Joanna travels the length of India, including footage of her encounters with the flower-sellers of Madurai, before taking?us back to Uzbekistan, where she reveals some gory tales of the country's history and discovers the secrets of gem-making.
James arrives in Osaka, Japan’s vibrant good-time city, where Pachinko gambling halls, incredible street food, and stand-up comedy are all on the menu. Yujiro, his trusty guide, returns to introduce James to Sumo wrestling, after which James escapes on a bullet train to explore the mysteries of local hero Peach Boy. Then it’s on to Hiroshima and the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine.
The adventurer reaches Sri Lanka, whose strategic location and tropical spices made it a target for invaders and colonisers for centuries. In the north he visits the scenes of vicious battles between the Tamil minority and the Sri Lankan army, traumatic events from which the population is still recovering. On his way to Bangladesh, he hitches a ride on a trawler, highlighting one of the Indian Ocean's fastest-growing industries - providing prawns for the West. But as he reveals, it comes at a price for the environment.
Adventurer and journalist Simon Reeve heads to Vietnam to uncover the stories behind the nation's morning pick-me-up. While we drink millions of cups of the stuff each week, how many of us know where our coffee actually comes from? The surprising answer is that it is not Brazil, Columbia or Jamaica, but Vietnam. Eighty per cent of the coffee we drink in Britain isn't posh cappuccinos or lattes but instant coffee and Vietnam is the biggest supplier. From Hanoi in the north, Simon follows the coffee trail into the remote central highlands where he meets the people who grow, pick and pack our coffee. Millions of small scale famers, each working two or three acres, produce most of the coffee beans that go into well known instant coffee brands. Thirty years ago Vietnam only produced a tiny proportion of the world's coffee, but after the end of the Vietnam war there was a widescale plan to become a coffee growing nation and Vietnam is now the second biggest in the world. It has provided employment for millions, making some very rich indeed, and Simon meets Vietnam's biggest coffee billionaire. But Simon learns that their rapid success has come at a cost to both the local people and the environment.
2014 • Travel
James journeys through Japan's mountainous forests, marvels at its zen gardens and admires centuries-old bonsai, to explore the connections between Japanese culture and the natural environment. Travelling around Japan's stunning island geography, he examines how the country's two great religions, Shinto and Buddhism, helped shape a creative response to nature often very different to the West. But he also considers modern Japan's changing relationship to the natural world and travels to Naoshima Art Island to see how contemporary artists are finding new ways to engage with nature.
From stunning heights, witness the mountains, rivers, and people that make up China's great interior. Visit celebrations at the center of the Buddhist world and on the edges of river cities, soar over the world's most famous peak 29,000 feet in the air, and dive into an ancient city submerged under a lake. China's heartland is a place where urban and rural communities embrace the challenges of a changing 21st century world.