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Celebrity travel: Go away with Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho knows a thing or two about traveling. After beginning her standup career at 16, she toured the United States nonstop, bringing her unique brand of comedy to venues across the country.

At 26, she broke barriers with her short-lived ABC sitcom "All-American Girl," where she played a fictionalized version of herself. It was the first American television series where all the lead actors were Asian-American. In her standup routines, Cho talks frankly about how producers asked her at times to try to be more -- and less -- Asian. Now 39, Cho is ready to debut her new VH1 series "The Cho Show."

"It's a new kind of reality sitcom," says Cho. "It's a cross between Madonna's 'Truth or Dare,' 'The Joy Luck Club' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.'"

And unlike her first series, she is a co-producer on this project and gets to control the content of "The Cho Show." Plus, she got her good-natured, real-life parents to appear ... as themselves.

"I told the folks it was either this or a home," Cho jokes.

Currently on tour through the end of the year, Cho took a moment to reflect on one of her favorite vacations -- a trip to Nepal.

RAJASTHAN, TIBET, NEPAL ... OH MY! I like places that are dusty, far-flung and mysterious. I went to Nepal to hike and meditate. Nepal was a little easier for me to get around because it isn't as high up as Tibet and it is more touristy.

SOUVENIRS: I was in Nepal when they had a general strike protesting the government, so if anyone saw you shopping you could get shot. I went shopping anyway. I felt like an international jewel thief. I bought some black market thankas (religious paintings of deities) and rolled them up and hid them in my backpack. It was very 007.

FOREIGN CUISINE: The food was hard to get used to. I ate lots of momos, which are like pot stickers. The best thing I had to eat was a yak burger!

VACATION MOTTO: If you don't need shots before you go, don't bother going!

FITTING IN WITH THE CROWD: I don't bother trying to fit in. Everyone can always tell you are not from there. Just be friendly. And leave your jewelry at home.

LOW MAINTENANCE: I travel super light. You should be able to run at least one mile with all your bags on you.

MUST HAVES: I travel with multiple iPods with different TV shows, movies and music downloaded onto them, so I can switch them out when needed.

INTERACTIVE TRAVELER: I studied belly dancing in Egypt, which is an amazing place. That's my main form of entertainment.

NEXT TRIP: Morocco!

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT NEPAL:

CAPITAL: Kathmandu.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Nepali.

WHERE IT IS: Roughly the size of Arkansas, Nepal is located between China and India in Southern Asia.

POPULATION: 29,519,114.

CURRENCY: Nepalese rupee (NPR). $1 US equals 68.7 NPR.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: October and November, which is Nepal's dry season.

TIME DIFFERENCE: If it's noon in Chicago, it's 10:45 p.m. in Nepal.

MUST VISIT: Hanuman Dhoka (Old Royal Palace) in Kathmandu. The royal family no longer resides there. Tourists are invited to check out the grounds and nose around the palace, which includes original furniture, mementos and archival photographs.

To learn more about Nepal, visit www.welcomenepal.com. To read more about Margaret Cho, her TV show and her comedy tour, go to www.margaretcho.com.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her Website at www.jaehakim.com. She welcomes your questions and comments.)

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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