A Music Express is an amusement ride based on the original Caterpillar rides of Germany. Several near-identical ride designs are also produced by other companies; Musik Express by Italian company Bertazzon and US Majestic Rides, Himalaya by American company Wisdom Rides,
German company Mack, and French company Reverchon, and Silver Streak by Wisdom Rides. This ride is a modern adaption of the famous Harry TraverCaterpillar rides.
Design and operation
The ride features twenty 3-passenger cars connected in a circle. These cars rotate on a track with alternating sloped and flat sections. Rotation is possible in both a backward and forward direction, as the ride is manually operated. The ride is powered by 4 DC motors, and can reach a maximum speed of 12 revolutions per minute. (Certain older models have a hydraulic tire/rim drive and they have a tendency to go faster).
The riders in each car are restrained by a single solid lap bar that is locked across the body of the car, making the ride unsuitable for young children or people of short stature. The bar must be manually locked or unlocked, and only locks in one position. Lights and music are also controlled by the operator, which (as the name suggests) contribute heavily to the ride experience. After a certain amount of rotations or minutes, the ride operator will be alerted by the control box that the speed is going to increase, usually by a light on the box. At that time the operator will speak on a microphone asking the riders if they would like to go faster. Sometimes the ride operator can do this earlier than the alert light to built suspense. After a minute or two of faster speed, the ride will then slow down, and the operator can then ask the riders if they would like to go backwards. The speed up element is then repeated again only done in reverse. The Most parks and carnivals require all riders to be at least 42inches or even taller, depending on circumstances and ride design.
This book, like the other books that Michael Palin wrote following each of his seven trips for the BBC, consists both of his text and of many photographs to illustrate the trip. All of the pictures in this book were taken by Basil Pao, the stills photographer who was part of the team who did the trip (Pao also produced a book, Inside Himalaya, containing many more of his pictures).
The book contains eight chapters: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, Yunnan (China), Nagaland and Assam(India), Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The book is presented in a diary format; Palin starts each section of the book with a heading such as "Day Forty One: Srinagar". Not all days are mentioned, a result of the trip as a whole being broken up into shorter trips (a fact that is not mentioned in the series).
Palin makes several treks up into the mountains, including one trek up to Everest Base Camp at 17,500 feet (5,300 meters). Not bad, considering that Palin was 60 years old at the time. Other encounters and experiences that are related by Michael Palin include finding out that the Dalai Lama not only knew who he was, but was a fan of Palin's TV programmes.