Checking in… Rory Stewart: The former mayoral candidate and Conservative minister talks about nearly being arrested in Nepal and eating snake in China
Ex-Conservative minister Rory Stewart
This week it’s wobbly screen time for former Tory minister Rory Stewart as he checks in to our travel Q&A.
He talks about nearly being arrested in Nepal when he was accused of being in Al-Qaeda, eating his most unpleasant meal in China – and more…
Afghanistan. I love its people — their generosity, pride, dignity and sense of humour.
Worst hotel experience?
In Peshawar, Pakistan, there was a concealed door in a fake wall, so that accomplices of the hotelier could steal the possessions of the unwary while they were asleep.
Most memorable view?
From a ridge in West Papua, Indonesia, you can see the Papua New Guinea border, every hill in between carpeted in moss forest.
Where are you desperate to visit?
The minority areas of north Burma.
Worst holiday illness?
An antibiotic-resistant strain of Clostridium difficile, developed in Khiva, Uzbekistan. I was eventually cured in a Dundee specialist unit.
Most memorable travel buddy?
Everest climber Mohammad Oraz, with whom I walked across Iran. He died after an avalanche on Gasherbrum I, Himalayas, in 2003.
Your holiday essentials?
A toothbrush and a down jacket.
Most unpleasant food eaten?
Snake in Hainan, China.
Were you ever close to being arrested abroad?
Several times, including in Nepal just after 9/11. I was accused of being in Al-Qaeda.
Your top two travel reads?
Gavin Maxwell’s A Reed Shaken By The Wind — the best account of the Marsh Arabs of Iraq. And Eric Newby’s A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush, which is full of understated humour.
The politician said he is desperate to visit the minority areas of north Burma
Fantasy travel companion?
Alexander the Great — I’d want to understand his sense of humour.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from travel?
The key to survival is politeness.
What do holidays teach you?
The ability to think afresh.
Aadvice for world travellers struggling with lockdown?
Try to meditate — but it can be difficult if you are wound up.
Ultimate travel tip?
Carry less than half of what you feel you need to carry.
- Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between costs £10.99 at waterstones.com.
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