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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 10: 4 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysPhileas Fogg arrived in Suez aboard the SS Mongolia six and a half days after leaving London. 'As to seeing the town, he did not even think of it, being of that race of Englishmen who have their servants visit the country they pass through.' One of the reasons for his superior rate of progress becomes clear this morning as I stand beside the Suez Canal just after dawn, watching the northbound convoy go through. There is not a single passenger ship among the fifteen or so which pass, one every seven minutes, rumbling away into the morning mist. The days when you could hop on a Mongolia or a regular P & O or Union Castle service are over. There are cruise ships and cargo ships and not a lot else in between. And that's why I'm already almost four days behind Fogg and every hour of this uncertainty in Suez puts me further behind.

There's no one else out here by the canal where the rusting sections of a pontoon bridge and the dug-outs, trenches and block-houses are reminders of the bitter fighting that took place only fifteen years ago. The whole place is like one huge War Museum, through which ships pass at a stately pace almost like mirages in the haze.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 10
  • Date: 4 October
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Suez
  • Book page no: 46

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