Fathom Questionnaire

Meet the Traveler: Cyrena Lee

by Cyrena Lee

Cyrena, second from left, making friends with local girls in Hangzhou.

Hometown: Hillsborough, New Jersey.

Occupation: Freelance writer and Brooklyn Boulders content strategist.

Favorite destinations: Taipei, Morocco, Paris, Iceland, and any place with lots of sun.

Dying to visit: Southeast Asia.

Bizarre travel rituals: I always have to sleep on my side or stomach. Traveling has a strange way of inducing sleep paralysis for me.

In-flight relaxation regime: Sitting cross-legged, shoes off. Being short makes any seat business class.

Always in carry-on: My Moleskine journal, a good book, and a Breath of Fresh Air facial toner from Lush.

Concierge or DIY? DIY, choose-your-own adventure style all the way.

See it all or take it easy? See it all. You can always take it easy on the plane ride home.

Drive or be driven? There's something really charming about being greeted with a sign with your name on it. Also, I'm a terrible driver, so I'd always rather to be driven.

Travel hero: My friend Max Emerson, whom I met in Shanghai four years ago. He's always on a plane and approaches every country with such unbridled enthusiasm that new friendships are inevitable. Once, we convinced a bunch of Chinese motorcycle cabbies to pretend to be ninjas in a movie he was filming. They had a great time.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: This is a tough one. If I had to pick, once, outside the now defunct club Guandii in Shanghai, I witnessed two tall, bone-thin, and pretty Chinese transvestites get into an argument. Earlier that night, they had been dancing seductively with a bunch of foreign men, and I believe they were fighting since they were no longer with them. Their speech was angry and their bird-like features sharpened scarily with anger. Before I knew it, they started punching each other and hair-pulling, rolling around on the ground at 3 a.m. Then they started making out. And then they resumed fighting again. It was a dramatic dance: slowly staggering farther and farther away into the distance, throwing kicks, and kisses.

My favorite hotel is "Hotel Chevalierbecause have you seen the short film by Wes Anderson? In real life, it's Hôtel Raphaël, but somehow that name makes it lose its appeal.

I dream about my meal at Youmingtang Hot Pot in Shanghai.

Best hotel amenity: Cheeky bellboys.

Favorite childhood travel memory: At age eleven, seeing Rome for the first time, illuminated at night. The sculptures and statues looked unreal with the spotlighting.

Everywhere I go, I check out the supermarkets. What a joy and intrigue it is to look at the packaged and marketed tastebuds of other countries.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by following a travel buddy or someone who looks like they're going somewhere fun. I'm horrible with directions.

I always bring home bizarrely-flavored candy (green tea Kit Kats are addictive) and stationery.

If I never return to Venice, it'll be too soon because it's a tourist and death-by-water trap waiting to happen.

I travel for the rush of adventure and unexpected conversations.

MORE CYRENA

Blog: yrfacehere.tumblr.com
Twitter: @cyrenaly
Stories on Fathom