Traveler Soul | Chapter 5 – Full Documentary
European explorers must have been stunned by the vast expanse of forests and volcanoes when they first came to the Indonesian archipelago back in the fifteenth century It was an impenetrable world and another little world full of mysteries. The sands of these mangrove swamps teem with an unbelievable variety of unseen creatures. One of them makes use of his periscope to survey the situation. It's a Fiddler Crab, named for the outsized dimensions of one of its claws. They get their food from the mud and it's their playground as well. The crab picks up chunks of mud with its claws and places them in palps in front of its mouth. The mud is filtered through some fine hairs and down the hatch Of course the male can only use one of his claws. The other is so big that it's worthless for picking up mud. He uses this claw to mark out territory And why not, to attract female fiddlers. When he wants to impress them he'll shake his large claw around vigorously. Several species of fiddler crabs coexist in the mangrove swamp. Nevertheless, these ladies have no trouble telling their own gentlemen friends from the others. When a female comes close to his territory, the man of the hour will try to get close to her Well actually, she gets away from him and selects a different suitor. She accompanies him to his shelter where nobody will bother them while they mate. It's also common to see two males fighting over a comely damsel at the border between their territories. So many adoring bachelors, and all of them so virile, can only lead to squabbling. A quick jump and I find myself in Papua New Guinea. The highlands of Papua New Guinea are north of Australia. The Eneca have gathered to make mono, an old recipe that everyone pitches in to prepare There's no need to borrow a lighter in order to build a good fire here. That's right. They do things the old fashioned way, and they follow the traditional rituals. Their cooker is a fire pit dug in the ground where they heat up stones. Then they'll use it as an oven. Monos are small sweet plantains that they grate into a soft mass with a stick of bamboo. The plantain mash is kind of thick and looks like a béchamel sauce. Then they'll add yams, pumpkin, maize and potatoes. They fill the fire pit with herbs and banana leaves. Then they'll add several layers of hot rocks, separating them from the food with more banana leaves. The goal is for the food to cook without burning the banana leaves. This requires a lot of patience as the banana leaves have to be kept wet the whole time The primitive but efficient pressure cooker will begin to work now. It's slow, but it will never explode. And two hours later the food will be ready. Now we can remove the leaves and enjoy the delicious aroma. It's important to be careful with the stones, because they're still hot. Finally the food is served. This bamboo dish is helpful for keeping up table manners. No-one should get more than his share; that would cause a conflict. This mono is cooked just the way I like it. It's hard, though, to please everyone. Back in Kenya, a country that never fails to surprise. In the Shaba Reserve, flooding follows a drought but that's no surprise. Most people here have adapted to this crazy but predictable weather pattern. Some more than others though. I'm not here to meet a gazelle or an ostrich. This time it's a different animal. Gerenuk is a Somali word that means giraffe's neck. Gerenuks are the gazelles that have best adapted to the lack of water. Males have short horns, while females don't have any at all. This male is marking his territory with his facial glands as he browses Gerenuks can go for months without drinking. They get enough moisture from leaves and shoots. Not me. We've always been told to eat sitting down, but these Gerenuks are too restless for that. And since the freshest shoots are overhead in a drought, they stretch high to reach them. But they've made other adaptations as well. Their upper lip is flexible and their noses are so narrow that they can eat from in between the thorns. 0:00:09:11.02 Even so, the Gerenuks wouldn't stand a chance against the tallest centre in the world on the Shaba savannah. In about 1800 a Swiss explorer named Burkhardt discovered an enchanted city surrounded by bandits. It was called Petra. To get there, the intrepid adventurer had to disguise himself as a Muslim and learn Arabic. Petra had its greatest population, a total of some 30,000 people, during a period of 200 years including the century before and the century after Jesus. The city came into view like a carefully hidden treasure among the stone cliffs. The most common colour in Petra is pink, thus its name The Pink City. It's chameleon-like, changing colours as the day advances. I too change colour but that's down to the temperature. The inhabitants of ancient Petra were the Nabataeans. The Nabataeans resolved the scarcity of water by diverting the water of distant rivers to Petra through a series of canals, turning it into an oasis. After passing through the narrow gorge called the Siq, I'm left gaping in wonder at the Al Kazneh Forum, the pharaoh's treasure. As an oasis city Petra attracted people of numerous cultures, each of which left its mark. Thus its architecture is Assyrian, Egyptian, Hellenic and Roman. But as so often happens, when commercial routes were diverted to the city of Palmira, the dream of the Pink City came to an end. Petra began to decline from that time on. I have to go. From the airplane, The Wadi Rum desert is like a lunar landscape. Maybe that's why its name means Valley of the Moon. When Australia and Antarctica got a divorce, Antarctica was frozen out. As Australia drifted away, it bumped into the coast of Southeast Asia and its tropical currents. As a result, the floating continent warmed up. Then it in turn altered the whole system of ocean currents. But Antarctica didn't hold a grudge and even today it still sends its nutrient-rich waters to the Australian coast. When the two currents collide, there is a burst of life. Humpback whales appear in July and stay until October. Each of these whales weighs no more or less than 30 tons. They're easy to recognize by their huge flippers, up to 16 feet in length. The Humpbacks feed near Antarctica, but they prefer to reproduce nearer the Australian coast. No doubt about it; they're heavyweights. As for length, well they're not short either. They reach up to 59 feet. They come a long way to get here, too. Over 3,000 miles without even stopping for a bite to eat. I guess since they have plenty of fat stored up, they use some of that for the trip. And since we don't know that much about humpbacks, even the experts wonder why did they do this? are they just having fun? Now I jump too to the Asian continent. In the so-called lowlands of Mongolia, people are still enjoying their summer. In the Sayan mountains, on the other hand, autumn has suddenly arrived as have I, as I introduce myself in a settlement of the Tsaatan, a small and little-known tribe whose name means the people of the reindeer The Tsaatan are nomadic, and their life is very hard. They depend entirely on the reindeer for their survival. It's August, and there's already snow. But they don't mind. If there's snow, they say, there aren't any mosquitoes In fact, to the Tsaatan this is the best time of the year. The bothersome insects have disappeared, and there's still food for the reindeer. They milk the reindeer twice a day and make butter, cheese and yogurt. But they don't consume just dairy products. They also eat meat and wild fruit. After they're milked, the reindeer are at their leisure for the rest of the day, free to chat amongst themselves. While the reindeer graze, the Tsaatan may go down to the valley to buy tea, tobacco, flour and salt. There's no doubt about it, the snow is piling up. It's cold enough to freeze your toes and chill you to the bone. Everybody carries his weight here. The youngest people cut firewood. They know that the fire will need to be fed. Inside their tents, people pass the hours talking and drinking tea. Their idea of hospitality is to share what they have with you… and that's what they do. Gombo is the head of the clan. He's married and has eight children. The after-supper chat is prolonged and they take care to see that the fire doesn't go out. The howling wind outside seems to have quieted down so people step outside to see to the reindeer for the night. When the docile reindeer return, each family separates its own animals. Then they milk them and they give them salt. Despite their hardships, the Tsaatan haven't lost their smiles or their good humour. Tired but happy, I come to Nepal's southern border with India, home of the legend, a small-eyed creature with one horn: the Unicorn. It had been about 4,000 years since I rode an elephant but it's still the safest, cheapest and most comfortable form of transportation and I think that the rocking motion is fun, although others may have experienced some minor spinal injuries. We've been assured that we're safe from tigers way up here. Who wouldn't enjoy this experience? The people who care for these pachyderms are called mahouts. For a while they feared that elephants would go out of style, but now that this new sport is being promoted, things are on the uptick. But the best thing of all is that other animals are so used to the elephants presence that they don't get scared or uncomfortable. No-one who visits Chitwan or Kaziranga National Park should miss this elefantastic trip The elephants and their keepers grow up together from a very young age. This close relationship eventually leads to a great source of income. In addition, elephants are non-toxic and when you're done with them, they can be recycled. The presence of the Bengal tiger reminds us that we have to be careful here If a myopic unicorn comes by, he might think that this strange shape on top of the elephant is a sombrero Phooey on all those fabled medicinal powers of the rhinoceros horn And a scourge on the illegal trade that drove them to near extinction. Luckily, the Indians and Nepalese have realized that a live rhinoceros is worth more than some desiccated rhinoceros horn in the living room of whoever decides to come out on the hunt.