Watch videos with subtitles in your language, upload your videos, create your own subtitles! Click here to learn more on "how to Dotsub"

ExplorerTV_Belly of the Dragon

0 (0 Likes / 0 Dislikes)
(dramatic music) [National Geographic EXPLORER] [Narrarator] On Explorer Journal an adventurous couple pedals their way to the soul of a nation. From Beijing to Hong Kong on bicycle. (Chinese music) [Peter] We want to get to see the China tourists don't get to see. (horn blowing) No guides and no translators. (weak horn blowing) (laughter) China before it changes completely. So we set out to cross China, to bike the dragon. (Chinese music) I'm Peter Crosby a photojournalist who covers Asia. Atsuko Horiguchi, she's a World Bank economist who's never done anything like this. Our crazy ambition Is to ride from Beijing, the capital, through the rural belly of China, on south to Hong Kong. That's over two thousand miles in six months. People think we're nuts. But as today's Chinese say, ('OK' spoken in Chinese), why not? Try it, even if you don't know what is going to happen. - Yay, Yay! At the start of our journey, troops of The People's Liberation Army were marching through Tiananmen square as if there was a great parade for us. It felt very grand. Soon enough we were stuck in reality. We rode or pushed big heavy Chinese bikes called Flying Pigeons. After a while we called them the flying pigs. - Hey. To most folks China is a vast enigma. It's bigger than the US and has a fifth of the world's people. I've observed Asia for years but China is still the great mystery. The emerging power, the unknown we have to explore. Our first major challenge is to climb Wutai Shan, Our first major challenge is to climb Wutai Shan, one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains of China. [Atsuko] - Yay! [Peter] We've only been on our journey for a month, and we're trying to tackle a ten thousand foot climb? I've done triathlons and this is as tough as any of them. For Atsuko, once a weekend biker, this seems like Mount Olympus itself. We actually saw an Olympic athlete training on a lightweight bike. I had a serious case of bike envy. Later when a group of Mongolian pilgrims invited us Later when a group of Mongolian pilgrims invited us for tea, we gladly accepted. They'd come over a thousand miles for their pilgrimage to the holy mountain. Revived by their kindness, Revived by their kindness, we take on the last steep ascent. [Atsuko] I'm so happy, I'm so happy. [Peter] Why? [Atsuko] I'm on top of the mountain, we've been climbing for eight and a half hours! [Peter] Well, when one of those goes by, see that... (shouting) We rode our bikes here, we rode bicycles here, And you rode a bus. (chanting) We stayed one night at the Gold temple. We stayed one night at the Gold temple. One of the many monasteries on the mountain. (chanting) As different as our worlds are, we felt very connected to the monks. We didn't want to leave. But we knew there were lots of adventures down the road. [Peter] (Shouting 'Okay' in Chinese) For weeks we were in remote China. We became the tourist attraction wherever we went. Many people had never seen foreigners. Certainly not ones with bikes. People said, well, why are you doing this? Don't you have any money? Why wouldn't you take a car or a bus or fly? [Peter] (laughter, says 'thanks' in Chinese) They think must be poor if we travel by bike. But its the bikes that make our experiences rich. - Bye bye, bye bye [Peter] One day we hear some music in the distance And decide to follow it. A stranger hands us some lotus leaves to shade our heads. We're beckoned across some fields. We're beckoned across some fields. We don't know what's going on. They're wailing and praying, and burning incense and spirit money. The father had died, and the whole village was honoring his passing in a three day ceremony. For a short period, we're a part of that village, we're no longer strangers. The further we journeyed into China, The further we journeyed into China, the more we shed our own ways, and our equipment., like our water filter. So every day we search for clean boiled water to fill our bottles. Some days it was scalding. (Screaming) Atsuko's really shaken, but Atsuko's really shaken, but she applies what first aid she can. It's scary getting an injury in the middle of nowhere. We finally find this treatment room, in a public hospital, in Nanyang, a large city. It's painful, a third degree burn. It's painful, a third degree burn. I want better care so we try a private hospital I want better care so we try a private hospital where they use specialized treatments. - There were rat turds, rat turds all over this bed. (laughter) [Peter] After five days of that medical care, [Peter] After five days of that medical care, I was dying to get back on the road. Bronchitis, the trots, saddle sores, bruises and flight tires haven't stopped us. This burn wasn't going to stop us either. Ahead lay the greatest mystery of our trip. The ancient forest of Shennongjia. Legendary home of China's "Big Foot." For the next month I became obsessed with finding Big Foot. The police seem to have other ideas. [Peter] ('It is small' spoken in Chinese) They kept kicking us out. We learned that this region was surrounded by military. I was worried we'd get deported from the country. Once they put us on a bus to send us far away. But luckily the bus broke down. So we got our stuff off So we got our stuff off and headed back to our search for Big Foot. This time we decided to get even further off the main roads, and sneak our way in. On our old maps I discovered a reservoir On our old maps I discovered a reservoir just might lead to the forest. Around the bend we were hoping to find the path to Big Foot. Instead, we found ourselves completely lost. Our bikes were breaking, and so were our spirits. - [Peter] It just hits the break every time. - [Atsuko] So are you suggesting we turn back? - [Peter] I'm suggesting we turn back. [Peter] The search for Big Foot was a big disappointment. Three months on the road and we were getting burned out. But we didn't give up, instead we redesigned our trip. - [Peter] It's the same here, - it's the same road that goes down here. [Peter] We're headed west on the Yangtze, the longest river in Asia. The huge dam they're building will flood the three gorges, and swallow over thirteen hundred villages. We wanted to get out and meet We wanted to get out and meet the people whose lives will change. One afternoon we got caught in a cold rain. We were lost again. Some people who lived in a dirt house invited us in. Come, have a hot potato. They brought us into their lives They brought us into their lives with a warm fire and hot tea. Then with remarkable generosity, the Liu family prepared us a special feast. Have you ever felt like the more we're different, the more we're the same? With the Liu's we learned how close we really are. The father and I even share the same birthday. When we said goodbye, we cried. I wondered if we came back in 10 years, how different their lives would be? After the Liu family in rural China, the cities of the south are a culture shock for me. Everything is on the move. This is brave new China. This is brave new China. A giant construction zone, the commercial tail that wags the dragon. The rhythms intensified, the roads became more dangerous. Just twenty feet from us we saw a horrible accident. A woman was thrown into the air and killed. - [Peter] Couldn't get anybody to help. - These people have been hit by a truck on a motorcycle. - It made me feel very, very vulnerable. It could have been Atsuko. It could have been me. [Peter] We had survived so many dangers in the last six months. We had also pedaled into the adventure of a lifetime. It was a privilege to see uncharted China, It was a privilege to see uncharted China, and to document people and places before they change. The whole trip was only an idea, The whole trip was only an idea, that came from nowhere, and could have gone nowhere. But instead, I put it into action and made the journey real. 2,400 miles, we did it! We biked the dragon. ('OK!' spoken in Chinese)

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 24 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Views: 98
Posted by: pscrosby on Jan 26, 2011

Short documentary about a 6-month bicycle journey across rural China from Beijing to Hong Kong in 1994.

Caption and Translate

    Sign In/Register for Dotsub to translate this video.