Saturday 16 October 2010

Around the World in 80 Days

Mike and I just finished watching the BBC series, Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days, and now Mike's too scared to go!!!  Ha, ha, not really...  But it's always interesting to see the experiences of a fellow land and sea-based circumnavigator, even if the trip did take place back in the '80s.

The first thing that struck me about Palin's 80 Days was that the budget is a bit different from ours.  The tailor of Palin's banker is richer than the tailor of our banker! (translate into Latin, please).  To convince ourselves that the cost of taking the Orient Express, as Palin does, is astronomical, we looked it up.  If people think sailing transatlantic on the Queen Mary II is extravagant, all I can say is, it's less than a third the price of this!  The BBC should print the trip budget!

Mike got more uptight about the obvious intense string-pulling by the BBC to make everything work.  Particularly when they persuaded a freight captain to bump two of his crewmen off the ship and fly them from Chennai to Singapore (at the BBC's expense, I imagine), so that Palin and cameraman could get on board. I was already dubious about the possibility of getting onto freight ships at all, without a lot of planning and forethought. I was more amused that they pulled out a motor launch to zoom him from one ship to another in Singapore harbour, but left him to thumb a lift from a lorry driver in Felixstowe.   I think we were both losing sight of the point of the exercise, which was to make television.

So what about getting round the world in 80 days?  Apart from doing it for a bet, it doesn't seem like a great idea.  Poor old Palin looked exhausted by the time he made London (that's what scared Mike), and he only spent about half a dozen days seeing places. I think we'll do the opposite, and see how long we can take!  But if you must rush, it occurs to me that you can reach Beijing from London comfortably in a couple of weeks with the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian trains.  Was this still the inaccessible Soviet Union when they made this series?

I suppose we're now going to have to watch Palin's 80 Days Revisited, not to mention read the Jules Verne original.

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