Travel Tales: Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo

Age: 39

Occupation: Director of the Sydney Writers’ Centre, Journalist, Keynote Speaker

Favourite travel destination?: My favourite place in the world is home. To me, it’s like being in heaven. But as for travel destinations, I would say New York. It’s exciting, vibrant and full of wonderful things to see and do. You could be having cocktails at the bar-of-the-moment, taking in a Broadway shohad to take a long bus ride somewhere. I have never been so sick in my life and spent the entire journey thinking I was going to pass out or die. Thankfully, I was travelling with a friend – I don’t think I would have w, pottering around an amazing museum or just hanging out watching people go by. It’s a city that’s full of icons and clichés – but what great clichés they are!

Worst travel experience?: I ate some kind of dodgy eggplant in Cambodia for dinner and had to fly to Vietnam the next day. Upon arrival, I made it without her.

Best tips for beating jetlag?: Get out and about. Don’t hide in a darkened room. From the moment you arrive, act as if you’ve been living there for ages and go about your day as if it were normal.

What is the one thing you don’t leave home without?: My iphone. It’s not only a wonderful form of communication – emails, calls and texts – but it’s also a camera and an ipod. I fill it with audiobooks, podcasts or movies so I’m never bored on the plane or long drives!

Do you stay in touch with people while you’re travelling?: I’m a big fan of email, I can’t live without it. Even though I also love Skype, the time difference often means that people aren’t up and about when you are. But you can always find a wireless hotspot and shoot off an email. I also love Twitter – the messages are short but you can keep people up to date with what you are doing in real time. You can also post photos and upload them so all your followers can see them straight away. My Twitter handle is @valeriekhoo You can find it at

Best meal you’ve ever had while travelling?: This year, it’s been at Maha in Bond Street in Melbourne. Who knew that Melbourne had such amazing Middle Eastern food? It was a gastronomic experience – like being taken on an exotic adventure with a familiar and caring host.

Best kiss?: While travelling … on the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat near Siem Reap in Cambodia, lit only by the full moon, just past midnight – with nothing else but the sounds of animals in the jungle surrounding us.

Best/scariest/funniest drive?: I did a Thelma-and-Louise drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas via the Grand Canyon. It was great fun and the Grand Canyon was truly jaw-dropping. Pictures just don’t do it justice. It has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

What has been the big ‘wow’ moment of your travelling life?: I was in Venice right in the middle of Carnivale and it was overwhelming. The colours, costumes and people bustling through the town and gathering in St Mark’s Square really did take my breath away. I didn’t know whether I had stepped back in time or dropped in on a movie set where everyone was decked out in amazing costumes with mysterious masks. Everyone else was so beautifully and meticulously dressed and I was in my unexciting travelling gear. It taught me a lesson – I’ll certainly be more prepared next time!

For further information about Valerie Khoo, please visit

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