Forms of identification: Simon Reeve
Simon Reeve in Mogadishu, Somalia, while filming the new BBC TV series Indian Ocean
Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
Name: Simon Reeve
Title/bio: Presenter of multiple BBC television series including Indian Ocean and Tropic of Cancer
Born in: London
Currently living in: London
1. Where would you rather be right now?
I’m fine here, but if you dragged me away I’d love to explore West Africa.
2. Famous person (dead or alive, real or fictional) you’d most like to go on a trip with:
Jason Bourne. Stuff would happen.
3. Tourist must-see you think is actually a “must skip”:
Stonehenge. And Florida theme parks.
4. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
5. You’d be mortified if people knew you did what when you travelled?
I enjoy airline food, sometimes just for the comedy value. I was on a flight in Central Asia once when the in-flight meal was a single apple and an egg – between three of us.
6. Your most stranded, “oh-my-[deity]” travel moment:
In Patagonia a few years back a volcano exploded on the other side of the Andes. The ash was everywhere and it was hard to breathe. We drove east across Argentina wearing swimming goggles and facemasks through a post-apocalyptic landscape.
7. Best (or worst) person/people you’ve had to sit next to while travelling:
A man with sharp elbows who also sold colostomy bags and wanted to discuss his latest offering. He was definitely the worst. That was before I discovered the magical world of earplugs.
8. Strangest meal abroad:
Zebu penis soup in Madagascar, grilled squirrel and fried caterpillars in Laos, or sheep’s brain and camel hump in Saudi Arabia. It’s never as bad as it sounds or looks. Eyeballs are delicious. I get great memories, and it’s part of my job.
9. If someone was visiting your town, what’s the one thing you’d show them?
I’m London born and bred so I’d take them on a walk on Hampstead Heath during the day and party at Passing Clouds in Dalston at night, a down to earth club and music venue with a great vibe.
10. Travel-related invention you wish existed:
Large wheels for my 30kg expedition backpack
11. Your most embarrassing travel faux pas:
Endless. I used to attempt the local language and was always getting into trouble. The most dangerous was when I nearly caused a riot in a market in the Caucuses by asking a woman selling apples whether she had a penis.
12. Material thing you miss the most when away from home:
My sofa. And clean water from the tap.
13. Most unique souvenir:
I was adopted by a family of Dayak former headhunters in Borneo. They gave me a ceremonial sword with notches indicating how many heads it had taken. I have it on my wall, but it still makes me shudder.
14. Best celebrity encounter while travelling:
Travelling around amazing Somaliland with a guide called Yousef who was a war hero. We’d pitch up in a village and people would tumble out of huts shouting his name.
15. Most unusual item you have travelled with:
Blast Boxers ( a type of armoured underwear), a flak jacket and helmet while in Mogadishu, Somalia
16. Coolest mode of transport you’ve taken:
Donkey cart from Kyrgyzstan into Tajikistan
17. The place you don’t want anyone to know about but are willing to divulge here:
Symi, off Rhodes. An island with the most beautiful harbour in Greece.
18. Travel-related film or book that inspires you to pack your bags:
19. The travel story you’ll never stop bragging about:
Being arrested by the KGB in the unrecognised state of Trandniestria, next to Moldova. Our fixer managed to get us out of the cells by telling them I was related to the Queen. They gave us cap badges as souvenirs.
20. Lay on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
Don’t sit by the pool. Get out of the hotel and explore. Drink local, eat local, meet locals. Care about their lives. Don’t be tight with your tip. And wear a seatbelt.