This week we are exploring Romania's largest and most iconic region,mistaken by many Americans and others as a country in its own right. In fact Transylvania is a name that most of the western world still associates with Dracula, werewolves and folk legend. But this land beyond the forest defies all preconceptions and remains one of the most culturally important and beautiful parts of Eastern Europe.
2018 • Travel
The seasoned traveller explores the South American country, beginning in the north-east - where Europeans first landed and grew rich on the profits from sugar and tobacco plantations run with slave labour. In Sao Luis, Michael finds out about a ceremony based on a 200-year-old tale before heading to the coastal lagoons of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park. Journeying inland, he gets a glimpse of the fast-disappearing world of old-style cowboys known as vaqueiros, has his fortune read by a Candomble priest and learns to drum with the Olodum cultural collective.
The second of a two-part series, in which adventurer and broadcaster Simon Reeve travels deeper into beautiful and troubled Burma. Simon journeys up the vast Irrawaddy River to the old royal capital of Mandalay, home to an exotic market for precious jade. In Burma's mountainous highlands, he experiences the country's vibrant ethnic heritage at an extraordinary and explosive fire-balloon festival, Burma is a melting pot of different ethnic groups, and having seen first-hand the suffering of the Rohingya people on the first leg of his journey, Simon now travels secretly into one of Burma's many other conflict zones to meet a huge rebel army who have been fighting the Burmese military for decades.
This week, Julia visits the lush Ionian island of Corfu, often called the least Greek of all the Greek islands. Her trip begins in the capital Corfu Town where she discovers a surprising, cosmopolitan city more like a little slice of Italy than Greece.
Simon travels from Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory or 'Top End', across to the remote Cape York Peninsula, and on to the Great Barrier Reef. Simon sets off from Kakadu, the largest national park in the world, where the wildlife is under threat from the march of millions of poisonous cane toads. He joins a team of toad-busters catching the amphibian invaders - originally introduced to the country to kill pests. In Robertson barracks Simon meets Australia's best - and only - tank regiment. They will soon host 6,000 American Marines - evidence of Australia's strategic importance in the Asia Pacific region. On the Cape York Peninsula Simon joins scientists catching deadly box jellyfish, whose venom could prove to have great medicinal value. And on the Great Barrier Reef he dives in search of the starfish destroying coral, before flying 100 miles out into the ocean to watch as a huge tanker is expertly guided through the fragile reef.
In central Thailand's forests, fertile plains and even city streets, nature finds a way of living alongside people. Spirituality can be found in human and animal relationships, both likely and unlikely. This bustling region is known as the nation's rice bowl - but even here, there are magical places to be found.