Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Beirut was AMAZING..what a great trip...

Video rolling...Camera rolling...Music...aaaannnnnnnd..ACTION!!

I just don't know where to start, can't believe I went to Beirut, can't believe I had sooo much fun, can't believe I met some of the best freestyle footballers ever, can't believe I really enjoyed the food, I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE IT LOL...

Ok so lets go from the might be thinking WTF when did Ashley go to Beirut? WHY did he go to Beirut let me explain. I got chosen along with 5 other freestyle footballers to be in a World Cup commercial for a company called Zain who will be giving away 10 motorbikes ($50,000 each). The only slightly disappointing part was there was supposed to be a superstar footballer in the ad...we found out late who it would be and it was...DROGBA...mayne that would have been great. I flew out Saturday the 15th of May and got back today.

When I first heard that I might possibly be in an advert I got very excited, heard it was in Beirut, my first thought was o_O WOW thats far isn't it? I had only heard of it from the James Bond Film: The Man with the Golden Gun, as its where he finds the golden bullet being used as a belly button jewel on a belly dancer. So there was me being pretty worried about the distance, but excited, I told a few people about it and there first response was o_O WOW aren't you scared ,thats dangerous. Which then got me a lil un-easy as I didn't know it was supposedly dangerous. Needless to say, its just bad press, as it was lovely there.

What helped with going there was that one of the other freestylers was a fellow Londoner (Aaron Cato) and we would be travelling and rooming together. Spoke to him a bit via text before hand, seemed like a cool guy, he came to my house on the day as my famo took us to Heathrow to get there. Straight away we clicked, really safe guy, could tell he loved his football, we were into the same music, had the same questions about the whole trip, so it was good that we felt the same about the lil minor details.

The whole checkin in process at the airport was extremely smooth, I guess thats due to the destination not being super popular like a standard trip to Spain or the Caribbean. We had e-tickets which was a lil scary, as I always fear they won't work, got through the check in fine though, I was 'randomly' selected to go into some room and get some body scan. I had to stand with my hand up and turn slowly in a circle, it was never explained why, but yehh...didn't get told to stay, so I took it as a good sign.

The flight from London to Beirut is probably the best flight I have ever been on, mostly due to the length or the journey, was just a lil over 5 hours. I've never been somewhere that close on the plane before, so I am used to nasty 8+ flights. Me and Aaron both were ko'D before the plane even took of, woke up 45 mins later, watched my wife and kids, Twilight: New Moon then a third of Couples Retreat which was hilarious. Next thing you know, we are in BEIRUT!!!

Arrived there 7.30pm, got our luggage straight away, which was a touch, met Rime and Elie from Zoé, both great people. Had spoken to Rime a few times previously on the phone, was good to finally meet them. 3 other guys were already there, Rimo, Faruk and Sebastian, unfortunately Faruk's luggage was left in Turkey so he would have to pick it up the next day.

We went to the hotel and it was just surreal the whole journey, it would appear as if there are no rules when it comes to driving lol. The theme of the trip was freestyle, we we often called it 'freestyle driving' would be parked in mad places, we cam across one, 'maybe' 2 traffic lights the whole time we were there, other then that it was a free for all. Guys on mopeds would try and squeeze past, it wouldn't be surprising to see a guy going the wrong way up the road either...NOT somewhere you wanna drive, trust me.

So we finally get to the 'Park Tower Hotel' and WAWAWEWA!! what an awesome hotel. Was blown away by it really. Really nice building, great lobby and the rooms were immense. Could easily be an apartment I would live in. Gym, sauna, steam room? Amazing...You can take a looksi below...

So after leaving are stuff at the hotel we headed out for some food. We had a lil walk around first, went to this awesome shopping mall called ABC. It is HUGE, has millions of shops and even had a Nando's, me and Aaron both spotted it and said it's all about Nando's tonight lol..

It wasn't meant to be though, which was good, as when you are abroad it is best to try things. We ended up going to a place call Kabab-ji.

The food was lovely..had a chicken grill and for starts we had flatbread which we dipped in hummus, which was delicious. Hummus is something I never would have eaten in London, but it was top notch.

On Sunday we got up 7am, and had our was excellent, buffet style, had chocolate croissants (my fav), fresh fruit, toast, scrambled eggs, more of that amazing flatbread and the FRESHEST of the fresh orange juice. I then got to meet Daniel and Kathy as they arrived 11.30 that night and we hadn't met. Knew straight away they were both super nice people. We then headed over to the Zoé offices to meet the rest fo the staff and meet the Director of the commercial. They have a nice lil office, iMac and Macbooks everywhere, very nice..we just hung out in the back garden for a while until the director got there. He was a really cool guy, one of the coolest guys I've met. He was an Italian gentleman call Marco Gentile. We got to see the story board for the advert and he had us doing various skills to see what part of the advert would suit us best.

To quickly explain the video, its for a Motorcyle, 6 pieces of the bike are missing and we are doing moves with the parts, we then kick them to the bike and it builds it back up. So we had to do tricks with various sized balls. Footballs, tennis balls, exercises balls, not your everyday thing. But it was very fun at the end of the day. After speaking to Marco, we met the stylist Pia who gave us various outfits to try on then took picks to send to the client.

After that was all done we headed back to the hotel for a shower as we had been playing football in the office for a while and had worked up a sweat. After that we headed out for a nice tour of Beirut. Went through the city center which was much more built up then the places we had been to before, check the LV goods thats...

We went to eat at a restaurant which again delivered, really nice food, nice atmosphere, we had it outside and the weather was just perfect.

We then went for a lil boat trip around Beirut, got to see the beaches and stuff, one of the funniest moment was when a boat full of scantily clad ladys went by and people attempted to take pics and the 2 guys on the boat got really tense about it, but they were posing for us.

The country can be really pretty, some areas, are still in bits from the war and stuff, but the more built up areas are great and there are some amazing views of the buildings up in the hills. And the people are so friendly and up for having fun. One of the Zoé employees Elie who was looking after us was telling us since the war ended people are just enjoying every moment, they don't stress about getting a house and bills, they just take advantage of being able to live safely and have fun. Which I thought was pretty awesome.

Monday and Tuesday we filmed the advert, MAYNE that was a long process. Woke up 5.50am both days and finished shooting 9pm ish..ouch, BUT between scenes and set ups of scenes we would be freestyling and playing various games so it was never to dull. Never played so much football in my life, my groin is feeling it big time today. To many around the worlds (atw's) in a day without stretching lol, but it was super fun still. Majority of the filming was group scenes where we would be doing 'really' over the top cheering for what the other freestyler just did. Was pretty funny cheering for something that didn't even happen, but after a while you just got in the routine of doing it.

My scene was pretty cool, don't actually wanna go into it too much, best to just see it when the ad comes out haha, all I will say is mine was all done with a tennis ball, which was not fun to kick with, especially as I had to freestyle in my Air Force Ones (now ruined lol) so it was doubly difficult, but I got the job done.

Probably the most impressive part was Aarons big scene which was the last ofthe shoot which was him jumping off Daniel's back and doing a flying volley HIGH in the air..the final shot looked great.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner on set was LOVELY, below you can see pics of what we had, we also had as many drinks as we wanted, we were treated so good.

The shoot wrapped, finally and we headed back to the hotel to get changed as it was mine and Daniels last night in Beirut, the rest of the guys had a day or 2 left before they headed back. We went to the local bar with everyone, me , Aaron Cato, Kathy Vije, Daniel Rooseboom, Michal Romovsky, Faruk, Seb, also Pia, Aisha and Rime from Zoe. Had loads of fun with the guys, had loads of fun the whole time. What made the trip amazing was the people, got on so well with the guys. The running joke of the trip was a game we play where we would point at the ground like this below...

And if they looked they would get 3 punches in the arm and 3 slaps to the arm, they then had to say thank you. If they saw it and stuck there finger in the whole, they would get to punch you 20 times..BUT if they did that and you catch there finger you get to punch them 20 times, VERY childish, but VERY fun. The feeling of getting one was too good, it got to a point where you questioned anything that was said to them. Fun times.

In summary, soooooo glad I went, so privileged to have been around sooo many great freestylers and made some new friends, Beirut was, the Zoé employees were lovely, won't be forgetting any of them anytime soon and I have the exciting part still to come, which is the advert coming out. Should be pretty darn cool.


Daniel said...

Hi Ash i read the whole blog post 2 times and i love it ...good memories ...and the best part for me was us all getting along so well. ...we should all meet up again one day !!! Dont forget what i said about amsterdam ...i really mean thaT !!!!!!!!

Kathy said...

Love it :D!

We will see eachother again at the A'dam meeting @ 25-31 July.

Miss you,