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Original Issue

Wide Ranging

In the opening episode of the six-part Himalaya with Michael Palin, the Monty Python alumnus makes his entrance in the Karakoram Range to view K2. He steps off a helicopter and a moment later takes a face plant in the snow. The six one-hour episodes of the BBC series, which began airing on the Travel Channel on June 20, follow the inveterate traveler 1,800 miles from the border of Afghanistan to the Death Zone on Everest to southwest China.

Palin's cultural journey in the Himalayas is an enjoyable one. On a hot morning he crosses the border from Lahore, Pakistan, to Amritsar, India, accompanied by 22 porters. There, a vendor sells him a bottle of beer. Palin, after weeks of government-enforced abstinence, cheerfully takes a swig. He then travels to Dharmsala, India, where he discusses his previous lives with the Dalai Lama. When he learns that he was once an elephant, the 62-year-old Palin asks how an elephant gets to be a TV host. Replies His Holiness, "An elephant also has a lot of curiosity to know." Advised by the Dalai Lama to visit his home country of Tibet, Palin makes his way there as well as to Bhutan, Burma and Nepal, providing witty and charming commentary along the way.



Feet that Nuno Gomes, 52, of South Africa descended into the Red Sea, a world scuba diving record. He reached the depth in 20 minutes but, with compression stops, took 12 hours to surface.