Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Himalaya with Michael Palin

I envy and admire Michael Palin. I so wish I could wander the planet as he does in his great travel adventures. At least he kindly takes us with him to the world's most amazing places, especially in his 2003-2004 journey Himalaya. In six months, he visited the heights of Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, ending where snow-melted waters of the Ganges pour into the Bay of Bengal. I cannot imagine getting to all of the remote places any other way than going with Michael.

While Palin made the trip so easy for us, we see how difficult and dangerous the going was for him. The BBC, of course, worked to keep him safe, but the narrow mountain roads and rocky footpaths left little room for mistakes. He suffered from altitude sickness and bitter cold, but the grandeur of the mountains drove him on. In Nepal, one of his guides was kidnapped by Maoist insurgents for a couple of days, but he was released unharmed after a couple of days.

Throughout Himalaya, affable Palin was the perfect guest, able to accept the hospitality of rich and poor alike, eating anything put before him. I loved the scenes of him in a yurt making yak butter. He took tea with local celebrities, holy people, academics, porters, and fellow travelers. He could strike up a conversation with almost anyone.

With our new flat screen television, we were wonderstruck by the towering mountains, crystal blue lakes, ancient temples, and colorful prayer flags. All six 50-minute episodes are a feast for the eyes. I would not mind seeing it again. A daily diary with many photos is on the web at There is also a companion book.

Himalaya. Warner Home Video, [2005]. 3 DVDs. ISBN 141981303X.

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