Reality TV on the long march

Updated: 2011-06-09 07:57

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

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 Reality TV on the long march

Liu Yang (center) and his colleague Quan Changhe (left) trek with a Tibetan herder during filming for My Long March. Provided to China Daily

One day in early 2007 Liu Yang's wife posed her 5-year-old daughter a riddle: What is it that cannot be seen or touched yet one can't do without it?

The answer she was looking for was "air" but what she got was "papa".

Although Liu, now 39, is sorry about missing almost a year of his daughter's early life, he has no regrets.

On May 1, 2006, he joined a group on a trek that began in Yudu, Jiangxi province, and would take them through the most remote areas of Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan and Gansu provinces, on a 250-day journey that ended on Jan 5, 2007.

"It was a unique experience and helped me not only learn more about my country but also view sceneries that I may have otherwise never seen," Liu says.

His journey was part of the reality TV show, My Long March, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victory of the 12,500 km Long March, undertaken by the Red Army from 1934 to 1935.

The project brought together 25 volunteers from all walks of life to retrace the main route of the Long March and was broadcast once a week on China Central Television (CCTV).

Liu, a director with CCTV, and three others, traveled ahead to the target provinces to decide on the best route. They then contacted the local governments for the necessary permits.

Talking of the travails the team faced, he recalls they faced their toughest challenge in Sichuan.

They hiked 40 km every day before finally scaling the five 4,000-meter-high mountain passes, within a week.

On the grasslands, they were surrounded by yaks and chased by Tibetan mastiffs, and had to beware of marshes and lightning.

Liu's long march also threw up amusing encounters. Once, when he got off the bus in Ji'an, Jiangxi province, he was nearly arrested by three police officers - passengers on the bus had reported him as his tattered clothes and strong Northeastern accent convinced them he was the wanted man whose portrait had been plastered all over town.

Liu was allowed to leave only after half an hour of cross-questioning and ID checks. Later, he saw a poster of the man and found he looked nothing like him.

"I guess to the locals, everyone from outside looks the same," smiles Liu, who has retained a copy of the poster as a souvenir.

My Long March ended in Huining, Gansu province.

China Daily


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