Comedians Rhod Gilbert and Greg Davies attempt to drive through the mountainous, landlocked nation of Nepal, starting from the chaotic border with India.
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This programme contains some strong language
-5 billion kilometres of roads network our planet.
-Instant death then, yeah?
-Yet the desire to communicate and trade means new routes
are being forged through increasingly challenging terrain.
-Keep as close as you can there.
-Yeah, but am I OK with that drop?
-Across Arctic tundra...
-Zero visibility on the pass, we are mid-drift.
Over mountain passes...
Go, Fogle, go!
These roads fight a constant battle with nature.
Let's just calm it down.
But their very existence is testament
to man's ingenuity and driving them requires courage and determination.
Oh, get out. Whoa-a-a!
Comedians Rhod Gilbert and Greg Davies are attempting
to drive across Nepal, one of the poorest, least developed,
most mountainous countries on earth.
Oh, look out!
With a population of 30 million,
Nepal is sandwiched between two giant superpowers, China and India.
Ah, no way, no way, this is awful.
Following the path of ancient Himalayan trade routes,
their journey will take them along heart-stopping mountain tracks...
-Ha-ha, that must've been a buzz!
-..and death-defying highways...
..thrown into an intense culture that will both shock...
That is the maddest thing I have ever seen in my life.
Together, they will take on a rugged mountainous landscape.
Don't look now, but the earth is literally giving way beneath us down there.
And endure hundreds of miles of torturous driving
on one of the world's most dangerous roads.
-What you genuinely don't know is that could at any moment really come down.
I think this is probably the end of the road.
Rhod and Greg are starting their journey
at the busy India-Nepal border crossing.
-Why exactly are we dressed like this?
-I don't know!
We literally look like a budget swat team.
These guys have known each other for nearly ten years
and they've never travelled together to anywhere like this.
-These are the road signs we've got to get the hang of.
That's the one I'm worried about.
This is the one I'm worried about - a giant walking along the road
-That's a picture of you, mate. Hey, man, we're in Nepal.
There's a welcoming committee here.
Oh, hello, that's the car.
My name is Raja.
-Raja, Rhod, nice to meet you.
-Raja, I'm Greg, nice to meet you.
What tips can you give us about driving?
We have to drive slowly, not fast, be careful, you know?
Raja is handing over a workhorse four-wheel drive for their journey across Nepal.
The blessing is meant to ensure their safety.
-Put this for the good luck.
-That's Ganesh for good luck.
And we have to pray for them.
Ganesh will look after us.
Yes. This is your garland.
This goes round here? And one round Ganesh?
You've done this before, haven't you? Is there more?
-Tikka for good luck.
-Is this tikka like chicken tikka?
'I've never been anywhere like this before.
'I just didn't get the call to go travelling'
when I was younger. I've travelled a lot in the last few years
with comedy, but staying in quite nice hotels, that's part of the reason why I came, really -
I've never ever really experienced anything like this,
and it is a sensory overload. It's just madness.
The shoe is coming out!
This is the shoe for the wheels, no puncture, no accidents.
This shoe stops the tyres from getting punctured.
This is my second time in Nepal, I was here in 1992,
so about 20 years ago. It's just chaos, the roads are full
of mopeds with 17 people on them, there's chicken riding bikes,
some of these big lorries, they just shoot around the corners.
It's monsoon season and apparently the roads can just disappear
when you're on them. The roads are just full of goats,
rabid dogs, cows everywhere.
I just saw a man with one leg and a stick
and a ganja pipe beating up a bull with a stick.
It's just chaos.
Right then, let's hope Ganesh is switched on.
Do your stuff, Ganesh.
For the next week, Rhod and Greg will drive 400 kilometres
from the Indian to the Chinese border across Nepal.
The first leg of their journey will cross the flat plains
of the Terai, then climb up the twisting mountain roads
to the town of Pokhara, nestled below the Himalayas.
The middle section of their drive means taking on the deadly
Prithvi Highway that twists and turns its way to the capital,
The Arniko Highway is the final leg and takes them
north through deep ravines to the Chinese border at Friendship Bridge.
But they begin their journey heading north,
on the busy Indian-built Siddhartha Highway.
This is mayhem.
God Almighty, the economy of this country must be screwed
if this is a road into a big town.
That's the thing, I think most of the roads have been built by other people -
the Chinese have built them, the Indians have built them.
The road they're on now was for centuries a vital section
of the route used to trade salt and grain between India and Tibet.
In 1968, Indian money helped to upgrade the road from a rough track.
Today, it's heavily congested, with buses and trucks carrying
fuel and goods into Nepal and carpets and clothing into India.
That town was what then?
-Why, you thinking of buying a place?
-Horrible, wasn't it?
Well, it wasn't horrible, it's just this is what it's like.
It's just this poor.
-Well, in the context of what we're used to.
-It's just shocking.
-Yes, it's shocking, yeah.
-Oh, look out.
-Look out. Ooooh!
See, there's going to be a lot of that, but worse.
That's it, toot, "I'm here."
I'm going to start breaking down this culture of tooting.
I'm only going to toot when it's necessary.
I'll be the toot god.
Look, watch this cow. Give him a toot.
Are you allowed to toot them?
-You allowed to toot cows? Who knows.
-Is that disrespectful?
-I don't know.
Am I all right there?
Yeah, go on, you're fine.
It's just a massive culture shock, isn't it?
Do you want to look at this and find our route to Kathmandu?
What's that say there?
-Butwal, 19 kilometres.
Right, see if you can find Butwal.
Yes, I can. Does this ring a bell?
-"Does it ring a bell?"
It's heading towards Pokhara, which is where we're headed,
-we're going up into the mountains.
-Oh, my life.
Look out, you've got a goat there, a cow there,
and a massive truck coming towards you.
Truck or cow, I never thought I'd have that dilemma.
Does Bhairahawa ring any bells? Look around for signs.
Let me try and get something through to you now - it doesn't matter
how many towns you now list to me, you could list 100 towns
-and they won't ring a bell, none of them would ring a bell.
-OK, I'm going to do it now.
Mustang? That rings a bell, doesn't it? It bloody rings a bell!
-It does ring a bell, Mustang!
-Hang on, rabid dog attack.
Two warring dogs.
OK, er, Kathmandu, does that ring a bell?
Yeah, that rings a bell. Ha-ha-ha, you are a prick, honestly!
After several hours driving on the flat,
mountains rear up on the road ahead.
We're going about five hours up into the mountain there above the cloud.
And this road, I think, is going to get progressively worse.
Right, we're off tarmac now, we are off tarmac.
What have we let ourselves in for?
They're crossing a major geographical junction,
where the Indian continental plate collides with Asia.
The colossal forces at work here continue to push the Himalayan range
six centimetres higher every year.
They get so bloody close to you.
Rhod and Greg are looking out for a roadside shrine,
dedicated to the Hindu god of drivers.
What are we doing now?
-This is to make our journey good luck?
Powerful forces of creation
and destruction are central to Hindu belief.
They are mirrored in the natural forces which shape the mountains.
THEY SPEAK LOCAL LANGUAGE
As the Himalayas are thrust ever upwards,
all the while erosion acts to reduce the mountain.
These two gargantuan forces act simultaneously to form
the mountainous terrain
and produce hazards that make the Himalayas a dangerous place.
What were you saying, when you was praying?
-And the weather? Good?
-The weather is good!
Yeah? This is good. I'm glad we came to you.
-Thank you, bye-bye.
Rock fall area. Brilliant(!) How do you feel after being blessed by the priest?
I'm not a religious man but I felt vaguely reassured.
Man, that's a bad bit of road.
Need to be pretty careful about now.
-I tell you, I don't like...
-Look at this.
I don't like the look of these rocks.
I don't like the fact that up there...
-Oh, God, if this comes down on us, mate.
-I don't like the drop down this side.
-Is it bad?
-300, 400 feet, absolutely sheer.
-Instant death then, yeah?
They're due to spend their first night in the hilltop town of Tansen,
once a major stop on the old trade route.
Are you sure this is the turn? Because this is as rough as...
Some inspired map reading finds them on a back road used by the locals.
Oh, this is bad. Right, now this looks mental.
Shit. Hang on a minute, hang on a minute. Woah, woah.
-Big drop there, you know.
-There's a big drop here.
-Down, now, now! Stop!
-Am I close enough there?
-Brilliant work, that was tight.
-Oh, my God, look at this.
Shit, we've lost that wheel.
The shortcut is proving to be a real challenge
and nightfall is quickly approaching.
Just watch this.
It's a real struggle but, hours later,
they make it to the ancient hilltop trading town of Tansen.
Their hotel is several hundred feet above the town
and in the morning, Rhod and Greg find themselves surrounded by mist.
We arrived here by a sort of clumsy old off-road route.
We're going back through the town of Tansen.
This is Rhod's first day driving, you may have gathered.
-He's a little anxious, aren't you?
-I'm really anxious.
-Do you know where we're going?
-Just head down.
I'm a very nervous driver. Very cautious, conservative.
I'm not as good a driver as you because I'm not aware
of the size of the vehicle and I'm desperately worried
about crushing A, a mangy dog or B, a woman the size of a grain of rice.
There's lots of weird little shops in Tansen.
There's a reason for that. I'll attempt to tell you why.
Like this one, for example, if you can see it. I'll stop outside it. Hello, namaste? Good morning.
-Namaste's a great greeting.
-It is a great greeting
because it accounts for everything you want to say.
We must get the literal translation.
-It's something like "God within you".
-"God within you", yeah.
-Look at this, this is bad.
-All these interesting little shops,
-I could be telling you all about this.
-Tell me about it then.
Well, if you look, you'll see most of the stuff will come from India.
-Most of the stuff comes from India?
-Yeah, and there's a reason for that.
-This used to be a mighty Nepalese kingdom.
They were eventually killed off by a plague, someone sent a plague
and that killed the king. Anyway, the point is...
-How do you send a plague?
-I dunno. I don't know.
-I don't know.
Tansen, it was originally a trade route from India,
a vital trade route, right? You listening?
And then a big road was built that cut out this town
-so it was essentially bypassed.
-What should I be doing now?
I've got my foot on the brake, I could smash these people any second.
-So the road instantly stopped this...
-Great(!) Can you guide me
-past this chicken, motorbike and woman carrying a bag?
-There's loads of room!
-That's why I'm not confident, the room in the vehicle.
-Right, stop, stop the car.
I'm going to finish this sentence. Right...
So, because it had been cut off, instantly the town had to adapt
and it did, it instantly adapted by selling Indian goods to the locals.
Ah, right, OK.
-Oh, my God.
-Ask this bloke where his stuff's from.
In your shop, it's from India or Nepal?
Nepal, Nepal? Everything?
Nepal. OK, thank you.
There's going to be exceptions to the rule, though.
Right, I'm going to ask this one. I'm going to ask this one.
Morning, namaste! Is it from Nepal or India, the food?
-The food, Nepal.
-OK, thank you.
-So that's Nepal 2-0 India, eh?
-That's clearly Indian stuff.
-Do you want me to stop and ask?
-2-1, let's just call it 2-1.
I tell you what you can do is go and buy some crisps in that shop. We need snacks.
-Now is not the time.
-Well, I'm going to get them then.
I want to see if my theory's right that all of these are Indian.
-So it's Indian or Nepal?
Right, well, I'll be honest with you, mate, you shouldn't be here!
This is an illegal sweet shop. Let's get this closed down right now.
Their goal today is to reach the town of Pokhara
so Rhod seeks some wisdom about the road ahead.
What's your advice for us trying to drive to China?
-Have courage, you know, have courage.
-And this is the landslide season?
-Yes, optimum landslide season.
-Optimum landslide season?
When I get scared, I get scared when the buses
come round the corner and they swing right out.
When I am on bus, I'm scared I may die.
Anytime it might hit, you know,
because carelessness is very common here in Nepal.
So when you're on the roads, you think anytime you might die?
Yes, because they drive very carelessly, you know.
The rules have not been implemented honestly.
Right, so there's rules but people ignore them? Thank you very much.
Right, Pokhara, here we come.
We've got about four hours of busy highway, haven't we?
Yeah, so you, I imagine, will have some sort of coronary en route.
It's 80 kilometres from Tansen to Pokhara.
There is only one road, but the boys are having trouble finding it.
Look at this, man. Am I supposed to be going up there?
-Ah, no, this is totally going up.
-Not this way?
-Not this way.
Do a three-point turn on a deadly cliff. Anyone?
I need to do a three-point turn, I think I'll do it on a deadly cliff.
-This is just shale here.
-Ah, well done Rhod.
Oh, my God, I'm not in gear.
Here we go. "In public should men, A, always wear a shirt,
"B, at least wear a hat. C, none of the above?"
-Always wear a shirt.
"If you get invited for a meal at a private home,
"what are you expected to bring with you?
"A, some form of pastry."
Don't be ridiculous!
"B, a traditional flower garland for the hostess.
"C, fruit or sweets."
-I've got a feeling it's C, fruit or sweets.
-Oh, God, correct.
Have you got some sort of access to my brain?
Around the corner, they come across another far more sobering custom
that stops them in their tracks.
Oh, my God.
I didn't think you'd be able to so clearly see the body, did you?
Oh, my God.
-Did you think you'd be able to see...?
-I'd no idea.
I've never seen anything like that in my life, to be honest.
Hindus believe in re-incarnation
and that cremation spiritually benefits the departed soul,
releasing it from the entrapment of the body.
Seeing a body burning like that on top of a fire,
simply that physical sight leaves you pretty numb.
We tend to hide the physical details of death in England,
you know, you don't...
You very clearly see that that's a person there.
You think about your family, though, don't you?
You inevitably think about how you would feel in a situation like this.
It's genuinely quite overwhelming, to be honest.
Rhod and Greg have made it to Pokhara,
a town surrounded by the magnificent Himalayan peaks
-of the Annapurna range.
-Woah, look at the views!
That's the whole of Pokhara beneath us there, and the lake.
This town depends on tourism from trekkers
but the boys have come here to explore the controversy
around one new mountain road.
Woah, cow on the left, bus on the right.
Yep, always take the bus out.
Basically, in Nepal's development,
roads are pretty much at the heart of everything,
the heart of progress, the heart of controversy.
This is one of the more controversial roads, isn't it?
Because it goes through the Annapurna conservation area
and this area, really, historically, has just been trekked.
So people have been on foot.
Trekkers are just ramblers but they're under 40.
Trekkers are annoyed about this new route,
which has just been blown out of the mountain.
They're annoyed about it
because they think it ruins the trekking scenery.
There were no roads in Nepal before the 1950s
and for centuries a huge network of paths
carried people and goods between villages.
New roads are essential for Nepal's development
but some of them are contentious.
This is the Annapurna Road and it's not finished.
It goes from there, all the way up into the Annapurna conservation area.
We've been told that this is going to be dangerous and difficult.
Let's hope it's not too frightening because...
It's an open defecation free zone.
That is a blow
because I've been saving something special for this road.
Don't even think about crapping your pants!
All right, ease down, action man!
I'm giving it some laldy, mate, that's what I'm doing.
You want laldy, I'm going to give it laldy, yeah.
I didn't ask you to give it laldy!
Look at the road, man!
It's literally just been hacked out of the side of this mountain.
-I'm starting to get...oh!
-Look at this! State of this!
-You're doing very well.
-Thank you, mate.
THEY GROAN WITH EACH JOLT
Ow, ow, ow!
Oh, now we are...
Hold onto your vertebrae!
Ah, don't get too close to that edge.
I am bloody glad that it's not really raining and monsoon.
-Oh, this cow's gone mental.
Good cow, good cow, good cow.
Right, concentrate here because over the left-hand side
we've got a 1,200 metre drop. Don't look down to the side.
During monsoon season, it's unusual to be able to see any mountains
but as they reach the end of the road,
some of the 7,000-metre peaks of the Annapurna range
briefly show themselves.
That is literally the end of the road.
This is as far as vehicles can get
but from here hundreds of tourists trek for eight days
to reach the Annapurna base camp.
So this is pretty much the start of the conservation area.
The proposed route is to carry on through here, isn't it?
Yeah, I think so.
Look at this!
This is about as far as you can get with a car
but obviously there's other ways to travel!
Hey, boy, come on.
Look at the box.
-This for the road, is it?
-This is for the road.
-Yes, where you going?
We're not going anywhere. We're here.
-Do many tourists use this road?
-Yes, this way the tourists.
-So when it's not monsoon, tourists come here?
Yes, in bus. Now raining time, not good way.
No, it's not good. Only idiots would come up here in the rainy time.
Do people on, er...people who live up here,
do they all think the road is good?
Before this road, it was difficult to walk and now easy.
Is there any people who don't like the road?
Many tourists, they do not, they like to walk.
-Ah! The trekkers.
Why do people want the road to go...to continue?
Many problem, you know? Some people have accidents and people are sick
and it is difficult to carry
and it's not fast, you know?
-Thank you so much. Nice to meet you.
-Thank you, Namaste!
In between worrying about whether we we're going to die,
we've been debating whether the road's a good thing and, at the end of the day,
we've had it conclusively answered by a local, really,
-it is a good thing.
-He was under the impression it was a good thing
and everybody in the area thought it was a good thing -
largely for helping the sick and the needy get treatment and get to hospital.
The only people unhappy with the route are trekkers,
who feel perhaps that it's ruining...
That it's not natural and they're not discovering virgin territory.
Rhod and Greg are now heading back to join the Prithvi Highway,
Nepal's second ever road, built by the Chinese in 1973.
After 50Km they head north,
off the main highway into Nepal's rural heartland.
We've come off the main highway because this road opens up the agricultural land for the locals.
One third of Nepal's population still has no road access,
so cutting new routes into inaccessible rural areas is essential for development.
This is pretty much exclusively for farmers.
Farmers, yeah. It's still pretty awful terrain
but it gives them a chance to trade more effectively I suppose.
On all sides of us, there are people working the land.
Kids are working. You see, two, three, four-year-olds carrying stuff on their heads.
Away from the main road, not much has changed in rural Nepal
for hundreds of years.
Most people live off the land
and survive on less than two dollars a day.
Only 20% of Nepal's land is suitable for cultivation
and food deficiency is a constant problem.
-This guy's asking us to slow down.
-Yeah, let's talk to him.
Namaste! Where you going?
-Not far. Get in.
What's your name?
My name is Razu.
Razu? Why are you here?
My uncle's house is there.
-Ah, you're going to see your uncle?
-Ah, OK. Is he a farmer?
-Is it a good thing, the road?
Yes, a good thing for farmers, yes, the road.
Do you remember coming to see your uncle before this road was here?
-So you used to walk?
-And how long would it take?
-Four hours to walk!
-From here to here.
75% of Nepalese live in rural mountainous areas
and getting new roads and transportation has changed the lives of whole communities.
-Big bus is coming.
Oh, no, a big bus is coming.
I don't think the big bus is...
You're going to have to reverse.
What do you want to be when you're older?
It's a good job, a doctor.
This road just goes straight through the paddy fields.
We're watering the fields, doing our little bit for agriculture.
-You reckon this way, Razu?
-Doesn't look like a road to me.
That is good fun.
This is a good road, very nice. This is the new road.
This is really smooth by comparison, isn't it?
Who do you understand better - me or him?
-When we speak, who do you...?
-Me? Yeah, me, thank you.
-Is it that important to you?
That you have to be better in the eyes of a 14-year-old hitchhiker?
You are such a loser.
Who do you like better?
Oh, I knew it! I knew it would escalate to that!
"Who do you like better?"!
Go on then, ask him, let's find out.
Who do you like better out of us two?
-Good, good boy.
-Oh! Get out, Razu, get out and walk!
You, my friend, have just saved yourself a very long, hot walk!
What do you think, Razu, can we cross it?
-There's a river.
Let's have a look.
This is part of the road?
No, they make a new bridge.
Ah! There's going to be a bridge,
that's what all this is, going across here.
How deep is it in the middle section?
How do I know? Let's do it. Come on.
Here we go.
-Woo-oh! Can I go straight across here?
-It looks genuinely deep here.
-It must be because there's tracks there.
-Put your foot down, put your foot down. That's it, left of that rock.
-Go on. Go on.
I'll be getting off here.
You're getting off here?
-This is where you're getting out?
-This is where you leave us, Razu.
-Where does your uncle live?
-What, up in the hills?
-You're going to walk up there?
-Good luck with being a doctor, Razu.
This is to build the road, to keep going, yeah?
-But you want the road?
-Why is the road important?
Our products, to sell them. We have many apples, banana...
-Yes, we have many fruits but we can't sell this. So it is necessary to make road.
Before the road, how long did it take to go to Pokhara?
-So it chops the time by a third at least.
-OK, thank you very much.
43% of Nepal's exports go to India,
whereas only a fraction of its produce goes north to China.
The country relies on imports from both its wealthy neighbours.
Here's an interesting fact. 100% of Nepal's fuel
comes from India.
Well, that's why... No wonder India's helping build the roads.
Yeah, but it's such a small country, Nepal, you wouldn't have thought... I dunno.
Yeah, but if they're buying all their fuel from India,
then no wonder there is a vested interest in India
funding and investing in Nepal's roads,
so they can get their fuel in and out easier and quicker and it's only a land border.
-So it's not like it's any different to driving anywhere in India.
The only difference is that the roads aren't as good here,
so that's why they're investing in them.
-You just can't cope...
-You just can't cope...
Greg can't cope with geo-politics.
CHANTS: Greg can't cope with geo-politics!
Greg can't cope with geo-politics!
# I know a bloke called Greg
# Who can't, he can't cope
# I know a bloke called Greg
# Who can't cope with facts about the Indian subcontinent. #
-Yes, I can!
-No, you can't.
I can! They call me Mr Geo-politics where I come from.
Rhod and Greg are now driving 100km east,
towards the capital, Kathmandu.
The Prithvi Highway is Nepal's M1.
It's the main east/west artery and is heavily congested
with trucks and buses.
The road twists and turns with sickening drops
to a raging river below.
People die here nearly every day
and the driving can only be described as suicidal.
According to the local newspaper,
"Floods, landslides take their toll across the country.
"Continuous rainfall for the past few days
"has triggered floods and landslides in different parts of the country.
"A woman was injured and her three sons all died
"when a landslide swept them away at 8am today.
"The woman was on her way to a nearby tap to fetch water."
Just brings it home, doesn't it? "A nearby tap!"
Look at this, look at this! Here we go!
HE BEEPS HORN
Look at this lorry coming now.
Just keep on this side but don't let him push you off the road.
He's coming past me.
Oh, that's the way! He wants to come in here now. Christ!
I have not seen one place where I would think it was safe to overtake.
Right, he's telling you to go.
All right, let's take his advice.
-This'll be interesting.
-Oh, brilliant! Whoa, lorry right over our side!
-You're all right.
-I lost the back end there.
Look at this! I mean, what the f... can I do with that?
Look at this! Unbelievable!
Just eating, literally, on a bend!
On a blind bend.
That is incredible!
A family lay out a carpet rug and put tureens out and a full,
full picnic taking up the entire lane on a blind bend.
That is the maddest thing I have ever seen in my life!
-Oh, here, chickens!
-Oh, my god!
Even the chickens are going, "This is a crazy place to overtake."
-This is madness!
Bloody hell! I'm a nervous wreck!
It's now getting dark and their nerves are in tatters.
If he'd have been coming round ten seconds earlier there, you'd have had a real problem.
This is dangerous.
This is fucking dangerous...
what we're doing here.
The boys decide to pull over.
They're still 70km from Kathmandu
and they need to make a decision.
Both of them have been warned about the dangers of driving at night
but the accommodation that's on offer is not that inviting.
Well, what do you want to do?
Well, in all seriousness, we are between a rock and a hard place.
I think both our options, in all seriousness, are a nightmare.
Yeah, but I'm expressing an opinion. My opinion is we should drive to Kathmandu, what is your opinion?
-Well, your opinion I think is actively dangerous.
And staying here is just horrible.
Well, we can sleep in the car. I don't mind sleeping in the car.
I don't wanna sleep in the car but I think...
I think the road is less dangerous at night.
I think, and I mean this,
I think the road is less dangerous at night.
I think the only option really is to try the road for a few minutes
and if it's too hairy and it's just like the day but worse, then we stop.
All right, yeah. Let's try it for a bit.
Got your lights on?
-The difficulty now is that we can see lights coming towards us
but we don't know what it is.
You see one light and think it's a motorbike
but it's a lorry with one light.
I can't see shit.
Oh, my God, do you see that?
You're all right. You're all right.
-Oh! Get out! Whoa! You all right?
I think he was overtaking.
What did I tell you about this road being nicer at night?
Well, it's certainly quieter at night, wouldn't say it's nice.
The city of Kathmandu dates back to 300 AD,
when it was the crossroads of two important trade routes.
Its population has trebled in the last 20 years to over a million
and today its streets are noisy, polluted
and heavily congested.
We survived the road last night, after a deeply unpleasant drive.
We're trying to navigate our way through Kathmandu.
-Mate, I kinda think we should go left, you know?
Instinct tells me left.
They're now on the final leg of their journey,
fighting through the Kathmandu traffic,
heading for the Chinese border 140km away.
Ah, this is great! Go right down here, Ramsha Path.
Or we could be turning right, up Ramsha Path, which means we've gone horribly wrong.
Down here it forks, right and left.
-Should we be in this bit of road?
-I dunno. Go left, I reckon.
-Oh, whoa! Beep, beep, beep!
What's the waving, what's that mean? Do I stop or do I go? Do I...?
-Stop, stop. Go, go, go!
-I go now? Should I Namaste or should I go?!
I have no idea what's going on.
There were two policewomen there,
who gave us directly conflicting information with the same hand movement.
Oh, camera's fallen off the front!
And I've just gone over it.
The system is, wait to see a gap and then run like a fat ostrich.
And fat ostrich!
Thank you so much. So straight down there and turn right?
-Yes. First right?
-Yes, first right.
-So straight, straight, straight, then turn left.
Whoa, mate! The bike, the bike!
Don't come on my inside when I'm indicating!
And, you, don't ride your rickshaw up the wrong side of the street!
It's a very different beep to the rural beep of, "Hello, I'm here, I'm in the area."
-Hello, is this a one-way street? I think I'm the wrong way up, am I?
-I don't know.
-No, I don't care.
You would swear we were going the wrong way down a one-way street
because there are people fully on our side throughout. Whoa!
The boys eventually make it to the outskirts of Kathmandu.
-Back to the madness of the, er...
-The Arniko Highway.
The Arniko Highway was built by the Chinese
and remains the only road between Nepal and its powerful northern neighbour.
The road follows the path of an ancient trading route
that eventually leads to Lhasa, the ancient Tibetan capital.
In 1950, the People's Republic of China invaded Tibet
and the area is now referred to as the Tibet Autonomous Region.
You can see why it's so busy, if it's literally the only road into the neighbouring country.
Yeah. It's full of trucks and lorries.
They're just rammed and full of people on the top as well as inside.
The route is susceptible to flooding and landslides
and their progress towards the border is slow.
It's a big one, look at that! Massive landslide.
Look at the power of that!
It's no wonder landslides - look at it!
Oh! Oh, this looks fresh as well.
-Can you not hang about here for very long?
-Well, I dunno what to do.
Go on, go on, go on, go on.
They are now entering a region of Nepal
where over 3,000mm of rain falls every year.
Right, he flashed me. That means he's coming through, doesn't it?
I just crashed into that tree.
You got stuck?
I think the car is sinking down that bank.
Let's have a look.
This is like sinking mud. It's just, like, totally turdy.
So we've travelled some of the most dangerous roads in Nepal
and Rhod has managed to get us stuck in a verge.
It's really sunk down, though.
I know, it's six inches deep there, yeah.
Basically, what's happened is Greg was sitting on the passenger side
and the road has just actually sunk.
On cue, the heavens open and the monsoon rain adds to their troubles.
I think it's sinking more.
-This gentleman's going to help give us a push.
-You're going to push?
-Go on! Greg, is pulling the car back a good idea?
Right, now go forward!
I'm coming back again! Stinks of shit this mud as well.
Up and down. Up and down.
-Up and down.
-On the accelerator?
Up and down, up and down.
Thank you, guys.
-Thank you so much. What's your name?
Thank you very much. You're very kind.
Try not to do it again, Greg. Try to lean your weight into the middle of the car.
With heavy rain and night falling,
the boys abandon trying to reach the border
and seek refuge for the night in a small guest house across the gorge.
Morning. I've just woken up on day...
..I think we're on day six.
The more I've been on this trip, the more I've sort of...
I shouldn't regret anything but I've really regretted the fact I've not seen more of the world.
Because I think, you know, to be a middle-aged man
and to be seeing these things for the first time,
it's brilliant, actually, it's brilliant. It's been amazing.
It's kind of like having your eyes opened.
And you think, "What have I been doing then? What have I been doing?"
Er...and the answer is...
about things that you don't need to worry about.
How did you sleep?
Well, I had, er...
I got about five or six minutes' sleep.
I was covered in ants. There was a gecko that I couldn't get rid of,
that kept trying to get up my nose.
Would you feel any better to know I had eight-and-a-half solid hours and I feel amazing?
It really does.
When we crossed this bridge, did you quite realise how high it was?
No, but it was dark.
Right, sleepy, let's go to it!
-I feel worse because you feel really good and have had loads of sleep.
-Oh, that's not very generous.
No, just when you've had no sleep you just want somebody else to say
they haven't had any, so you feel a bit better.
You've had eight-and-a-half hours. You've had some of my sleep, I feel.
So what do you want me to do, pretend I feel shit?
-We should've had four hours each, rather than you have eight and me have none.
Rhod and Greg are now only 15km from the Chinese border
and their journey's end
but as they head north, dark clouds gather and the downpour begins.
-Look at that!
There's rocks three or four times the size of this car
that have come down the mountain here. There's another landslide here.
Look at this landslide rock here.
Imagine that falling down in front of you! Great!
That's where it fell from, look.
I don't think it's anything like the beauty of other places we've seen.
There's something sinister about it.
It's a very big drop down that one. Very sheer.
I tell you what, they're far more regular, the landslides today.
It's every 50 yards.
I genuinely don't like this.
Yeah, the road is worsening, it's getting worse.
-There's a bulldozer up here.
This is awful, treacherous conditions. This is awful.
Ah, no way, no way!
-I'm not going up there.
No, no, that's absurd.
That is crazy. I think we need to get out and go have a look.
Is it blocked? Blocked?
All right, mate? This looks like it could be a wait.
Look at that!
-Look, there's bits coming down.
-There's stuff coming down here.
This has obviously just happened.
When did this happen? Today?
Today this happened, really? When will they clear it? Not today?
You can see this... see the rocks coming down, look.
I'm not sure we should be standing here, mate, really.
-Look at these people, living underneath it basically.
-Oh, my God, how must they be feeling?!
-Is this where you live?
-Are you worried?
-This is your hotel?
-Yes, small hotel.
-Are you worried it's going to come down more?
-Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Basically, we are in...we are standing in the middle of a landslide
that is still happening basically.
This is obviously quite a key... Whoa...
-Look at this!
-What you genuinely don't know is how much of that
could at any moment really come down.
Look at this! Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Whoa, that big one's going.
I think, um...I've probably seen enough of this landslide.
What I actually think is this is probably the end of the road.
So whether we'll see China or not, I don't know.
How far to China? How far?
Basically, we can't get any further.
This isn't going to be cleared for ages.
There's a massive drop there. There's no way they can get rid of this.
So I think what we'll have to do is either go back and call it off...
but I personally am pretty determined to try and get there.
But we can't get past this, so the only way is to walk across there
and pick up a lift from people going that way.
I don't want to stay because I've had four locals say to me
that this whole bank could go,
so I propose if we're going to do it, let's just get on with it.
We feel like we've come all this way,
we ought to try and make it to the Chinese/Tibetan border now.
In a bizarre turn of events, both Greg and I have suddenly got the bit between our teeth
and become quite steely and determined,
whereas pretty much for the whole week we've been cowardly.
I think, basically, we've got to move.
Come on, mate, don't hang about. Let's get it over with.
Why are they shouting?
We going to try and get a bus or a lorry to take us?
Well, either that or we walk onto the next little hamlety village thing
and maybe somebody's going from there.
Do you know, is the bus going?
Are you going to the border?
Border? With Tibet and China?
-You go? Ah! Now? Is it going now?
Now. We go now?
Part of me thinks we should get on the roof, mate.
From a safety point of view, part of me thinks we should get on the roof.
-Well, you can jump off, that's why they go up there.
I mean, it's mental. Terrifying but that's why - so they can jump off.
Inside, you're buggered.
Look at it.
-Do you wanna go on the roof?
-No. Let's get in here.
Is it safe, the bus?
Don't ask him! He's not going to tell you, "No, it's a death trap!"
Well, yeah, I know.
The conditions are horrific now. The monsoon is really tipping down
and this road is, as we've seen, landsliding as we speak.
Jesus Christ almighty!
We've got a child hanging out of the door, making sure they can get through various gaps.
It doesn't do much for the stress levels, does it,
between that and the banging and the drop and the potential landslide?
-Why are we doing this?
-HORN TOOTS FRANTICALLY
I don't really know any more, to be honest.
I think we should get off here.
I think we should get off the bus here.
Rhod, get off the bus.
Oh, my God! Don't look now, mate.
Don't look now but the earth is literally giving way beneath us down there. It is.
Get ready for this fucking window then.
-Right, we're through it.
We were literally... I was looking outside.
We were about two foot from the very verge and as we went over it,
-it was going beneath our weight.
It was going. We were making it go.
This is just insane.
Enormous landslides to our right again.
So we've just been told that we've nearly made it.
We're nearly at the Chinese border, the end of our journey.
I don't think, setting off this morning,
either of us expected it to be quite such a dramatic ending really.
Yeah, it's awesome. It really feels like the culmination of a journey.
It feels like we're crossing a finish line of some kind.
I feel like this poncho is one of those silver foil things you get at the end of the London Marathon.
That's what strikes you, I think, that we are doing this and for me
it's going to be a huge relief to see that welcome to China, whatever's there, the end of our journey.
We're done, we're finished, and for me that's a massive relief.
And you forget this guy will be up at six o'clock in the morning doing it all again, and again.
Every day is dangerous bloody roads for him.
Look at this! As we're talking, we're just driving through a river.
Before this trip, if somebody had asked me
what's the bravest thing you've ever done?
The only brave thing I've ever done is attempting stand-up comedy.
So it has surpassed my expectations. It's just honestly been wonderful.
You think you've seen it all,
then you see something that totally blows your mind.
And I think that's a real highlight -
just seeing those little moments.
My attitude towards risk now, I honestly think, has changed,
which will almost certainly mean in the next six months I'm killed!
I'm amazing myself! Even though my job is stand-up comedy,
and you don't do that unless you thrive on adrenaline,
I didn't think it would translate into other areas but it does.
-So where is the border?
It's five minutes that way. OK.
-Is this China, peaking through the clouds here?
-I imagine it is, yeah.
That is phenomenal if it is.
-It's got a really odd feel about it, this place.
It's like something out of a Bond movie, so Cold War, innit?
Wow, look, austere buildings.
Totally like a Bond film.
I was expecting him to be a bit of a nightmare out here
and I was expecting to have to be the one to say, "Come on, mate."
And talk him down but actually he's taken to it like a massive, fat, grotesque duck to water.
This has been such a culture shock for me, this whole experience,
and just through this gate and across a small bridge is an entirely different world.
I'm guessing this is as far as we can go, mate.
I've got an urge to touch the gates, haven't you?
I will never say this to his face
but Rhod is a really good friend of mine
and I value his friendship a great deal.
But, you know, for the purpose of whenever he's with me,
I will only ever refer to him as a total bell-end.
Can we come through?
Can we come?
-Aren't you tempted? One last push?
-One last push?
I know how we can end this.
We can do what we've been longing to do and embrace.
Nepal's a friendlier place than China and men are allowed to show affection for each other.
-We can just stroll off into the sunset hand-in-hand in Nepali fashion.
Just hand-in-hand I was going to say.
Shall we have a little hug? And, er, say goodbye.
-Feels all right, you know.
-Back to friendly Nepal.
-Feels all right.
Subtitles By Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Comedians Rhod Gilbert and Greg Davies attempt to drive through the mountainous, landlocked nation of Nepal. Starting from the chaotic border with India, they travel across the country's most important roads, from highways that maintain its cities to freshly-dug dirt tracks that connect to isolated communities.
There are uplifting stories throughout, but it is a journey that is fraught with danger. Besides having one of the world's highest rates of road traffic accidents, floods and landslides are an everyday occurrence, blocking traffic for days on end and claiming dozens of lives every month.
After days of swerving overloaded buses, dodging trucks and clinging to crumbling mountain roads, disaster strikes within sight of their final destination.