Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Pole to Pole

Recommended Posts

This is the second of Palin’s ‘Great Twentieth – Century Adventures’.

Setting out to travel from one end of the earth to the other, Palin and his team, using aircraft only as a last resort, endured extremes of heat and cold, as they crossed 17 countries on trains, trucks, ships, rafts, ski-doos, buses, barges, bicycles and balloons.


Much of the journey was made between July and Christmas of 1991. It was as if history was waiting for Palin, planning some of its biggest days for his arrival on the scene. He came to Ethiopia at the end of a thirty-year civil war, Zambia on the day of Kenneth Kaunda’s downfall and he witnessed the end of apartheid in South Africa and Communism in the USSR.


If you’ve seen any of Palin’s travel series you’ll know exactly what to expect from this book. His sense of humour shines through and so does his never ending genuine joy and love of life, his obvious pleasure at meeting new people and being in strange but fascinating places. He is an excellent companion for such an arduous journey.


The Egyptian theory of driving is simple – everyone else on the road is in your way.


One of his Egyptian guides round Luxor is 83 year old Tadorus (but he insists Michael calls him Peter!) who as a boy of fourteen ‘was present when archaeologist Howard Carter first pushed open the door of Tutankhamun’s tomb’. Despite his many, many years spent around these ancient buildings with scholars and archaeologists, he still finds some things unexplainable.

A statue of Rameses 2nd, 97 feet high and made from a single piece of granite, weighs 1000 tons. Cranes nowadays can only lift 200 tons, yet this massive statue was brought to Luxor from Aswan overland, 3000 years ago.


And he goes on to say.

The temple of Abu Simbel, was aligned by the ancient Egyptians so that the sun shone onto the face of Rameses twice a year – once on his birthday and once on his coronation day. When it was re sited in a 40 million dollar operation to save it from the rising water of Lake Nassir, all the calculations of the world’s experts could not enable the sun to shine on Rameses face more than once a year.


Informative and entertaining, if you like to travel the world in the company of someone erudite and ebullient but all from the comfort of your armchair then this is a book for you.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've listened to this and others in the series as audiobooks. They are read by Michael Palin himself. Who else could do it? The books (or diaries) contain more detail then the television programmes and often provide insights into the recording process.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Bill
      In this his most challenging journey, Michael Palin tackles the Himalaya, the greatest mountain range on earth, a virtually unbroken wall of rock stretching 1800 miles from the borders of Afghanistan to south-west China. Penetrated but never conquered, it remains the world's most majestic natural barrier, a magnificent wilderness that shapes the history and politics of Asia to this day.
      Having risen to the challenge of seas, poles, dhows and deserts, the highest mountains in the world were a natural target for Michael Palin. In a journey rarely, if ever, attempted before, in 6 months of hard travelling Palin takes on the full length of the Himalaya including the Khyber Pass, the hidden valleys of the Hindu Kush, ancient cities like Peshawar and Lahore, the mighty peaks of K2, Annapurna and Everest, the bleak and barren plateau of Tibet, the gorges of the Yangtze, the tribal lands of the Indo-Burmese border and the vast Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh.
      Facing altitudes as high as 17,500 feet as well as some of the world's deepest gorges, Palin also passed through political flashpoints like Pakistan's remote north-west frontier, terrorist-torn Kashmir and the mountains of Nagaland, only recently open to visitors. They had a brush with the Maoists while filming in Nepal and advice from the Dalai Lama before crossing into Tibet.
      This book, compiled from his diaries, records the pleasure and pain of an extraordinary journey. Basil Pao, the inspired photographer of SAHARA, FULL CIRCLE and POLE TO POLE, captures the sensational beauty of the finest mountain scenery in the world. This is adventure at the very highest level.
      RRP: £20.00, <a href ="http://www.thebookplace.com/bookplace/spring2005.asp?CID=BGO733" TARGET="_blank">The Book Pl@ce</a> Price: £14.40
      Just click on book jacket:
      <a href="http://www.thebookplace.co.uk/bookplace/display.asp?ISB=0297843710&CID=BGO733"TARGET="_blank"><IMG SRC=""></A>
  • Create New...