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Michael Palin does it again! His sixth travelogue 'Himalaya' is a fascinating day by day diary account of his six month, 3,000 mile journey across central Asia and the World's greatest mountain range between 12 May 2003 - 7 April 2004.
Palin travels through some of the most diverse and interesting countries in the world:- Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China and Bangladesh and his account of this trip makes for a fascinating and enlightening read.
This wonderful hardback illustarted book complete with stunning photography and maps detailing the lengthy journey makes an excellent coffee table book and even if you arn't interested in reading the diary accounts, the pictures alone make the book worth a look.
What makes Himalaya and Micheal Palin's other adventures stand out is his comical streak, his immense likablity and his ability to pick up on the randomest and most interesting facts and events about the places and cultures he visits. He stays away from the tourist traps and instead attends the events favoured by the locals and the places which really are well off the beaten track. For example he attends the worlds highest game of polo played up the Himalayan plains at the Shandur Pass. In Pakistan he visits a diverse group of people hidden amongst the Kalash Valley, these people's customs, dress and culture bear no resemblance to the rest of the country and there is no clue as to their original history. During 'the time of the month' these women are not allowed to work and are segregated from the rest of the community for a 'rest'. Doesn't that sound nice girls?
Palin details his treck part of the way up towards Everest, K2 and many of the other highest points on the planet. Experience with him his mountain sickness that comes with such high altitude climbs and his awe at the stunning scenery laid out for miles before him. Additionally there is an interview with the Dalai Lama, detailing his experiences since his escape from Tibet and his opinions of the country now, which makes for fascinating reading and is one of my personal favourite parts.
The book is packed with many many more tales, facts and philosophies to entertain, amuse and educate the reader. If you are interested in books and travel then you should certainly check this out. If you are anything like me then It'll make you want to rush out to the travel agent immediately!
Heres a taster which I have 'borrowed' from the introduction:
"....There were crisis points, including a brush with the Maoists in Nepal, a nasty bout of illness halfway up Annapurna, and the loss, and subsequent recovery, of one of our crew to altitude sickness as we pushed up to Everest Base Camp. There were problems that could have been much worse, like the SARS epidemic in China, snowstorms in Bhutan and strikes in Bangladesh, but we were more or less intact by the time our tired little band emerged triumphant from a circuitous progress through six countries and 3000 miles of Himalaya at the beginning of April 2004....."
If you aren't interested in books, then I recommend you watch the series, available to buy on DVD or video from all good retailers. The series is wonderful and I imagine that many people may find it easier to watch than to read about. If you enjoy that then check out some of Palin's other televised adventures. These include Pacific Rim, Sahara, Pole to Pole and Around the World in 80 Days. They are all just as interesting, amusing and very easy to get addicted to! We've nearly got the full set of the DVD's now and are making progress with the book collection.
One addtional tip!! Don't pay full price (£20) the book is on offer for £10 all over the place (e.g. cheap bookstores) if you hunt a little harder or keep an eye out for offers. The book is also available from Amazon starting at £5.00 which is a bargain, I imagine ther will be a paper back copy out at some point as well.
Hardcover 288 pages (September 27, 2004)
Publisher: Weidenfeld Nicolson Illustrated
For more information check out the Palin website which is absolutely great and includes a photo diary, interactive map and the first chapter read aloud by Palin himself as well as details regarding his other adventures. See: http://www.palinstravels.co.uk/static-187
Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading!