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Michael Palin - HimalayaAll the elements that appeal to me most about travel were on offer. The stimulus, mental and physical, of working at extremes, the breaking of new ground (I had never been to any of the places on our route), and the chance to go in by the back door, as it were, and see how lives are lived in a fascinatingly mixed bag of countries: superpowers of the future like India and China; countries like Pakistan, recently pushed to the centre of international politics; secretive, unconquered mountain kingdoms like Nepal and Bhutan; and remote lands on the margin of the world's consciousness like Nagaland and Ladakh.

The idea seemed to appeal to my team as instantly as it did to me, and setting aside advancing ages and hopes for quieter lives, we committed to a Himalayan journey at the beginning of 2003. From the outset problems loomed as large as the mountains themselves. Pakistan was, though I'm glad to say no longer is, the subject of a Foreign Office advisory against all but essential travel. The whole Kashmir region was highly volatile, and the Maoists in Nepal were engaged in an increasingly threatening guerrilla war with the government. The Chinese were highly sensitive about allowing television crews into Tibet, and the Indian government was wary of our safety in Assam.

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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Introduction
  • Country/sea: England
  • Place: London
  • Book page no: 6

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