No pain, no gain for Ah Boys
Tosh and Weiliang got more than they bargained for their new travelogue Mission S Change
They thought filming a travelogue would be a fun. A leisurely experience.
The nature of these things is that the hardships are just for show, right?
Well, Ah Boys Tosh Zhang and Wang Weiliang discovered they had bitten off more than they could chew while filming their new travel series Mission S Change.
The 13-episode series sees Zhang and Wang journeying across China with just 50 uniquely Singaporean products to barter for food and shelter.
Some of the items the actors brought include bak kwa, tiger balm ointment, Ah Boys To Men movie posters, chicken rice chili sauce, batik dress, Merlion souvenirs, a Singlish dictionary, and a 24k gold plated necklace featuring the orchid flower.
Mission S Change, which premieres on June 23 on E City (StarHub TV Channel 111 or 825) at 8pm, also sees the boys assimilating into the culture of the local communities and helping villagers in farms while touring the sights of Yunnan, Guizhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Tianjin and Beijing.
"We really didn't know we literally had to find our own food and lodging," said Wang, 28, at the press event for Mission S Change yesterday (June 18).
"Our first night saw us without a roof over our heads. We had to pitch a tent at a basketball court near the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (near Lijiang, Yunan)," Wang shared.
The lads had spent the day sightseeing and by the time they wanted to find a place to spend the night, they discovered that unlike Singapore's 24-hour culture, all shops were closed and no one was around.
"We thought the production crew would bring us to a hotel or hostel, considering it was minus 2 degrees Celsius that night!"
The boys shared how they were "freezing to death" even though they were in their winter garments and bundled up in two sleeping bags.
It didn't help that the wind was howling throughout the night. To cap the experience, it even snowed at dawn.
"We were told that the place hadn't experienced snow in five years!" said Zhang, 26.
"Definitely a lesson learnt -- that we must always find lodging first before we go and 'play'."
Another occasion that brought home the reality that that they were truly on their own was when they participated in a 25km cycling marathon to help a village promote fire safety.
"We thought we'd be cycling only for a short distance to get some footage and then head near the finish line to film us finishing the race," Wang revealed.
"But we noticed something was not right when the production van overtook us.
"We initially thought they were going to film us from the front, but then the van turned a corner and disappeared."
It was then that it dawned upon them that they really had to complete the 25km ride, which both said was one of the most gruelling experiences on the trip.
"But we can't complain. Our sound guy had a tougher time as he had to cycle behind us with all the recording equipment," Zhang said.
Both guys were extremely glad for each other's company, especially for Wang, who said Zhang was the one to keep motivating when their assigned tasks proved too challenging.
Zhang, on the other hand, was very appreciative when Wang looked after him when he came down with food poisoning.
"I didn't wash my hands properly after riding horses and cleaning their stalls, and went for lunch," Zhang shared.
"The next thing I knew I was vomiting very badly and also had a bad case of diarrhea. I also had a fever and I just couldn't move."
Nonetheless, both had an extremely fruitful experience, learning more about China's cultures and its people, whom both were surprised that the Chinese are such "warm and generous people".
"They opened their homes to us, letting us sleep on their couches and giving us food," Wang said.
In the end, despite the hardships, the boys did have fun and hope that the series will be well-received so that they can shoot another season.
"I want to go to Japan," said Zhang, explaining that he'd like to explore the remote villages and learn more about the Japanese language and culture.
For Wang, it's Taiwan, as there would not be any language issues, he said, laughing.