Full Circle

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[edit] General Information

Travel Documentary hosted by Michael Palin and published by BBC in 1997 - English narration

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Image: Full-Circle-Cover.jpg

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Michael Palin's fascinating journey around the 18 countries on the Pacific Rim

"This is the richest, longest, most ambitious and most exhausting of all the journeys. There was so much to do and so many different terrains, climates, foods and illnesses to experience that at one point it seemed like we were engaged on the ultimate new Olympic event - Full Circling." Michael Palin

Michael's journey through all the countries bordering the Pacific Ocean was anything but 'pacific' as blizzards, Bogota's Bullet Street and an Alaskan abandonment pushed him and the crew to the limit. But there was time for adventure including crawling through the Viet Cong's Cu Chi tunnels, sharing a feast with head-hunters in Borneo and helicoptering into New Zealand's Tasman glacier. (1997)

[edit] Alaska/Russia

Michael Palin's fascinating journey around the 18 countries on the Pacific Rim

"This is the richest, longest, most ambitious and most exhausting of all the journeys. There was so much to do and so many different terrains, climates, foods and illnesses to experience that at one point it seemed like we were engaged on the ultimate new Olympic event - Full Circling."
Michael Palin

Michael's journey through all the countries bordering the Pacific Ocean was anything but 'pacific' as blizzards, Bogota's Bullet Street and an Alaskan abandonment pushed him and the crew to the limit. But there was time for adventure including crawling through the Viet Cong's Cu Chi tunnels, sharing a feast with head-hunters in Borneo and helicoptering into New Zealand's Tasman glacier.

[edit] Japan/Korea

Michael begins his time in Japan at Sado Island, where he meets the famous Kodō drummers. He participates in a morning run with drummer hopefuls and then takes his shot at the largest drum. Then it is on to Tokyo, where he meets up with Mayumi Nobetsu, a Japanese Monty Python fan. They tour the Asakusa neighborhood where they decide to bet on a horse race. Michael and Mayumi strike gold with a horse named Super License. The two also eat a restaurant where the specialty is loaches who have been fed sake, the popular Japanese rice wine. Afterwards, they catch a punk rock concert in Yoyogi Park. Catching the shinkansen to Fukuyama, he takes in a Zen Buddhist meditation session at Buttsuji Temple. During the meditation session in the Zendo, he is struck by a keisaku, which is used to keep meditators from lulling off to sleep. In Nagasaki, he visits Huis ten Bosch, a Dutch-themed park set to symbolize old trading ties with the Dutch.

After catching a ferry to Pusan in South Korea, he meets up with Shin-Na, a journalist in the capital of Seoul. Shin-Na explains to him that there still exists animosity between Koreans and the Japanese, none more evident than in the fact that most Japanese cultural items are still banned in Korea. The two then witness a rally protesting generals' immunity from prosecution in a bloody massacre in Gwangju in the early 1980s. (About 3 months after Michael left Seoul, the generals were prosecuted and imprisoned.) At the South Seoul Marriage Hall, Palin and Shin-Na attend a wedding ceremony. Michael notices that the number of traditional Korean marriages are dwindling. Not too long after, Palin encounters his first roadblock of the journey: North Korea. He can only go with a group of foreign tourists (no Koreans are allowed) led by one of the Americans stationed at the DMZ. He then "crosses" the border in the Joint Security Area at Panmunjeom into the North; however, he cannot venture much further than that without being shot or arrested. A sad and dispondent Michael looks out into North Korea and states that North and South Korea are not really two separate nations, that it is one nation divided against itself.

[edit] China

Arriving in China at the port city of Qingdao, Michael checks in to the Welcome Guest House, where Mao Zedong once spent a month right before the infamous Great Leap Forward. Michael gets a massage on the streets of Qingdao and then visits a winery in the Laoshan Mountains, where he samples Chinese chardonnay. He then climbs Taishan Mountain, one of the Five Sacred Mountains of Taoism. Catching a train to Shanghai, he notices how more modern Chinese trains have gotten since Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days in 1988. Arriving in Shanghai, he discovers a Harvey Nichols store. Michael also takes time out to dance with one of the locals. He also finds out that the Bund, the longtime economic heart of the city (even when he last visited), has been usurped by the Pudong area. Taking an inland route via the Yangtze River, he views the construction for the Three Gorges Dam and notes how a lot of area will be submerged after its completion in 2009. In the large town of Chongqing, he chats with a university graduate over lunch about modern Chinese society. From there, Michael heads south into Guiyang and then the land of the Miao people, a Chinese minority. Some people in a Miao village note that Michael is the first Westerner they had ever seen, as well as the fact he has a big nose. From there, he catches a bus to Pingxiang and Friendship Gate, on the Vietnamese border.

[edit] Vietnam/Philippines

Michael arrives in Vietnam at a time when it is reintroducing itself to the global stage, via a process called Đổi mới ("new thinking"). He also observes a local cricket match in the capital of Hanoi, although the BBC is not allowed to film because due to the fact it took place on land owned by the Vietnamese military, it was deemed a security risk. Michael also observes the Hanoi Hilton, an infamous prison for Americans during the Vietnam War. Catching a train going south to Saigon, he makes a stop in Hue and the Forbidden Purple City, an old imperial palace. In Da Nang, Michael relaxes at China Beach and meets up with a 16-year-old who shows him what is known as the Gateway to Heaven. In Saigon, he tours the Củ Chi tunnels which the Vietnamese military used during all the conflicts within their borders. In nearby Tay Ninh, he visits a Caodaist cathedral. Then he takes a ferry down to the end of the Mekong River.

In the Philippines, Michael notices how congested traffic is in the capital of Manila. He then chats with some women who are going abroad to work in order to support their families. Michael then takes the opportunity to observe the Banaue Rice Terraces. However, when he gets there, a dense fog prevents him from seeing the terraces, causing frustrating and disbelieving laughter. In Baguio, he witnesses two unique procedures (assisting in one of them) known as "psychic surgery". In the southern part of the country, Michael gets some scuba diving lessons and even has a meal underwater. In Zamboanga, he attends a cockfight and also judges the Miss La Bella Pacifica beauty pageant. Afterwards, he drives a jeepney down the streets of the city, waiting for a ferry to take him to Borneo.

[edit] Malaysia/Indonesia

After a bit of a wait, Michael catches a ferry across the notorious Sulu Sea to the northern tip of Borneo. There, he visits an orangutan rehabilitation center. From there, Michael ventures south to Kuching in Sarawak, once ruled by what were known as the White Rajahs. Then he travels inward to a longhouse where members of the Iban people reside. He chats with former headhunters and takes part in a special feast honoring the highest-ranking Iban in the Malaysian government.

Afterwards, he ventures south to the island of Java in Indonesia. From the capital Jakarta, he journeys east with his guide to a tea plantation and helps pick tea leaves. They then observe a wayang kulit puppet show. In the cultural hub of Yogyakarta, they sample some durian, a notoriously smelly fruit. They then tour the Buddhist temple at Borobudur and climb Mount Bromo. In Surabaya on the east coast of Java, they encounter their first major transportation issues since Alaska. Being unable to find a boat to take him across the sea to Darwin, Australia, they settle for one that will take them east on Java, but no further.

[edit] Australia/New Zealand

Palin begins in Darwin, where he catches a truck down to Katherine. There, he visits a crocodile farm and helps hatch a few eggs. (Palin wanted the camera to focus on the fact he held a baby crocodile in his hands for five seconds.) Nearby, he checks out an animal rehabilitation center. Down to King's Creek, he participates in an exciting camel hunt which results in Palin actually getting one. Down to Alice Springs, he catches the Ghan train down to Adelaide, where he participates in the Desperate and Dateless Ball. Then he takes part in a cow race, where he places second. On to Sydney, he gets a cameo in the popular soap Home and Away.

On to Auckland, New Zealand, he catches a train down to the town of Kaikoura. There he participates in a Maori acceptance ceremony where he spoke and sang a song he learned at Shrewsbury. Palin then travels to Mount Cook and Queenstown for lessons in mountaineering and rafting. He then watches bungee jumping and chats with A.J. Hackett, who developed the sport. Palin then ventures south to the University of Otago in Dunedin, where he is caught in the middle of orientation-week activities. Palin has now reached the halfway point around the Pacific.

[edit] Chile/Bolivia

Starting the second half of his journey at Cape Horn, Palin views the end of the continent of South America. He travels through the southern islands of Chile to the town of Punta Arenas. He renews acquaintances with his guide from Pole to Pole and the statue of Ferdinand Magellan with the Indian whose toe he kissed to ensure a safe journey. Venturing through the islands, he views the Torres del Paine National Park and the grave of an English explorer who committed suicide in the area. At Chiloe Island, he chats with an American transplant who discusses the possible existence of witches on the island. Then he attends a local barbecue that included dancing and Palin attempting to play the horse's jawbone. North to Santiago, he observes a memorial to victims of the 1973 coup d'état. Driving through the Atacama Desert, Palin reaches the highest elevation of his life thus far. At the world's largest copper mine in Chuquicamata, Palin does the honors of counting down to the explosion. In the northern town of Arica, he catches a one-car train to La Paz in Bolivia. Things go smoothly until, as they are within striking distance of La Paz, the train has a freakish derailment. After several attempts to get the train back on line, they are successful and eventually reach the Bolivian capital in the black of night.

[edit] Bolivia/Peru

At the town of Copacabana, Palin visits with reed boat makers on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Crossing the border into Peru, he chats with a lady who hopes to get the Yavari, a century-old ship, sailing again. On to Cuzco, he arrives in the middle of the Feast of Corpus Christi. He then journeys to the most famous relic of the Inca Empire: the lost city of Machu Picchu. As well, he visits a nearby village of Inca descendants. He then catches a train to Quillabamba, and then moves on to Kiteni, where he meets a local pub owner who agrees to go up the Urubamba River with him. After a day or two consisting of sailing and birdwatching, they reach the canyon of Pongo de Mainique. Soon thereafter, they stop and set up camp for the night. Palin later states that Pongo de Mainique was his favorite place to travel in the world.

[edit] Peru/Colombia

Palin and his guide approach a Machiguenga village where the feast of St. John the Baptist is going on. Palin observes a men's and women's intervilage football matches. Then he samples a drink made from the yucca plant. Back on the Urubamba, Palin eventually makes it to the northern town of Iquitos. Here, there is a barrio that contains many shops. Palin visits one where a lady is making cigarettes. He then takes his first puff of a cigarette in a long while. After a little wait, Palin realizes a dream by catching a boat on to the Amazon River.

Bogotá, Colombia, is as Palin put it, "trading one jungle for another." With a guide, he discovers why the Colombian capital is one of the most dangerous places on earth. He learns that most of the trouble stems from the drug trafficking in the country. He then travels down Bullet Street, arguably the most violent street in the city. Here, rocks are thrown at the car Palin and his guide are traveling in. He then offers to take him to lunch; however, his guide declines, stating that the restaurant he is going to is owned by the father of a notorious drug trafficker. Palin, however, continues, and is granted an interview (in Spanish) of the restaurant owner, Don Fabio. Continuing north, he visits an emerald mine and some of the workers there. Then it is on to Cartagena, where he hops on a party bus, celebrating the end of his nine weeks on the South American continent.

[edit] Mexico/Western USA/Canada/Alaska

In Mexico City, Palin attends a lucha libre match and listens to a lively mariachi band. The next day, he observes the darker side of the city, as a graffiti protest is being led by a lucha libre wrestler named Super Barrio. On to a small village outside of Querétaro, he helps a lady make tortillas. He then catches a bus to the town of Tijuana, where after observing a house in the shape of a woman, he walks to the United States–Mexico border, a.k.a. the "Tortilla Curtain". Here he observes "Pollos" attempting to cross without any security noticing. Afterwards, Palin crosses the border legally into San Diego and gets a glimpse of the border from the American perspective.

Venturing north to Los Angeles, he gets a bird's-eye view of the city from a local news helicopter reporter. He then becomes involved in a breaking story of a plane approaching Van Nuys Airport landing on the freeway. Driving along the California coast, he reaches San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. He then takes a tour of the notorious Alcatraz prison and chats with two former inmates. Then he visits The Castro, well-known for its homosexual population. Palin's guide introduces him to a local gay policeman and then shows him the place where The NAMES Project originated in 1987. From San Francisco, he flies to Seattle, where he tests a flight simulator at Boeing headquarters.

On to Canada, Palin manages to flag down a train near Vancouver, British Columbia. In the nearby town of Squamish, he is the guest of honor at a loggers sports festival, where he takes part in one of the races. Taking a train north through to Prince George, he realizes that the closer he gets to completing the circle, his transportation options dwindle. He reaches Wales Beach, the westernmost point on the North American mainland. However, Little Diomede is still 25 miles away. Then the Coast Guard comes to pick him up and put him on a boat that will attempt to get him there. Unfortunately, the weather does not cooperate, and the Coast Guard abandons the attempt. Even though Palin came up two miles short, he believes, in a way, he did close the circle.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: DivX 5.0
  • Video Bitrate: ~1800 KB/s (Interview: 1544 KB/s, Deleted Scenes ~1450 KB/s)
  • Video Resolution: 688x512 (Interview: 704x364, Deleted Scenes 640x464)
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 4:3 (1.34:1) (Interview: 16:9, Deleted Scenes: 4:3)
  • Audio Codec: AC3
  • Audio Bitrate: 192 kb/s 48000Hz (Deleted Scenes: 224 kb/s)
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • RunTime Per Part: ~49 min. (Interview: 28:13 min., Deleted Scenes 58:41 min.)
  • Number Of Parts: 10 + 2 extras (half-size interview + 702 MB deleted scenes)
  • Part Size: 700 MB (Interview: 350 MB, Deleted Scenes: 702 MB)
  • Ripped by m06166

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