.
TI: Do you have a favorite way to travel?
MW: Light and comfortable. I leave the pretty dress, sparkly sandals and dangly earrings at home. Traveling isn’t about me. It’s about the world. I try to keep the attention off me as much as I can. I prefer it that way.
TI: Any advice to would-be travelers?
MW: If you’re feeling lost in life, travel. If you get lost in your travels, don’t sweat it. You just might find yourself along the way. Life’s too short to be taking short cuts anyway.
TI: What drives you to see new places around the world?
MW: It’s intrinsic. It’s passion. It’s the challenge. The world’s too big to be stuck in four walls. I want to see the world up close and personal; not through a key hole.