DAY 7 - Friday 3rd July 2009 - Tradition and Transformers

Today was a day of rest: a day of relaxation of recovery after the night before. We could afford it, as Nick was no longer bound by diving commitments and I had completed my course. Clearly, this day of rest would involve sleeping in until 1pm and not really doing anything at all for the entire day, besides watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at the local cinema, in the nearby shopping mall.

Directly prior to the beginning of the film, as we sat in the darkened and gloriously air-conditioned theatre, the horribly tasteless adverts ceased and the giant screen glimmered with a golden shine. Meaningless gilded Thai characters appeared, followed swiftly with an English translation. It loudly commanded: PLEASE RESPECT THE KING.

Nick and I slowly turned to look at each other in utter horror as the entire cinema around us shuffled and stood to its feet. I inched my head around and snatched a glance behind me. Every occupant in the room was standing to rigid attention, staring unwaveringly at the display. I instantly snapped my head back in front of me.

The shrill, musical voice of a Thai woman chanted out, accompanied by the tranquil plucking of a harp. The text dissolved and the most bizarre sequence of images unfolded in front of our eyes. King Rama IX, adored and revered by his subjects throughout the Kingdom of Thailand, was enlarged by a dozen times, alive in these moving pictures: the King in his youth, the King visiting troops, the King bowing to his affectionate wife, the King demonstrating his respect to a holy man, the King gratefully receiving a Buddha statue, the King kissing a child tenderly on his head…

A hundred thoughts flashed through my mind. Do we stand because it said so in English? Do we stand to show our respect? Do we remain seated because he isn’t our King? Would it be an insult to stand? Would it be an insult to remain seated? Will we actually escape this place alive? Just stare at the screen. Stare at the screen. Stare. At. The. Bloody. Screen.

I sat there, drenched in sweat, eyes wide in terror, nails clawing the armrest, sinking slowly into my seat, staring hypnotised at the projection before me. I looked briefly at Nick. He was unmoving, glaring intently in front of him.

Mercifully, the sequence faded to black and I let out a long, low breath as all others took their chairs. By now, my nose was roughly level with my knees.

I couldn’t believe it. I had never felt more awkward and embarrassed in my life. There was nothing, nothing like this in Britain. Yes, we sing the national anthem to the Queen when appropriate, but this was so unusual and so bizarre and it had taken me completely by surprise. I cursed my ignorance and promised to undertake more research before travelling next time.

The film itself was, essentially…robots fighting robots. As advertised. The film passed before my eyes, the over-the-top grinding and smashing of metal android on metal android forcing me to wince, the countless explosions causing my eyes to water, and the robotic rumbling and groaning sound effects vibrating my ribcage.

The film passed as such: Robot fighting robot. Explosion. Shia LaBoeuf wisecrack. Megan Fox’s bottom. Explosion. Robot fighting robot. Sweaty, testosterone-fuelled soldiers screaming orders. Another Shia LaBoeuf wisecrack. Megan Fox’s bottom. Explosion. Explosion. Robot fighting robot. Megan Fox’s breasts. Explosion.

Over and over and over again.

I must have checked my watch a thousand times as it dragged on, while the plot bled out of my ears.

Finally it ended. We emerged and I wiped my aching, streaming eyes before we trod our path back to the apartment and miserably watched Andy Murray lose the Wimbledon semi-final.

1 comment:

  1. Transformers was amazing. Don't diss!
    Whoo Germany in a week.