When we arrived in Shanghai, China it marked my first time in any Asian country. In normal situations, you probably would leisurely travel from airport to hotel to local attraction or eating establishment. In Race situations, as was shown on the episode you travel to [intentionally omitted] to Sports Center (once you figure out what that means in Chinese) to restaurant to the Bund to look for a lady with an abacus that might as well be invisible to the Signal tower a mile away. Of course you can take in the sights and sounds as you travel from place to place and we certainly did that along the route. Shanghai was many things – but one thing that stood out at first was the unique architecture throughout the city, especially along the waterfront. The buildings were a mixture of classic and modern, the skyline was impressive and commanding, and the cleanliness of the city was surprising. Of course while we were there the heat and humidity were equally uncomfortable. Parts of the city had traffic/congestion that rivaled NYC and LA. But when you’re racing you tend to miss the intricacies and highlights and things that make one city more unique than another. [SECTION INTENTIONALLY OMITTED] We had all seen the infamous clue box stands from seasons past but seeing it for the first time in person and finding the yellow envelope was a very real moment that we were not only on the Race, but we were racing and the decision processing had begun. Unlike the starting line where our backpacks and clue envelopes awaited us was shown on the episode, this first clue called for interpreting and locating a destination that we had never heard of, in a foreign language. When a handful of teams made their way to the taxi line it became apparent the language barrier was even more robust than we had imagined. Literally not a single word of English was spoken.
Also, fallopian tubes of a frog is the most heinous thing I’ve ever had the disgusting task of putting in my mouth. And I accidentally once ate chicken lips. I digress. How the Chinese consider that a ‘dessert’ is beyond me, but now I know the next time something creamy, white and warm served in an open papaya is placed in front of me, to pass it off to Abbie. I digressed again.
But let’s get to the good stuff, overwhelmingly the most talked about aspect of Leg 1 (for us) was the moment in which I asked Daniel where the Abacus-lady was and then shortly thereafter passing he and Amy up en route to the pit stop mat. Let’s discuss a few key points that either were not covered in the show or overlooked. It might be best to just bust out a quick list of components to the madness:
1) as was shown during the episode, most teams that couldn’t find the Abacus lady asked another team. In most instances, people lied – (Gary / Will, Nadia/Natalie). In my case, I was fortunate that Daniel told me.
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4) as was shown during the episode, in asking where the Abacus lady was I simply asking – I was not deceptive, or conniving, there was nothing underhanded about how I presented the question.
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6) It’s called the Amazing RACE, and if you’re going to be on the Race, you have to be in the mental and physical mindset of Racing at all times
7) as was shown during the episode (post leg) Amy, in my opinion was the strongest competitor (male or female) on our race. She is a professional athlete and regardless of her being a double amputee, I never once underestimated her. As such we treated them as equals or greater athletes and we raced to the finish line in the mindset that would/could beat us if we didnt give 100% effort. And so we did.
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In sum, it was an amazing first leg experience. It was surreal [COMMENTS INTENTIONALLY OMITTED] the signal tower and seeing Phil waiting at the top. We have been tremendously devoted fans for years and in that moment, being told we had just won that leg (and qualified for the 2M prize), I imagine it felt like we had just won the entire race. A very very special moment for both of us that we will never forget.
Final Review of Shanghai: 6/10. I would go back, but I wouldn’t stay long.