The TV presenter takes the tough with the luxurious, from cobras' hearts to bath tub panoramas
Click to follow
The Independent Travel
The most exotic stamp in my passport is from Papua New Guinea. I went up to a village in the highlands of the interior. It was a place where we look just as exotic to the locals as they do to us - and they are wearing wigs made out of their own hair entwined with bird of paradise feathers. They look quite fiercesome but they treated me well. I was the first white woman to stay there - they dressed me in a grass skirt and painted my face and asked me to join in a local celebration. I regarded that as a privilege.

There is a huge difference between local people suggesting I join some activity and a TV director pushing me into something. I am conscious of the fine line between sampling the local culture and dressing up in silly costumes. I will not do anything that my director and producer are not willing to do themselves.

One of the less pleasant things I did for TV was to dine in a snake restaurant in Vietnam. You had to choose your own snake from a tank - I went for a cobra. The difficult part was being presented with the drained blood of the creature decanted into a glass with alcohol. I was then served the snake's heart, still warm and beating. I had to pick it up with my chop-sticks, drop into the glass of blood and alcohol, and down it in one. My director got the gall-bladder. I was in no position to complain or protest - after all, we were being treated to great luxury.

On filming trips I do everything, from the ridiculously opulent to the extremely tough. My favourite hotel was probably in Vancouver, where one wall of my 20th-floor room was made of glass. I took a bath in the window overlooking the city.

Some people assume that when filming in less comfortable circumstances (a tent in the Andes for example), we get air-lifted off to five-star hotels every night. In fact, it's very important that we do stay in those places, so we know what we are talking about. And so I can be filmed waking up at dawn on some freezing hillside.

I've never lost my passport but a while ago I made the mistake of having my married name put into my passport and forgetting to tell my office about it. They bought all my tickets for a filming trip across America and the Pacific in the wrong name. Travelling with your tickets and passport in different names is no joke: there was a huge panic to get all the tickets changed at the last minute.

Other than that, the only mistake I've made was to travel to Germany on an expired passport. I was in a panic about how I was going to get home, but in the end they didn't even bother to look inside my passport. Strange, because I must have had such a guilty look on my face. I'd never make a criminal.

Having said that, I did once inadvertently carry some coca leaves back into the UK, which could theoretically have been used to make cocaine. We had been shooting in Peru, where I had brewed coca leaves before a trek, in the local custom. It never occurred to me that there would be any harm in bringing a few leaves back with me.

Anna Walker is presenting `Holidaymaker' today at 7pm on ITV.