J&T Journal #10: "Dude, where's your Cyclo?"
Hello friends and fans!
It is so great to still be a part of this race. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the incredible places we have been and getting to meet and spend so much time with my Internet pal, Tracey. Who knew we would get along so fabulously! I'll have to remember to put Jerry Bruckheimer on my seasonal greeting card list this year since he was such a sweetheart for choosing us as the first virtual TAR team ever!
It has been such a thrill to have the opportunity to share our experiences and behind the scenes scoop with you! I'll try to make this journal entry as peppy as possible given the circumstances and my great personal sadness at the outcome of the show last night. I actually just left Tracey at the bar with team O'Brother and Zach so I could come get this journal entry written and posted for our followers, but I am slightly tipsy, so bear with me.
Wow, Vietnam! What a beautiful and difficult to navigate country! This was one of the most challenging legs of the race, but not for Tracey and I (more on that later...don't want to give too much away this quickly! )
We were so upset to see John Vito and Jill go. Their absence was extremely noticeable at our break at the last pit stop. In one sense we are glad they are gone as we recognized they were a severe threat to us winning the cool mil! On the other hand, we lost 2 of the nicest (and most down to earth) people you'd ever meet, and we miss having them around.
All of the teams departed Singapore around the same time because the last finish was so darn close! Like Ken and Gerard, Tracey and I had a taxi waiting for us to take us to the airport and we learned that we were headed to Vietnam's Rex Square to find the statue of Ho Chi Minh, the leader of Communist forces during the Vietnam War. Because you know your exact departure time for each pit stop it only makes sense to have a taxi waiting, especially if you're in a remote area. The first order of business in a new leg is often to get to the airport, and that was certainly true this leg. Before we left for the race, Tracey worked up a "cheat sheet" in which the phrase "Can you please take us to the airport as quickly as possible" is translated into as many languages as possible. She keeps it in the outside pouch of her backpack and it's seen a great deal of use. After our unfortunate paddleboat capsize a couple weeks ago, Tracey had to redo her cheat sheet as her old one got all soggy. And this time she wisely got it laminated. I'm sure if we marketed it our "Get Us Outta Here" laminated list will be a best-selling gift this holiday season for people who just want to get away. You know, for the fugitive on your holiday guest list.
We managed to get to the airport at the same time as the O’Brothers, and hopped on that 11:30 flight with them. Fortunately, we got seats behind them (instead of them being behind us), and we wasted some time amusing ourselves by trying to employ as many things from the FORT's "pet peeve" thread that we could remember in relation to airline travel. We even offered to play with a couples' cute 2 year old boy for about half an hour during the flight as the parents looked like they could use a break and we love kids. It wasn't an accident that Jr. kept kicking the back of your seats, Ken and Gerard. Heck, only half of those kicks were from the toddler. We also played a few hands of “gin” with the guys, but fortunately neither Tracey or I found it necessary to flirt with either of them to win -- like some people we've met on this trip! Since none of us really had anything of value to wager, we were instead betting things we could find on the plane...like the very insightful airline magazines you are "free to take with you as you de-board," the always useful "air sickness bags" (hey, I've been around Flo several times when THOSE would have come in handy"), and the little sets of footie slippers and eye covers.
We arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport -- which by the way, has THE most comfortable waiting area chairs of any airport I've ever been in. Did you see those things? I felt like Scotty had beamed me up and we had kicked Captain Kirk out of his seat. We were able to all get a little rest (although Ken's snoring kept making us giggle...and that would wake up Gerard. Then Gerard would kick Ken to get him to stop, and it sort of became a comedic vicious circle). In the morning, we quickly learned that what we thought was going to end up being a 6 hour lead was erased as all 3 of the other teams caught up with us and joined us on our final leg of the flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Those equalizers are the best thing since sliced bread when you're behind, but man are they annoying when you realize you have just lost your lead. And the fact that we were once again within earshot of Flo is enough to kill most anyone's buzz – even with the Starbuck’s double mocha latte in your system. That woman's voice makes flowers wilt, and young chicks try to crawl back into their eggs. That darn potion must be really strong for Drew to not see that side of her!
As we departed the plane and headed to the customs area, Flo ran ahead leaving Zach with Tracey and I as she tried to tag along with the twins. They were too quick for her so she picked a line for herself, and then stood there shooting angry daggers at Zach because he refused to cut in her line. Sure, Zach, Tracey and I had the worst and slowest line, but Zach told us that he really needed this time in line with us to debrief so he didn't explode. We told him to hang in there, the race was close to being over, and that's when he admitted that he hoped he would never have to hear Flo yell at him again once it did. Zach seems like a real sweetie and we'd adopt him into our team if we could, just to keep Flo from yelling at him everywhere we all go. Maybe Zach is now in the witness protection program for former reality TV show contestants, one which protects him from every having to hear her whiney voice ever again. After a few minutes of silence (something Zach was clearly unaccustomed to), I noticed that he started to whistle "I will survive" by Gloria Gaynor. I didn't know if this was a metaphor of his for the game overall, or if it was actually a coping mechanism he was using to get through the rest of this leg with Flo. I nearly broke out in song along with him (I was voted Karaoke Queen at an office offsite last year after all), but figured that probably wouldn't help our line move any quicker, so instead I hummed along quietly. Tracey later speculated as to whether Zach was actually thinking of the Cake version of that song, as it was a little more edgy than the Gloria Gaynor version. I tried to act cool like I knew what she was talking about, but clearly I am behind in the modern day pop culture. Later we decided that maybe we needed a theme song too, so we tried to see if we could remember the lyrics to "Eye of the Tiger," the old Survivor song from Rocky 2. We couldn't get enough lyrics to fake our way through it in the airport, but later I'm checking the Internet to see if we can download them for our inspirational song for the final part of the race. Tracey mainly wants me to make a goofy version of it so she can yell "You can't win, Rock!" at me in her screechy Adrianne voice, giving me an opportunity to attempt a Mr. T impersonation.
Unbeknownst to Flo, it was actually Tracey and I that were the last team out of the airport, AND we got a slow taxi cab driver. This wasn't the end of the world for us as we knew we were definitely going for the fast forward this round, since this was the last opportunity to use it. We arrived at Rex Square clearly after all of the other teams and read about our fast forward task.
"Teams wishing to use the fast forward in this leg are invited to visit downtown Ho Chi Minh where you will be required to try your slow hand at thai cuc quyen, a form of meditative slow-motion boxing." Given that I love yoga, and Tracey and I have both seen Billy Blanks perform his TaeBo on an episode of ER a couple years ago, we thought this was right up our alley, and headed to the studio listed on the clue. We were required to learn a boxing routine taught to us my 2 local instructors, and then to have the performance taped for Phil as an end-of-show gift. It was actually quite fun, and was a different type of workout! The thai cuc is actually practiced with naked hands or with weapons like a sword or long stick. Tracey and I opted for the naked hands approach, as we really didn't want to injure ourselves before the final sprint in the race. We had a great time at this fast forward, made it through with flying colors, and were given our clue that told us we could skip all other tasks and head straight to the pit stop along the Saigon River, Café Thu Thiem. If extra copies of our videotape get out we may have a new exercise craze on our hands. Maybe Tracey and I can lead classes and do an infomercial. Wouldn’t that be a great supplement to our current professions?! Now, would this go better with Yanni or John Tesh in the background for our tapes? Maybe Zamphir would sell us the rights to his pan flute songs relatively cheaply.
We were the first to arrive at the pit stop, which wasn't very surprising to us. When Phil informed us that we had won a trip on Royal Caribbean's "Splendor of the Sea," we graciously thanked him, and asked if we could pass the trip along to the next team to arrive. I never had an affinity for cruises anyway....they seem like a floating Denny's to me, and everyone knows our recent history of falling out of boats. And with all of the viruses making people sick on cruises that has been in the news lately, we really saw nothing very "splendid" about it! Phil offered us digital cameras instead, and said that the next team to arrive could have the cruise.
Fairly soon after we arrived, we were surprised to see Teri and Ian come in first of the remaining teams! They were ecstatic to have arrived so quickly, and were even thrilled about the cruise! Teri and Ian started filling us in on all the tasks that were part of this leg, and Tracey and I looked at each other realizing this was a great time to take the fast forward, not only strategically, but because this sounded like a wet, messy leg of the race! We were already in our fast forward instruction class inside by the time it really started pouring, but trying to boat in the rain sounded miserable. It would have been a tough choice for us as we really don't like having to try to sell stuff, but tippy boats, hmmm, don't really want another penalty for having the crew fish our gear out of the bay. We loved our fast forward and didn't have to eat 10 pounds of cheese, so that was pretty cool.
Much to our utter dismay, the next team to arrive was Flo and Zach. This meant our "worst case scenario" had come true (and I'm not talking about that semi-recent "reality" show on TBS or TNT that no one has ever heard of). We realized that one of our “band of brothers” teams was about to be eliminated, and our hopes for us all to make the final 3 were about to come to an abrupt end. A short time later, Tracey and I were standing outside the cafe waiting anxiously for the next team, when we saw Derek and Drew come off the ferry -- without a bike!
"Dude, where's your cyclo?", Zach yelled out to them. Derek and Drew looked bewildered, but soon learned from Phil what he meant, and headed back on the ferry to the other side. Tracey and I knew this was an elimination round, but it was very impressive to see their hustle, even as they passed Ken and Gerard arriving at the pit stop.
While Derek and Drew went back to retrieve their bike and finish the roadblock, Tracey and I stepped out to buy them a farewell /belated birthday gift. It had been their birthday the previous week, and we didn't have enough cash in that leg to get them something. I really thought we needed to get at least one of them a book called "Love Potions: natural remedies." But instead we found this neat little stand that made Vietnamese wooden crafts, and we got a car for Drew (because of his love of NASCAR), and a wooden globe for Derek to remind him of his worldly travels with his brother. We also bought this beautiful handmade rose for Derek to take to his wife. He had spoken of her so much on the trip we felt like we knew her ourselves.
When Derek and Drew finally arrived at the pit stop, it was dark, and a very sad time for all of us. Flo had stormed off to her room pouting and screaming that it was all Zach's fault that Drew had to go. Ian was so overwhelmed by his delight at their performance on this leg in Vietnam, that he took Teri out for a romantic dinner (something that shocked all of us). Ken, Gerard, Zach, Tracey and I stayed around to say our brief good-byes before Phil whisked Derek and Drew off to Sequesterville. We gave them their gifts, made sure we exchanged email and phone numbers, and hugged them farewell as they wished us the best of luck in the next leg. Derek thanked us especially for all our help with Drew, and hoped that this time in Sequesterville would allow his brother to be cured of his flo-cinations. We waved good-bye to yet another team of people we really enjoyed being around.
Kind of down, the 5 of us headed to a tavern across the road to exchange funny stories of the day. Ken and Gerard had us roaring with laughter as they described the hottie twins riding around in a boat looking for a water coconut with umbrellas! If only they had not been eliminated we could have teased them mercilessly. We had learned early on that one of their most important strategies was to stay clean, floss, and maintain good breath. They always said, "When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you perform better." It is also a bonus when asking local people for help with directions, as fresh minty breath will more likely get you a personal escort to your destination, but halitosis will get you a point in the general direction (or maybe just any direction so you and your stinky breath get out of their face). Ken and Gerard also told us they passed Teri and Ian out on the water, and Ian was yelling "Nook, nook" so frequently and loudly that they thought that it was the Vietnamese translation of "Hooyah."
We continued to reminisce about the events of the leg and how we would all miss Derek and Drew. In fact, after tossing back a few, we started singing in their honor as the familiar tune of the piano man played, drawing quite a crowd of onlookers.
To the tune of Piano Man by Billy Joel
We sang, "Thanks to all for the memories"
We'll have them all of our lives
It's so sad and it's sweet
Oh we love to compete
But it's hard when your friends don't survive
...Lalela Lalelaa Lala Lalelaa La...
Here's to the twins, we sure love you boys
We're all going to miss you so
Mr. Derek and Drew, you're too good to be true
We're so sorry that you had to go
And that's when I left and retreated to the room to write this journal entry for you. Oh wait, I think I hear Tracey coming back. I guess it's time for us to get some rest. We're in first place now, but next week is critical! So stay tuned!
This is Jenn signing off for now.
Read the next journal entry (Episode 11): Who's the Biggest Basket Case?
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