My Life In Travel: Gurinder Chadha

'I like walking around local areas rather than tourist destinations'
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The Independent Travel

First holiday memory?

First holiday memory?

We didn't really have holidays when I was growing up in Southall. However, my first trip abroad was to visit my grandparents in the Punjab when I was about six. I remember refusing to eat the food and being freaked out that there weren't toilets or toilet paper. My grandma would make pakora-style chips, because that was all I would eat. She even had to buy me ketchup.

Best holiday?

When I was shooting What's Cooking in LA, my parents came out and I took some time off to go travelling with them. We went on a fantastic road trip to Arizona, the Grand Canyon and Mexico. We saw some incredible places. Both my parents grew up in Kenya and it was hysterical because they drew bizarre parallels between Hollywood and Kampala in Uganda and between a shack in Mexico and Kenya. Sadly, my dad passed away a week later.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

North Wales is particularly beautiful, especially around Snowdonia.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I travel a lot for my job, so travel equals work. For me, a holiday is being able to stay in my own home for a week, see friends and go to the movies and the theatre.

Ideal travelling companion?

My husband.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Culture vulture - I can't stand the sun because I burn easily. I like walking around local areas rather than tourist destinations, eating in local cafés and going to the supermarket. I like the ordinary things and to see how people live.

Holiday reading?

I recently went to a spa in Abano Terme in Italy, where I had massages and mud baths. It was great because I had time to sit and read. I read Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, which was beautiful. I like to read books by authors from different cultures.

Where has seduced you?

Vietnam is beautiful. I have a friend there and when I was doing a tour for Bend it Like Beckham around Asia I stopped off in Hanoi to see her. It was just glorious - the whole place felt alive.

Worst travel experience?

Delays at airports. There is also something about air travel that really takes it out of you.

Worst hotel?

When we were shooting Bride and Prejudice in Amritsar we stayed in arguably the best hotel there, but we were all so spoilt that we couldn't bear the hard beds, the stiff towels and the temperamental water supply.

Best hotel?

A suite at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. It was gorgeous and very homely.

Favourite drive?

Driving through the Blue Mountains in Jamaica - it was absolutely beautiful.

Best meal abroad?

It would have to be in Hong Kong. From the outside, the restaurant looked like a shabby family place. I wasn't particularly hungry so I ordered a bowl of soup and the next thing I knew about 30 dishes came out one after the other. I have never had Chinese food that good.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I check out the spa facilities and plan my day around the massages that I am going to have! Once I've done that, I like to go and have a walk around the location and get a feel for the place.

Favourite city?

London, just because it's home. Wherever I am in the world I'm always grateful I live there.

Where next?

To Hollywood to shoot a summer blockbuster, so I'll be moving there for about a year.

Gurinder Chadha is a film director and is contributing to the Kith and Kids' 'Art 4 All' auction, which takes place on 25 November. Kith and Kids is a charity that promotes the social inclusion of children and young adults with learning disabilities. Tickets cost £25: 020-8885 1517; www.kithandkids.org.uk

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