Ian Grant, formerly of Duluth, is the host of "The Relic Hunter," a show on the Travel Channel that debuts at 9 p.m. Saturday. Grant, who owns Bjorling & Grant in Minneapolis, spends 2-3 months total a year traveling to remote locations and collecting artifacts.
Here are some outtakes from an interview with Grant.
WHAT’S THE OBJECTIVE BEHIND ‘RELIC HUNTERS’
To get [travellers] off, into the back roads and back alleys and villages and finding things that are culturally relevant and relevant to the history of the place they’re visiting. And relevant to them. A lot of them are like "Well, I’m here so I have to buy this scarf because I read it in a magazine that I’m meant to buy this scarf here." Forget the scarf. Go wander around and find something that’s interesting to you. Ten years from now when you look at it in your house, it’s going to bring back, immediately, memories flooding back from the trip. Rather than 10 years from now not remembering where you bought the scarf.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE BEST PLACE TO TRAVEL?
It depends on what I’m going for. If I’m going for a relaxing vacation, Thailand always seems to be at the top of the list. It’s still pretty exotic to us in the West. It’s easier to get to. It’s beautiful, the people are nice, the food is great, you can stay in great places and it’s not too expensive. You get everything from gorgeous palm furnished islands all the way to mountains, and you can just kick back.
If it’s wanting to go to a place that is so culturally exciting and vibrant and tough … India is always at the top of my list. It’s such a huge place. It changes so dramatically from region to region. And it’s hard. It’s both hard and absolutely stunningly beautiful at the same time. I look at India as being, pound for pound, the most impactive travel you can do. There is so much coming at you. It’s not for everyone. A lot of people go there and will never come back. It’s just too tough. For one out of five people who go there from the States — particularly the States — for one out of five, they’ll always go back because there is always something that touches them there.
In the Rainforest of India, this coastal region called Kerala, I was able for awhile, for a couple years, to find these very particular boat heads that really don’t exist anymore because poeple don’t make them anymore. They’re pretty rare pieces. They range from 3-4 feet tall. They’re impressive linear things that were decorative on these rainforest dugout canoes that they use to herd ducks. Those were pretty cool. Sad to see them sort of disappear. For a number of reasons. That’s sort of old world charm. The other one … still in Kerala … they make a very particular bronze cooking bowl. Because this region of India was the center of the International spice trade from 1200 to 1600 BC … [They have] all these different influences on their art. This bronze cooking bowl is one of them. It’s directly influenced by the wok from China, but it’s really an unusual shape. It’s developed from that.
I go [there] once a year.
Tibet, or Napal, I get some great Tibetan artifacts, Tibetian cabinents, Tibetan doors … They’re impressive pieces. You can buy similar items in China and India, although they’re typically fake. Anytime I can get to Katmandu and Napal, I try to come up with one of those. I don’t get there as often. Every three years or so. I spend a lot of time in Northern Thailand. For awhile it was twice a year. Now it’s once a year. Up in a city called Chiang Mai. Then further up to the Golden Triangle.