Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wild China

I LOL'd a few weeks ago when I saw this video - China, China:

I didn't really think twice about the clip until I started the TV series Wild China on Netflix. After a few minutes of Wild China, I realized that it was the British-accented source of the viral China, China compilation.

Wild China is a six-part 2008 BBC documentary on the rugged geography and exotic peoples and animals of China. The series is broken in to six episodes:

1. Heart of the Dragon
2. Shangri-La
3. Tibet
4. Beyond the Great Wall
5. Land of the Panda
6. Tides of Change
Heart of the Dragon is mostly about the wondrous karst areas of Guangxi Province and southern China. Shangri-La is all about the intense diversity of Yunnan Province. Tibet takes place in Tibet. Beyond the Great Wall is all about the Inner Mongolian and Xinjiang Autonomous Regions. Land of the Panda focuses mostly on central China from the Qinling Mounatins to the east. And Tides of Change looks at the humongous coast line from North Korea to Vietnam through the prism of China's rapid development.

I liked this entire series. It is top-notch videography of the incredibly diverse wildlife and terrain of China. I repeatedly thought to myself, "I can't believe that still exists. I thought China had killed off every animal like that!" Wild China proves that there's still a whole lot of beauty to be found in China.

The best episodes are the first two - on the Guangxi Autonomous Region and Yunnan Provice. These two episodes will make you want to get on a plane, put on a backpack, and go explore remote parts of China. My personal favorites from this part are the features on monkeys, ethnic minorities crossing raging rivers using rope zip lines, and fly-over videography of karst mountains.

Here is a clip of the Nu Jiang rope crossing from the Shangri-La episode:

(There are several more clips from Wild China on YouTube if you search for "wild china")

The last four episodes were interesting to me, but a let down compared to the beginning of the series.

The episode on Tibet didn't feature as many towering, snow-covered Himalayan peaks as it did barren plateau. Vast lifeless expanses of land are certainly a big part of Tibet and its topography, but it didn't make for the most interesting viewing. The same is true of the grasslands of Inner Mongolia and the deserts of Xinjiang in episode four (and I say that as a huge Xinjiang nerd). Nothing really stands out from episodes five and six in my mind a few weeks after having watched it either.

I enjoyed Wild China a lot. I'd recommend it to someone wanting to learn a thing or two while killing time on Netflix.
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