All work and all play for the ‘Reach for the Skies’ cast in Bintan

There’s trouble in paradise for TV’s current reigning long-form family – but is the drama only confined to their characters?

All work and all play for the ‘Reach for the Skies’ cast in Bintan
All work and all play for the ‘Reach for the Skies’ cast in Bintan
26 Jul 2018

All work and all play for the ‘Reach for the Skies’ cast in Bintan

Lights, camera, sun, sand and sea: last week, several of the stars of Channel 8 long-form series Reach for the Skies – along with a larger group of crew members – got to venture out of the windowless confines of Mediacorp’s Studio 2 to spend four days in Singapore’s own paradise-next-door, Bintan.

Okay, so it was first and foremost still a work trip with loads of filming business to get down to, but when you’re staying in oh-so-trendy “glamping” tents, hopping from one luxe resort to another, and going for pampering spa sessions between takes, it’s hard not to feel like you’re on vacation.

This is why it wasn’t surprising when the cast described the trip as “relaxing”, despite there still being formidably early call times and copious amounts of lines to memorise. We personally got to witness just how relaxed they were during dinner on our first night there when we sat at their table for a sumptuous BBQ buffet right by Treasure Bay Bintan’s Crystal Lagoon, complete with bottles of BYO (bring-your-own) booze courtesy of Kym Ng, Sheila Sim and Joey Swee (who bought us an extra pint of beer; thanks!).

While many jokes and anecdotes were exchanged (some of which we may get into trouble for repeating here), one topic that was never brought up – or even hinted at – was the recently unearthed falling out between veteran actresses Hong Hui Fang and Pan Ling Ling. Both of them star in Skies, but only the former was there in Bintan for the shoot.

The details of their dispute, as documented in local Chinese news reports, are worthy of an American high school drama. Instead of silently severing ties with Ling Ling, Hui Fang decided to literally broadcast the demise of their 20-year friendship by sending text messages to their mutual friends, saying that she’s had it with Ling Ling’s bullying, which even extended to her husband Zheng Ge Ping and their children, Tay Ying and Calvert Tay.

Yikes. After seeing how chummy and candid everyone was with each other on the island, a feud between two of its stars, even though one of them was not present, was the last thing we would have thought was brewing. And with filming set to last all the way until end August or early September, we can’t help but wonder how this, uh, development will affect the dynamics on set.

In the meantime, enjoy the following photos of the Reach for the Skies cast having fun in the sun, in the water, under the night sky and more.

Sheila Sim tries out the Jetovator
Sheila Sim tries out the Jetovator
26 Jul 2018

Sheila Sim tries out the Jetovator

The Treasure Bay Bintan website describes the Jetovator as “a water sports accessory that redirects water thrust to propel and elevate riders into mid-air”. Basically, you can fly – if you can balance the vehicle properly, which Sheila had a bit of trouble doing so at first, tumbling into the water multiple times after hovering for only seconds (don’t worry, she’s fine).

According to Sheila, the staff member who trained her theorised that her difficulty in maintaining a stable ride could be caused by her tall height, but the model-actress refused to give in, taking on the challenge again and again and again, rising higher and higher each time until finally, she was able to keep the machine out of the water for a record 10 to 15 seconds.

And yes, she looked like she had an absolute whale of a time.

A resort staff member shows how it’s done
A resort staff member shows how it’s done
26 Jul 2018

A resort staff member shows how it’s done

They really make it look so, so easy.

Zhang Zhen Huan has fun on the stand-up paddleboard
Zhang Zhen Huan has fun on the stand-up paddleboard
26 Jul 2018

Zhang Zhen Huan has fun on the stand-up paddleboard

With his scenes wrapped for the day, Zhen Huan had the chance to give stand-up paddle-boarding a go for the very first time. Although he initially did it just so we could get some cool pics of him (which we did), we also spotted him continuing with the activity all by himself long after we had left him alone, proving just how much fun he was having. Might as well, right?

There can be miracles… or just a hidden pathway
There can be miracles… or just a hidden pathway
26 Jul 2018

There can be miracles… or just a hidden pathway

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, nor is this the result of some intense Photoshop handiwork – Joey, Sheila and the crew members are indeed walking on the lagoon’s sparkling waters, and the trick is as elementary as you might have guessed: there is a glass “bridge” just beneath the surface, which can be constructed for special occasions (such as this scene).

Those black boots they’re all wearing are to prevent them from slipping and falling into the water, although they aren’t always necessary when one is making their way across. Then again, with an expensive camera and phone in the picture, we’d want to take every precaution available too.

A short joyride in a see-through canoe
A short joyride in a see-through canoe
26 Jul 2018

A short joyride in a see-through canoe

We don’t mean to brag or anything, but our video of Sheila and Joey paddling around in this transparent canoe on Instagram was a hit among the rest of the Skies cast, who kept commenting on how pretty it was (poor Kym, who was originally supposed to participate but had a last-minute filming schedule, was particularly devastated that she missed out on this).

By the way, Yao Wen Long’s expression is him trying to look cool, not being bitter that he had to push the ladies around. And besides, he got to try it out himself earlier on as well! Check out the next slide…

A short joyride in a see-through canoe
A short joyride in a see-through canoe
26 Jul 2018

A short joyride in a see-through canoe

See? All smiles. We regret not giving this a try.

A fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant
A fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant
26 Jul 2018

A fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant

Fun fact: to get to this elegant Thai eatery at the swanky, somewhat secluded Banyan Tree resort, everyone had to take a bus, followed by a smaller van, and finally a golf buggy because of how hidden away it is.

But the trip turned out to be worth it, as we were greeted with a splendid view of the sea right outside the building. The cast also got to sample the award-winning cuisine for their dinner scene, but they stayed firmly in work mode as we constantly spotted them flipping through their scripts, or diligently making sure the sound of their cutlery scraping did not overpower their dialogue.

Acting can indeed be hard work.

A fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant
A fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant
26 Jul 2018

A fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant

See the scripts? They magically appear between takes so the actors can go through them at the last minute, and magically disappear when the cameras start rolling.

Here, the director is instructing them in the simple act of passing a dish, but when it comes to framing a scene, nothing is actually that simple.

Is there trouble in paradise for this TV family?
Is there trouble in paradise for this TV family?
26 Jul 2018

Is there trouble in paradise for this TV family?

This gathering for a group shot is not the happy occasion you’d think it is (as you can probably tell from Joey and Kym’s expressions). And why is Sheila’s character the one taking the picture instead of posing in it? We guess we’ll have to wait until the episode airs to find out what kind of woes went down…

Is there trouble in paradise for this TV family?
Is there trouble in paradise for this TV family?
26 Jul 2018

Is there trouble in paradise for this TV family?

Don’t be fooled by the luxurious villa setting: this dinner scene once again contained some pretty tense moments for the bunch, which ended with one character storming off in a huff. Trouble in paradise indeed…

Releasing sky lanterns into the night
Releasing sky lanterns into the night
26 Jul 2018

Releasing sky lanterns into the night

Don’t worry, it wasn’t always fights and friction between the family on the island. In one of the more heart-warming scenes, we see them releasing sky lanterns with wishes written on them into the air by the beach, followed by the appropriate oohing and ahhing.

Erm, we don’t know if this spoils the magic – we hope not – but the wishes weren’t actually written by the cast themselves (with the exception of Kym). Instead, they were the work of several crew members. We assume they just have better handwriting.

The entire cast and crew who went to Bintan
The entire cast and crew who went to Bintan
26 Jul 2018

The entire cast and crew who went to Bintan

Say hello to the people who worked so hard during this trip, from the actors to the director, cameramen, sound guys, lighting guys, executive producer and more. Good job, everybody!

Reach for the Skies airs weeknights, 7.30pm on Channel 8. Watch past episodes on Toggle.

Related:
A guide to punking and pranking by the cast of ‘Reach for the Skies’
Zhang Zhen Huan lost 5kg on a diet of coffee and stress
Bryan Wong pampers family with “freaking expensive” Europe trip

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