Adventurer and journalist Simon Reeve heads to Cuba to find a communist country in the middle of a capitalist revolution. Two years ago Cuba announced the most sweeping and radical economic reforms the country has seen in decades. From ending state rationing to cutting one million public-sector jobs, one of the last communist bastions in the world has begun rolling back the state on an unprecedented scale. Simon Reeve meets ordinary Cubans whose lives are being transformed, from the owners of fledgling businesses to the newly rich estate agents selling properties worth up to 750,000. Simon gets under the skin of a colourful and vibrant country famous for its hospitality and humour and asks if this new economic openness could lead to political liberalisation in a totalitarian country with a poor human rights record. Will Cuba be able to maintain the positive aspects of its long isolation under socialism - low crime, top-notch education and one of the best health systems in the world - while embracing what certainly looks like capitalism? Is this the last chance to see Cuba before it becomes just like any other country?
This leg takes Ade across central Africa, from the coast of Gabon, through the giant Democratic Republic of Congo, and on to Uganda. He starts off the coast of Gabon looking for humpback whales. It is one of Africa's best spots for seeing them, thanks to Gabon's vast marine sanctuaries. The country is an eco-paradise, not just in the water, but on land as well where 80% of it is forested. But the country has recently introduced one of the most destructive agri-businesses in the tropics - palm oil farming. Ade discovers how Gabon hopes to do it sustainably. The country has impressive environmental credentials, but on a tour of its divided capital Ade hears that some people are skeptical. One critic suggests it is a way for the country's autocratic ruler Ali Bongo Ondimba to curry favour with the international community. Next up is perhaps the most chaotic and corrupt country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ade discovers first-hand how everyone from the traffic police to the country's top politicians are on the take. He also spends time with some of Kinshasa's musicians and ‘sapeurs' – people who get kitted out in the finest haute couture in one of the poorest countries on the planet. In DRC's far east, he finds out what lies at the heart of the country's problems: a never-ending conflict amongst local militia, fuelled by foreign countries who want to get their hands on the DRC's vast resources. After going on a tank patrol with the UN, he meets Kibomango, a champion boxer who is helping to rehabilitate some of the country's 30,000 child soldiers. Travelling into one of the most famous national parks in the world, Virunga, Ade discovers that few areas of the country have been left unscarred by the violence. And the impact on the wildlife has been extreme, as Ade encounters some of the world's few remaining mountain gorillas. His final stop on this trip is Uganda where he meets Bobi Wine, one of Africa's most outspoken political campaigners. Bobi was recently arrested and beaten, and his driver killed, after his protests drew the attention of long-serving autocratic ruler Yoweri Museveni. Ade meets a defiant man who will not give up, no matter what threats are made on his life. He is part of a new generation of Africans who are fighting to take back control from the post-colonial leaders who have done so much to wreck the continent.
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.
Burma and Buddhism are intertwined, thanks to centuries of ancient mythology and thousands of golden monuments of worship. It all began with the Pagan Kingdom about 1,000 years ago, when Anawrahta, a great king, and Shin Arahan, a Buddhist monk, together incited one of the greatest religious reformations in Asian history. Join us as we explore this spiritual revolution and how it triggered a wave of temple-building in honor of the Buddha.