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Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas

Name: Peter Grunert
Title: Editor of Lonely Planet Magazine
Born in: Henley-on-Thames, England
Currently living in: London, England

1) Where would you rather be right now?
The mysterious Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, a place said to be inhabited by tigers, snow leopards, yetis and dragons. I'm fortunate enough to be heading there imminently.

2) Famous person (dead or alive, real or fictional) you'd most like to go on a trip with:
The veteran wildlife presenter David Attenborough. I've never met anyone in possession of such a catalogue of travel anecdotes, and who can relate such wonder in creatures great and small.

3) Tourist must-see you think is actually a "must skip":
Hollywood Boulevard: Nowhere near as spectacularly seedy or kitsch as I had hoped.

4) Everyone asks what's #1 on your list of places you want to go before you die. But what's your #3?
Georgia (as in the country in Eastern Europe). My maternal grandfather's family originated from there, and it's a part of the world - and my heritage - that I know too little about.

5) You'd be mortified if people knew you did what when you travelled?
Ahem. I seem to have accidentally found myself receiving spa treatments on more than one occasion.

6) Your most stranded, "oh-my-[deity]" travel moment:
Late on a Friday, my wife and I found ourselves lost in sea of exceedingly drunk "salarymen" in Tokyo's vast Shinjuku railway station, just as the final commuter train of the night was about to leave. The crazed rush was a complete contrast to the courteous and orderly experience of travel in Japan we'd had until that point.

7) Strangest meal abroad:
Spiced Taiwanese duck tongues. The spiky bone in each was an unwelcome discovery.

8) If someone was visiting your town, what's the one thing you'd show them?
The Hunterian Museum in London's Royal College of Surgeons - undoubtedly our most eccentric and, occasionally, ghoulish collection of scientific oddities.

9) Travel-related invention you wish existed:
A translation device that could discreetly offer me slang phrases of the sort only those who have lived in a country for many years tend to use.

10) Your most embarrassing travel faux pas:
Attempting to speak slang phrases in Hindi while in India. A mispronunciation led to me using the term for "thanks serving wench" in place of "thanks brother" ; I kept it up for four months before someone explained my error.

11) Most unique souvenir:
A piece of fossilised wood found at the edge of a salt lake in the Gawler Ranges, South Australia.

12) Best celebrity encounter while travelling:
The Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, officially the world's most-recognised celebrity. He casually wandered into a bookshop in Mumbai as policemen toting machine guns and lathis (bamboo canes) held back a crowd of ecstatic onlookers that had gathered outside. I've never watched one of his films, but was overwhelmed by the power of his presence.

13) Most unusual item you have travelled with:
A twig that a Sikh guru in the Golden Temple at Amritsar gave me as a gift - he promised it would make an effective toothbrush.

14) Coolest mode of transport you've taken:
A single prop plane from the 1940s, called an Auster. The owner seemed happy to hand me the controls as we chugged along on thermals rising from the Australian Outback.

15) The place you don't want anyone to know about but are willing to divulge here:
The city of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England. British people tend to grimace just as the mention of it, but I love its many grand old - and often run-down - Industrial Revolution buildings. You'll also find the country's best fish and chips there.

16) Travel-related film or book that inspires you to pack your bags:
Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines, a book that explores Aboriginal culture and the endless imagination of a fascinating writer.

17) The travel story you'll never stop bragging about:
A friend and I once embarked on a spontaneous road trip in a borrowed Maserati. Leaving England, we decided to head down through France, across the Swiss Alps, and into this charismatic car's homeland. At 5 am on a Sunday, we sat in the shadow of the Coliseum in Rome without a soul in sight, sipping the last of many espressos that day, and knowing that we'd arrived at our destination.

18) Lay on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
Find a website for a newspaper local to the place you're visiting and spend a few days exploring it before you travel - it should be a great source of new restaurants, exhibitions, gossip and topics of great debate. It pays to show empathy with the agenda of the locals.

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