For our guide to adventure travel, Shivani Vora hunted down real-life opportunities to act out those Indiana Jones fantasies. (Fried silkworms with soy sauce, anyone?) Vora knows a thing or two about exotic travel destinations. Though she has never sought the Holy Grail, she has visited a snake farm in Thailand, ridden an elephant in Bangkok, and made the arduous climb to the Rishi caves near Mumbai. Vora also writes this month about a somewhat less exciting topic: cash flow. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time.

Mark Leong, a fifth-generation Chinese American, moved to his ancestral home 14 years ago to work on his 2004 book, China Obscura. For our feature about an American company in Shanghai, Leong followed CEO Mitch Free for four days. At a factory, he learned that Free had worked on a metal-stamping machine. “I’ve photographed them and their operators for years, including those who have lost their hands and arms in the jaws of the press,” says Leong, who has also shot for National Geographic and Newsweek. “Mitch was the first boss I’ve ever shot, Western or Chinese, who actually knows what it is to be one of those workers at the end of the late shift.”

It wasn’t easy for Elaine Pofeldt to find company execs willing to speak candidly about how to handle hiring freezes (“Empty Desk Syndrome"). “It really does instill panic,” Pofeldt says. “If word leaks out to suppliers, it could be a black mark against the company.” Pofeldt worked at Fortune Small Business for eight years, most recently as a senior editor. She lives in New Jersey with her three daughters.

Andrew Park interviewed Bob Williamson, who survived drug addiction and homelessness—only to see his first venture almost decimated by financial shenanigans ("How I Did It"). “Williamson exemplifies what it means to be an entrepreneur—what a struggle it can be,” Park says. “Even when you achieve success, that success can be fragile.” Park also writes this month about Coke’s investment in Honest Tea. He is a frequent contributor to Fast Company and Wired.

The stock market is down, the price of oil is soaring, and the credit crunch continues. Sounds like a great time to start a company. As part of our cover story, Nadine Heintz interviewed a dozen people who built successful start-ups during economic downturns ("Starting Up in a Down Economy"). Health care companies, collection agencies, and businesses peddling replacement parts can all thrive during tough times, she says. Heintz, a former editor at Inc., teaches at New York University.