I posted a programming not a few days ago for a televisions how airing on The Discovery Channel called Adventure Bhutan. The two hour program aired last night, but in case you missed it, remember, it was on the Discovery Channel, I’m sure it will get played over. And over. And over…again.
Judging from the traffic logs for my blog, there seems to be a lot of interest in the show, so I thought that I’d share my thoughts on it while it’s still fairly fresh in my mind. First off, I’ll lament the fact that the show wasn’t in HD, nor was it aired on the Discovery HD Channel. It would have looked amazing seeing Bhutan and it’s stunning scenery in full HD. The show was letterboxed and seemed to be in the 16:9 aspect ratio, which leads me to believe that it was filmed in HD, just not aired in that format. But that’s neither here nor there.
The show followed a team of adventurers and explorers as they traveled down the Mangde Chu River by whitewater raft and kayak. This area of the World has never been seen by Westerners before, and it’s safe to say that it’s likely not been visited by many (if any) humans before. There were points on the river where the rapids were rated as Class VI, which one of the members of the team explained meant that there was about a fifty percent chance of survival. Not only would you have to be a world class kayaker to survive this river, you would need excellent gear and boats to navigate the area, which probably points to the fact this was indeed the first group of people to explore the region.
The team certainly met with their hardships along the way. The river was more challenging than they expected in spots, and the narrow canyons made it difficult for them to run the rapids. They had to portage around some rather nasty areas, and those portages, over rocks and through jungle were not easy at all. When team leader Gerry Moffatt fell and gashed open his leg, there was a serious threat to his health and quite possibly his life. (I couldnt’ have been the only one who winced in pain when they showed that gash!)
But of course, in the end, they were able to make the first descent on the Mangde Chu, and reach their destination at the border of Bhutan and India. I have to admit, it looked like quite the adventure, and there was some amazing white water to run. However, the show turned into more of an kayaking adventure and less of an exploration of the territory to me. As someone who enjoys kayaking very much, I was thrilled to watch them tackle some crazy rapids, but I really wanted to see more of this “Unexplored World” they kept telling us about. Yes, we did get some shots of the canyons and this new area that man was seeing for the first time, but often times we would get a shot of one of the team members telling us how amazing it was there, when what I really wanted to see was the things that made it amazing. The camera work wasn’t exceptional while in the canyon, and there was little to distinguish the area from any other canyon on Earth. I was hoping for more of a mix of the white water kayaking and exploration elements at times. It also didn’t help that it took the first hour of the show for the team to just arrive at the unexplored area.
That said, I was entertained by the program. It was great to see, and learn more, about Bhutan and the people there. It’s a part of the World that many people don’t even know exists, and few Westerners will ever travel to. The team setting off into an unknown region, by kayak no less, was fun to watch, and I did get into their struggle to reach their goal. All in all, I would say it was well worth the two hour investment, even if I would have liked to have seen more of a focus on what they found in the region they were exploring. The overall quality was what you would expect out of the Discovery Channel, which is to say very good, it just left me wanting a little more. I guess that just means I’ll have to plan my own Bhutan Adventure. 🙂