Greetings! Right now I'm working as a freelance reporter in New York for newspapers such as The New York Times and magazines such as Scientific American.

Since the start of the millennium I've had the good fortune of adventuring to every continent. Drunk rancid yak butter tea in Lhasa and mint tea in the Sahara... jaunted through Amsterdam and Moscow... snorkeled with sea lions in the Galapagos and sambaed at Carnaval in Rio... motored through the Outback in a converted jailwagon to desert camp under the stars by the lap of Ayer's Rock... climbed an iceberg in Antarctica...

I've climbed the whiskey route up Mt. Kilimanjaro after my safari through the Serengeti to stay afterwards with the family of the sultan of Oman... I've zipped through the rainforest canopy of Costa Rica via wire, jumped a few stories from a creaky bridge into whitewater rapids and sipped drinks with little umbrellas in them while submerged in a hot spring at the foot of a glowing red volcano... And I've barreled from Arizona down the ghost of Route 66 to home in New York.

Life's been interesting, in other words.

I was born in Hong Kong on June 11, 1977 (for the birthday-gift-oriented among you) and immigrated to New York with my parents when I was about a year-and-a-half old. My mother and father swam to Hong Kong from mainland China (!) past gunboat patrols as the Cultural Revolution was winding down. I never believed the bit about the 'shark-infested waters' until I actually met a friend of theirs who lost part of his leg during his swim attempt. Suffice it to say, I've quite a bit to live up to.

We moved from Chinatown to Queens soon after my parents flew my older brother in from China -- he was too young for my parents to take on the long swim back then. Together, our names mean "universe" in Chinese, which sounds quite cool unless you're also told that the ideograms are roughly Anglicized as yu-chau. As a result, my brother received plenty of "Hey, you! No, not you, Yu, you!" jokes, and I adopted the name "Charles" in the first grade after I got tired of the assorted "ciao" and "chow" puns.

As a kid, I lived two blocks away from Queensboro Hill Public Library, I fell in love with the written word there -- I used to borrow about 30 books a week, finishing up every mythology book in that library by the third grade and every biology book by the fourth.

I got my love of nature from my father, who is quite a successful artist -- he's auctioned his paintings on Christie's and Sotheby's -- and is also chairman of the Chinese-American Artists Society of New York. He used to take me out with him when he was taking photographs as reference points for his landscape paintings, and that's how I learned to see nature -- as a work of art.

I tested into Hunter College High School out of elementary school. There, in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I attended junior high and high school just one block away from Central Park, ten blocks away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and five blocks away from a bodega in Spanish Harlem that made the absolute best black beans and rice.

Now, I loved Hunter, but spending six years of your life with only about 200 other people in your grade will really make you crazy after a while -- especially during, say, one's adolescent years. So naturally, after spending about a third of my life up to that point in a school of only about 1,200, what do I decide to do? I go to a college with about 500 people.


New College was an extremely enriching experience, though. Wonderful in many ways, tedious and nightmarish in others, but ultimately rewarding. You get a nice, personal education when you have a 10-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. New College got the idea for handing out page-long evaluations instead of grades from our sister school, New College of Oxford.

Much to my surprise, I eventually found myself senior writer and even managing editor at my college newspaper, though I planned to be a marine biologist. I got the writing bug early on in high school, but I never expected to go into journalism. Which is ironic, because the first thing I ever wrote for journalism is now used in schools nationwide.

Now I got into journalism for many and sundry reasons (one of them, unsurprisingly, involving a girl), but I've stayed for a very simple reason -- I discovered I could make a difference for the better through it. So I went on to receive a masters at the world's first school of journalism and am now freelance.

The farthest I think I've ventured for journalism is Ekaterinburg, the gateway to Siberia for a story that ran in The New York Times. Mostly I travel for my own personal edification. For instance, in 2004 I boated down the Ganges at dawn, rode an elephant in a Rajasthani fort and flew to see Mt. Everest, among other things (ask me how a 500-foot bungee jump down a tropical Himalayan river gorge feels like sometime).

In 2005, I finally completed all seven continents. I went mountaineering in Antarctica at the height of the summer down there -- a balmy 32 degrees F on average in December -- summiting three mountains and jaunting up the side of an iceberg. I also camped out a night on the ice itself in a bivy sack and had a swim in polar waters. (As you might imagine, the steam bath on ship after the latter was the best I've ever had.)

A hobby of mine is volunteering for scientific expeditions. I've dug several times for dinosaurs in Hell Creek with the Marmarth Research Foundation, helping them excavate a mummified dinosaur. I even have a triceratops vertebra to show for it. I've also recently started excavating Mayan ruins in Belize with the Maya Research Program, helping my first year to unearth a buried shrine (see movie clip here) in tropical forests haunted by howler monkeys (hear them here).

Currently I live in the Bronx with my wife and our three cats.

It ought to be interesting where I go from there...

You can read profiles of me (mostly similar to this one) written up at the Missouri School of Journalism, AAJA National, AAJA New York and the Poynter Institute. I'm also a mentor with the Missouri School of Journalism's New York summer program and formerly a member of the board of Science Writers in New York.

I now also provide a list of people that I am not.

You can also try and befriend me on Facebook if you so desire, although I only usually do so with people I actually know.

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