On June 12, stalwart zombie fighter Norman Reedus will hop on his trusty motorcycle to explore America’s pre-apocalypse highways and byways on his new AMC docu-series, Ride with Norman Reedus. Don’t look for him to take his hog beyond the continental U.S., though, although that’s a killer idea for Season 2. For now, if you want to tour the world alongside a motorcycle-riding geek icon from the comfort of your own couch, head on over to Netflix and binge Ewan McGregor’s two travelogues, Long Way Round and Long Way Down.
Filmed three years apart, each series dispatches the erstwhile Obi-Wan Kenobi and his good friend, travel writer Charley Boorman (son of the celebrated English filmmaker John Boorman), to such far-flung locals as Kazakhstan, Alaska, Khartoum, and Ethiopia. While Long Way Round chronicles their horizontal trip around the world from London to New York City, Long Way Down takes them on a vertical global tour, from Scotland to Cape Town. (Their journeys are also chronicled in two tie-in books.)
Almost as invigorating as the epic landscapes is the camaraderie between the two hosts, which endures despite some hairy situations. Here are four of the most memorable accidents and/or snafus they encountered on their travels. Norman Reedus may want to think about reaching out to McGregor and Boorman for hazard advice.
No Papers, No Service (Long Way Round, Episode 3)
While trying to cross the border into Ukraine, the duo discover why it’s important to always carry original documents rather than photocopies. Customs officials weren’t happy that the vehicle certificates were copies, leading to a lengthy 12-hour wait with cereal bars providing their only sustenance and one of the most disgusting toilets McGregor had ever had the displeasure of smelling. (Though not quite as disgusting as the one from Trainspotting.) Eventually, a higher-up in the Ukrainian government got them through… but that’s not a trick those of us non-Star Wars stars can expect to benefit from. Another pro tip: don’t follow a random guy at the border to his “hotel” late at night. You might end up in what appears to be a Mafia household.
Taking on Water (Long Way Round, Episode 7)
Heads up, riders: Siberia is something of a motorcycle nightmare. Passing through a desolate wasteland with a populace that’s less than happy to see them, McGregor and Boorman repeatedly have to ford rushing rivers and muddy marshes with their bikes. “There won’t be any style points here,” McGregor says, humping his across the terrain. At one point, he has to pump water out of his engine in order to keep on going. At the same time, he also sounds more than a little thrilled to be roughing it. “They were 12 of the most exciting hours of motorcycling I’ve ever done in my life,” he says. “The roads just deteriorated, we were riding on mud and gravel. It was just everything thrown at us at once.” Yeah, sounds great. If you like that kind of thing…
When Going to Tunisia, Bring Vodka (Long Way Down, Episode 3)
McGregor and Boorman weren’t above using a little bribery to cross certain borders. Case in point: In order to take their bikes into Tunisia, the crew left the customs officials with four bottles of vodka in a plastic bag. That’s when McGregor’s Jedi mind-trick powers would have come in handy.
Always Keep Your Eyes on the Road (Long Way Down, Episode 10)
With the end of their journey in sight, one of the camera crew suffered a bad traffic accident in South Africa when he was riding too closely to another rider. “When you feel like you’re seeing the homestretch, sometimes things start to come undone a little,” says one of the producers, while the cameraman apologizes for “putting on a bit of a show.” Fortunately, nobody is seriously hurt. But let this serve as a lesson that you can still get into an accident even when you’re pulling into your driveway.
Long Way Round and Long Way Down are currently streaming on Netflix.