Hmm. Here’s a challenge for you – make a factual programme about a family visiting the Bangkok City Palace, without being allowed to film in the Bangkok City Palace. Yup, defeats me too! It turns out that item number one on the schedule was sabotaged by the Thai authorities, who won’t allow filming inside the palace except for documentaries – and apparently that means general video shots, without any presenters or anything in it. And we qualify as ‘presenters’ in Thailand.
So poor old Ginny had to cope with being told that she couldn’t film us inside the Palace, but she could take film of tourists milling about etc as long as we weren’t the tourists she was filming! So we spent an hour and a half looking round the palace, trying to stay out of camera shot. It was like something out of a satirical movie. (Apparently this is because a company made a ‘naughty’ film using the Palace, and since then nobody’s been allowed to do any commercial filming there). Anyway, we got some nice photos for our photo album, and saw the lovely golden temple.
The strangest thing was that lots of Asian tourists wanted to take pictures of the girls – one group of Chinese tourists each wanted a picture like the one on the right – posing with a palace guard and Charlotte and Emily. Maybe we should be doing what the long-necked tribes do in Mae Hong Son – ‘One Photo One Dollar’
We finally left the Palace around 1 o’clock (three hours filming anything but us…) and went to lunch. We were all baking from the hours of standing in the sun, so it was a huge relief to get into air conditioning and cool down. Charlotte and Emily were showing signs of tiredeness (they’d woken up at 6:30 this morning, just a bit excited!) but were bouncing with energy after ice-cream.
Then it was off to Wat Po, the home of the reclining Buddha. Even though Sarah and I had seen it before, it can still take your breath away – seemingly an endless gold Buddha lying on his side, housed in an enormous painted temple building.
But before we could see any of that, we had to wait for the filming permissions to be sorted out. Thailand can be quite officious in administrative matters, and we seemed to be sitting on the steps of the temple for an hour before the Tourism Authority man came back with the paperwork stamped (it had all be arranged in advance, but apparently still required the signature of the Abbot of the temple before the camera could go inside). I think we’re going to get used to sitting and waiting for things to happen this week.
Anyway, once we were in, it was great, putting gold leaf onto the small Buddha, dropping 100 coins each into the wishing pots – the girls even got to have their fortune told, by shaking fortune sticks from a little tube, and the one that fell out was their fortune – all on camera, repeated three times from different angles. Emily loved this idea – she thought she’d get to pick whichever fortune read best.
Finally I got to collect their fortune sheets, and read them out to them for the benefit of the viewer. Here’s Emily’s (complete with typos) “Good lucks graduslly approaching. Just like building a bridge, difficelt first but happy later. Your lover is a rich widow and a good match. Health is excellent“. I will admit to having some difficulty explaining that to her! Anyway, by the end of all that we were nearly finished for the day, just another two ‘walks past camera’, and then we took the girls back to the hotel, completely worn out. A combination of heat, waiting, early rising and general apathy, which soon disappeared within sight of the swimming pool.
It was a difficult filming day, because Emily really needed a mid-day sleep, and Charlotte wasn’t “into it” in the same way she had been in Canada. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.