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The Boat Trackers

Rivers are capricious and unpredictable. At times, it is turbulent. At others, it is calm. Human beings have to overcome rivers and, at the same time, rely on rivers. In Shennongxi Stream, Badong County in Yangtze Gorges region, boat trackers have been struggling in adverse environments like shallows and cataracts with their flesh and blood for a long time.

Boat trackers are boatmen who tow boats with goods on the river. In the mountains in Badong Shennongxi live the Tu people. When there were no roads for vehicles, daily necessities were delivered to the mountains by water. Since Shennongxi Stream was narrow and crooked, and its water surged a lot, boats in were often towed by boat trackers so that they could continue their upstream journey, and this tradition has a history of more than a thousand years. Since the development of modern roads and the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in 2009 have raised the water level of the nearby area, the shallows have become rivers and boat trackers are not necessary anymore. In order to protect the tradition, villagers in Badong have formed a boat tracker team of one hundred odd members, but instead of delivering goods, they have changed their job nature to focus on tourism. When boat trackers sing out loud while they work, they would forget the fatigue and hardship of their life. It is in this way how people continue to safeguard the Yangtze river in this a new era.


  • Video
  • English
  • Completed
Cultural Heritage is a documentary program series that looks back at the history of human civilizations which have flourished along the rivers and mountainous landscapes in China. The civilizations can be traced back thousands of years ago. Their golden days have left their marks, but in face of modernization, they are being slowly washed away. The ten episodes of the series reveal how men manage to survive upon the gifts from the nature, a manifestation of the human wisdom. The series takes us to Shanxi, where people live in simple but solid cave houses that can last for centuries, to the terraced fields in Yunan where farmers plant and harvest on the steep slopes. Villages along Nujiang, the “angry river”, conquered the surging waves crossing the river with the primitive but efficient cable system. The beauty of human living in harmony with nature remains us the importance of cherishing the precious resources that the Earth generally offers us.

Co-produced by Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education

The program will be broadcast on Thursday at 1900 - 1930 TVB Pearl from 11th April 2013 onward.
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