Thursday, February 3, 2011

Simon Reeve in the Enthralling Documentary Series "Tropic of Cancer"

For the last 2 weeks, I have leisurely devoted my lazy moments watching a BBC documentary presented by a charming guy named Simon Reeve for "Tropic of Cancer".

A video journalism that ambitiously visits places straddling the Tropic of Cancer, the northern border of the tropics region, this takes him 6 months visiting several countries like Bangladesh, Laos, Hawaii, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Algeria, Oman, Mexico, Burma, Taiwan, India, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, etc.

The DVD is a 6-parter so we didn't wanna do a marathon. We wanted to take every episode in joyous stride and marvel at Simon's laid back annotations, his triumphs and misadventures (like finding himself in the middle of a vehicular mash up and getting harassed by a taxi driver and his gang in Mexico; embarrassing himself with kite surfing in Morocco; almost missing a specially-chartered train ride in Mauritania; floating away on a lake in the middle of a desert in Libya; escaping the oppressive Burmese military away from the Chin village; sucking fish eye in Kolkata; rowing down a tributary of the mighty Ganges River in Bangladesh; visiting an isolated, pristine Hawaiian island filled with rubbish brought in by the oceans of the world.)

Since this is the 3rd part in a trilogy ("Equator", "Tropic of Capricorn"), some of these adventures may not be alienating to him (heck, he's eaten the penis of a zebu in Madagascar before) but every new place offers new insight on some of the world's remotest places and their different culture.

In an interview with the Guardian (a widely circulated London Broadsheet), Simon was asked if he was welcomed in these strange new places that no one else has heard of. His reply was insightful: "If somebody turned up at my house from Moldovan TV and stuck a camera in my face, I wouldn't be very welcoming. So I was amazed by how willing people were to talk to me in front of a camera. Generally, people were pleased that we were taking an interest precisely because they feel that many of these places have been forgotten by the rest of the wold."

But what keeps him apart from other travel adventurers is his seeming naivety. When at first, he may look like the hunky man about town (he's absolutely gorgeous, mild mannered, tall and incredibly smart), he's actually tender in ways (check out his wrestling match with a female wrestler in Mexico, as well as his joining a local street game in Bangladesh). And didn't he shed a tear when he reached the Chin State in western Myanmar, a visit that obviously humbled and overwhelmed Mr. Reeve? His hints of naughtiness vaguely peeping through occasional cuss words, "bloody hell", "blimey"... which, to my untrained ears, sound sexy and inviting! LOL. No "Bollocks", Mr. Reeve?

Somehow, you'd wish him safety - like losing the Moroccan secret police who's tailing him in Dhakla. I am sure he's had hairier experiences before (he vomited blood and was stricken with Malaria; he was also detained in a place called Transdniestria for allegedly spying on the KGB).

What I am dying to watch is an earlier series called "Explore" (2009) where, in one leg of his trip, he visited Manila to Mindanao. I have become an instant fan! If you want a compelling travel documentary which explores hidden corners of the world, open up your mind - grab a copy when you can! It's going to be a bumpy ride, but fun and eye-opening nevertheless!

Didn't I notice that glistening wedding ring on Simon's finger? Dang! ;->

Simon eats the penis of a zebu (which is a "humped cattle"). Check how it looks here:


kelly said...

I totally agree with every word of your post. He's absolutely adorable, intelligent, sweet and I am just so taken by his enthusiasm for every single place he visits. I've just finished watching my Tropic of Cancer DVD, and was so sad that it came to an end.

Cathy P. said...

I had the same reaction when I finished the series. I was enjoying it immensely I kept looking forward to the next country. :->

kelly said...

Same!! Have you seen his Flickr Photostream? It's like a gold mine of photos :P

Cathy P. said...

No, I didn't. Hmmm will check that out. :->