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Annapurna to Everest

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In the western part of the Kingdom of Nepal, in the foothills of the great 8,000m peaks of Annapurna and Daulagiri, intrepid traveller Michael Palin accompanies Lieutenant Colonel Adrian Griffith, commander of the British Gurkha in Nepal, on the annual recruitment drive. In the village of Lekhani, as in villages all over Nepal, the young hopefuls are being put through the first stages of the testing that will whittle down some 25,000 applicants to the 250 who will finally make it into the Gurkha Regiment. For the boys, it is the chance to become rupee millionaires. For the girls, it's a chance to spot a future wealthy husband. But all does not go according to plan. Michael then starts the arduous trek up to Annapurna Base Camp - a vital part of the acclimatisation process that will culminate in going up to 5,500m on Everest. The trek is no cake-walk. Michael suffers from a cold, a wracking cough and the effects of altitude. It is a feat of willpower and endurance that, albeit with the help of his sherpas, Wongchu Nawang and Mingmar, he finally succeeds in making it up to the 4,200m of Annapurna BC. Leaving the mountains behind for a brief break in the capital Kathmandu, Michael is blessed by King Gyuenandra at his palace during the important Nepali festival of Desain. Meeting up with one of the King's cousins, Pratima Pande, he is entertained at her home with the gambling games that are part and parcel of the festival, before joining her at the Holy Siva shrine of Pashiputanath to visit the Holy men and witness the cremations that take place.


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