Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like an inordinate amount of time since the end of the last Amazing Race. It seems like more than just having the summer off. I’m ready for some racing, some bad taxi rides, some arguing about tickets for flights, and for some of Phil Keoghan’s eyebrows.
The teams are departing from a temple in the foothills of Los Angeles. The teams include:
- Andy and Tommy, former Olympic snowboarders from California. Tommy thinks they’ll be viewed as slackers, but promises they’ll get the job done.
- Ethan and Jenna, former winners of Survivor and dating for seven years. He was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but it’s in remission, and he wants to prove there’s life after cancer.
- Laurence and Zac, father and son adventurers from Thousand Oaks, California. In 2009, Zac set the record for the youngest person ever to sail around the world. Laurence points out that out there on the ocean, they’re not playing for a big sum of money, but it can be a life or death situation.
- Ernie and Cindy, recently engaged from Chicago. She is definitely a control freak, and he is hoping this will put her out of her comfort zone so that she can see the side of life he likes.
- Justin and Jennifer, brother and sister from Stone Mountain, Georgia. When they have an issue with each other, they talk it out, but he explains she’s a little bit of a hothead. He thinks it could be a challenge for them on the Race.
- Bill and Cathi, married grandparents from Albany, Oregon. In forty years of farm living, they understand manual labor. And she thinks the extreme challenges on the race will have them feeling at home.
- Liz and Marie, twin sisters from Deerfield, Illinois. They will be known forever after as LizMarie, no matter who’s talking, because I can’t tell the difference. They call it weird to have a twin, and note they have a different way of communicating being twins. Nothing new there.
- Jeremy and Sandy, dating, from the San Francisco Bay area. They have both been married before, and don’t keep a house together, so this will be a lot of time for them to spend together. He compares it to taking a car out of the shop before you buy it. Nice.
- Ron and Bill, domestic partners and flight attendants from Southern California. They hope their airline backgrounds will help them. Bill notes the other teams may be in better shape, and may be younger, but they know how to work together.
- Amani and Marcus, married ten years from Pine Mountain, Georgia. He played for the Indianapolis Colts, and protected Peyton Manning. Out of the NFL now. he misses competing the most, so he’s in game mode.
- Kaylani and Lisa, former showgirls from Las Vegas. Kaylani knows people look at them and think they’re pretty, so must be dumb, but she thinks people would be surprised how intelligent they are.
Phil welcomes the teams, and tells them the team that reaches the pit stop first on this leg will win the Express Pass that they can use on any challenge they don’t want to complete before the end of the eighth leg.
Their first challenge is behind Phil. It’s a word puzzle. There are letters that are posted above the umbrellas. There are looking for three specific letters they will find on the umbrellas, and they will use them twice, then combine them with the six letters that will appear above the umbrellas. Every umbrella won’t have the correct letters, though. Unscrambling the letters, they will come up with their first destination, TaiPei, Taiwan. The right answer will give them keys to a Ford Explorer. The last team to complete the challenge will get something new, the Hazard penalty, that they will have to complete sometime in this race. The six letters they will need are W A N P E I.
The teams rush over to the umbrellas and start grabbling. Everyone is told they have the wrong letters. The first to get the correct letters are Andy and Tommy, netting them a key. Amani and Marcus are the next to get it correct. Once Andy and Tommy get into the Explorer, they see a video message from Phil. They are told they can only take one of two flights. The first eight teams will travel with China Airlines, and the remaining teams with a different airline, departing twenty minutes later.
LizMarie get the correct letters, followed by Ethan and Jenna. Jeremy and Sandy eventually get it right, as do Ernie and Cindy. Ron and Bill think they have it and do, as do Bill and Cathi and Laurence and Zac. Andy and Tommy stop to ask at a gas station where the airport is. Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m going on The Amazing Race, I’d be checking for all the major airports and familiarizing myself with them. If they’re telling me to travel to L.A. to start the show, I’m going to know that place backwards and forwards.
Justin and Jennifer get the correct umbrellas, followed by Kaylani and Lisa, as the last team to complete the challenge. This means they garnered the Hazard penalty. They, too, stop and ask directions at a gas station. Not only do they have to complete the Hazard, but they have also left one of their passports behind on the ground at the gas station after it fell out of the Explorer.
Ron and Bill are the first to arrive at the China Airlines ticket counter, followed by Ethan and Jenna. Kaylani realizes she doesn’t have her passport, and she’s worrying it fell out at the gas station. She announces she is “seriously going to vomit all over the place.” I’m not sure that will help. Ernie and Cindy also get on the China Air flight. Kaylani and Lisa return to the gas station and ask about the passport, but no one has turned it in. They decide to head to the airport anyway, hoping that one of the other teams picked it up. That doesn’t seem to be the best decision.
Amani and Marcus get tickets on the China Air flight, as do Laurence and Zac and Justin and Jennifer. Kaylani and Lisa are on the airport shuttle still worrying about Kaylani’s passport. Andy and Tommy get tickets on the China Air flight, and Jeremy and Sandy get the last set of tickets of the first flight.
Kaylani and Lisa arrive at the China Air flight asking if someone turned in a passport. Hearing no, they decide it’s over. Kaylani gets mad at Lisa, saying they need to come up with a plan. Lisa asks, “What plan? You have no passport!” This starts an argument about communication. Really? Like lack of communication is your most pressing problem at the moment?
Ethan and Jenna have decided not to tell anyone they were on Survivor before, but that’s kind of a stupid plan. If you’re on The Amazing Race, you’re a reality TV fan, and if you are and have ever watched Survivor, you know who they are. Sure enough, Sandy mentions it to the other racers, and Jennifer says she knew it. LizMarie are there to hear this as well.
The Fickle Finger of Fate Award hits Kaylani and Lisa. Someone found the missing passport and brought it to the airport. What makes you find that at a gas station and bring it to the airport? It turns out the guys who picked it up were the ones that gave directions to Andy and Tommy. He (#RyanStorms) tweeted about it, and someone answered that, saying that they had no cell phones or anything and wouldn’t have any other way of getting it back. Kaylani and Lisa run through the airport with a new zeal for life after posing for pictures with the two guys that picked it up.
When they teams arrive in TaiPei, they’ll take a bus to the Ximending Commercial District. Once there, instead of looking for a clue box, they’ll need to look up and realize their clue is on an electronic billboard.
The first flight lands, and the teams all get on the the same bus. Cindy asks Marcus if he’s a football player. He explains he used to do a little “round balling,” and that he does do a little protecting of famous people. Another person hiding who he really is. He doesn’t think he’s necessarily lying, because he isn’t presently a football player, and he protected Manning, who is famous. I think he’ll be more successful than Ethan and Jenna at hiding who he is. The second flight arrives, and Bill and Cathi miss the bus with everyone else.
The first bus arrives in the Commercial District, and the racers aren’t sure what they’re looking for. Everything has the familiar yellow and red colors that typically signify The Amazing Race, including the construction workers’ outfits. Andy and Tommy ask a guy who is taking out the garbage if he has a clue. Ethan and Jenna stand in the middle of the Square trying to figure out what they’re missing. Justin and Jennifer argue about how to find a sign. He calls it exhausting to go through the challenges as well as fight through their relationship.
Jennifer sees yellow and orange balloons on the electronic billboard and wonders if that means anything. Ron and Bill see them, along with Amani and Marcu, looking up and taking notes, and realize they must have seen something. Jennifer asks a local what the sign said after she had copied it down, and is told the Confucius Temple. Ernie and Cindy are copying down the billboard, as she hopes seven years of Chinese school will be good for something. They, along with Jeremy and Sandy, get the same information about the Temple.
The second bus arrives and one of the them sees the red and yellow balloons on the screen, but is told by her another in the group that couldn’t possibly mean anything. Bill and Cathi’s bus arrives as well, but they aren’t finding anything. Ethan and Jenna get the clue and take off. Andy and Tommy haven’t seen anything of note on the screen yet.
Amani/Marcus, Justin/Jennifer, and Jeremy/Sandy arrive on a train. and run to the Confucius Temple. They get their next clue and find a Roadblock. One person from each team will dial a number, hear a Confucius proverb, and without taking notes, recite it word for word to a monk. The females on the teams have decided they will do this challenge, with Marcus figuring it’s because they all like telephones. Or maybe it’s just because it’s not a physical challenge, and they’re choosing that while they can.
The first three on the Roadblock have trouble finding the phone, though. Ernie and Cindy arrive, and she knows how to ask for the phone in Chinese, but she’s asking a monk. Ron and Bill arrive, with Ron deciding he will do it. Ethan and Jenna arrive, and she tells him he should do the Roadblock.
Cindy is the first to find the payphone. “In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure.” She runs to the monk, but misses a few words and has to go back and re-listen.
Andy/Tommy and Laurence/Zac get the billboard translated, as LizMarie and Kaylani/Lisa are still wandering the streets of Taiwan looking for the sign. Bill and Cathi can’t find the clue either. He was a schoolteacher for thirty years and she was the principal of two high schools. He finds it to be embarrassing that they can’t figure this one out.
The others have started to figure out where the phone is. Jennifer tries repeating the proverb and gets it wrong, and Cindy tries it a second time and still gets wrong. Amani gets it wrong, and Ethan and Sandy do as well. Amani gets it wrong a second time, as does Ron. The third time is the charm for Cindy. She gets the next clue which tells her and Ernie to travel by taxi to Dajia Riverside Park to look for their next clue under the bridge.
Jennifer finally gets it right, as Andy and Tommy and Laurence and Zac are just arriving. Andy and Tommy do rock, paper, scissors to figure out who’s doing it, and it falls to Andy. Sandy gets the proverb correct, and LizMarie and Kaylani and Lisa finally find the clue on the electronic billboard. Bill and Cathi are inside a building to look for the sign. She can’t believe how hard this is, as he says, “Color Me Stupid.” She notes they’ve done a lot of problem solving, and aren’t ones to be defeated, so will keep going.
Andy gets the proverb wrong, as does Zac. Ethan finally gets it right. Ernie and Cindy find the next clue and are told to join and Dragon Boat team on a race. After they complete a course, they will get the next clue. He rows, while she keeps the beat on a drum, saying, ” I feel so Asian now.”
Amani gets the proverb right, as do Zach, Ron, and Andy. LizMarie and Kaylani and Lisa arrive, with LizMarie and Lisa playing the telephone game. Justin and Jennifer arrive at the dragon boats as do Jeremy and Sandy. Ernie and Cindy finish their dragon boat race and receive a clue telling them to make their way to the first pit stop, the Martyrs’ Shrine. Jeremy/Sandy and Justin/Jennifer finish shortly after.
LizMarie tries an attempt at the proverb and is wrong. Lisa tries it and is correct. However, they now have to complete their Hazard Penalty. They have to travel by taxi to the Core City Pacific Mall and search the eleven floors for their next clue. LizMarie gets the proverb wrong again. Bill and Cathi are still searching for the billboard, and have been for the past four hours.
Kaylani and Lisa find their next clue, and one of them has to bungee jump into the middle of the mall. Kaylani had a problem on a previous time she bungeed. Her harness started to come undone. And with those few words, I realize my fears were realized for someone else. That is what keeps me from ever, ever being on this show – the fear that the harness would come undone during a bungee jump combined with a fear of freefalling. Don’t tell Tom Petty. Kaylani does this one anyway. She says after she’d do anything for a million dollars.
Liz gets the proverb wrong again. I only know now which one she is because her partner just called her by name. She gets it wrong again and again as Marie gets really upset with her.
Ernie and Cindy come running into the pit stop and are pronounced team number one. Phil has good news for them; as the winners of this leg, they have won the Express Pass. They get no other big prize. Ernie notes now that control freak Cindy on the Race is a pretty good teammate. She replies that should have been obvious, and she hopes it extends even further for them in the Race. Jeremy and Sandy are team number two, and Justin and Jennifer team number three.
Andy and Tommy reach the dragon boats, as do Laurence and Zac. Ethan and Jenna finish, and Marcus and Amani are arriving. Arriving for him almost feels like running through the tunnel at the football game. Laurence used to be a coxswain for the coastal force in England, so for him, the dragon boat racing is great.
Andy and Tommy finish, followed by Laurence and Zac and Amani and Marcus. Bill and Cathi finally find the electronic sign and make their way to the temple. Liz is getting the proverb wrong once again. Marie loses patience with her, as Liz complains she’s going to break down, so wants her to quit talking. She finally gets it right, and they leave for the dragon boats.
Bill and Cathi arrive with him telling her she can play telephone. Ron and the other Bill are just arriving at the dragon boats, just ahead of Kaylani and Lisa. Bill talks about the importance of partners supporting themselves, and says Cathi is very driven. Proving his point, she gets this one right on the first try. I think this monk is relieved to be done listening to this line.
Ethan and Jenna arrive on Phil’s mat to be named team number four. Ron and Bill finish the dragon boats, as do Kaylani and Lisa. They make their way to the pit stop. Amani and Marcus arrive at the pit stop to be named team number five. Liz and Marie arrive at the dragon boats, with Liz rowing the boat, and Marie beating the drums.
Laurence/Zac and Andy/Tommy arrive at the pit stop to be named teams six and seven respectively. Liz and Marie finish their dragon boat race, and Ron and Bill arrive on Phil’s mat to be team number eight. Kaylani and Lisa are team number nine. They explain they thought it was over, but this is why they call it The Amazing Race. Liz and Marie are team number ten, and so happy to not be last.
Bill and Cathi race the dragon boat as she says it’s beautiful out there. They have had a wonderful time with some frustration, but feel good about the race they ran. She notes on the dragon boat it was the most fun she had all day. On Phil’s mat they are named the last to arrive, but it’s a non-elimination leg, so they are still alive. They will have a speed bump to complete on the next leg. However, for the first time ever, there will be a double elimination leg, meaning two teams will be eliminated next week. She knows they’ll need some ginseng to get the energy up for that one.
It was an interesting first leg of the Race. So far, there aren’t any villains. It’s a fairly likable cast. Perhaps we just haven’t given it enough time yet. Maybe there’s still time for a team to become really hated. With a double elimination leg coming up, it surely gives them the extra heat to start letting their true personalities come out. I suspect we’ll have a villain or two before the end of that leg.
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