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4.2 out of 5 stars
Himalaya
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148 of 154 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2004
Palin has become a British institution, reinventing himself in the post-Python years as everyone's favourite traveller. In an era where holidaying has become an excuse for booze, sex, and coarse behaviour, regimented by airlines, tour operators, and the lure of grotesque theme parks, Palin has demonstrated that travel and adventure can be a gentlemanly, gentle act. He appears genuinely interested in the people he meets, is able to convey a polite humanity and sense of wonder, and proves that you can travel the world without glossy brochures.
Obviously, Palin and his team spent a lot of time planning this latest adventure, but he conveys a gentle, unstressed sense of travelling without worry or hurry. The Himalayas he explores is a fascinating, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and the scene of long-standing military flashpoints and cross border rivalry. The ruggedness of the countryside and of the peoples who inhabit this vast landscape comes across. Palin takes people as he finds them; his approach is anything but judgemental. It's a lesson we could all learn - maybe you won't get to the Himalayas next year, but next time you decide to just go for a quite walk in the country, pause to wonder at the world around you and smile at the people you meet.
Palin is a wonderful ambassador for travelling and meeting people. The book of the TV series, beautifully illustrated, charming, good humoured, good natured, and a tonic in which you can indulge yourself over winter while you plan some sort of adventure for next year!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2006
"Himalaya" is a book written by Michael Palin as an alternative account of a trip that was filmed and first shown as a TV program on BBC TV. (This program has also been shown on many other TV stations, and is now available on DVD.) In addition to the text in the book there are many beautiful pictures by Basil Pao, the stills photographer who accompanied the BBC team on the trip.

This was a very interesting trip in beautiful and exciting places. Many countries around the Himalayan Mountains were visited, some of them well off the tourist track and some of them with security problems such that the team needed armed guards. Specifically, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Nagaland, Assam, Bhutan and Bangladesh were visited. A total of 3000 miles was traveled during 125 days (6 months), and many beautiful and exciting images, encounters and interviews resulted.

High points (ha, ha) of the trip include several treks on foot up into the mountains, visiting the Dalai Lama, milking a yak, talking to a retired headhunter, buying booze in Pakistan, having an almost-encounter with Maoists in Nepal, watching bull racing and no-rules polo, and giving an elephant a rub-down. There are also many interesting encounters and interviews with local people who are special in one way or another.

In my review of the DVD version of "Himalaya" I complained that the program wasn't really about Michael Palin's trip, as such, but was simply a string of encounters and events that made "good TV". The program ignored the travel aspect almost completely, and jumped from place to place in search of the images and people that the TV viewers would find exciting.

The book version of "Himalaya" is a more complete account of the trip, including a lot of material that was skipped in the TV program, and some experiences not even included in the extra material on the DVDs.

But still, the book account of the trip is not really a day-by-day account of the trip either. For example, I'd like to know what happened on "day 6" and "day 11", etc. These days are simply not mentioned in the book.

One nice thing about the book, as compared to the TV program on DVD, is that Michael Palin's personal opinions are more evident, as is his enjoyment of traveling and experiencing new people and places. There is more of a "personal touch" to the book, and his wit and charm make it very readable and enjoyable. Michael also writes candidly about the health problems he experienced and the reservations he had about travel in the places where there were security problems. All of which makes the book better than the DVD version in my opinion.

Finally, a note about the audio versions of this book. There are both abridged (6 hour) and unabridged (11 1/2 hour) versions in existence, and some resellers are selling the abridged version as unabridged, so beware. Michael Palin himself reads both versions, and he does a great job.

Highly recommended.

Rennie Petersen
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I maintain that Pole To Pole was Palin's best series and best book by far, and that of late Palin's work had lost that certain spark that we found in 80 Days and Pole To Pole. However, this book is a return to form for Michael Palin - although I will admit that after Sahara I nearly didn't bother.
The book is a good accompaniment to the series of the same name; however I think it stands well on its own two feet. The text is informative, interesting and fast paced, and the photography is simply stunning. I would buy the hardback version of all Palin's books for the photography alone.
My only criticism is that, as with all of Palin's work, it is perhaps a little too fast-paced. Just when you feel you're getting into what Palin is describing, we're moving on again and are, quite suddenly, somewhere completely different. I suppose that this is a projection onto the reader of how Michael himself must feel, as his series' are filmed at what most people would describe as breakneck speed.
Michael Palin is insightful, a great study of human nature and an extraordinary observer of his surroundings. He has, over the years, developed an easy style of writing that is fresh with his wry and accepting humour, and manages to keep you interested no matter where he is or what he is doing there.
Personally, I think the book is better than the very good series and I recommend it - especially the hardback version.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2004
If you've seen the TV programme and thought it wasn't worth reading the book, think again. Michael Palin has a deft eye for his surroundings and a succinct narrative style which is both entertaining, original and informed. He makes even the darkest of moments seem brighter and the book is full of wry observation and snippets of information. Never boring, and indeed the sense of adventure does come through, maybe because no effort is made to conceal the fact that the party is nothing more or less than a BBC crew. Some great photos compliment the pros and help bring the book alive. Highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2005
Palin has become a British institution, reinventing himself in the post-Python years as everyone's favourite traveller. In an era where holidaying has become an excuse for booze, sex, and coarse behaviour, regimented by airlines, tour operators, and the lure of grotesque theme parks, Palin has demonstrated that travel and adventure can be a gentlemanly, gentle act. He appears genuinely interested in the people he meets, is able to convey a polite humanity and sense of wonder, and proves that you can travel the world without glossy brochures.
Obviously, Palin and his team spent a lot of time planning this latest adventure, but he conveys a gentle, unstressed sense of travelling without worry or hurry. The Himalayas he explores is a fascinating, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and the scene of long-standing military flashpoints and cross border rivalry. The ruggedness of the countryside and of the peoples who inhabit this vast landscape comes across. Palin takes people as he finds them; his approach is anything but judgemental. It's a lesson we could all learn - maybe you won't get to the Himalayas next year, but next time you decide to just go for a quite walk in the country, pause to wonder at the world around you and smile at the people you meet.
Palin is a wonderful ambassador for travelling and meeting people. The book of the TV series, beautifully illustrated, charming, good humoured, good natured, and a tonic in which you can indulge yourself while you plan some sort of adventure for yourself!
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2004
Book to accompany excellent TV series - all of Michael Palin's travel series are soon to be available in one great DVD boxset! Anyway back to the book. I own all of Palin's travel books and I'd said this is one of the weaker ones with only Hemingway Adventure worse. I found it quite terse and disjointed which in part can be explained by the fact the series was recorded in parts. The images by Basil Pao are as usual excellent and a major redeeming feature for the book overall (hence 4*). As an accompaniment to the TV or DVD the book is fine as you get the usual quirky humour coming through but as a standalone book it didn't really work for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is another brilliant account of a Palin journey. It has the usual beautifully reproduced photography and is written with Palin's wonderful sense of description and humour. I especially like the history and culture of the region he travelled in and so found this book very interesting and enjoyable. There are so many varied places and cultures in one small area of the world, and on this trip, that there is something for everyone in this book. Another great piece of travel literature.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2009
Excellent value for money. Content is enlightening and the photography is very good except that I would have wished some more spectacular mountain scenery as seen in the tv version.
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on 25 May 2014
I read this whilst in the Himalayas and loved it. Very informative and funny and even though it is out of date in parts, it is well worth reading.
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on 22 January 2013
I found the book very interesting regarding the geography of the area covered and the people encountered along the way
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