Hello folks! First of all, belated Happy Songkran to everyone. I was supposed to churn this out on Songkran because this episode is about another Thai Festival, i.e the Loy Krathong, but … well… *shameless plugging part 2* Guys! Don’t forget to watch Krong Karm at CH3Thailand Official’s YouTube Channel! As for the coffee talk for that, you’ll have to wait for a while. *sweatdrop* But for now, here’s the coffee talk for Nueng Dao Fah Diew (One Land One Sky) Episode 6.
As I earlier mentioned, Episode 6 features the Thai Holiday, Loy Krathong, or the day when the Thais float Krathongs or wreaths made out of banana leaves and other decorative flowers. It is celebrated on the 12th month of the Thai Lunar Calendar or every November. Since I am not Thai, I cannot explain why Loy Krathong is in the 12th month of the Lunar Calendar, but the Traditional New Year is on April (Songkran), but later episodes will touch on this so please hold your horses. But in any case, the occasion of Loy Krathong at this point in the plot has a two-fold significance. First, it lets us know where we are at the historical timeline and which events are about to unfold. If you recall our short history lesson for Episode 5, I mentioned the two great Inwa Generals who were sent to attack Ayodhaya: Nemyo Sihabodee and Mangmaha Noratha. In episode 5, they’ve been doing reconnaissance and recruitment of troops by invading towns by the borders of Thailand. By November 1766, the Inwa troops started to proceed with their march towards Ayodhaya. By this time, the threat of an invasion is already imminent. Mangmao complains that the nobles are still pushing for the celebration of Loy Krathong when there’s a war going on. Yet her own family tells her that it is a means to lift everyone’s spirits – spend a lot of the measly resources now and have fun, instead of thinking of the doom that is yet to come. That’s the way leading to the fall of Ayodhaya.
As you may have noticed by now, Than Khun Phollathep’s scenes only show him being up to no good. He again shoots down Aokya Wang’s proposal to send more back up to the provinces because the selfish nobles of Ayodhaya care too much about keeping the capital safe, and have unreasonable fears of making the provincial armies powerful enough to cause an insurgency. Worse, Phollathep douses the nobles’ fear that the enemy would reach the capital with complacency. He proposes that there is strength in numbers – he will send a large army that would outnumber the Inwa to protect the capital. Yet as Aokya Wang already observed, these sheltered city boys are no match for the battle-seasoned warriors who have faced many battle fronts. Phollathep brushes it aside, and ultimately wastes more life and resources of the Thai camp with his foolhardy plan. One of the victims of Phollathep’s plan is Khun Pranai, who is still in the dark regarding the traitorous plans of both Phollathep and Jaojom Phen. He cockily volunteers to co-lead the troops, only to be defeated and be forced to retreat.
The Inwa troops, with their good planning and high morale, easily defeat the Thai troops. The Thai People are starting to feel the effects of the war with riots and supply shortages happening, and flashback to the previous war, when King Alaungpaya invaded the land.
Soon, it is revealed that the previous war parallels the current war – as the same traitors, namely Phollathep and Jaojom Phen, send messages to the Inwa camp. Jaojom Phen’s beautiful and unique Krathong, which she instructed Aok Pra Sri Khanthin to have especially made, is the vehicle used to transmit this traitorous information. It is almost ironic how the Krathong which is supposed to be used to send well wishes and prayers to the river gods to wash off the misfortune and sins of the past year, is ultimately used by our villains to send Ayodhaya to its doom. But hope is not lost. Amid the frivolousness and the treachery of the nobles in Ayodhaya, there is still a man who fights for the land. While discussing the current events, Khanthong asks Nan when they’ll have a person who will unite the Thai People to fight once again and….
Phraya Tak knows that the invasion is imminent and soon he is sent to Ayodhaya to help protect the capital. The people of Tak are fearful that the lowered defense would cause their invasion – but Phraya Tak calms down the men by saying that if they lose Ayodhaya then they will lose the whole country as well. Too bad, they do not know yet that the land had been lost even prior to the invasion because the nobles are as corrupt as they come.
Speaking of corruption, even our eunuchs face the same problem. Khanthong has to deal, not only with the nation’s enemies, but his immediate enemies in the ladies’ section as well.
Khanthin does not want to make more enemies, hence he tries to offer a compromise to Aok Luang Srimanoraj. Instead of accepting Khanthin’s offer, Aok Luang tells his lackeys to send armed men to harm Khun Rakthewa and Aok Pra Sri Khanthin instead. Khanthong has to defeat these thugs, while concealing his identity from Khun Rakthewa. While it’s all comical to Nan, when Khanthong tells him about it, it’s no easy feat. Besides, the foiled plan of harming Khanthin nevertheless sowed a seed of doubt in Aok Luang Srimanoraj’s mind. He starts to wonder, is Khanthin really a eunuch? This proves to be fatal later on.
With all the corruption going on, you guys are probably tired by now. I am too. So… let’s focus on brighter things – the budding romance between Khanthong and Mangmao! As I mentioned in the previous episodes, the progression of the war, parallels the progression between the relationship between our main hero and heroine. So while the Inwa advance towards the capital, our pair level up their relationship as well.
Our duo have a debriefing after Mangmao executes Khanthong’s plan in episode 5 (i.e. pretend to get possessed by Khunthao Salika’s ghost). Mangmao tells him nothing new and even starts questioning him as to his involvement with Khunthao Salika. Khanthong tries to come up with an alibi – but gets distracted with Mangmao’s cuteness instead and teases her. Their flirting… ehem … I mean moment comes to and end when a very jealous Yuern lies about Khanthin having a guest in the person of Khun Jitjaipak (Nan).
After Mangmao has left, Yuern admits to Khanthin that she lied and confesses that she doesn’t want Khanthin to talk to any other woman. Khanthong realizes the predicament he is in – as his humaneness to Yuern, after she had been treated poorly for so long, led her to believe that she actually has feelings for him.
On the other side of the spectrum, man-hating-Mangmao has seen nothing chivalrous about Aok Pra Sri Khanthin, and instead got exposed only to his nagging and teasing …. Or did she? Well, before we go into that, let’s look at the contenders to Mangmao’s hand in marriage, shall we?
Prince Chate is arguably the unromantic version of Mr. Grey during that time. He’s rich and powerful. He’s perverse; and he’s conceited to boot. He was charmed by Mangmao’s beauty and he wanted to taste her. Kromkhun Vimol tells him that Mangmao isn’t a court lady who she can easily offer to him as she is but a mere commoner. The other Khunthaos convince Prince Chate to focus on someone else, yet he remains fixated. Of course, Jaojom Phen encourages this infatuation, as she seeks to make Mangmao a wedge to have a rift between Kromkhun Vimol and Prince Chate.
Our next contender is Aokya Wang, who sought Khanthin’s aid in episode 5. He tries to woo Mangmao with his gallant and chivalrous ways, but his propriety makes him less aggressive as Prince Chate. Although he already has the backing of Mangmao’s family, he still nudges Khanthin to give him a helping hand… or two.
Yet the best part of all is that as our chief eunuch assists Aokya Wang in having reasons to “randomly” come across Mangmao, it only works to draw out Khanthong’s feelings, which he never felt before. When Aokya Wang and Prince Chate ultimately butt heads over jasmine garlands that Mangmao made (with Mangmao wittily ending up giving her suitors a garland each), and he hears about it (or specifically, when he thinks Mangmao is gloating about it), our ever logical Khanthong suddenly turns into a muttering puffing jealous mess.
Our third contender comes much later in the episode, and it’s none other than Ai Kla! But before we deal with this nefarious character, let’s backtrack. Again, as I mentioned earlier, the central element of this episode is the Loy Krathong. Midway through the episode, the event finally takes place, and it serves as the backdrop of the events between and among our characters.
With the war brewing around them, Khanthong, like Mangmao, isn’t eager to celebrate the event. Nonetheless, he comes across Nan who hopes to float Krathong with his love interest, Mae Pao. Just as Nan had warned Khanthong about showing off his knowledge on battle stratagem with the nobles, Khanthong likewise warns Nan about their duty and how his growing affection for Mae Pao might affect it. He assures Khanthong that he knows what he’s doing and decides to enjoy the event with Mae Pao.
To his dismay, Yuern likewise shows up and offers to float Krathong with Khanthin in order to show her apology and sincerity. He forgives her for her sincerity but makes it clear that he still didn’t want to be romantically involved with her – and by now the non-Thai audience must have felt that this Loy Krathong event has some romantic undertones. I haven’t seen a lot of lakorns, but those that I did see that featured Loy Krathong showed couples floating them together (with the symbolism that should their Krathong end up floating away smoothly then it spells happiness and love for the couple).
For sure, floating Krathong is best spent with a significant other, and Soon tells Muang to run after his wife. He argues that he wants to be with her and treats her no less than his wife, but Soon is well aware of her status. Muang relents and goes after Inn.
Meanwhile, Aokya Wang who has been left with Mangmao, after her whole family *decided* to just pick another spot for floating Krathong, is still revving up his engine and hoping to pick up his game. Yuern, on the other hand, is also trying to keep Aok Pra Sri Khanthin by her side. The two pairs meet and… voila! They all end up going on a double-date of sorts. #awkward.
By now, it’s obvious that Mangmao loves coming across Aok Pra Sri Khanthin. She gets giddy everytime the two of them meet. Mangmao, who nimbly goes around and can never be tied down, is content to stay put by Khanthin’s side, every chance that they get. It was established in their stint in the forest back in episode 4 that Khanthong can somehow restrain her enough to keep her calmly by his side. But by now, she is glad to see him, even during random moments, that she can no longer care less about other people (read: Aokya Wang).
After floating their respective krathong, Aokya Wang tells Khanthin to give him some space as he made his intentions to spend more time, alone, with Mangmao very clear. Khanthin soon exits, leaving Yuern as well. Mangmao loses interest in the festival quickly, as her best buddy, Khanthin is no longer in her company, so she asks Aokya Wang to send her off back home. What they all don’t know however is that suitor number 3 plans to block their way and kidnap Mangmao.
Ai Kla is actually the first guy who manages to ask for Mangmao’s hand in marriage among the other contenders, and yet he’s also the first one to get his butt kicked. By now, he is no more than Khun Pranai’s lackey. He is tasked to go after Mangmao, to get the butterfly flask with The Kollabot. But then, Kla has other plans, as he wishes to kidnap Mangmao and make her his wife. He has already kidnapped Inn and wishes to use her as bait against Mangmao. He forces his lackeys to beat Aokya Wang by throwing sand to his face, thereby temporarily blinding him.
In any event, as Aokya Wang fails in his mission to protect Mangmao, Khanthong charges on full speed and executes one of the best fight scenes in the whole lakorn. We have James Ji delivering suplex slams, roundhouse kicks, neck breaks, as though he came straight out of a Japanese videogame. I guess this is the part where I appreciated the director of Nueng Dao Fah Diew the most. The fight scenes were brusque and sharp, and James looks tougher than before. The way Khanthong stands, walks, runs or holds the sword – even the way he grumbles and asks where the women are being held – it shows a big leap from James’s other tough guy character (read: Palad Saran of Padiwarada). Truly, it highlights the dual side of the sweet-faced eunuch who ends sentences with “Jao Kha” and the fierce warrior who can snappily kill 4 enemies in a span of a minute.
Speaking of dual sides, make that three sides, as this fierce eunuch warrior can be a romantic lover too. Khanthong easily kicks Kla’s butt and rescues Mangmao – and we are all rewarded with this crowning moment of WAFF (Warm and Fuzzy Feeling).
Remember how Prince Chate and Aokya Wang brought out the jealous side of Khanthong? Well, Kla sure upped the ante by making him a man… a man who would do everything to protect and save his woman. Mangmao cries that she had been so scared but knew that Khanthin was going to come to save her, and her faith in him humbles Khanthong greatly. He asks her why she believed so much in him when they already parted ways, and she says that in all those times she was in trouble in the past, he always came through for her. Happy and relieved, Khanthong has a look of a man who finally found someone so precious, someone he could live for to protect. When he could finally let go, he worriedly looks at her face and gingerly touches her cheek where Kla hit her. He asks her whether it hurts and she candidly says yes.
I never knew I’d thank good-for-nothing Kla for anything, but thanks to him, our pair finally share a kiss. A cheek kiss, but a kiss nonetheless.
Mangmao, despite having the shock of her life, cannot shake off the butterflies and rainbows that appear with the memory of the kiss. She asks her fanciful heart to stop having dreams about her… and Aok Pra Sri. Not only is he an incomplete man who cannot possibly have feelings for her, but Mangmao thinks that he was just being sympathetic when he gave her that kiss. She convinces herself that it means nothing! Meanwhile, Khanthin could not believe his slip, even after all the warnings he gave to Nan. It was almost tragic how he had to berate himself for a reaction so natural and so pure, as it endangered his “mission”. He tried to suppress that *something* in his heart into nothingness.
Well, there is one person who is definitely not happy with the kiss – and it’s Yuern. She saw the exchange between the two and is more determined to snag her master for herself. She tells Khanthin that she is well aware that he is capable of loving a woman – so why can’t that woman be her?
It is thus made obvious to Khanthong that 1) he is indeed in in love with Mangmao and 2) Yuern is becoming a threat.
Yet just the same, he and Yuern share the same predicament – loving someone who you cannot love. A eunuch, being barely a man, cannot love a woman after all (to do so would blow his cover and endanger his mission), and a servant cannot harbor such feelings for her master. So again, like always, Khanthong merely walks away after a stern warning against Yuern.
As luck would have it, Aok Luang Srimanoraj and his lackeys pass by at this opportune moment and see Yuern. That seed of a doubt planted in his mind earlier is now flourishing, what with Yuern’s gossip to them that Khanthin might be in love with Mangmao. This hardens Srimanoraj’s resolve to catch Khanthin, prove he is a spy and have him executed so that he can take his place as the chief eunuch in the palace. This sets up the stage for the next episode where Aokya Wang is tasked to once again confirm Khanthin’s manhood (or lack thereof.)
But before that, let me conclude with the second significance of the Loy Krathong in this episode. Apart from being a historical timeline pin, I would like to think that the Loy Krathong in this episode symbolizes Khanthong and Mangmao’s intertwined journey together – just like two krathong drifting in the sea. For the first time, Khanthong actually drops everything and throws caution to the wind as he rescues Mangmao, not just because she holds the Kollabot and is thus part of his mission objective, but because he wants to protect her. In the same way, Mangmao finally admits that she depends on Khanthin and believes that he will be there for her thereby placing her full trust in him. Both of them are about to face bigger obstacles in the coming episodes, and yet, with Khanthong finally having something more to live for, apart from his mission, and free-spirited Mangmao finally having someone she wants to stay put with, then they’re both set in this journey – together. The quaint decorations of the krathong just emphasize the beauty of this love budding between our characters. As they forge on to their journey together, even unto the dark unknown, their pure feelings for each other, which grows more and more as each episode, is sure to see them through.
So with that, I bid you guys farewell until the next episode. What do you guys think of the plot so far? P’Fia and I would surely love to hear from you guys. Well anyway, till next time! ~Greta