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I’m trying out a new format this week as the episode’s timeline is very jerky. First I’ll lay out the basics of the challenges and then follow each team to the mat. This may be even more confusing, so let me know if it works or doesn’t.
They all leave from the pit stop at the floating village of Koh Pany, Thailand, where they receive $186 in their envelopes along with instructions to travel by one of Thailand’s open air taxis (samlor) to the Kalong San River to an adventure trek ** where they will ride an elephant along the river to receive their next clue.
Road Block: Search the Pool. They must follow the music of a native flautist to a remote pool where they must dive and search the bottom in order to find the next clue.
Breaking open a ceramic fish, which was wrapped in cloth and rescued from the bottom of the jungle pool, the teams discover that they must travel by samlor to a ceramic shop where spirit houses are placed on the lawn. They must disassemble the houses, including the ceramic figures, and carry all the items along with the heavy pole base to a temple where they will get their next clue.
Road Block: The team member who did not dive into the pool must reassemble the spirit houses with all the pieces correctly placed to receive the next clue.
Taking this clue and a red paper pouch holding fish food, teams must travel 550 miles by bus to Bangkok then by taxi to the Bangkok Noi Canal where they will feed the fish in order to receive the next clue, which is to the Pit Stop at the M.R. Kukrit Heritage Home. The Heritage Home, built in traditional Thai style stands in the middle of tall rise modern architecture.
All right, those are the basics, now to see how each team did with the challenges.
Andy and Tommy
They reveal that they are Christians who carry reminders of bible passages written on the inside of their back pack belts. Andy’s is Proverbs 19:2 and Tommy’s is I Thessalonians 5:16. They want to run the race with a lot of joy. Andy says, “God opened up the door and we’re just grateful to be here.” In other words, they are not just dude dudes, but dudes for Jesus. They have joy riding an elephant up the jungle river – actually more of a creek snaking through a jungle, especially when the guide slides off and Tommy takes his place on the elephant’s neck as though he was the guide.
Andy: When I get off the race, I’m buying an elephant. They can do some serious 4-wheeling.
When they read the clue for the Road Block, they perform rock paper scissors as they do for all the Road Blocks, and Andy loses - scissors cut paper. He runs down the hill to the pool fed by a waterfall and dives in. He figures out that the clue would be near the flautist perched on a rock, ducks into the murky water and grabs the cloth wrapped package. He carries it up the hill and he and Tommy smash open the ceramic koi fish and discover that they must travel to the ceramic shop.
Once there, they choose a Spirit House on a pole and go about memorizing the placement of the figures – Tommy takes one side and Andy takes the other – disassemble it and take it by taxi to the temple. Because Andy took the dip in the pool, Tommy must put the house on the pole back together. He quickly discovers that he doesn’t have the whole picture, jumps back in the taxi to study a done house at the shop, returns and correctly places all the figurines, receiving their next clue. When they arrived at the Buddhist temple, the Christians decided that they could be all right visiting another religion as there is one true God and it’s pretty straight forward when reading the bible.
They are first to arrive at the Phuket Bus Station and the first to run into a high taxi fare. They pay out $150 of their $186 received for this leg of the race. They catch an Express Bus leaving at 4:30 P.M. and scheduled to arrive at 3:00 A.M. in Bangkok. However, the bus doesn’t live up to its name, acting more like a local and they arrive at 6:00A.M. in what is now the 2nd bus. Carrying their fish food in the red paper pouch they stand at the railing feeding the fish in 4th place. They run across a bridge, thinking the Pit Stop would be close because a man pointed them to go across the river, but get lost and ask for directions at a school. The school officials keep them cooling their heels for some time before they get directions and take a taxi landing on the mat in 5th place immediately ahead of Laurence and Zac.
Justin and Jennifer
They mount the elephant for their journey to the pool and Jennifer massages its back with her feet. She also gives the tag line for this episode. “I feel like I’m in the circus.” At the pool, Justin takes on the challenge wading into it with a stick to scrape along the bottom. He bumps into the cloth package, dips his arm to retrieve it and they break the ceramic koi to retrieve the next clue.
At the ceramic shop Jennifer tells us in that they figured because this was the AMAZING race they would probably have to memorize placement of the figures and borrow a camera phone from their taxi driver so they wouldn’t have to commit it to memory. Taking the photo, they disassemble it and carry it to the temple where Jennifer must put it back together. When she is carefully placing together the Spirit House, Jennifer says, “While this isn’t the same religion as mine, it warrants the same amount of respect. I wouldn’t want someone coming into my church and disrespecting my cross, or something like that.” When first rejected by the monitor, she runs to check the photo and says, “Duh! I forgot the water.” They receive the clue and the fish food pouch and are 2nd to arrive at the Phuket Bus Station where they get on the same slow Express Bus as Andy and Tommy.
They leave the Noi Canal in 6th place and arrive at the mat in 4th Place leapfrogging over Andy and Tommy and Jeremy and Sandy.
Jeremy and Sandy
Sandy was excited to ride an elephant until it started moving and the seat high on its back started moving back and forth, then she was scared. Sandy takes on the Road Block at the pool and gingerly wades in looking around the edges saying, “I don’t see anything.” Following Laurence’s lead, she dives, retrieves a package and thanks God. They leave the pool area in 4th place behind Laurence and Zac.
At the ceramic shop, Sandy calls off descriptions of the figurines as Jeremy jots them down in a notebook. It works as Jeremy places the figurines correctly the first time and they get the fish food and instructions to go to the bus station to catch a bus to Bangkok. They arrive at the bus station in 3rd place, and after paying out $150 dollars to the taxi driver while being grateful they had some money left over from the last leg, they buy a ticket on the 4:30 P.M. Express Bus; the same bus that turned into a Local.
Their journey to the Noi Canal is no piece of cake either as their taxi gets stuck in traffic and travels one block in 20 minutes. They arrive at the same time as Andy and Tommy, feed the hungry carp and leave for the Pit Stop in 5th place. They grab a Tuk Tuk taxi and head toward the mat. For the second leg in a row, they ditch their taxi early and jog toward what they hope is the Pit Stop. They slow to a walk and discover from a taxi driver that they have walked in the wrong direction and the mat is 30 minutes the other way. Jeremy wonders how people without money are doing as they’ve taken a lot cabs, including the one they just hired. Sandy just knows they are going to be dead last and tells Jeremy she is very proud of him. He goes ditto and they head off into what they think is the race’s sunset. Well, not quite, as the lost taxi time lands them in 7th place, but not last, though from Phil’s dramatic pause, they think this is it. From Sandy’s tears of frustration at their rough day and happiness that they can continue, Phil thinks maybe they want to be eliminated and he can arrange that, but Sandy is adamant that they want to continue. An exhausted joyful hug takes place before the leave the mat behind.
Laurence and Zac
As they pile into the taxi to the elephant adventure, Laurence explains his role on the team – that of father and, if I may say, dictator. In other words, Zac will follow his guidance and do as he says. Laurence takes the pool plunge, finds the cloth package, breaks the ceramic koi with Zac and they take off for the ceramic shop, arriving ahead of Jeremy and Sandy.
Neither took any notes about the placement of the figurines, and Laurence worries when Zac has to do the reconstruction. Zac knows when he is trouble, and brushes off his father’s anxiety while he takes the taxi back to the shop and studies the groupings. On his return, he makes the correct placement and they are off to the bus station in 4th place.
At the bus station they are told the fasted bus to Bangkok is the First Class bus leaving at 4:30 P.M. This is not the Express Bus leaving at the same time, but turning into a slower ride. Laurence’s anxiety rears its head again once the bus is underway when it dawns on him the ticket says “First Class” and, in his memory of the rules they are not allowed to travel first class so he stops the bus and they make their way back to the terminal. Actually it is Zac who first raises the question about accommodation saying, “This is first class, do you think that will be an issue?” Laurence (who is older and knows better) says, “No, not at all.”
An exhausted and sweaty Laurence and Zac buy a ticket on the 8:00 P.M. bus to Bangkok, which turns out to be the third bus departing with racers. Arriving in Bangkok, Zac says, “We just arrived in Bangkok after a night on the bus…” Laurence adds, “It was a delightful bus.”
Once in Bangkok, they do catch up to the riders on the slow first bus , and make up time with taxi rides arriving at the mat seconds behind Andy and Tommy, coming in 6th place. Phil asks them what they were thinking when they got off their first bus from Phuket, and Laurence says because it was First Class. Phil explains that the First Class No-No rule only applies to air travel, telling them that the three mile run back to the bus station could have been enough to get them eliminated from the race because it cost them a lot of time. Laurence states the cliché about “one slip-up can cost you the race, etc.” However, they did check in right behind their nemeses, Andy and Tommy, so all is right with their world.
Ernie and Cindy
As we watch them take off in the taxi to the elephant trek, we learn that they grew up very differently. Ernie says he was a B student and everyone wonders how someone like Cindy could love him as much as she does, and he would like to prove to her on the race that he can do everything that she hopes for him. That’s kind of sad when you think about it.
Cindy takes the plunge and over thinks the pool. Finally she follows Marcus’ lead in retrieval from the muddy bottom with an, “Oh, nuts!” Right behind Amani and Marcus, they quickly disassemble the Spirit House and carry it to the taxi. Then Cindy runs back to look at one still assembled to Ernie’s questioning, saying she just wants to be sure. They didn’t make a diagram or take notes or a photo and when they find the Road Block at the temple; Cindy almost has a nervous breakdown because Ernie will have to reassemble the house. Stressing, she tells Marcus, “Ernie’s like get it out of here, get it out of here.”
Ernie: I have to drive back.
Ernie: Because I don’t know where the pieces go.
Ernie: It’s a bad day for Team Cindy and Ernie and it seems to be my fault. If I don’t get it, big Cindy’s going to kill me.
On his return he takes at least two tries before he gets it right. In the taxi he looks morose and says, “I had to screw up again.” Cindy rubs his back and says, “It’s okay.”
They arrive at the bus station in 6th place only to try to bargain with their taxi driver to take $100 rather than the $150 the other teams have been paying. A bit a brouhaha ensues where the taxi manager jumps into the fray demanding Thai money, but rather than call the police, she will settle for the $150 that seems to be the going U.S. rate for 4,500 Baht; and they finally leave to buy their tickets on the bus that departs at 5:30 P.M.
Their bus is the first into Bangkok and they get a jump on all the other teams to the Noi Canal to feed the fish. Though they are first to leave for the pit stop, once again Bangkok traffic plays a role in slowing down racers and frustrated, they get out and walk. They lose two places arriving at the mat in 3rd place. But, that doesn’t diminish Cindy’s leap of joy as it had been a downer day for her.
Amani and Marcus
Big Marcus is a little scared riding on the elephant saying that rocking up and down the hills has got him a little nervous. However, he uses his long arms to feel along the bottom of the pond near the waterfall and quickly comes up with the package. They break open the ceramic koi and hop back on the elephant which will take them to the taxi and the ceramic shop.
Amani: Elephants are amazing, amazing, amazing.
Unlike Ernie and Cindy who arrive at the shop at the same time, they take notes and Marcus suggests they work from the back of the Spirit House to the front. Following their notes, Amani knocks out the placement of the figurines on the first try and they are the fifth team to arrive at the bus station putting them on the faster second bus to Bangkok.
Following Bill and Cathi’s cab to the Noi Canal, they toss and leave in 3rd place. Once again their cab follows Bill and Cathi’s driver who seems to find a shortcut around traffic, but Marcus worries about beating them in a footrace as they don’t know where the other teams are at that moment, so they could be fighting for second to last place.
Marcus: I hate to run this thing against Bill and Cathi, but you gotta do what you gotta do. They may look like Ma and
Pa, but they can run.
Amani (with a wry smile): Don’t let them fool you.
It does come down to a foot race and Marcus and Amani beat out Ma and Pa to the mat taking first place with screams and yells of joy from both teams that startle the lovely young woman greeter. For their prize they receive a Travelocity package for a five night stay in Bali.
Marcus: We’re sort of like an NFL team…we sputtered a little early, but we’re gaining momentum and I think we’re the team to watch out for.
Bill and Cathi
Because Bill and Cathi entered this leg late and ran it in an intelligent manner, there isn’t much to write about them. They arrived at the Elephant trek and, after reading the Road Block clue, Cathi trips into the water retrieving the cloth wrapped ceramic koi.
They arrive at the temple after taking notes at the ceramic shop and Bill completes the placement of figurines quickly so they are in time to catch the second and faster bus to Bangkok.
In Bangkok, Bill encourages their taxi driver with a “Forward Ho” and they take off to be the second team to arrive and leave from Noi Canal. Their taxi driver is terrific and finds a way around the traffic so that they are first to arrive at the gate to the Heritage House, but lag getting their packs out of the trunk which allows Amani and Marcus to out run them to the mat. However they are ecstatic for their friends and, beckoned over by Phil, they hug them, still screaming. Once everyone has settled down (sort of) Phil asks what they are…and Cathi jumps up and down with two fingers held up to show they came in second.
Liz and Marie
Because they received the reprieve of a NEL the last leg, they will need to hurry to catch up. When they arrive at the Elephant Trek, they discover the Speed Bump they have to clear before advancing to the Road Block. However, you can’t keep chipper blondes down and when they find out they have to shovel elephant poop, then wash the elephants, they are ecstatic. It turns out, Marie, in particular loves elephants and everything to do with elephants. So, much to the laughing delight of the caretakers, they take on this chore with smiles and laughs and waves to others returning from the pond.
Marie (I think): This is like the best day of my life and I mean no joke.
At the ceramic shop, Liz took notes on the figurine placement and since this is now her challenge, Marie hopes she gets it as her memory isn’t always so good. However, she completes the task first try and when Marie compliments her, says, “Just keep going,” a saying from their dad. Uh, Oh…although they received $186 dollars at the beginning of the leg, that is all they have to pay off the taxi and buy their ticket. After purchasing their ticket, the taxi driver wants more money…meanwhile their bus is revving up to leave the terminal and this creates their first tense and stressful situation this leg. After handing over all their money (minus the bus tickets) the manager tells them the bus has stopped and waits for them. The cabbie who took all their money gives them a ride to catch up to the bus. They think it is really, really nice of him. Uh – is it because he has a guilty conscience? Anyway, they scramble onboard and head to Bangkok without a dime in their pockets.
At the Bangkok bus station they get directions to the Noi Canal and begin to hoof it down busy streets. Liz/Marie tell us, “No muno, no funo.” It must have been quite a site at backed-up intersections to see two petite blondes and a cameraman crossing the streets. They don’t want to beg for money on the streets, because it would be taking it from people who can’t afford to give it up. After a while they decide to beg a ride from a grinning cabbie who says he will take them for free. I think he just wanted to be able to look in the rearview mirror every so often. So, they arrive at the canal to feed the fish in last place. Once again they turn on the smiles and beg for a free ride to the Pit Stop and once again, a happy cabbie obliges.
However, they do arrive in last place despite all the help they received and are eliminated from the race. They tell Phil that they wanted to continue because it had been a really bad year with their dad passing away and they wanted to do this for him – never give up. They think their dad would be proud.
8.Liz/Marie - ELIMINATED
Preview – in the heart of Africa they take on tobacco bales and bed frames. What? No lions, tigers or bears?
**Please forgive spelling of places, people and things as the editors didn’t label very well this episode and Phil talks so fast during his explanations that even CC couldn’t keep up with him.