This collection contains all of Michael Palin’s travel series from Around the World in 80 Days to his return two decades later in Around the World in 20 years. Travelling by train, boat, camel, balloon, dog sled and many other forms of transport, Michael Palin has visited over a hundred countries and travelled over a hundred thousand miles. From crossing the International Date Line to swimming in the Zambesi or singing with the Pacific Fleet Choir, these series take us to the most fascinating places, introduce us to many incredible people and reveal many of the world’s most magnificent sights – all in the company of the nation’s favourite travel guide.
The program begins in the North-West Frontier section of Pakistan. Michael goes up the Kyber Pass Railway, visits the local gun industry and dentists, interviews a local prince, attends the bull races and then sets off by bus to Chitral high in the mountains. He visits the local Kalash people who are not Moslems and attends an annual Polo Match high in the Xandoor Pass near the Hindu Kush.
Goes up to 14500ft by Helicopter to get his first taste of high altitude, then has to detour back to Lahore to actually cross into India after observing some truly bizarre border rituals. He visits a huge Sikh temple at Amritsar and then takes the Himalayan Queen railway to Shimla the old capital of British India. Here he visits a local theatre stuck in a time warp and then goes on to beautiful but war torn Kashmir. Here he stays on one of the famous houseboats and then visits Srinigar where the Dalai Lama now lives. He gets his astrology chart done by the Buddhist monks and then has the chance to interview the Dalai Lama.
He now enters Nepal by air and hooks up with a British commander of the Gurkha regiment who is recruiting in the area. They trek to a remote village to hold a recruitment test but fall foul of the local Maoist Guerrillas. Next Michael treks up the mountains to Annapurna base camp with a sherpa and gets his first taste of high altitudes, which gives him some trouble. From there they move on to the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, where he receives the King's blessing. Tibet is the next stop but they first must cross the border into China via road. He visits the highest monastery in the world and then climbs to Everest Base Camp assisted by some Yak.
This episode focuses on the people and terrain of Tibet, which is now part of China. He visits various Buddhist temples, the Dalai Lama's old palace (now a museum), a night club and some more temples. He visits a barren lake in the middle of nowhere which is greatly revered by the Tibetan People, who go on devotional walks around the lake. These take 18 days. He also spends time with traditional Yak herders living in tents and helps with various tasks such as milking and cooking. Watch out for the teletubby! He then attends a large horse fair/festival in Yushu and turns south to follow the Yangtze River.
Michael travels down the Yangtze by boat through the famous Tiger Leaping gorge and arrives at the eastern-most point of his journey. He visits a local singing star, a doctor recommended by Terry Jones and attends a Chinese Classical Music concert. He travels through Yunnan province and then visits Nagaland which is on the border between India and Myanmah. This area is inhabited by ex-headhunters. Next, he crosses back into India and visits a coil mine and oil well. Heading deeper into Assam he visits tea gardens, working elephants and then heads down the Brahmaputra River stopping to visit a Hindu monastery of dancing monks. He also visits a national park to see the Rhinos.
We head into the small mountainous country of Bhutan which strives for Gross National Happiness rather than profit. He meets poets and attends a religious festival which includes both Archery and a 5 storey high tapestry. After Bhutan, he crosses into Bangladesh which is a low lying country built out of silt washed down from the Himalayas. He chats with local business people and visits the capital Dacca. He then takes a steamer down the delta to Mongla and ends his journey at the Bay of Bengal after 6 months of travelling.