|Standing in the Same Piece of Desert|
|Journal of a 72-hour Trip to Yulin|
At 5 oclock in the morning of July 4th. I could see traces of crimson appearing on the sky. I was still sitting in front of the computer. Having stayed up the whole night, I had already written down many words, about myself, about you, about this trip, about that desert, about Ashes of Time, about Stage Prop Jai, and about the whole adventure.
But I didnt know in what emotion should this message start.
Things seemed to be very simple, yet there seemed to be endless stories to tell...
Part I The Trip
In the morning of June 30th, the rain stopped and emerged an azure sky.
At noon, I suddenly have an urge to take a trip to somewhere.
I had no idea where to go, I therefore just picked up my backpack and went to the coach station.
In a flash, I had decided to go to that piece of desert on which Ashes of Time was made. This decision was made a hundred times quicker than when I made my decision to go to Hong Kong.
Sixteen hours later, I was really standing in front of that piece of desert, holding the photo albums of Ashes of Time, however I could not find any place that looked familiar.
I went to Unification 10000 City. According to the source, it was said that Tony Leung sat on that city block impersonating a blind swordsman. I stood below the city block and looked up.I did not climb up because I did not feel it worthwhile to do so, besides I felt jealous.
What I was jealous of I didnt know.
Then I went back to Yulin and went to Hongshixia, I found the house of Xi Du. Standing in front of your house, I suddenly found myself speechless.
I then went to Dadun Liang, that was the set (exterior locale) of the castle of Xi Du. However, I could not see any desert there anymore, as it was already covered with trees and grass.
Staring at the field, the ground was covered with bushes in patches far and near, only the light yellow colour of the earth still gave us some space for imagination envisioning that if you stood there, you would see a wide expanse of the desert.
The cities youve been, the streets youve walked on, the desert where youve stood on, the cave where youve once occupied, all of them have changed so much.
Perhaps the only thing that remains unchanged is the Yulin Hotel, but still the receptionist could not find out which room you had once occupied. I stood in front of the hotel, looking at the far distance, trying to see the things that happened thirteen years ago in my minds eyes, but, what can we see now? Even if we stand at the same spot, we still do not see the same scenery. Yet no matter what happened, I was still happy because at least Ive stood on the same piece of desert that youd once been standing on.
Part 2 Encounter with Stage Prop Jai
In Hongshixia I happened to run into Stage Prop Jai. That was really a mere coincidence. If I missed the chance of meeting him by just a few seconds, there probably wouldnt be a story that is going to follow. I really doubt who have set up this trap for me to fall into.
No matter what happened, I met Stage Prop Jai. He was the fellow who once worked in the stage prop team when you were filming Ashes of Time and with whom you had enjoyed wine over dinner together. He was the one who, wearing the T-shirt and pants you gave him, put his arm around your shoulders while the picture was taken.
I listened to him recounting the precious times he spent with you of yesteryear, such as, getting around the place with you, chatting with you, watching you making the film and listening to you singing the songs.
Apart from surprises, there was jealousy. And then for a long time, I stood there wide-mouthed.
I was touched because he was still keeping carefully the pictures he took with you thirteen years ago, as well as the T-shirt and track pants you gave him then.
I was very grateful because he even gave me for safe-keeping the track pants you gave him and the picture you took with him.
It never occurred to me that you would love me that much.
Standing at the head of the street watching the departure of Stage Prop Jais car, I actually wanted very much to smile, but I could not restrain myself from crying.
Part 3 Record of Stage Prop Jais Words
I was very excited at that moment so for fear of forgetting some important points later, I therefore recorded our conversation. The following was the result of the rearrangement of my notes and records.
About Stage Prop Jai Himself
If you came here with an intention to trace back this movie, youve found the right person. I was a stage prop then and my duty was to look for or to buy the stage props that they needed for the movie. Although majority of the stage properties were brought here from Hong Kong, some torn, broken or dirty articles, such as torn fish nets, or the flag hanging in front of the hut, etc. would still need to be found. I got all those things from the market. At that time, I would drive to the market in town to look for those things, like the tent which had a greasy and dirty look. Finding those things was my duty.
The first time I saw him, he was sitting there at the side of that piece of land taking a rest. I stood beside him without speaking. He therefore stood up, approached me and took the initiative of talking to me. He said, You dont look like a local people? I said, I surely am a native of Yulin. I was born and raised here. That is how we started our acquaintance. I asked him if I might take a picture with him. He said no problem.
We gathered together very often at that time when he was not working. We would go to the small restaurant nearby to dine and drink. At that time, the two of us together with another friend went to the lotus pond. Although Gorgor was wearing his sun sunglasses, still he was being recognized by a photographer who immediately took a picture of us. Gorgor, however, even managed to get the negative back from this man at the end.
Gorgor was very easy to get along with. He never showed any air of a superstar. He was a very gentle and easy-going fellow. Although he did not particularly like to go out, whenever we invited him, he would come along and have dinner and drinks with us, while the other people would stay in their own rooms all the time and seldom talk with us.
We drank beer in the small restaurant on the side of the road several times but he was not particularly good in that.
When we were together, we talked about all kinds of things. I once asked him why he retired from the music world, he said he wanted to give the opportunities to the younger fellows. Once when we were walking on the street, I asked him jokingly to sing. To my surprise, he really did sing and he had sung a lot of Mandarin songs as we walked.
He had also given me a T-shirt and a track pant, both of them are of certain brand names. I am still keeping them now. That T-shirt which he brought back from the States was very new. At that time, I wanted him to autograph on the T-shirt, but he refused saying that it was pity to ruin a T-shirt that new.
The whole drama team idly stayed in Yulin for over three months, living in the Yulin Hotel. He had many shots to film, therefore from the beginning to the end, he stayed in Yulin idly for over one month. However, he had to go back to Hong Kong almost every week. He had even once brought back with him his manager, who was a female, chubby and short, and was not that goodlooking.
He had even talked about his childhood and how many brothers and sisters he had.
At that time, he had a beard.
About Ashes of Time
Actually, half of this movies set had already been shot in Hong Kong, majority of which was indoor and not original features. They originally planned to take a few shots in Yulin only. However, after they arrived, it turned out that the place was so ideal for the movie that they re-took all the shots. Those shot which were done before had to be thrown away.
That is the place across the river where Brigitte Lim played the sword. At that time, we had planted many charges, but now the water is so much shallower than before. Behind the reservoir, there is a large piece of rock, a lot of the shots were being taken there.
The whole film took a few shots here, and then at Hongshixia, Dadun Liang, Jian An Bao, Unification 10000 City, and then afterwards, they made some shots in Inner Mongolia.
The House of Xi Du (West Poison)
A lot of the indoor scenes were taken in the cave over there. That cave is called The Big Buddha Temple . Scenes such as eating, drinking etc. were all shot inside the cave.
The Castle and Desert of Xi Du
Majority of the outdoor scenes were taken in Dadun Liang, for instance, the castle of Xi Du. The place where he stood and looked at the distance. At that time, they constructed a patio in Dadun Liang, the one we saw in the movie.
Later, on their departure, they blew it down.
About the Horseback Thieves
At that time, in town, there was a local martial art (Wushu) team. They chose some of the members to act in the movie as horseback thieves. We hired a lot of horses and they rode on them as horseback thieves.
About Tony Leung Chiu Wai
At that time, there was a shot on Tony Leung using his head to break a jar. For this, the team especially made a jar with wax and had spent about RMB20,000. That happened in 1993 and at that time, RMB20,000 was a lot of money. The wax was shipped from Hong Kong. The stage prop team was there all day busily making the jar. Including the cost of the labour, that jar turned out to be over RMB20,000.
But Tony Leung was a coward. For several times, he did not have the courage to hit it with his head. (Laugh )
When Tony Leung was not making the film, he loved to wear pajamas. I remembered once that he came to the set wearing a very long white pajamas. I am pretty sure, he even wore that pajamas to the Yulin airport to see Lau Ka Ling and Charlie Yeung Choi Nei off.
At that time, we were sitting in the VIP Guestroom and Gorgor headed back to Hong Kong with them. We finally had a good look at Charlie Yeungs picture on her passport. The picture did not look as good as her real self, and she was wearing big glasses.
Part 4 About the Pictures, T-Shirt and Track Pants
Stage Prop Jai did manage to find the two pictures. Both of them are pretty old already with the edges all turned yellow.
The brand name of that T-shirt is ArmaniJeans. Merely look at the brand name, I know how well your taste was.
The Reebok track pants are now being hung in my closet.
The instance I got back home, I put the picture on my desk. I then would stare at it and touch it every few minutes to make sure that it was real and would not fly away and disappear.
Just that I still could not believe that those were the presents that you gave me.
Part 5 Returned as if I was sleepwalking
Going to Yulin, going to the desert, staying in the same hotel that you had once stayed, wandering around the streets that they you had once walked on, meeting the people you had once had dinner and drinks with, receiving your picture that has turned yellow, and receiving a pair of track pants that you had personally given out, all these just happened too suddenly.
And then suddenly I was back in Beijing.
Felt like I had been sleepwalking.
All these only happened 72 hours ago.
When I opened my eyes, I looked at the ceiling, the bedspread and the room, they were so familiar to me; and the loud noise from the traffic almost drove people crazy.
The clock on the wall read 7:30 a.m. on July 3rd.
Sitting on my bed, I felt like having make a dream which was 72 hours long.
It was like the ending of the mechanical cat, it was merely a dream.
In fact, nothing had happened, there was no desert, no coach trip, no Hongshixia, no Stage Prop Jai; nothing at all.
Except for the tin of soft and fine sand I picked up from the front of the house of Xi Du which is now being placed at the head of my bed, the blue Reebok track pants that are still being hung in the closet, and the yellowish picture on the desk.
Suddenly, I miss you, I miss you very, very much.
|Picture taken with Stage Prop Jai. The one wearing the green T-shirt with a big A is Stage Prop Jai. This is the picture that Jai gave me. The track pants that Jai were wearing were the ones that he gave me too.|
|written by FINDRLINA on July 4th, 2006 at 6.38 am|
|translated by Daydreamer on July 25th, 2006 with the permission of the author|
|source: RED LESLIE CHEUNG where you can read it in Chinese|
back - back to contents page