Monday, March 18, 2019

The Hobbiton Village

I have seen The Lord of the Rings some years ago, but I've never really been a big fan of the franchise. I know, of course, that it comes in several sequels, but to be honest, I can't remember why it had to be that long. The little that I can still remember was that it had something to do with fighting to acquire the ring, although I can't remember now what was so special about the ring.

I can also remember bits and pieces here and there. For example, I know Gandalf because he had a striking resemblance with a property valuer I once knew; and Gollum, also known as Smeagol, simply because, to me, he looked a lot like Datuk Yong Teck Lee.

There were many other characters in the story of which I know very little about, including the Hobbits. The Lord of the Rings branched out to focus mainly on the Hobbits, but I struggled to stay awake through its first sequel. Sadly, I fell asleep about 20 minutes into the movie, and never had the mental endurance to continue watching up to this day.

Nevertheless, a comment from a friend, Hana Sue Harun, some years ago made me look it up on the internet. You see, I showed Hana a photo of my scale to show my weight. But instead of focusing on the figure on the scale, she was looking at my feet, and then exclaimed that I had big feet like the Hobbits! As you can see, Hana's mind works in a weird way, but of course that is not surprising because she's an ex-St. Franciscan. I mean, most, if not all, St. Franciscans try very hard to be "different" somehow. It's almost expected of them! But that is a separate story to tell, and deserves a post of its own. So, anyway, that made me curious to know more about the Hobbits.

Fate would have it that my wife was keen to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set during our visit to New Zealand recently, and I had to force myself to tag along. Driving to the location in a rented car, I was equipped with the knowledge that the Hobbits had big feet, and hardly anything more than that. For the astronomical cost of about RM200 per pax, the guided tour was about 2-hour long. The tour included a short return bus ride to the actual site and a complimentary drink at a cafe known as the Green Dragon Inn.

Throughout the tour, the guide was throwing out questions to the group, and it was obvious that we had some big fans in the crowd as they knew practically everything about the Hobbits. The specific details on specific locations. The guide would say something like, "This was where Bilbo Baggins uttered the line 'I'm going on an adventure' as he was running down the path", and there was a chorus of acknowledgements and exclamations from the crowd. I pretended to know what she was talking about, of course, but later, she gave an interesting statistic. She said about 40% of the visitors to the set had neither seen the movie nor read the book. So I suppose I'm not too bad, I had at least seen 20 minutes' worth of the movie, and I knew that the Hobbits had big feet!

If you've never been to the Hobbition Movie Set, let me just say that you won't be seeing any Hobbit there. At the back of my mind, I thought it would have been a great idea to hire some tiny people—for example, Mohd Isa Abdul Samad comes to mind—to act as Hobbits, so that the village would feel more convincingly alive. As it were, it had an air of an abandoned village.

The dwellings in the village aren't really dwellings—they're merely doors and windows and tiny yards. There are no rooms or any kind of living space behind those doors. But there was one that had a bit of hollow space behind the door. This was intended for visitors to take photos.

I had, at the time of the tour, very sore legs as I had just raced the Ironman in Taupo two days earlier. So walking up and down the slopes was something of a challenge, albeit a mild one. But you can imagine what a big relief it was for me when we finally adjourned to the Green Dragon Inn where we could quench our thirst and make toilet visits. I'm happy to report that these were modern toilets with modern plumbings; there's no need to instruct Jack and Jill to fetch a pail of water from the well on top of the hill. Of course while resting and waiting for the bus, I had the opportunity to catch up on Candy Crush Soda Saga.

So that concluded the tour. It wasn't as boring as I had expected after all. But I doubt that I will be watching the Hobbit movies any time soon. 

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