Season 1, Episode 1: The Launch1 October 2007
Meet the ODYSSEY team, Nick, Justin, Nancy, Neil, Chanda Todd and guest travel writer Rolf Potts. The team prepares their homes for the next 11/2 years, 4 modified Land Rovers, which will take them on an unpredictable journey around the world. They meet with driving instructor Daphne Green for off-road 4x4 training in Hollister, California. Then, they're on the road. First stop, Las Vegas, Nevada for a week at an auto show before the real adventures begin. The crew crosses the first border on the long road that lies ahead of them, but they quickly run into their first logistical nightmare in La Paz. Are they already off to a bad start?
10 October 2007
After 3 days, Nick successfully forges some necessary paperwork and they get on the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan, Mexico. They push fast south but can't resist a stop at Tequila, Mexico where they learn all about Mexico's famous concoction. Then it's a tie-in with the Mexican Federales, escorts who go awry leaving the team stranded on the dangerous highways of Mexico City. Exhausted, they finally reach the ancient Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan. The team has its first blowout when travel writer Rolf Potts loses his cool because of the group delays and poor scheduling. Soon Rolf's back on track buying bombas (fireworks) to bring into Nicaragua for the wildest firework festival ever seen, the Procession of the Virgin!
Things are really starting to heat up now as they descend into the jungles of Costa Rica. After a brief visit with Janine, a local girl who founded a wildlife rescue organization, they are off to pick beans at a local family-run coffee plantation. But before heading south to the border of Panama, Todd almost loses the family's heirloom. It's not long before more troubles strike the team. In the middle of the night an unexpected incident puts the crew out 2 tires, 2 wheels and on the side of the Panamanian highway. Swarms of bugs and a heated argument later they are rolling again towards their crucial next stop, the dockyards at the Panama Canal where the vehicles are bound from Panama to Ecuador, leaving Colombia to the rebels.
Season 1, Episode 4: The Rock2007
The crew fly to Ecuador where they spend Christmas in Quito at 15,000 ft. Then they head to the dodgy port city of Guayaquil, where they build "El Viejos" (effigies) and join the crazy tradition of blowing up last year's old ways to celebrate the New Year refreshed. The streets light up in total chaos that rivals the fireworks in Nicaragua! With schedule concerns looming, the crew anxiously moves southeast into the land of the Incas, Peru. On their way team leader Nick leads an excursion on a mountain trail, only to encounter the biggest of road hazards, The Rock. A frustrated team attempts to move mountains, resulting in near disaster and serious injury to team mechanic, Todd. They finally arrive at Machu Picchu where they soak in the majestic views and awe-inspiring ancient architecture.
In this episode the crew continue up to Lake Titicaca in Puno, Peru. They venture out onto the lake to explore the reed islands, a set of man-made islands that, for hundreds of years, have been home to a small village of peoples driven off the main land by the Incans. A tight schedule leaves little time for tourism though, and they push on into Chile. The schedule gets even tighter as they find themselves with empty gas tanks, empty jerry cans, and a hundred miles from the nearest gas station. A few generous farmers and many hours later, they are back on the road, but the crew is tired and frustrated with the current pace as they move down the Austral Highway through Patagonia leading to another roadside quarrel. A riverside lunch, a ferry ride to Tierra Del Fuego, and a visit to Ushuaia, Argentina and the End of the World mark an important milestone in this part of the journey, and an end to the journey for Rolf Potts. Things will not go smoothly for this team though as the ship date for Australia has been moved up and they must race 2000 miles north to Buenos Aires in a record 56 hours.
The cars and the crew meet up in Brisbane, Australia to start the second leg of the expedition. After strict quarantine they head north up the beautiful Gold Coast and pop into the Australian Zoo to meet some wild friends and then continue North to Cairns for a scuba adventure on the Great Barrier Reef. It's not long before they reach the north where they venture out into the jungles to meet with Dr. Hughes Spencer, the real Batman. They discover his affinity for bats, big ones that love people!!! They soon head deep into the Outback where they stumble across a rodeo. Chanda and Nancy decide to sell their Red Bull sponsored energy drink with cheap vodka to the local cowhands as a fund-raiser. Finally something pops up, Uluru. The team meets with a local aborigine tribal leader and gets a rare glimpse of the Mutijula reservation. Then its West along the infamous "Gun Barrel Highway". Known as one of the most grueling and remote roads on earth, the team has over 1500 kilometers of unpaved road to cross before reaching Perth. Camels, storms and aviation gas are just some of the encounters before driving onto a ship bound for Singapore.
Season 1, Episode 7: The Ship2 December 2007
The MV Torago proves to be more luxurious ship than the crew expected as they find themselves playing basketball, singing karaoke, and dancing into the evenings. Before long the pool is filled on deck and a few grateful splashes later the crew enjoy the last few hours of freedom before arriving in Singapore. The party is over and they head North into Malaysia. This leg takes the travelers through Kuala Lumpur where Chanda gets cupped black and blue with bruises while Nancy tries leeches on a swollen ankle! The northern border reveals the beauty of Thai cuisine as the team eats and chats with a Muslim family. The team pushes northeast into Bangkok and while they are stranded in Bangkok trying to secure permits Neil escapes to the Kingdoms' ancient capital, Ayutthaya, where he tours ancient Buddhist temples with a couple friendly locals. Finally its time to celebrate and the crew experiences Khao San Road's nightlife
2 December 2007
The crew discovers that local law requires Cambodians to drive their vehicles so Chanda, Nancy and Neil find a few local men who accept $20/day to drive the Land Rovers to Siem Reap where they team visit Ankhor Wat and other surrounding temples. Inside one temple Neil discovers "Niem", a survivor of Pol Pot regime, who tells his story of survival. Outside traditional music played by mine victims fills the air with hope. Its North into Laos and the jungles get thicker and hotter. The adventure gets wild as the team travel across the Mekong River to a small village and sacred cave. They offer a prayer and then it's off to the Yunnan Province, China. They meet their government-required guide "Ma" and head for Dali. On their way to the Burmese border tragedy strikes!!! On the rural mountain roads a little boy has fallen from his father's motorcycle and has split his head and face open. First and only people on the scene, the crew are forced to put their medical training into action as the helpless father weeps for his son, "Leong".
4 December 2007
With fingers crossed the team approaches the Myanmar border. If successful, they will be the 1st group to cross Myanmar from East to West since 1952!!! They meet their guides Mao Mao and Chetry and head down the "Old Burma Road" also known as the "Stilwell Road". The checkpoints are rife and the route is strictly regimented but the crew seems to find loopholes as they pull over and help pick rice with local village women. In Mandalay they tour a Buddhist orphanage that helps boys whose parents are victims of the rebel fighting in the north. Further East they encounter the worst road on the expedition called the "Good Road" and spend 15 hours driving 70 miles through knee deep mud to India. At the border they discover that a military escort is required for safety and the crew heads out into the hills of the volatile state of Nagaland with 23 armed guards 4 machine-gun mounted jeeps and lots of nerves but are soon detained by police at the Nagaland state border as the adventures get a little wild.
5 December 2007
Their northern route takes them along the sacred Ganges River into Varanasi where they explore the Hindu rituals of cremation. The team takes an unforgettable boat ride up the river and witness sights that leave them shocked. They visit a convalescence home and get a thorough explanation of the many rules that apply to burning the dead by local teacher, "Papu". They continue West past the Taj Mahal and into Delhi only to stumble across yet another festival, Janmaashtami. Team navigator Justin joins in the festivities, but before long on the crowded streets he learns a lesson in pick pocketing! On their way out of town something's blocking the slow lane; a man rolling. The holiness has just begun. They soon have a personal meeting with the Dalai Lama in his Dharamsala home in exile. He blesses the crew and signs their vehicles.
They pass over the highest roads in the world, Neil talks to a cow and Nancy gets lost!!! Due to unexpected changes in the route, they are forced to enter Pakistan in order to continue north to China. At the border they witness the "Packet Ceremony" and then on to Islamabad where their cars are searched for bombs before entering the hotel. Their route takes them north up the Karakorum Highway where Osama Bin Laden is expected to be hiding. 340 miles to the west is Kabul where coalition forces are fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. They travel up the ancient "Silk Road" that weaves through the striking Himalayas. Relieved to reach the Chinese border they're relief turns to grief as they are deported back to Pakistan. They hole up in the mountain town of Karimabad where a local tribal leader's son "Dawood" welcomes them into his family's home
Finally the Chinese visas are ready and the crew heads back through the Silk Road from Pakistan into China. Immediately they head north to Kashgar, home of the Uyghurs where Justin and Neil tour the Sunday market. The expedition is 5 months behind schedule and 3-teammembers are forced to make difficult decisions. With three surviving members and the push through the Siberian winter proves to be difficult and dangerous where temperatures drop to -59 Degrees!!! A $400 bribe gets them into Russia. Nick quickly realizes that they need a guide and Nancy manages to find "Roma". Things seem to go smoothly until the extreme cold takes its toll on the vehicles and a drive shaft breaks in the middle of nowhere. Luckily a Yakutskian native fireman wobbles out of nowhere and saves them. After the shaft receives a temporary fix they limp off into the night for Yakutsk where they shop for fur hats and a new drive shaft. Before they get there, they must forge the frozen Lena River in Russian buses. Next stop is for a frozen horse-meat lunch before driving their repaired vehicles across the "unofficially open" road across the Alden River on their passage east to their ship in Magadan.
Season 1, Episode 13: The MooseDecember 2007
In the final episode the crew have one last goal, to walk on the frozen Arctic Ocean in the Arctic Circle before heading down the last leg through Canada to California. In Prudhoe Bay, Alaska their wish comes true when they are granted permission to drive through the oil fields to the frozen ocean. Afterwards, on their way south they wake up to a group of bearded locals cutting up a steaming moose on the side of the road. They visit Denali national Park and bump into "Ranger Fred" who teaches them a little about the local wildlife. Sadly enough it's the road home now, but not before stopping off and watching 1000 mile dog sled race the Yukon Quest, in Whitehorse, Canada. The US border comes up before they know it and the haul home is a series of press interviews and meetings including director of The Titanic, James Cameron and Actor/Parkinson's Spokesperson Michael J Fox. After 41,000 miles, 15-months, and 400 days on the road the team arrives to a warm welcoming celebration at the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, California.
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