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.
Until David Thompson found a route through the Rockies, the west coast was effectively cut off from the rest of Canada. Combined with the unique terrain of the Pacific coast, the result was a different land. The unique cultures, skills and landscape of Canada's far west make it a rich and diverse place - a land of cedar boxes, steam-bent fish hooks and dugout canoes, and a place where totem poles once dominated the landscape and people relied on the sea. Ray Mears explores the area's bushcraft, nature and traditions as he completes his journey across Canada.
Colin Stafford-Johnson begins his Atlantic journey exploring the ancient ruins and wildlife of the Skellig Rocks - stormbound ocean pinnacles off the south western corner of Ireland, where early Christian monks built a monastery on the summit almost 1,500 years ago. His journey ends in Clew Bay, an iconic inlet halfway up Ireland's west coast and the place Colin chose to make his home.
This first leg takes him from the rugged coast of South Africa, where he joins the fight against wildlife poachers, through Mozambique, and on to the tropical island of Zanzibar. On the way, he swims with sharks, meets the refugees who have found shelter in a luxury beachfront hotel, and travels on a huge container ship fortified against the constant threat of pirates.
Throughout Burma, temples, stupas, and statues of gold pop out in the lush, green landscape. This golden architecture has become Burma's calling card, but how and why did that become the standard here? Join us as we travel across Myanmar, the jewel of Asia, and reveal the history and myths surrounding these shrines, each one created as an offering to the Buddha. We will visit such treasures as the golden pagoda of Mt. Kyaiktiyo, which rests perilously atop a huge boulder, the 344-foot Shwedagon Pagoda, and the revered Mahamuni Buddha Temple.
Simon travels across Central America, from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Along the way, he goes diving on a coral reef on the coast of Belize, and witnesses a gun battle between park rangers and intruders in Chiquibul National Park. He also discovers how climate change has left Guatemala devastated by famine and drought, reports on measures to curb gang violence in El Salvador, and learns how Costa Rica aims to become the world's first carbon neutral country by 2021.