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Stylish prose and stunning photographs--both by Harding, a leading British entertainer and dedicated conservationist--combine to make this one of the year's most appealing travel books. In 1987, Harding set off with wife Pat for a trek through the mountains of northern India and Nepal. The object of the trip was to make a film for Britain's Central Television about the effects of deforestation on the area. Although the journey was marked by major and minor difficulties--missed plane connections, rickety suspension bridges, petulant yaks, a case of the ""Green Apple Quickstep""--Harding retained both his sense of humor and his sense of wonder. His plans were disrupted by events ranging from army maneuvers to blown-out tires, but he managed to visit many of the Buddhist monasteries that dot the countryside, making friends with the red- and yellow-robed monks. Harding is especially adept at capturing the character of those he encounters along the way--for example, the rude trekker who stormed about The Himalaya View lodge in Nepal. ""He wouldn't have walked up to the front desk of the Tel Aviv Hilton in his underwear shouting for hot water,"" Harding writes, ""so why was he doing it here?"" Harding writes, ""so why was he doing it here?"" Harding also describes The Hotel Everest View, located 14,000 feet above sea level. Here, the dining room bears a sign reading ""Oxygen available in all rooms. Please ask management."" When guests started dropping like flies owing to altitude sickness, business at the luxury caravansary plummeted. Today, it's nearly deserted. Harding's writing is a lively blend of the humorous, the exotic, and the affectionate, but it's his 150 color photographs that really distinguish this work. Clear and crisp as mountain air, they are dazzling.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
Publisher: Michael Joseph/Viking