Beyond the familiar images of skyscrapers and bustling crowds is a different China. This is a land of extremes, of great natural beauty, where resourceful men and women have built extraordinary lives against all the odds. Discover herdsmen on the great Asian steppes who learn to ride before they can walk; meet farmers clinging to remote mountains, growing and preparing tea the way they have done for over a thousand years; and come ice fishing on the Russian border where temperatures plunge to minus 40 C.
In the far North, lumberjacks work in forests lost under deep snow to harvest the wood to build a nation; in Jiangxi province, the last of the orchid hunters risk their lives searching for a tiny plant worth literally its weight in gold; and on the tropical south coast, families labour as they have done for over a thousand years to extract one of the world’s most important minerals from the ocean.
An eastern Chinese village transformed by the discovery of priceless stones tries to balance family tradition with its new found wealth; 4000m above sea level on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, a teen jockey seeks to earn his spurs as a master horseman; and amid the icy expanse of inner Mongolia, a group of fishermen use an ingenious ancient technique to hunt for a bounty beneath the ice.
In Sichuan, the woodsmen of China’s biggest ancient bamboo forest try to make a living while maintaining the tranquil rhythms of the forest; a Mongolian herdsman struggles through another ferocious winter eager to live a life worthy of his people’s warrior past; and in Zhejiang province, silkworm cultivators produce silk thread in a way that’s barely changed here for at least a thousand years.