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Uncovering Southeast Asia

March 19, 1995|BETTY MARTIN

VIETNAM, CAMBODIA AND BURMA( Wish You Were Here Productions, 95 minutes, 1994) .

Producer Rick Ray covers a lot of territory in Southeast Asia. Along with extensive film of this relatively untraveled area, he offers his impressions of the people, their troubled history and lifestyles.

Reversing the order of the title, Ray begins in Burma (now Myanmar). In the capital, Rangoon, the view is dominated by pagodas, temples and shrines, including the gold and bejeweled Shwegdagon pagoda. In the northeast, viewers see the large reclining Buddha and on the road to Mandalay viewers explore a Buddhist monastery, visit the farmers of Inle Lake and watch the lake rowers who propel their boats with one leg wrapped around an oar.

At Taunggyi in the Shan Hills is "the Havana of Burma" where cigars are made by women. Hill tribes are visited where women stretch their necks with metal rings.

There's a visit to the plains of Pagan, the 11th-Century capital of Burma, where thousands of ruins are slowly deteriorating due to weather and neglect.

Ray's tour of Cambodia shows the damages of war and the "killing fields" are seen outside of town. Phnom Penh is littered and poverty-stricken. The major attraction for tourists to Cambodia is Angkor Wat, the 12th-Century pagoda and temple ruins discovered in 1861.

In Vietnam, Ray tours Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), takes viewers to see the colorful parade of boats on the Mekong Delta and explores the network of tunnels where some Vietnamese lived during the war.

Traveling north to Hanoi, there are stops at the resort area of Da Lat; the beach town of Nha Trang; the fertile central plains; Da Nang with its Marble Mountains and China Beach; Hue, a city on the Perfume River; the old DMZ border area, plus a ride on a train into Hanoi through the rice-growing Red River Delta.

Tapes are available from Wish You Were Here Productions, 1455 Royal Blvd., Glendale, Calif. 91207; telephone (818) 243-7043. Price: $29.95 (plus tax and postage).

EASTERN EUROPE ( Charles Hartman Films, 90 minutes, 1994 ).

Beginning their adventure in Vienna, Charles Hartman, his son and daughter-in-law and a friend explored the "new" Europe by bicycle, train and a Danube cruise.

The video follows the quartet north through the Czech Republic, visiting Tabor with its old town maze and the lovely capital, Prague. Continuing north the group visits the eastern German cities of Dresden, still showing the scars of World War II; the porcelain center of Meissen, and Berlin with scenes of the old wall area and the eastern part of the city. A side trip visits Frederick the Great's gardens and castles in Potsdam.

Hartman and his co-riders take the train through the countryside of Poland to Warsaw for a tour of its restored buildings and gardens. In Krakow they visit the Renaissance Square and castles.

Heading south the video takes viewers to Slovakia visiting mountain resort areas for hiking and winter skiing.

A cruise down the Danube through the 80-mile iron gate gorge and fiord-like scenery stops in rural Bulgaria, for a brief tour and a side trip to Bucharest.

Tapes are available from Wish You Were Here, 1455 Royal Blvd., Glendale, Calif. 91207; tel.(818) 243-7043. Price: $29.95 (plus tax and postage).

DINOSAURS NEXT EXIT ( Cleval Video Ltd., 48 minutes, 1994 ).

Capitalizing on the fascination with dinosaurs, this video offers a fun and informative guide to prehistoric animal parks across the United States, plus one in Canada.

Using a mix of old movie clips, a bit of prehistoric speculation, plus interviews with the craftspeople who create the giant replicas and with some of the owners of the parks, viewers, learn much about these extinct creatures. The parks vary from rustic, older collections to state-of-the-art animatronic exhibits, scientifically accurate, animated and with sound effects.

Most of the parks provide natural settings, some with nature programs, picnic grounds, souvenir shops and other amenities. One of the largest exhibits is a drive-through park in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.

The Quarry Visitor Center in Dinosaur National Park in Colorado has an impressive "Jurassic Burial Ground." Here numerous bones are seen locked in geological time capsules created by earth movement 150 million years ago.

Tapes are available from Cleval Video Ltd., 2532 Lincoln Blvd., Marina del Rey; tel. (800) 383-8811. Price: $19.95 (plus tax and postage).

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