Fathom Questionnaire

Meet Fathom Editorial Assistant Becky Cheang

by Becky Cheang

The art of the Asian jump shot in Vienna. Photo by Yap Jun Hua.

Hometown: Born in Baltimore, Maryland. Grew up in Singapore. Now in Jersey City.

Occupation: Editorial assistant at Fathom.

Favorite destinations: Vienna, Istanbul, Seoul, Lugano in Switzerland.

Dying to visit: Mexico City, Iceland, Morocco, the 'Stans in Asia, Naoshima Island in Japan.

Bizarre travel rituals: Neurotic Excel spreadsheets that I end up almost never following. Stalking the local weather from the moment I book the flight.

In-flight relaxation regime: I'm one of the crazies who actually loves being on a plane. I schedule my movies, put together a playlist, and do a travel log of every flight I take. I am also that annoying seat-mate who will attempt to talk to you.

Always in carry-on: A blank Muji notebook with five pens, a mini Sharpie, three Chapsticks, a magazine, a bottle of moisturizer I stole from a hotel, and an empty water bottle I'll ask the flight attendant to fill with hot water before we land so I have a ready source of drinking water for the next several hours.

Concierge or DIY? Mostly DIY, but the concierge can uncover amazing local secrets.

See it all or take it easy? See it all, always. Unless I'm intentionally taking a trip just to chill.

Drive or be driven? Depends on the place. I'll never drive in Ho Chi Minh, but Victoria, Australia, is beautiful for driving.

Travel hero: Susan, a 58-year-old lady I met in a hostel in Istanbul. She carried a backpack twice her size up four flights of stairs and talked about crossing continents, not countries. She was on a solo RTW trip, and her never-ceasing appetite for learning something new was inspiring.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: Everyone looking down at their phones instead of taking in the scenery around them. Oh, and selfie sticks. I just don't get it.

Best hotel amenity: Chocolate on pillows and extra pillows on request. I need about ten to sleep. I like to sleep in a fort.

My favorite hotel is really just a backpacker hostel made up of several cottages built in to a bluff just outside Durban, South Africa, because I didn’t get the chance to go online at all and ended up making friends with all the local staff and guests. I got invited to one of their weddings last summer.

I dream about my meal in a tiny kebab store just around the corner of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The owner serenaded us on his ba─člama, a traditional Mediterranean guitar, and declared himself my god-grandfather by the end of the night, insisting I bring back my future husband to meet him one day.

Favorite childhood travel memory: Sleeping under piles of blankets in the back of my dad's bright blue pickup truck during a USA cross-country road trip. My mom loves telling about the time I had to pee in Yellowstone National Park. I was about three, it was very cold outside, and I went to do my business in the bushes. Apparently there was a wolf a few yards away, who made my mom anxious. Not me. I took my sweet time. I don't know why she loves this story. Maybe she's proud I was so (obliviously? stupidly?) brave in the face of danger.

Everywhere I go, I check out the local grocery store and coffee shop.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by talking to strangers.

I always bring home too much paper, in the form of business cards, ticket stubs, maps, stamps, and vintage postcards.

If I never return to Verona, Italy, it'll be too soon because the entire city's tourism is built on the love life of two fictional characters. I just cannot understand why people want to see the graves of nonexistent people.

I travel for the stories that the local people, buildings, and food have to share.