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AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS - 20th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

Michael sets out on Around the World in 80 Days On 25th September, 1988, I set out from the Reform Club in London to try and emulate Phileas Fogg's journey around the world in eighty days, without flying and using almost exclusively those forms of transport - trains, ships, balloons, dog sleds - that would have been available to Fogg in the 1880s. We got home with just half a day to spare.

September 2008 was the twentieth anniversary of that epic journey and there was no shortage of ideas about how to celebrate it. As in all six of the journeys that followed Around The World In Eighty Days, it was the people we met who I remember most. And it was the people, rather more than the places, that I wanted to see again.

Nowhere, in all the journeys did I ever grow closer to the locals than on "Al Shama", the dhow which took us from Dubai to Bombay. Our crew were highly experienced television professionals, their crew were boatmen from the northern part of Gujerat in India. They didn't speak our language or have much of a clue as to why anyone in their right mind would want to do what we were doing, but in the eight days that we spent together moving slowly down the Gulf and across the Arabian Sea, we learned a lot about each other.

When we finally reached Bombay the leave-taking was quite emotional. Kasim, The Old Man Of The Sea, hugged me, as if he didn't want to say goodbye. The whole crew stood in line waving as we headed off to the shore. It was an unusual relationship that had grown up over that week at sea, and one, I think, that gives real hope that, despite all their differences of culture and circumstance, the people of this planet have much in common and it reinforced in my own mind my belief that we are conditioned to be friends rather than enemies. Otherwise what hope is there?

So, to mark the twentieth anniversary of Eighty Days we went back to Dubai and India to retrace our steps and to see if we could find any of the crew of Al Shama. The result was a one-hour documentary and an account of our return and a whole stack of new pictures. Now they join all my other traveller's tales here on the website.

Enjoy an amazing journey, as we roll back the years!

Michael Palin, London, 21 April 2009