Season 23: Episode 3: King Airport Style

As you probably already know, I ran the Amazing Race on Season 21.  Most seasons blend together. The routes, while interesting, usually never really stand out (although Season 22 was my favorite of all seasons). Same can be said for the contestants (my favorite cast here ).  Except in my case. All someone needs to hear is that “we were the only team in Amazing Race history to have had a chance at winning 2 million dollars.”  And then they remember this sequence exactly:

Frog Fallopian tubes, passing a girl with two prosthetic legs to the finish mat, chance at 2 million, 4 missed flights / Frankfurt Airport, U-turn in Frankfurt , Chippendales/Twinnies/Texas alliance. No more 2 million dollars.  

And so that about sums up my Amazing Race experience.  Well, actually there’s a lot more to the story (as to all of those points) but the bottom line is this: even though I didn’t win 2 million bucks, I can thank the Amazing Race for all of the wonderful opportunities that have come my way in the 1-year since – book deal, travel magazine writing gig, Jauntaroo.com #ChiefWorldExplorer opportunity literally titled “The Best Job in the World) (application still pending, but I’ve made it from 3000+ applicants to top 50 thus far – you can see my application videos here) and the accompanying social media platform that goes along with being on a primetime television show for nearly 3 months.  So yes, I’d trade all of that for 2 million dollars, duh, but that’s neither here nor there.  What is here is my short and sweet commentary, 10 thoughts and musings, on each episode of this season of Amazing Race. Without further ado, Episode 3. 

Episode 1 Recap Here

Episode 2 Recap Here

 

Let’s do things a little bit different with this recap.  Let’s use notable quotes from the show to explain the happenings (I am saying this as I’m watching the first statement get made — covered further below).  Again, I am reviewing this episode while it’s playing. In other words, I haven’t watched the episode, I do not know the outcome (although thanks to twitter not having a widget on preventing an east coaster twitter feed from spoiling those of us on the west coast, I have a good idea based on all of the #chester retweets) so my thoughts are captured in real time.  Maybe this will backfire and I’ll blast someone’s strategy and they’ll end up winning or doing well, and that’s fine, that can happen.  But I want to give you my real time perspective as though I was in the same situation.  For which the chances are, I most likely was last year.

A couple of reminders: Teams are traveling from Chile. Chester & Ephraim won the last leg of the race (leg 2). Leaving in 1st place. That’s nice.

You know how in Amazing Race you often hear teams saying something that is finished in editing with the sound of symbols playing or a clap of thunder that is out and out prescient?  Guess what the first words spoken on this episode were?

Chester & Ephraim saying while in the cab,  “Usually when we travel we have people that book everything and we just show up.” CLASP!! SYMBOL!. All that’s missing here is a shot of Phil and his eyebrow or an “oy vay.”

Let’s just put this out there now. This episode is all about the airport and booking the flight to Lisbon.  At this point, 18 minutes into a 42 minute show and all we’ve seen is airport debauchery, I feel comfortable saying this.

Jamal/Leo: “We decided to go straight to the airport instead of to the agency.”

Here’s what’s interesting about this quote and the decision.  Recall from my last post when I discussed the ‘late night travel agency’ issue.  Teams are given access, as arranged by Race production to a travel agency.  It’s there that we book our flights to the next destination.  Usually the only stipulations are a) carriers we cannot fly and b) connecting cities / countries we cannot enter.  So with those preventions, there’s usually only a few flights that are common to all teams, regardless of what time they arrive at the agency.  These agencies have access to all flights so what’s interesting is when teams decide to either bypass this and go straight to the airport.  The reasoning being that airports sometimes themselves don’t open until a certain time.  So you’re risking getting there and having to wait for the entire airport to open.  This happened (but you didn’t see it) on our season when we were leaving Indonesia (en route to Bangladesh) and had to sleep outside of the Jakarta airport for a few hours waiting for it to open.  We had already booked our flights (production provided a travel agency for the teams).  In this episode the afghanimonkeys (did I get that right? is that their self-awarded nickname?) go right to the airport, bypassing the travel agency and instead opting for an agent in the airport.  Good move or not? Well, in my experience, not, because as I indicated above, depending if you’re in a major world city or not, the airport very well might not even open for a few hours.  And, even if the airport is open, the travel agents/agencies within the airport might not be open. (This too happened to Abbie and I when we were in Moscow).  So it’s an interesting move – but if the airport experience is different in Chile than in Indonesia, who am I to judge.  Just seems risky. And this whole post and this whole episode is about risk/reward.

You know what I love about these guys (afghans)- while discussing booking their trip to Portugal through London, they started throwing out Australian accents.  I’m pretty sure “mate” with the Crocodile Dundee accent is representative of Australia, not London. Way to represent the “USC” on your shirt.

Scene: Chester & Ephraim (“C&E”) booking travel.

Ruh roh.  The travel agent put in the wrong dates.  Ooopsie doopsie.  How can that happen? Well, language barrier is an obvious guess. However, her English appeared to be proficient, and as a travel agent, my guess is she deals with English speaking clients most days.  So, clearly there was a miscommunication between C&E and travel agent.  What could’ve been done different? Short of them getting on her computer, looking at her monitor or asking her to reconfirm each detail of the booking, not much.  Such is life on the Amazing Race. You are at the mercy of your connection (person).  Whether that is a cab driver, a travel agent, or the person on the street giving you directions, you are entrusting them as traditionally speaking, they arguably should know more than you.  Evaluating them and the subsequent decision in trusting them (or not) and your instincts are crucial to the Race. So at this point, we can fault the travel agent for C&E ‘s booking snafu.  HOWEVER, this can be remedied. Right? Right.  How? They are still only 1 of 4 teams (at this point) that have access to booking flights.  So even if they blew the 7am arrival flight, there should be other flights arriving around the same time.  Recall again my post from episode 2:

1) Middle of the night starts: When you start the leg in the middle of the night, that can only mean two things: 1) you’re going to a travel agency that’s agreed to open just for you (and the other racers) and you’re going to book a flight (or maybe 2) that are limited by production as to (connecting cities, airlines that can be flown, etc).  Further,  those flight(s) will all be scheduled to be departing same day, most likely same time.  In other words, you’re bottlenecking up. Quit freaking out if you see other teams arrive and book stuff. You’re meant to bottleneck. Any  and all leads will be effectively wiped out.”

In other words, the Race is set up to make for good tv.  Production isn’t going to let teams get 3, 5, 10+ hour distances between themselves (maybe one team here and there but not all teams). That’s not entertaining TV.  So C&E have to know there’s another flight option right behind the 7am flight.  Let’s see if they know this…..Yes! They book a flight with Brandon & Adam so they arrive at 12pm (5 hrs after Travis & Nicole).  Ok, not the end of the world because A) they’re with another team B) they are seemingly on the ‘next’ flight and C) the remaining teams should, arguably, all be bottlenecked together.

Ephraim: “And then all of a sudden she just throws out Ephraim you have a call.”  

First of all, Whaaaat?  Who gets a call? Second of all, Whaaaat? Ok, now I get it.  The travel agent that accidentally booked the C&E flight for the wrong day tracked them down at their inter-airport office and followed up with another flight that would get them in at their originally desired time of 7am.  Only caveat, 2 connections. Before I can even put down on paper my thoughts on taking not 1 but 2 connecting flights, C takes the words right out of my mouth:

Chester: “You would never have two connecting flights. You would never risk that. But for a 5hr jump .. . this is a risk you take.”

What? Uh, NO you don’t! You just said it yourself Chester! You don’t take that risk.  Why? Why put your Race at risk? For what? To possibly win a leg? Risk reward is always a factor.  Always. The reward here (if everything went according to plan): 1st or 2nd place on the leg (recall Travis & Nicole would be arriving at the same time). Risk: obviously last place and elimination (missed flight connections, delays, mechanical failures, etc. — or as I like to say “all of those things that happened to me in Istanbul and Frankfurt.)   So now, I can’t even feel bad.  The foreshadowing here is over the top, right?  First of all, the first quote of the episode was about not having booked travel on their own and now this gem about taking two connecting flights.  Sorry boys, I think you’re great, I enjoy watching you but this is a bad Race decision.  Even if it works out.  This reminds me of when Abbie and I arrived at the bus task in Dhaka.

TAR2104-1180

We thought we arrived to the task in 4th or 5th place because of a cab snafu.  When we got there, we opened the clue and there was a Fast Forward envelope.  We decided on the spot NOT to take the fast forward because of risk/reward.  Turns out we were actually the first team to arrive to that bus roadblock. In hindsight we couldve done the FF and could’ve won both that leg and the next one.  Didn’t matter, wasn’t worth the risk.  Again, the risk: if another team is already there, we most likely would finish after them (thus having to do the bus task in last place). Reward: winning the leg.   We decided it made no sense to risk our race just for winning a leg, even if that would give us a lead on the next leg. (recall our season the Rockers did this fast forward, picking up dead rats, and then because we stayed in Bangladesh for the next leg also won that leg as they had a 3+ hr head start).  Abbie and I came in 2nd both days.

Leo/Jamal: “So we decided to get Oklahoma on the same flight as us.”

Smart.  Very smart.  Good move. Bringing another team along to keep the chances of your own survival is just good Racing.  I may not like these guys, but I do like their strategy.

Marie to Oklahoma: “You lying to me? I have the express pass.”

Ugh. that was sorta distasteful and awkward to hear, eh? Again, having not experienced a double express pass scenario (either as holders or potential recipient) I cannot really opine as to how that changes the game and the behavior but I’m pretty sure the above comment doesn’t work well on most people.

Maria (while trying to book connections into Portugal and #baseballwives are off doing something else): “The bunnies are up to something.”

Such a good move girls! So far we’ve seen 1 really bad Race decision (C&E choosing the flight/route that has 2 connecting flights) and 2 really good Race decisions (Leo/Jamal getting Oklahoma to stick with them on their flight and now the Baseball wives going to an executive lounge to get standby priority). Let me share with you why this (going to executive lounge works)– these lounges are only reserved/accessible for two types of people: 1) those flying first/business class (which you should know is NEVER allowed on the Race). The only exception is unless you can book that ticket for the same price as economy fare and even then, you must allow your camera/audio crew to take those seats before you do. So essentially you need 4 seats, at economy pricing — which means pretty much that’s  never happening or 2) black card (AMEX) carrying members.  I’m guessing since these girls’ husbands play Major League Baseball, they’re slanging black cards around. However! (another behind-the-scenes tip) — we (as Racers) are not allowed to bring any of our own instruments. That includes cell phones, wallets/credit cards, pre-arranged items (maps, books, etc) etc.  So these girls definitely didn’t flash the black card in the lounge – but that’s okay – all they had to do was tell the representative at the counter a last name, (or perhaps they memorized their card or membership #) and boom! access.  Isn’t being rich a beautiful thing? (By the way, if you carry the black card, you have to spend $250,000 a year on the card.  Also, you get a gift each year from American Express.  A buddy of mine got a digital camera once. Hardly seems worth the 250k.) But you know what is worth it? Priority on a stand by flight when you’re on the Amazing Race. Good job girls – flaunt it if you got it.  And you two definitely gots it.

Scene: At ticket counter with Tim/Marie, Jason/Amy, Nicky/Kim.

HAHAHAHA. I love the baseball wives trying to explain (at the ticket counter) without telling Jason/Amy/Tim/Marie to their face that they basically just got punked.  They are sweet girls and you can see that they’re just on the Race to do well and not hurt feelings.  Will they win? Nope. Will they be fan favorites? Yep.  Are they attractive? Absolutely.  Does that matter? Nope.  Am I asking and answering my own questions? Yes. Why? I dont know.

Update: Ok so C&E got delayed in Buenos Aires. Not surprising.

Update 2: And now C&E’s second (or is it their third flight) just got delayed. I can’t write about this anymore.  It’s so painful at this point. Risk/reward. RISK/REWARD!!!

Update 3: Oh my god. C&E missed another flight (is this flight #4?).  So essentially they’ve accomplished in one leg what took Abbie and I two legs and 2 countries to accomplish.  Impressive boys.  More impressive, they just referenced my 2 most favorite Racers ever “Beekman boys 2.0″. But not quite.  “Beekman Boys” refers to the underdogs of the Race coming on like crazed dogs to win the whole thing.  C&E might’ve been better off referencing a team that got absolutely demolished by bad traveling experiences to only come back and win the leg.  Or in this case, not get eliminated.   Any teams like that come to mind (horrible flight luck, yet staved off elimination)? Feel free to comment below if you can name a team that can destroyed by bad flight luck only to not get eliminated that leg.  I’ll give you a hint here:

ar-21-07-02

 

At 22:48 into this 42 minute episode we finally see Portugal.  That has to be a record on amount of time between footage between the departing and the destination country over two legs.  I’m exhausted and I haven’t gotten off my couch.

Detour: Tiles or Miles. Put a puzzle together or use a navigation instrument to measure distance. I can tell you right now what I would’ve picked. Tiles. Why? Because trial and error (putting a puzzle together) is easier than math. For me. And Abbie. Not that you didn’t know that if you saw me in a Russian classroom getting destroyed by the map time zone test.

Fun fact: Did you know a nautical mile is to a regular mile of 1 to 1.15? Me neither.  You’re welcome. You’ll never need to know that.

At 28:51 C&E are still not in Portugal. But they managed, while in the Heathrow, London airport to pull a Jamal/Leo:  using an Australian accent and saying something native to Australia. But they are in London. This doesn’t bode well for the outcome.

Roadblock: Sling shot / bow/arrow thingy.

Jason killed it on try #1.  Travis looks awesome and is not getting it.  Cool roadblock, I suppose. I’d like to shoot an arrow at a couple of teams on this Race.

Meanwhile #BaseballWives who are doubling as Lululemon models are now kissing on the lips, (I just love these girls), have just completed the tile detour.

Also, racing for first place is never as interesting as the race for last place.  No matter how interesting the show makes it (as in this case, Jason/Amy and Travis/Nicole) it’s just not that interesting.  But alas, J&A get a little lost on the way to the pit stop and T&N take 1st.  So they should’ve won Leg 1 and now they’ve won Leg 3.  Just like me and Abbie. Which means they are not winning this Race.  I think I heard once upon a time that no team that’s ever won the 3rd leg has ever won the Race. Can someone double check that and leave a comment if that’s true or not? If it is, let’s write Travis & Nicole off from winning this Race.  Sad. I like them.

Leo (with a s–t eating grin goofy smile): “My race wife is Portuguese.”

Is the “race-wife” thing getting beyond creepy and festering in ‘I’m concerned for her well-being’ territory to anyone else? Leo keeps saying this and every time you just get the sense the hockey blonde he’s referring to is like “dude, you can keep saying that as long as it’s keeping you from ditching us and costing us our Race but there’s 0 chance you will ever get to know me in the wife sense of the word.” Or less than 0 if she sees the way he rocks the yellow bandana. 

amazing-race-01Unless you’re Deion Sanders you can’t pull that off.  

deion sanders

Ephriam: “We are in London. Our flight is supposed to leave now. And it’s delayed.”

Another DELAY!!! another flight delay. How many is that? 4? 5? 6? If I hadn’t gone through this myself I’d be calling BS on the edit.  This is just sad.

But not as sad as this.

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Scene: Leo and Jamal attempting “miles”.  And failing. Miserably.

Do you think USC admin is watching this and shaking their heads? Yes. They are. As am I and as are you.  Switching a detour is a costly-proposition.  We never did it. So I’m not sure what that feels like. I can imagine on one hand you’re relieved to get away from a situation that you feel has no positive outcome.  On the flip side, you have to be concerned that the time you’ve wasted and now the time it takes to get to the next location as well as briefed on what is needed to be done is also frustrating.  But in this case, let me tell you exactly what the afghanis are thinking in the back of their minds. “Well at least we are stringing along our sheep (hockey blondes).”  Because regardless of what they’re saying to their face about wanting to Race with them and all of that, I can assure you they will slit their throats if this leg comes down to themselves and their racevictims racewives.

Scene: Teams start to finish.  #baseballwives team #3 all because of their black card status.  Well done ladies.  Oklahoma team #4. Silent assassins are they? No. Competitive? Yes.  Winners? Doubtful.

Brandon/Adam #5.  Very little air time this week. Hmmmmmm.

 

Tim: “Alright just listen, let’s just it (express pass).”  Marie (curious audio edit): “Crap, we’re in trouble.”

They are struggling for sure. I get that Marie recognizes they are in the back of the pack. But there’s an audio edit here (Marie’s quote). I can tell you because on the first leg of my Race in Shanghai when we are passing Daniel/Amy on way to pit stop #1, Abbie’s audio has her yelling at me to hurry up. “C’mon! Hurry up! Let’s go! This is for 2million dollars“. But you know what? That audio was actually from the rope/bridge rappel off the Colorado Street bridge in LA earlier that leg.  You know how I know? I was there.  You also know how I know? Abbie was ahead of me on the dual bridge rapel, yelling at me to hurry up. And also, because in the foot race, I was ahead of her.  It didn’t make sense for her to be running behind me and then saying those words.  So these are the subtle edits that unless you were on the show and were there, wouldn’t know. I can guarantee from this edit, 1) Marie didn’t say those words at this point and 2) most likely (but I’m not positive) she really said this when their time on the Race is/was/will be coming to an end. Which means they don’t win.  I literally have 0 inside information but I’d be willing to bet both of those points.  I could go on about the express pass and when you use it and when you don’t. But I just want to see where in the world our friends C&E are.

Scene: Afghanis and Hockeyblondes are en route and arrive at bow & arrow. I’m not commenting anymore on their weird and totally obvious awkward love arrangement.  So we’ll just discuss how Ally’s grandpa secreted to her mentally through the universe how to shoot a bow and arrow. Right. But those are the things that get aired.

Scene: Tim nails the first shot. No express pass played. Smart. I think.

Scene: More pit stop finishes: Afghanis #6, Hockeygirls #7, Tim/Marie #8.  They still have the express pass and they still have to give the other one away. Who is getting it? At this point?  Comment below on who you think ends up with it.

Scene: C&E are actually eliminated in the Lisboa airport. By Phil.

Awkward. That sucks. Has Phil ever gone off location to eliminate a team? I recall teams getting pulled off the course and brought to the pit stop (Bill & Cathy?) but I’m not sure I recall Phil leaving to eliminate a team at an airport. They didn’t even get to complete the leg.  Looks like they’ve been traveling for about 232 hours.  They have great attitudes. Way better than the ones we exhibited on the mats.  These are good dudes. I hope they’ll be back.  And with a quote from the immortal Ricky Bobby, if you’re not first you’re last.  Except on the Amazing Race.  Risk/Reward. Always do you risk/reward analysis.

 

Next week teams are — I just turned it off. Deleted it. I’m exhausted from this episode.  Hopefully we get more Amazing Racing as opposed to unamazing traveling.

 

If you liked this recap, then please see this video of my next project and remember you can LIKE it once every 24 hrs. http://www.bestjobaroundtheworld.com/submissions/view/15103

 

 

 

Amazing Race Season 23 Episode 2 Recap

As you probably already know, I ran the Amazing Race on Season 21.  Most seasons blend together. The routes, while interesting, usually never really stand out (although Season 22 was my favorite of all seasons). Same can be said for the contestants (my favorite cast here ).  Except in my case. All someone needs to hear is that “we were the only team in Amazing Race history to have had a chance at winning 2 million dollars.”  And then they remember this sequence exactly:

Frog Fallopian tubes, passing a girl with two prosthetic legs to the finish mat, chance at 2 million, 4 missed flights / Frankfurt Airport, U-turn in Frankfurt , Chippendales/Twinnies/Texas alliance. No more 2 million dollars.  

And so that about sums up my Amazing Race experience.  Well, actually there’s a lot more to the story (as to all of those points) but the bottom line is this: even though I didn’t win 2 million bucks, I can thank the Amazing Race for all of the wonderful opportunities that have come my way in the 1-year since – book deal, travel magazine writing gig, Jauntaroo.com #ChiefWorldExplorer opportunity literally titled “The Best Job in the World) (application still pending, but I’ve made it from 3000+ applicants to top 50 thus far – you can see my application videos here) and the accompanying social media platform that goes along with being on a primetime television show for nearly 3 months.  So yes, I’d trade all of that for 2 million dollars, duh, but that’s neither here nor there.  What is here is my short and sweet commentary, 10 thoughts and musings, on each episode of this season of Amazing Race. Without further ado, Episode 2. 

Episode 1 Recap Here

 NOTE: this is a running diary of me watching the show – in other words, i watch, pause, jot down notes.  If something unfolds later in the episode, Ill write “UPDATE” to reflect that. So you get my real time impressions, not my monday morning quarterback slash 20/20 hindsight.

 

Let’s get right into it.

 

1) Middle of the night starts: When you start the leg in the middle of the night, that can only mean two things: 1) you’re going to a travel agency that’s agreed to open just for you (and the other racers) and you’re going to book a flight (or maybe 2) that are limited by production as to (connecting cities, airlines that can be flown, etc).  Further,  those flight(s) will all be scheduled to be departing same day, most likely same time.  In other words, you’re bottlenecking up. Quit freaking out if you see other teams arrive and book stuff. You’re meant to bottleneck. Any  and all leads will be effectively wiped out.  2) you’re going to a local event, establishment, activity, landmark, etc where you’ll wait for it to open – therefore, another bottleneck. My point – it’s really hard to build a sustained lead on the Race.  The nature of the tv component of the show is to keep teams together (as opposed to the more generic “race” component).  Of course, we (Abbie and I) figured out a way on the 7th leg to get 8hrs behind when our flight out of Istanbul/we ran into ‘production issues’.  So you can, from time to time, see teams with half day or full day leads. We’re skilled like that. Sigh.

2) The Express Pass:  Our season only had 1 express pass (won by the #twinnies on the second leg in Jakarta, Indonesia) not two as the last two seasons have had.  So its interesting to see how goofy people act trying to weasel that 2nd pass away from the team holding it.  Don’t get me wrong, I get it.  But it seems to me its a no brainer for the team holding it that you give it to the weakest team, when the time is right and you’ve exhausted all your leverage whilst holding it (thereby helping them stay in the race at the expense of a stronger / more competitive team) but maybe that’s just me looking outside in?   I also would think it has monetary value.  So perhaps an auction so you can stockpile cash for later in the Race?  Is there any other strategy that I’m missing. Feel free to comment and tell me how you’d play the 2nd express pass any differently.

3) The route money:  The 589$ for ‘this leg’ of the race is more money than any single leg we ever had. The highest dollar amount that  comes to mind for our season is or about 420$ – and i think that was for our first leg in Moscow, Russia.  Which makes sense seeing as how we got hustled by our verrrrry non corrupted taxi driver. (sarcasm).  Race production is smart. I dont know to what dollar they have the money drilled down to, but suffice to say you should have some money left over for food and water but not for much else.  I bought a t shirt in the Dhaka airport that said “Bangladesh” on it.  I love it. I still wear it.  You know how much it cost? $2 US.  For a shirt.  I win.

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(Bangladesh shirt. Being worn on the following leg. In Turkey. Think that helped spoil the route for those that pay special attention to such things?)

Excuse the digression.  In countries where your doing two legs, usually the first leg you’ll get all of you money and the second leg you’ll get 1$.  Now you dont know how long you’ll be in each country, but you now know (because I’m telling you) that if you get a large sum, you can bet you’ll be there for more than 1 leg. UPDATE: What’s interesting about this leg (and different from our season) is they bussed overnight to another part of the country.  So, they’ll either get no money for their next leg, or the large sum was to pay for the 24hr bus ride.  Can someone comment and share how much that bus ride cost? My sense is a large portion of that budget was for that bus fare — but then I ask myself “how much can that fare really be?” My rough guess would be no more than $100 US/per person.  Would love to know the answer.

4) Nicknames on the race:  If anyone knows Race nicknames, it’s me. Our season we had #twinnies or #twistedsister, #blondes, #rockers and/or #longhairs, #chips, #texas, #beeks, #lumberjack, #monstertruck and #jackandthebeanstalk (Garry & Will).  So when the awesome “Afghanimals” (self-titled) decided to nickname Tim and Marie as “Pinkie” and “No brain” all I could think of how awesome these two afghanis were at deciding really uncool nicknames.  And this coming from a guy that was on a season with average, at best, nicknames. Really dudes? “Pinkie” and “no brain”?  Two thumbs down on creativity and another one for coming onto a show self nicknamed.  A couple of things you just don’t do: stiff the waiter on a tip, eat yellow snow and self-nickname. Bad form. Jamal and Sidekick just try so hard that its painful to watch them or listen to them.  I’m just not a fan and given their borderline stalkery-ness with the hockey girls, it’s getting uncomfortable to watch the spazziness morph into whatever it is you’re seeing them do on the finish mat in this episode.  Although it now appears they have enough skills to get through the next few legs as the fat starts to get trimmed (I’m looking at you #baseballwives. Don’t let me down. I know you’re close with my girl Brittney from my season).  Speaking of the hockey girls, they have to be coming up soon for their introduction to the chopping block, no? Haven’t seen a single redeeming Race move made yet.  Go ahead Marie, drop the hammer girl.

5) Task selection:  I love the part when the teams got to the ship and they were charged with having to find “something” (in this case a famous speech/phrase). I loved it because it required them to do something intelligent.  So you’re taking out the physical achievement/activity which for obvious reasons, permeates the show. As it should. I’m just saying it’s nice when the contestants have to use their brains.  Recall the time in a previous season when a team (Chad & Stephanie, Season 17) had to match up the classical piano piece being played in a room full of classical pianos with the correct sheet music.  Click here to relive that amazingness .  INSIDE INFO: I heard a rumor that production blew that from the judging standpoint and kept telling them they were wrong when in fact they had been correct (hours?) earlier.  We’re all human – mistakes happen :) Those errors just cost some teams a few places in the race standings that leg and other teams 2 million dollars. Oops, I digressed. Anyways, the mental tasks are one of the best components of the Race to me (in addition to letting teams book their own travel) even though the map/time zone test I took in Moscow was 2 mins (TV time) but in real time 60 mins of pure agony for me.  Click here for 10 seconds of me losing it. I loved it.

Back to the ship task in this episode,  it didn’t seem to me based on the edit that the phrase they had to locate was actually on the ship (we actually never see a team identify the phrase other than asking a local).  Was production thinking these people would find someone on the street to tell them? It might’ve made for better TV if the phrase was captured on say, a piece of artwork on the ship, on a mug, or the title of a book or something more deceptive. Recall the film reel as as example from the other side of the classical piano detour (can you tell I fondly remember that episode? Me and Russia) and the teams had to use detective skills to unearth it. Simply asking a guy watching the show’s filming next to the dock isn’t quite as riveting.  But perhaps that was arranged and the teams just decided this phrase had to be so well known that asking a local would yield the right response. And it did.  My point is I just like the brain games stuff.

6)  Choosing a detour: When the teams arrived at the salt mines they had to choose between brining and mining.  Isn’t it a no brainer you go with brining here? Brining called for transporting, and then pouring salt into water and floating in said water (when enough salt was poured in)? Typically the answer is yes. It reads as less exhausting as the other option (breaking down salt boulders to find a clue) and in a race in which food and hydration are a premium, storing your energy is an important consideration.  However, it’s not that simple. Take my season when Abbie and I were in Dhaka, Bangladesh and after Abbie built the scale, we were handed our  next clue, a detour:  jute mill vs bamboo place-thingy-whatever.   We announced and originally chose bamboo. We didn’t know what jute was and we knew bamboo (or at least what we thought in our minds was intended when the clue said “bamboo”).   But when Bertram Van Muster (the show creator and on site executive producer) asked us to explain our rationale for choosing “bamboo” all we could come up with is that we knew what bamboo was and not what jute was.  It then turned out (more importantly) that our cab driver did NOT seem to know where the bamboo location was and furthermore he indicated the jute mill was just around the corner from where Abbie had built the scale.  Amazing-Race-21.5-3

So we decided on jute before we even finished loading our packs in the taxi.  Leaving the scale task that day in 4th or 5th place (after arriving 2nd)  I thought for sure we were well behind the other teams when we arrived at the pit stop (recall the palace with Moon Moon) after completing the jute mill task.  Especially because we were the only team that chose the jute mill.  But we came in 2nd and only behind the rockers that had the benefits of a fast forward from the day before.  We also finished  at least an hour ahead, if not more of the third place team.  SO even though you get a description of the task on the detour card , albeit brief, you never really know what you’re getting into.  Other factors that are or should be taken into consideration:  Do you, does a nearby local or does your cabbie know where one or both of the locations are for each detour? how far away, etc.   In this task, from the edit, it looked that “brining” was quite a bit further away from the bicycle stand than the mining task – which is  merely production’s way of evening out the two options.  At the end of the day, production isn’t trying to trick you into picking an easy one v. a hard one.  They’ve set it up so both (detours) should, conceivably take about the same amount of time — not necessarily the same amount of work output – but same time.  This is just for detours, not road blocks. (see: hay bales, and teams that completed in 1hr vs. 9hrs).  UPDATE: it seemed everyone rode bikes to same location for both detours … so definitely choosing brining would be my rationale. I would’ve aborted mining and gone with brining if they were both at same place. I m very proud of how Abbie and i chose detours — we rarely felt we made the wrong choice — even with roadblocks, but even then there was only one time we would’ve opted to have the other person (me, instead of her building the scale in Bangladesh).Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.42.38 PM

UPDATE: Hockey blondes switched mid task.  Good choice girls. No sense in working harder than you have to when, arguably, each task should take the same amount of time.  Arguably.

7) Cabs:  Looks like the bingo queens are about and yes, they are in fact lost in a cab. Reminds me exactly of Daniel/Amy, on the same leg in our season. Totally helpless feeling. Although we never experienced ‘truly lost’.  We experienced, “dude, where are you going?” and “bud, can you stop and ask directions if you’re not sure…” But never truly lost.  UPDATE: It does not appear to have cost Bingo Queens too much time here, as for some teams it can be catastrophic.  In Daniel/Amy’s case from my season they had the ability to drop their cab and try a new one as we were in a densely populated metropolitan area (Jakarta, Indonesia).  Here it looks like Bingo queens were stuck somewhere on the moon.  Meaning you live by the sword (cab you chose), you die by the sword (cab you chose).  That probably makes no sense, but just go with it. This is the part about how luck plays a HUGE role in the outcome of each leg and the race more generally.

8) Best subtle quote of the show: “Kick ass SeaBass.”  Brandon or Adam during the salt mining task. Quote for those that didn’t catch it is from the cafeteria scene in the movie Dumb n’ dumber. Well played gents.  Remember and see the quote and laugh here. (or just got to 1:40 of this clip).  You’re welcome.

9) Newest twist: Travis’s voice while in the heat of the moment. Cross between terminator and cookie monster. It’s awesome. I’d love for him to operate on me in the ER and before getting started say, “I must fix you.  Nurse….SCAPULA!” Just play back the scene where Nicole is falling off her bike.  He basically turns into a different form of human.

10) My Pause and say “Whaaaaaat?” Moment: Amy.  A tongue pierce? Didn’t see that coming. hey-yo!

 

This episode was so full of material, I’m throwing in some BONUS MUSINGS:

My LOL moment: Travis trying to float.  That was barely floating. That was basically just his head and knees mostly out of the water .  I’m dying. That’s not floating.  That’s laying on a pile of salt in the water.    INSIDE INFO: The “local” judge isnt judging.  Someone from production is telling him yay or nay.  Can you imagine if these cats around the world were being asked to judge fairly one team from the next based on such subjective guidelines?  Especially the guy in this shot?  You think the girl’s that have their own floatation devices are going anywhere?  He’s been in the salt mine for 30 years, and now 2 girls in a bikini are floating in some water and he’s going to pass them so they get dressed up and leave?  Are you crazy? Right.  It doesn’t work that way.

See Pic Here: Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 11.03.34 AM

(not floating).

Compare to actual floating:

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 11.03.13 AM

(floating. With the aid of more than just the salt.)

 

 

Best line of episode: Marie to Tim (after he tries some wishy-washy explanation about the benefits of stirring up lemonade): “Are we trying to float in a tub of lemonade?” Marie, now two weeks in a row has the best line of episode.  Will she make it three? Probably.

Smartest travel race move: DONT ASK WHEN THE BUS / PLANE / TRAIN LEAVES when booking travel – ask when it arrives.  Update: Aaaaaaaaaand then you realize you have to ask the question correctly.  Poor Rowan. That blows homie. Update two: (they’re now on the last bus and say): “This is how the race is supposed to be run.” And he’s right. Abbie and I had 4 separate gnarly plane snafus and we said all along, ‘this is just part of the race.. we get it – that’s traveling.” Well 3 of the snafus were travel related.  You’re right, I’ll never let this go and I’m sure it’ll come up in every recap. That’s the trade off for getting all the inside info I’m sharing. You have to deal with the barbs.

The Travelocity prize trips; I’ve always thought that these trips should reflect the leg you just won? Isn’t kind of odd when Phil calls you first in Chile and then says you’ve won a trip to Turks & Caicos? Is that just me?  Abbie and I won a trip to Fiji when we won the leg in Indonesia which has SOME geographical relationship, but Turks & Caicos for winning the leg in Chile???  Well, I’m just guessing here, but the show gets all of these trips for free (comped by Travelocity as part of the sponsorship opportunity) and so Race just hands out whatever Travelocity has provided.

My second LOL moment: Brandon/Adam slapping Phil’s ass on the finish mat as they dance circles around him.  I’ve never seen that before.  Phil didn’t seem to mind.  I like these guys. They just don’t give a F and they’re racing skills are good enough to keep them in this thing for awhile.

And of course, the very best moment of the episode:  This will always be funny to me.  In any season.  I will always laugh from deep down in my belly when this happens.  You really have to be almost clueless (no pun) for this to happen.  What am I talking about?  You don’t know?  Ok. When a team tries to interfere/hijack a local, non-Race related person (someone not associated w/ the show) on a given task and engage them as though they are involved. That person, this season, is Rowan during the shoe shine.  I know this happened in a season past (perhaps in Africa? and a kid was involved, or bottle caps)? Can someone comment that recalls and refresh my recollection.  I mean what is there to say? The video speaks for itself. And the best part is it just keeps going and going and going. Rowan literally took this dude’s shoe shine cart and wheeled around the city in the middle of the night to try and pass it off as part of the show.  I cannot tell you to what degree the show goes to marking things red/yellow so that people and places and objects are Race identifiable.  You essentially cannot mistake it.  Rowan, dude, you gotta know this.  But I’m glad you missed it because I needed that laugh out loud moment.  Did it cost him the race? Yes, it absolutely did.  Was it worth it? 100% for sure.  Seems like a nice guy too and while I’d like to say it can happen to anyone, it typically doesn’t. But Rowan, don’t feel bad, you’re not the first and you’re definitely not going to be the last. The good news is, you had the second best line of the episode:

Second best line (also involving Marie and Rowan): Rowan: “ella es el diablo” (“She’s the devil.”) In Espanol. Said in front of Marie. To the guy not involved with the task.  HOLY H–L. Funny.

In short, the best episode ever since the aborigines in the back of the Toyota Sequoia last season.

If you liked this recap, then please see this video of my next project and remember you can LIKE it once every 24 hrs. http://www.bestjobaroundtheworld.com/submissions/view/15103