Tripper of the Week: Tina Cheung

Meet Tina, an avid globetrotter with many years of experience traveling, studying, and working abroad. Not only is Tina an active Tripping member, but she is also a valued volunteer. Her passion for cultural exchange has fueled her efforts in promoting Tripping's cause and has helped develop its growing community. Please enjoy our interview with this week's Tripper of the Week! We hear you just got back from a trip. Where did you go and what were some highlights? I went to Oahu, Hawaii. I packed a backpack with a few outfits, rented a car, snorkeling gear, and drove and explored the entire island. Along the way, I hopped out of my car to snorkel at remote beaches, talked to amazing locals, met the "country," and ate delicious food from street stands. I also saw another side of Hawaii: the vast unemployed and homeless that made homes at public beaches and parks, the Hawaii sovereignty movement with its flags and signs, and the beauty of its underwater passageways and creatures. I also got a chance to see a friend of mine who introduced me to a great local restaurant where the chef cooked everything in front of us. Where did you grow up and what got you hooked on traveling? I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was a child, my mother told me that her first glimpse of the world was through the eyes of her childhood pen pals since she never had the luxury to travel. In elementary school, I got my first set of pen pals from National Geographic Junior. Throughout my childhood and as a teenager, I continued to write to my friends worldwide - sharing our ways of life and in many ways, growing up with them despite the advent of the Internet. When I was in high school, I pleaded with my parents to allow me to study abroad in Japan. They informed me that it was too costly and I was too young to be traveling alone. Fortunately, I won a huge scholarship. Studying abroad in Japan gave me an opportunity to learn more about another society through its people and culture. I came back with new friends, speaking another language, and a sense of self awareness, independence, and confidence that has continued to shape who I am today. Since then, I've been hooked on exploring, discovering, meeting new friends, and eating some amazing food along the way! What do you find yourself asking the locals most while traveling? I love water sports, especially snorkeling. Whenever I am in a tropical destination, I always ask the locals where the best snorkeling sites are located. Beside that, I love asking where the locals buy their groceries, eat, and what they do for fun on a day off. On a side note, I've asked multiple times for the bathroom. If you were hosting Trippers for one day in your city, where would you take them? If I was hosting Trippers, I'd take them to San Francisco: the murals in the Mission, a hike exploring historical sites along Telegraph Hill/ Coit Tower, a walk across Golden Gate Park, a tour in Chinatown's alleyway. If they don't mind getting wet, I'd take them kayaking along the waterfront and bridge. Also, I'm a huge foodie so I'd take them to my favorite Italian bakery in North Beach, cupcake store in the Marina, Shanghainese restaurant in the Outer Richmond, and the best chicken wings in the Sunset! It's a new year! What are your travel plans for 2011? I don't have any right now, but I definitely want to explore more cities in the Americas since I've done a lot of international destinations. Perhaps a snorkeling trip to Mexico and a road trip exploring the California coastline. I still need to make ti to South Korea and Brazil! What are you most excited about for the Tripping Community? The Trippers I have met are enthusiastic about going beyond being a tourist and seeing a place through the lens of an outsider. I'm excited to be a part of a community that values friendship, cultural exchange, learning, self discovery, and bridging the divides that we often impose on ourselves as individuals on others whom we see as different. In addition, we often do not think about safety enough when we travel. I am excited to see a social networking platform for travelers that values safety as demonstrated by Tripping's TripSafe program and profile validation system. Obviously Tina is a fantastic host and incredible contributor to our community. Should you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area and looking for a fun and knowledgeable local to show you around, check out Tina's profile and send her a line! Happy Tripping!