We alighted into Chiang Mai, Thailand one sunny, sweaty morning in March. Of all the places we’ve ventured in the world, this one particularly held my interest. It was mysterious, something new. We got busy right away immersing ourselves in the mindset and culture of the area.
If you know Buddhists, then you are aware of the magnitude of their tranquility. Such inner peace permeates northern Thailand, and manifests itself into every corner of life. Compared to many other countries we visit and work in, Thailand was like a walk in the woods on a misty morning. The drivers were oh so mellow, meek even. The Thai people moved with grace, had good, clean, if well-worn, clothes, and walked with dignity in their steps. The roads were smooth, though the sun was hot. Yet even sweating felt like a gift, a lesson, a burden to carry with joy because Karma would surely reward such work that caused you to sweat.
As a film team, we traversed Thailand with ease. One of our favorite parts of filming for the award-winning TV series, Missions Today, is getting to go to a lot of unique signature places and capture ridiculously awesome b-roll. In our early days in Thailand, we drove up to the highest mountain in the country, in search of a National Park known as Doi Inthanon. Like most places, it was sacred, something to be revered and inspired by.
We spent a good amount of time shooting the opening of the show and shooting on the edge of a cliff, with barbed wire at your back and heavy winds blowing into the mic every minute. It was not easy! Naturally, we had a blast.
One of the amazing things we noticed about Thai/Buddhist culture was how obviously they respect all living things. This includes the environment, and we observed how preserving the nature around them is a strongly held core value. Everywhere we went, plant-life was thriving. There were gardens everywhere, even special water trucks puttering along the highway specifically to nurture all of the potted plants along the roads. Beautiful trees and flowers decorated the minuscule houses. There seemed to be no apparent poverty due to the lush and neatly kept nature. Even tiny villages we passed through and filmed in were extremely pleasant due to both the good-hearted people and how beautifully they kept their plants trimmed, categorized, and blossoming. I was totally blown away by such a universal love for nature, something so different coming from America, where industry and work culture keep noses to the grindstone and out of the gardens.
One of the places that especially exemplified Thai gardening skills was the Queen’s Royal Flora, a HUGE park the Queen had designed in honor of her husband, the King, who takes a special interest in the environment. Fountains, orchid houses, greenhouses, and endless tracks of flowers as far as the eye could see. And in the center, a magnificent temple, a gift to art and honor, dedicated to the hallowed and most revered King. Here’s a shot of that.
You can imagine how excited we were to shoot there.
Here’s Daniel, reflecting how all of us were feeling at being in such a grandiose place!
We filmed in some beautifully remote areas outside of Chiang Mai, capturing sunrises, and many wonderful parts of life in Thailand, all of which we will probably never forget.
Another amazing part of the trip was going to a very special place called Tiger Kingdom, where we got to go in and pet some pretty awesome tigers. It was beyond amazing getting to film there!
And by the end of the day, we all got our cuddle time.
Besides filming the local culture, the group we were documenting for Missions Today was awesome! For many, it was their first experience outside of the United States. We got to follow them as they worked in some beautiful remote villages and capture all kinds of interesting stories.
Our time in Thailand seemed to span months, rather than weeks, and it was truly a sad farewell as we packed up our film gear and headed home. However, we had one last pit stop before that final plane ride. The Great Wall of China, folks. And holy moly, it was the most incredible experience ever!!
We got into Beijing at 3am, and got up again bright and early at 7am to get a quick breakfast and drive the 1.5hrs to the wall. Though a little sleepy, we woke up instantly at the sight of this World Wonder, and eagerly climbed the endless, uneven steps to a good look out point. I think we found a nice one!
Apparently we were also celebrities, being the only non-Chinese people there. As we climbed the wall, each film team member was approached by someone wanting to take a picture with us. At first it was highly confusing, but then we all just went with it.
Looking back, it was all together an unforgettable journey. Seriously awesome footage, amazing new friends, and seeing just a little bit more of this incredible planet. Who could ask for better?