Another season of Amazing Race–its 19th season and 10th year anniversary. I’m in Toronto and get to watch it in person with my sister who is the only person I know who really watches the show.
As the contestants were introduced, they were running across the landing of a Chinese temple which made me think that China was the first leg and everyone had made it there. Actually, the start line was at Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California. If you play your camera angles properly, it could be a stand-in for a real temple city in China.
Ethan and Jenna are reality TV stars. Laurence is racing with his son Zac who is the first person under 18 to sail solo around the world. Andy and Tommy are former Olympic snowboarders. Kaylani and Lisa are former Las Vegas showgirls. Ron and Bill are flight attendants and domestic partners. Liz and Marie are blonde and identical twins. Then, amongst the married and dating couples, falf of the Engaged team is Chinese, Cindy Chiang.
With a sign reading “WANPEI” above a rack holding hundreds of Asian parasols, racers had to keep showing parasols they pulled to host Phil who only accepted it when they found the parasol with “TAI” painted on. I don’t know how many of the contents figured out their destination was TAIWAN, TAIPEI until they climbed into their Ford Explorers and via in-car video Phil confirms their destination.
The Showgirls hit a snag early on when Kaylani dropped her passport at a gas station. They realized the gaffe while driving to the airport and returned to the gas station where the attendant said no one had turned in the passport. Time to freak out! They continued to the airport where the audience all wondered if they actually thought they could charm their way onto the flight! At the airport, they are approached by two L.A. dudes who return Kaylani’s passport. Turns out the L.A. dudes were at the gas station when the Snowboarders asked for directions and with the camera and crew tagging along, they figured out they just unwittingly participated in the Amazing Race! They picked up the passport and Tweeted about it and got the suggestion or something to find the passport holder at LAX. Lil Sis said she would be indignant with the L.A. dudes who perhaps should have just handed it over to the gas attendant instead of trying to be heroes and causing extra time wastage. In any case, it was just serendipitous that the Showgirls made it one on to the next flight and caught up in Taiwan!
In Taiwan, the racers were pointed to the Ximending commercial district and instructed to “look up”. Amongst all the overhead signs, often in red and or yellow, they had to spot a digital billboard with red and yellow balloons that revealed, one character at a time, the four characters that indicated the next destination: Taipei Confucius Temple. It took forever for the old married racers to spot the billboard. They were much later arriving at the commercial district and did not get any kind of assistance from earlier teams where they spotted the clue.
At the Confucius Temple, one racer performed the Roadblock which was to ring up 1-800-CONFUCIUS to listen to a badly translated 19-word Confucian proverb and repeat it verbatim to a monk to be given the next clue. It seemed that Ernie and Cindy bombed through that one.
The monk’s clue lead them to Dajia Riverside Park where the teams joined dragonboat racing teams, one as a paddler, one as the drummer. It was exhilerating to hear the thunderous roar of the dragonboat teams when they received their final members. Ex-NFLer Marcus said it reminded him back to his pro ball days when he would emerge from the tunnel to the fans’ cheers! The clue they received at the end of the race brought them to the non-elimination pit stop at Martyr’s Shrine.
The Showgirls had to perform a Hazard challenge as a result of coming in last in the very first task (the umbrellas back in L.A.). Their challenge was for one member to bungee jump indoors from the rafters of the Core Pacific City Mall. We wondered if this wasn’t some kooky gimmicky activity that regularly occurred in the mall until the camera panned across the onlookers and they looked genuinely shocked and concerned!