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AGE: College, Adult, H.S. Time: 52 Min. Ea. DVDs: 5
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Highly Recommended: Educational Media Reviews Online

This collection of documentaries invites discovery of one of the longest rivers in the world, the Mekong. Flowing through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, the river basin has become what could be called the ‘garden of the world.’ Despite differences in languages, histories, customs and nationalities, it remains the undisputed economical, social and spiritual link of the region, oft called the Greater Mekong.

Deep In The Tropical Forest

The first documentary in the collection plots the course of the river, from its source to its delta. In a succession of spectacular images we see the extraordinary geographical route that the Mekong takes, from the Tibetan plateau, down the mountains of the Yunnan Province in China, then through the tropical valleys and virgin forests of Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand before reaching the green plains of Vietnam. In the tropical forest, nature abounds with wild animal species, rare plants and flowers. In Laos', whole villages still pray to the Gods of Trees while in Thailand a hunter shows how the hunting of Asian elephants for preservation, now forbidden, was practiced.

In The Kingdom Of Fish
The second documentary in the collection is built around a custom that is thousand of years old: fishing. At present, about 65 million people in the Greater Mekong live directly from the fish the river has to offer. Fishing methods are of course different according to places and ethnic groups. Additionally, modern times strongly challenge the fishermen in the Greater Mekong. Torn between tradition and modernity, these men and women have to make for themselves, and their families, decisions about new ways of life. Climate change and pollution add to the problem of a painful adaptation to a new way of life.

The World's Vegetable Garden
The third documentary in the collection deals with the vast farming lands that the waters of the river irrigate. The most impressive beneficiaries of the river’s lavishness are the orchids and the lotuses. All along the Southern part of the course of the stream, the climate is very warm and favorable to the production of a large diversity of fruits. They are sold on the great market of Bangkok or, in a more traditional way, on the boats of the numerous floating markets. Also the climate of the Mekong region is ideal for rice growing. Farming methods are different according to the various countries and ethnic groups.

Dragon's Paradise
The fourth documentary in the collection focuses on the omnipresence of spirituality in the Greater Mekong. The values of prosperity, as they are enhanced by the Western World, are in complete opposition with the values of renouncement of material wealth commended by Buddhist philosophy. As a matter of fact, over 90 % of the population of the Greater Mekong is Buddhist. The region is full of temples and pagodas because the spirits, the gods and the demons too are part of everyday life. They are the heroes of all festive events. It is especially the dragon, a symbol of superhuman forces, of spirituality and supreme power that still lives in the heart of the festive traditions of this part of the world.

An Uncertain Future
The fifth documentary in the collection looks at the future of the Greater Mekong. It is by meeting with young people and with those who are in charge of preparing, educating and training them that we will be able to go deeper in search of answers. As a conclusion, the Great Mekong and its development need to be viewed in a historical perspective, from the first men living from gathering, hunting and fishing to new technologies and Western influences that threaten to change their way of life.

Closed Captioned
Copyright MMXIII
Duplication, Digital and HD ITV rights available