Browse content similar to Bangladesh to Burma. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
The Tropic of Cancer marks the northern border of the tropics,
the most beautiful, brilliant, and blighted region of the world.
I've already travelled around the equator
and the southern border of the tropics,
but following the Tropic of Cancer will be my toughest journey yet.
This tropic cuts through Central America, the Caribbean,
North Africa, India and on through Asia to finish in Hawaii.
It's 23,000 miles across deserts, rivers and mountains.
Along the way I encounter extraordinary people,
and some of the most stunning landscapes on our planet.
This part of my trip takes me from Bangladesh and on into Burma.
I'm travelling from a lush water-world
through the jungles of India
and into one of the world's most repressive states.
'I witness the unstoppable effects of climate change...'
Oh, my God!
'..and I throw myself into Bangladesh's national sport.
'The trip ends with a dangerous and covert trek
'into a forgotten corner of Burma.'
If you were caught by the Burmese authorities,
what would happen to you?
If they catch us,
they will kill us.
We're in the far west of Bangladesh,
which is a very watery country,
and one of the best ways of getting around is by boat.
And I think this beauty over here
is going to take us across the country.
'Muslim Bangladesh is crisscrossed by more than 700 rivers,
'but its main artery is the mighty Padma, known in India as the Ganges,
'which I was planning to follow east along the Tropic of Cancer.'
Oh, fantastic, look at this.
Avoiding packed roads,
the motorboat Chhuti offered us
a smooth ride to the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
And here's Tanjil.
He's going to be guiding us across...
along with the trusty captain here,
a reassuring presence behind the wheel.
And if we just have a quick look out here...
Look at the view!
Is this typical of the landscape
that we'll be seeing as we head towards the capital?
Yes, absolutely the same.
It's flat like a pancake, and this time of the year,
it's really green and lush.
So, um, we should get going, shouldn't we?
-Start the engines!
TANJIL SPEAKS IN BENGALI
Oh, look at this!
I thought that was just for show.
In Bangladesh, life revolves around the water.
Up to 60% of this country floods every year.
The remaining land is crammed
with 160 million people,
the seventh-largest population in the world,
in an area smaller than England and Wales.
As a result,
Bangladeshis have found all sorts of ways to survive on the water.
We hopped off the Chhuti and headed down a tributary
to see one extraordinary traditional lifestyle that's now under threat.
So, we're sailing down this very peaceful little river at the moment.
Tanjil is manning the engine -
Tanjil IS the engine -
and we're heading to a little fishing village...
There is the village, you can see.
..where the fishermen have got a rather innovative method
for catching their fish.
There are children there to welcome us.
Hello, small people!
Yeah, mind the lady cleaning her pots!
Dozens of families here in the village of Gobra
harness some unlikely and noisy partners
for an unusual method of fishing.
They use a technique
that dates back more than a thousand years
and was once practised in Europe.
Local villager Robin showed us his very own fisherman's friend.
But basically, these fishermen...
fish using otters.
The otters have been trained
to swim alongside Robin's fishing boat
and chase fish into his net.
Robin, can you tell us a little bit about your otters?
-They're husband and wife, and they have a family.
In a few days, they'll have more babies.
Fishermen here are exploiting the natural instincts of otters,
which hunt in pairs or as a family.
These otters might be harnessed and working with humans,
but they're still wild at heart.
Oh! They're fast as well. Look! One's just gone.
One of them really has got away down here.
Can you see it?
No. Where's the one that got away?
It's just there. It's there.
Robin sent in the otter's partner to lure it back.
So one of them's saying, "Come back, don't leave me."
After Robin finally recaptured the one that got away,
we waited for the sun to go down.
It's quite magical being out here on the river.
Quite wonderful, in fact.
The big question is,
are we going to catch any fish?
OK, so watch how Robin moves the otter around
using his feet on the pole there.
So basically, they've got to work the otters on both sides,
and the otters force...
the idea, anyway, is that the otters force the fish into the net.
Have they got something?
-Yeah. Small fishes.
-Yeah, a few.
There's some tiddlers.
There's a little one here,
or a couple of little ones, jumping around.
There's a crab there.
It's not a huge amount, is it?
And it's quite back-breaking work.
-We used to catch more fish, but not any more.
There are fewer fish now because of over-fishing.
Bangladesh gains an extra two million new mouths
to feed every year,
which, combined with pollution and outdated farming techniques,
is putting huge pressure on the food supply.
Hey! Another one, yeah.
There's nothing there, really, is it?
Despite the otters' best efforts, it was a disappointing catch.
-This time, we haven't been able to catch many fish.
It's not good.
We have to buy fish sometimes to feed our otters.
It sounds like such a difficult, hard way to make a living.
Can you imagine your children ever fishing like this?
Generations of us have been catching fish like this.
But what the future holds for my children, I don't know.
Back on board the Chhuti, we set sail again for Dhaka.
Following the Padma River, we skirted the Tropic of Cancer
on our way to the capital.
The boundary between water and land is blurry in Bangladesh.
Almost the entire country is just a few metres
above an already rising sea level,
the main reason why global climate change
threatens Bangladesh more than any other country in the world.
One thing you really do see immediately about...
certainly this area,
but I know Bangladesh generally, is you can see there's no rocks
by the edge of the river, it's just pure mud.
And because it's mud,
the land's not only at risk from annual floods and tropical cyclones,
it's also constantly being eroded by the huge rivers.
You can see the bank is getting ready to collapse.
Hang on, what are these white bags here?
They're trying to stop the erosion.
You can see they're putting the bags there.
Oh, my God, these are sand! They're using them as sandbags.
Oh, my God! Look, they're chucking them in to the water edge there
to try and save the land.
We've got to stop.
-Is there any way we can stop here?
-Yes, we can stop here.
Look, there's another one going there,
desperately trying to shore up the river bank.
Look, it's falling away right now, right as we're approaching.
This whole bank here is now really going,
and they're working faster and faster,
because this is their land they're going to lose.
I can't see how they're going to save this.
What was that?
That's another big chunk.
Oh, my God!
Who here lives close to the edge?
Who's worried that they're going to lose their home?
-So this gentleman here,
where does he live? Can we ask him?
TANJIL SPEAKS BENGALI
Just this one.
-The river has destroyed
all our crops and our land.
It's taken the food from our mouths.
As more ballast arrived for sandbags, locals told us
that in the past fortnight,
the river had eaten 500 yards into their village.
In the past four years, it's taken 2,000 homes in this community alone.
This was the devastating effects of climate change
happening right in front of my eyes.
Perfectly natural for there to be erosion of a riverbank by the river,
but scientists are absolutely convinced
that what's happening in Bangladesh
is an increased rate of river erosion,
partly or largely caused by an increasing melt in the Himalayas,
in the mountains, from which this river has its source.
-I've lost everything - my cows,
my goats, my trees, everything.
I've only got my home left.
Have you noticed the rate of erosion speeding up?
Do people talk about the fact
that the erosion is happening faster and faster?
It's been happening for a long time.
But now it's getting faster and it's coming closer.
When we want to sleep, we can't,
because we're scared by the noise of the land falling into the river.
It sounds like shooting. Boom! Boom!
Scenes like this are now repeated on a daily basis across Bangladesh.
Increased erosion makes 100,000 people homeless every year,
turning them into environmental refugees.
But this could be just the beginning of a climate catastrophe
on a biblical scale.
Even a small rise in sea levels would devastate millions here.
We were heading in the same direction
as many of the new environmental refugees -
towards the capital, Dhaka.
So we're making our final approach into the capital now, and, er, well,
you can see, it's pretty chaotic.
The captain needs to navigate our boat up the channel here
and find us a place to dock.
This is Sadarghat, Bangladesh's busiest port.
Crowded ferries from across the country
and tiny local commuter boats battle their way across the water.
But look, you can really see here the boats forcing their way
through the other boats to try and get
their passengers off at the terminal.
Their motors going, their engines going,
the water churning up behind them -
push, push, push.
Where the hell are we going to dock our boat, then?
We can take our boat close to another boat and we can just...
walk through the boats.
Oh, right, OK. So we'll attach our boat to somebody else's
and use them as a landing platform?
Our boat could only stop for a few minutes.
We need to get off. Captain, thank you, thank you.
Thank you very much indeed.
Thank you. Can we come through your little cabin?
Thank you very much!
TANJIL SHOUTS IN BENGALI
-From the front.
-To the front!
There's dry land ahead.
Is there a way off there? Yes! Dry land!
Welcome to Dhaka!
-Look at that way. Look at that way.
-Look at it!
All right, now, this is proper chaos.
The tropics are home to almost two-thirds
of the world's population.
And an increasing number are moving to mega cities like Dhaka.
Hundreds of thousands arrive here every year,
joining the 13 million people already crammed into the city.
The global urban population
is projected to double over the next 15 years,
and the population of Dhaka is expected to rise
to a staggering 25 million,
with about half of them packed into slums.
Oh, I suppose this is old Dhaka?
It's quite a sight, eh?
-How are you?
I'm very well, thank you. How are you?
Oh, look. Look at this.
This amazing art that you get on the rickshaws here
is a constant delight.
It's a work of art.
It's an evocative, atmospheric city, but there's no hiding the filth
and appalling poverty that scars most lives here.
There's a quarter of a million children
living on the streets of Dhaka,
and in slum areas, many try to earn a few pence
by sifting through piles of rotting waste.
As we've been walking along,
we've gathered, like the Pied Pipers,
a small group of...
urchins around us.
And what they do
is walk around, walk around the streets, collecting up fragments
of plastic or glass bottles, any bits that they can recycle.
Can we have a look in here? Can we see?
TANJIL SPEAKS BENGALI
So, look, plastic bottles in here.
And then they'll sell them to a recycling shop.
It's quite hard to see four year olds, five year olds
working on the streets barefoot like that, isn't it?
You live here for one week, two week, one month,
then it will not hurt you a lot.
As well as the thousands picking through rubbish,
there's a hidden army of young labourers
who work behind closed doors.
This is it here?
God, can you hear the furnace going?
There's even a child-sized entrance.
'Tanjil had brought me to a glass recycling factory
'where they make bottles for export to South Korea.'
This is Jehangir.
Jehangir. Hello, Jehangir.
Very nice to meet you.
Ten-year-old Jehangir works a full shift here every day
for the equivalent of 30 pence -
enough to buy his family a small bag of rice.
Why did you put that one in there, Jehangir?
TANJIL SPEAKS IN BENGALI
-It's no good. It's broken.
He's basically quality control, isn't he?
It was more than 40 degrees centigrade outside,
and the heat standing here by the furnace was almost unbearable.
The fumes coming from the furnace, they're really choking.
And we're just here for a few minutes.
So he's taking us up to see
where he sleeps with his mum and his sister.
And can you see, his sister is barefoot...in a glass factory?
That's it. It's a bit rickety, isn't it?
So, Jehangir, where do you sleep?
-This is his bed.
-Just right here?
And is it just your family here, or are there more people who live here?
-Many of us live here, 10 or 12 people.
There are quarrels.
People sometimes eat other people's food, and this causes arguments.
Do you find it hard, working in the factory?
If I had a home, then I wouldn't have needed to work.
I could have gone to school.
My mum would have worked.
Why did Mum want you to come and live here?
Why did Mum want you to come to the glass factory?
Because of hunger.
Factory owners like to employ children, because they're cheap,
they have nimble fingers and they complain less than adults.
So, shift change, new operator.
This operator - can you show us your arm?
It seems obvious that these children should be stopped from working.
But the older labourers wanted me to understand what can happen
when children here are prevented from earning a living.
-You see, there are foreigners who come here
and they stop the children from working.
-If we throw the children out of work,
what are they going to live on?
If they don't work, they'll die of hunger,
so they go out begging or stealing.
They'll do anything if they're hungry.
Hunger drives them to do many things.
These men all started working between the ages of 9 and 11.
Child labour is a harsh fact of life in Bangladesh.
Nearly five million children here earn vital income for their families
But Jehangir's boss has been persuaded to give him
a few hours off each day to visit a special centre
for working children run by UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund.
This is the centre.
Oh, my good God!
Oh, my goodness. Hello!
Jehangir, you've got a lot of friends here.
-This is my friend.
The centre gives working boys
a free lunch, a shower and space to learn and have fun.
Most of all, it gives them the chance simply to be children.
There's a few good shots here.
They've all had a lot of practice, haven't they?
Jehangir, tell us, what do you like about coming to the centre?
-I like to play the carrom board.
This is your favourite thing about the centre, playing this game?
What about your friends?
Yes, my friends are here with me, and I like that too.
Western campaigners and fashion firms have forced
Bangladeshi clothing factories to stop employing child labour,
but this has meant many families going hungry,
and many children have taken riskier jobs.
Farzana Ahmed from UNICEF says they've been forced
to accept child labour as a necessary evil,
but in thousands of centres across the country,
UNICEF is now teaching children skills
to break the cycle of poverty.
Some people watching this might be surprised that you're not working
to try and close down the factories where the children are working.
What would you say in response to that?
We really cannot say, "OK, stop child labour right at this moment,"
because the reality is that many of the families
are really dependent on the earning of the children,
and if they can have a safe working environment
and if they have scope of going to school,
some free time for recreation,
they're having a scope to have a different kind of life.
I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see these boys having fun.
BOY: Hello! How are you?
Hello, hello, hello, hello!
Day-to-day life here is tough, but Bangladeshis have a playful spirit
and, given a chance, they know how to have fun...
as their national sport shows.
'In kabaddi, players have to go into the other team's half
'and keep holding their breath while they try to tag someone out
'without being wrestled to the ground.
'To prove they're not breathing in, they repeat the word "kabaddi".'
MAN: Kabaddi kabaddi kabaddi kabaddi kabaddi kabaddi kabaddi.
-Is he holding his breath all this time?
Despite the knockabout nature of the game,
someone thought it would be a good idea if Tanjil and I joined in.
Why did we agree to this?!
TANJIL SPEAKS BENGALI
Take a deep breath.
Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi...
Oh, it didn't last very long!
'I'm not sure I was following the rules, or even what they were,
'but that didn't get in the way of the fun.'
Go on, Tanjil!
You've got him, Tanjil, you've got him!
You've got him!
All right, come to Daddy!
MAN: Too light for him.
I got one!
TANJIL: Yeah, you played good, you played good.
Your movement and your...everything was kind of perfect, as a beginner.
-As a beginner?
I have suffered several injuries.
Look at this, look at the colour of this!
Possible broken ribs, but, hey, what the hell?
It was worth it!
So we've left Dhaka behind and we're now driving across Bangladesh
and we're heading towards India.
Bangladesh is almost completely surrounded by India,
and this will be my second time in the giant neighbour on this journey.
I was heading for two of India's most remote states,
Tripura and Mizoram, bang on the Tropic of Cancer.
The only border crossing in this area is way off the beaten track.
Oh, my God, where the hell are we?
Can we just ask, Tanjil?
TANJIL SPEAKS BENGALI
MAN SPEAKS BENGALI
Is this the customs?
-Yes, as I said.
-This is the customs point?
Finally, we'd made it to the border.
We were leaving a remote corner of Bangladesh
and trying to enter a remote corner of India.
'The officials told us no foreigners had crossed here in months.'
We have a lot of permits.
Hopefully, this will enable us to cross the border
without requiring us to pay a hefty tax.
The permits seemed to do the trick.
-We're free to go?
Thank you! Thank you, sir.
We were just in time, as the border was being closed for the night.
Well, that's the Bangladeshi flag lowered.
It's the end of our journey across Bangladesh.
I've loved every minute of it.
It's packed and poor,
but it's a beautiful, beautiful country, and I'm really sorry to go.
Thank you very much indeed.
-Thank you, sir.
-I feel quite emotional.
-Yes, I am also feeling...
-Yeah. All right.
-We had a good time.
-We had a very good time.
-We'll remember that.
-I'll see you again.
We'd left the flat, water-world landscape of Bangladesh
and immediately began climbing into the Indian hill state of Tripura.
We're up in the hills now and we're in a place that feels really exotic.
You get a sense here that this is where India and Asia really meet.
In this part of the country,
traditional hill tribes mix with migrants from the rest of India.
As in many parts of the tropics, the growing population here
has put a huge strain on Tripura's ancient forests,
which are being lost to homes and small farms.
And as the trees disappear,
so does the exceptional wildlife that relies on them.
(We're on a very narrow forest trail
(and we're looking for some very special little monkeys.)
(I can see them up ahead.
(Yes! I just saw a tail.
(We're just underneath one now.)
These monkeys are spectacled langurs.
They're now hard enough to find even here
in the Sepahijala Wildlife Reserve.
Across the state, their numbers are down to just 2,000.
(It's such a treat to see these creatures.
(They're so incredibly rare now and endangered.)
These rich and diverse forests used to dominate
this part of the tropics,
but deforestation and road building
has divided them into isolated pockets.
Many patches can't sustain viable animal communities.
It's one of the great problems for wildlife throughout the tropics.
There are other native animals in the reserve's zoo.
As the human population of this area grows,
it seems the only realistic chance for the survival
of rare wildlife is now in a cage.
Absolutely magnificent creature.
These are two extremely rare cloud leopards.
And again, what they symbolise, really, is the fact
that their habitat has - and is - being completely destroyed.
Depresses the hell out of me.
The next Indian state east along the Tropic of Cancer is Mizoram.
The roads in this region are frequently blocked by landslides,
so we hopped on a plane to the state capital, Aizawl.
Mizoram is on the very far east of India,
and it feels quite cut off from the rest of the country.
In fact, people here talk about the rest of India as being the mainland.
This border area is home to dozens of different ethnic groups,
many of them Christian.
For me, it was a stop on my way east into a forbidden land.
the most difficult part of our journey begins.
I headed towards the next country along the Tropic, Burma.
It's a place with a terrible reputation for human rights abuses,
where democracy activists disappear,
and where much of the population
lives in fear of the military rulers.
It took us two days of hard driving to reach the border.
'Burma's military dictatorship, which calls the country Myanmar,
'has banned the BBC from entering officially,
'so we embarked on our own little covert mission.
'An exiled Burmese activist from the Chin ethnic group, Cheery Zahau,
'had bravely offered to show me what life is like
'under perhaps the most repressive regime in the entire tropics.
'We'd decided to try to sneak over the border into her home region
'of Chin State and then trek to a remote tribal village.'
My God, look at that!
-Do you see the little village there?
-That's Chin State.
-So that's in Burma?
CHEERY: Yeah, that's in Burma.
The Burmese troops might be there, cos they love that village, somehow.
So we're not going to that village.
Whenever the troops are there, it involves forced labour.
Are we putting ourselves in danger by doing this?
Yes. It's always dangerous when you go to Chin State,
when you go to Burma.
You don't know what will happen, really.
I mean, are you putting yourself
in even more danger than us by going back there?
Because you fled Burma when you were much younger.
Yeah. They...they don't want me to be there.
They put me in the wanted list in 2007, but...
You're actually on...
the Burmese military wanted list, are you? I didn't know that.
Yeah. They said
that I am...
I am being empowered by the Western rich nations
and now I try to disunite the Union of Myanmar.
Which potentially puts your...
your life at risk.
Because if we don't speak up, if we don't tell the stories
of the people under this repressive military regime,
then no-one will know what's happening.
And if they don't know, they will not do anything.
It wasn't just the Burmese military causing us concern.
India's developing a controversial trade project with Burma
in this area, and all of India's borders are carefully monitored.
We had to move quickly.
Well, we've had all manner of terrifying stories and rumours
about what lies in wait for us - the Indian army, Indian border security,
Indian intelligence, and on the other side, the Burmese army.
We're still going to go ahead. We think it's OK. Fingers crossed.
'We wanted to get to the river that forms the border
'between India and Burma before nightfall.
'The steep track down is used mainly by local traders on foot.
'Travelling by vehicle was hard going.'
We met Burmese farmers coming the other way,
making a risky journey into India
to try to earn some money by selling their cattle.
Have you seen any Burmese soldiers?
THEY SPEAK IN LOCAL DIALECT
Well, that's a relief. OK.
THEY SPEAK IN LOCAL DIALECT
So the river is now just ahead of us.
I think we've finally made it. I'll tell you what, it's pretty wide.
'We were now just a stone's throw from Burma
'and we bedded down for the night.'
I can't quite believe we're here.
We're in an incredibly remote part of India,
in an area where very few Westerners have been to before.
But that's the whole point of following the Tropic of Cancer
around the world.
It takes us to off-the-beaten-track places such as this.
We planned to swim across the river
and then haul our kit over using ropes.
On the Burmese side, men from an ethnic Chin village
were waiting for us.
Oh, my God - he's in the water!
'And then, for some reason, one of them jumped into the water
'and swam frantically to get over to our side.'
They saw some people hiding, some troops hiding up there.
just trying to get my head round this. What are you saying?
You're saying that Burmese troops are hiding just round the corner?
Yeah. They just saw now.
God, I feel sick.
I don't know what to say, really.
I'm just a bit shocked.
'Suddenly, the soldiers appeared.
'It looked like Burmese troops had been waiting for us,
'and we'd just had the luckiest escape of our lives.'
I don't know.
But the soldiers weren't interested in us or the villagers.
It turned out to be a bizarre case of mistaken identity.
It was a small patrol of rebel forces.
So who are the soldiers?
The Chin National Army.
Insurgency groups fighting against Burmese regime.
So, crucially, they're your friends?
So no Burmese troops for now.
But there was still the river to deal with.
We discovered the villagers had their own way of crossing.
So it looks like we're going to be taking the death slide
across the river.
I'm quite scared of this.
Cheery, I think we've got other things to worry about
than the bloody death slide, OK?
-OK, well, here goes, off we go to Burma.
-Are you ready?
Yeah. As I'll ever be.
Lalamor. Nadamor! Nadamor!
We've travelled from the world's largest democracy
on that side of the river
to one of the most repressive countries in the world on this side.
All right, we've got a long walk.
Let's get going.
There are no roads or infrastructure of any sort in this area of Burma.
A long trek over the hills was the only way to get to the village.
My God, look at this place!
We really are in Burma.
'Every step took us further into what felt very much like
'In this area, there are more than 50 Burmese army bases
'and thousands of Burmese troops.'
How does it feel to be back here, Cheery?
A bit fearful.
The Burmese troops...
are not so far from here.
That's why the villagers are always...
..be careful and scared of the Burmese troops.
Whenever they are there, it involves forced labour, extortion,
sometimes rape against women,
and child labourers.
The Burmese military really are...
an occupying force in Chin State?
Yeah. Chin State and all over Burma.
'American group Human Rights Watch
'recently reported that Burmese soldiers
'are using torture, arbitrary arrest and killings
'as part of a campaign to suppress the Chin people,
'who are largely Christian
'and number more than one-and-a-half million in Burma.'
Look at this. There's huts. Huts.
I can hear children screaming, and some of them see us.
Oh, my goodness!
We've made it!
'The entire village came out to meet us.'
Oh, my goodness. Everybody!
Got tears welling up inside me.
It is a huge privilege to be here.
These hill people struggle to scrape an existence
on what the land provides, living in simple wooden huts
and with little contact with the outside world.
We're very, very, very happy to be here. Thank you for allowing us
to come and visit your village. We're hugely grateful.
He doesn't know what it is.
Has he seen white people, foreigners, in the village before?
It's what you meant when you said...
forgotten people in a forgotten land.
Yes, absolutely. No-one reach here, and nobody knows they exist here.
'One of the reasons we'd come to this particular village
'was because we'd heard it had other visitors as well,
'a humanitarian group called the Free Burma Rangers.'
-Nice to meet you, Jacob. Simon.
Joshua. Simon. Very nice to meet you.
What are the Free Burma Rangers and why are you doing this?
-Our team comes here to help our people
in any way we can, by bringing medical aid, for example.
In our land, there are many ill people
because the government deliberately denies them medical help.
When was the last time a Burmese government nurse or doctor
came to the village?
They never received.
-Never. I've never seen them come here,
not once in ten years.
So this community has been completely abandoned
by the Burmese state?
Yeah. That's true.
The Rangers are a Christian volunteer group
operating across Burma.
Their small teams are given training and a medical kit
as well as a camera to document human rights abuses.
They operate covertly behind the lines and at enormous risk.
If you were caught by the Burmese authorities doing this,
what would happen to you?
If they catch us, they will kill us.
-Is that really possible?
-Yes. It's possible.
CHEERY: All what the Burmese regime wants us to do is to surrender,
but instead of surrendering, we're trying to help ourself,
we're trying to stand up so there's a ray of hope we can build.
We were told it had been two weeks
since troops had last been to the village
and they were due another visit.
We didn't have much time.
If locals were caught hiding us, they could face execution.
At a secret location nearby, we met Chin elders who wanted to speak out.
In your encounters with Burmese soldiers, can you describe to us
how they behave towards you, your village...?
SPEAKS IN DIALECT
-If they get angry, they slap us and shout at us.
They tell us off
and they threaten us.
Then, whatever they want, like rice or chickens,
they just take it.
One afternoon, they asked us for money.
We didn't give it to them, so they beat me up three times.
Does it feel as though they represent your government
or they represent an enemy government?
I don't see them as our government.
If the smallest people were hungry,
then a good government would feed them.
A good government would help those who are in trouble.
But this government is totally the opposite.
Instead, they take whatever they want from what we have.
I've heard a lot about Burma over the years,
but it's not really until you're here,
experiencing some small degree of the fear
that these people experience on a daily basis,
that you really understand what it is like
to live under a totalitarian, despotic,
evil regime like the one that is in power in this country.
'Then suddenly, a messenger arrived with news.
'A heavily armed Burmese patrol had appeared in the next village,
'just a short march away.
'We were all in grave danger.
'We'd travelled for days to get here,
'but now the threat to all of us,
'especially Cheery and the villagers, was becoming extreme.
'I felt we had to leave, but it needed to be a team decision.'
What do you think we should do?
I think our luck so far has been... has been good.
You know, we've made it here.
I think we probably weren't sure that we were gonna make it this far.
I think we should probably bank what we've got
and stop taking chances now.
What do you think?
I think we should go back.
Oh, my God.
'Our only option was a risky, night-time dash back to the border.
'We trekked through the darkness,
'constantly aware that Burmese troops could be pursuing us
'or lying in wait ahead of us.'
It's one thing to cross a river like this in daylight,
completely different crossing it at night.
(We're just a few minutes from the border between Burma and India
(and we've just sent one of our village guides ahead of us
(to try and check if there's any Burmese military down by the river.)
'Then we heard voices.'
VOICES IN DISTANCE (Some people are coming.)
(Turn your light out.)
VOICES IN DISTANCE
Ah, that's our guys.
I thought we were screwed then.
We've made it...
at least to the border.
But there is somebody over there.
I think if we can try and signal to them, we might be able to get back.
'Luckily, the locals who'd built the zip wire
'had come to the river at 4am to help with our escape.'
India, here we come.
We're back in India! We've made it!
-Welcome back to India.
-CHEERY: Thank you.
-Welcome back to India too.
-And thank you for taking us.
Thanks for coming.
And now you experience...very different life in Burma, isn't it?
It's an incredibly different life, yeah.
I mean, it's a totally... it's a totally different world.
I'd only had a brief glimpse of life under the Burmese regime,
but it was one of the most unsettling experiences
of my travels in the tropics.
'The Chins are one of several ethnic groups numbering millions of people
'that suffer horrific abuses in Burma.
'They live in a remote area of the tropics,
'cut off from the rest of the planet,
'but I can only hope the world doesn't forget about their plight,
'leaving them at the mercy of the Burmese military.'
It's just a few hours since we crossed back,
but this is the end of this part of my journey,
and I can see the end of the entire journey in sight now.
Just a few more countries to go.
On the next leg, the final leg, I'll be travelling across Asia
and ending my journey, my entire journey
around the Tropic of Cancer, in Hawaii.
'I float down the mighty Mekong River in Laos,
'I follow the Ho Chi Minh golf trail in Vietnam...
'..uncover shocking cruelty to animals...'
Unbelievable! Look at this.
'..and I end my journey around the world
'on the glorious island of Hawaii,
'where I uncover a dirty secret.'
Email [email protected]