Just like last season, I will do episode recaps and I will do them as soon as I have the complete episode in hand. In the weeks leading up to the premiere, I was not into the race, but as soon as I watched this episode, I was caught up immediately. As with last season’s premiere, the racers have to go all over the place, but thanks to some hard physical tasks and a very long bus ride, Killer Fatigue came into play early. Let’s go over this very well produced episode.
We begin this season in Bangkok, Thailand where Allan Wu is located on top of a building (Phil Keoghan-style, I might add), telling us that tuk tuks are transporting the ten teams to the King Rama I Monument, dedicated to the man who founded Bangkok. After an introduction to this season’s cast, we see the tuk tuks park and the racers get out to see Allan.
I like the tuk tuks and I wish that the US version of the Amazing Race would use them to transport the teams to the starting line. How cool would that be? And why can’t we use tuk tuks for transportation here in the States? Ok, enough of my tuk tuk rant.
Anyway, Allan goes through his regular spiel, but he adds a special caveat. He says, “This race will be hard. It will push you … and challenge you … in ways you can never imagine.” Hmmm. Foreshadowing perhaps? Ok, this race is going to be tough. How tough will it be?
Allan has already told them that there are 11 legs, 7 of which are elimination legs. And he finishes by saying the winner at the end will receive US$100,000 which is nothing to sneeze at.
And with that, the teams head to their luggage where their first clue is waiting for them. Right off the bat, the teams discover that they have an eating challenge. And they scramble to find transportation. Some teams are smart, heading back to the tuk tuks that brought them to the monuments, others head off to find a taxi. Beauty Queens Natalie & Pailin take a tuk tuk.
Now, I have to stop for a moment to say that there is only one true team of Beauty Queens and that is Dustin & Kandice from TAR10 and All Stars. Out of respect to them, I will call Natalie & Pailin, Beauty Queens II or BQII when I need to abbreviate. We go on.
Mai & Oliver, Thai natives, actress and friend, grab a tuk tuk as well and speed off to the next destination. Other teams have trouble finding cabs including brothers William & Isaac from South Korea. Finally, everyone gets their cab and the teams are now speculating on their first task. The only one to guess right are siblings Henry & Bernie who say, “Grasshoppers?” to which Henry says, “Scorpions.” This guy is perceptive.
The other teams are thinking noodles, curry, Thai food… no. You get to eat some really crispy stuff, but we’ll get to that later. The teams are heading to Thanon Khao San, a district quite well known as a tourist destination and for its rice markets. Both it’s not rice that the teams will be eating. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
When the teams arrive at their destination, they’ll be eating assorted delectable fried insects along with fried frogs and yes Bernie, fried scorpions. Everything must be eaten before teams can receive their next clue.
Friends AD & Fuzzie are the first to arrive and start chowing down. Fuzzie says they taste like French Fries. I’m glad someone feels this way because they look like fried insects to me. The teams arrive one-by-one and without any hesitation, eat the bugs, frogs and scorpion. However, I didn’t say they weren’t going to have trouble because they will. Natalie upon arrival says she does not want the frog. I must say I’ve had frog legs before and they’re very tasty.
Isaac & William, the brothers from South Korea, aren’t happy and William says he has a fear of insects. Shut up and eat, boy! No time to complain unless you want to get eliminated. A crowd of onlookers has gathered to watch the racers eat the fried insects, crunchy frog and scorpions. Tania had something explode in her mouth and she was about to shut down. But give credit to BQII for just taking whatever was in the bowl, grabbing them and just “scarfing them down” as Pailin said. Natalie was looking quite happy while doing it, but then again, beauty queens know how to smile even in the most adverse conditions.
Siblings Henry & Bernie are the first to finish and to head to their next destination(dreaded product placement ahead), yet another Caltex station (I believe this is the 5th Caltex station to be seen in the series, by my count) where they will wash a marked vehicle, but not just any marked vehicle. Remember in the first season when the teams had to wash a car in Singapore just after heading to the Fountain of Wealth? Well, this time, they’re going to have to wash a doubledecker bus. The bus has to be completely clean before the teams get their next clue.
Meanwhile, the other teams are still eating the bugs, frogs and scorpions and it’s here where some of the racers’ gag reflexes kick in. We then see a sequence of vomiting into buckets. It’s a really nice sight and you get a nice example right here. What? You didn’t think I would leave it out, did you?
And wouldn’t you know it? Natalie & Pailin are the 2nd team to leave the eating challenge quickly followed by boyfriend/girlfriend Geoff & Tisha. The only real highlight we get to see of Geoff in this episode is his hurling on the sidewalk after the challenge. I’ll spare you that sight.
They were followed by Mai & Oliver, AD & Fuzzie and Ida & Tania so again, we have some really strong female teams on this race.
Well, I would not include Mai in that group and we’ll see why at the end. We don’t want to jump ahead too far. We still have a lot to go in this recap. But we see where Mai who has said her parents have brought up like a princess shows her prima donna side by making Oliver carry her huge backpack. He’s got to carry his own and then carry hers as well????
What have we learned after 12 seasons of the US TAR and 2 seasons of TARA? That it’s always best to pack light. Don’t carry these bulky backpacks that have all of your essentials inside. We’ve seen teams having to get rid of stuff along the way and Mai’s backpack looks like it has her entire life and he has to run with two backpacks? That never works. And Oliver even tells Mai and he can’t do it, but she doesn’t care saying the next destination will be easy. Right. And I can carry two one ton boulders on my shoulders. Who is she kidding?
Finally, the other teams are finishing their eating and are heading to the Caltex station. And as the racers are winding down from the bug challenge, they notice they have pieces of bug, frog and scorpion stuck in their teeth. It’s a nice thought.
Arriving first at the Caltex Bus Wash are Mai & Oliver. Because she has not done anything in her life except act, she is immediately intimidated by the daunting task of washing a bus. Other teams arriving include Geoff & Tisha and BQII who jump into the task feet first. Geoff throws water on the bus to which Tisha feels is not helping. BQII are working together quite well, communicating and finding which areas to wash first (can you tell I like them right off the bat?).
The next wave of teams are William & Isaac, AD & Fuzzie and Ida & Tania. But the third wave of teams is having trouble due to bad taxi drivers and Bangkok traffic. Some drivers got lost and had to ask for directions. But they eventually find it and everyone is now washing a bus. And they get some help as it starts to rain. Natalie’s eyeliner is starting to run … not water soluble, I guess. But she’s not complaining, she wants to get the task done. And even with raccoon eyes, Natalie still looks good.
The first team to get the clue is Bernie & Henry. They find that they will take the bus they just cleaned and head to Wat Phai Rong Wua. Once there, they’ll find their next clue. Three buses will transport the teams. Only three teams will be able to take the first bus, then three more teams get to go on the second bus and the last four teams will be on the third and last bus.
While Mai & Oliver are the second to finish, they really don’t read the clue carefully and instead of waiting for another team so they can board a bus, they pile into a taxi and drive off! Where are you going? In addition, due to their privileged background, they don’t know what a chartered bus is. And had they waited, Neena & Amit who had received their clue would be joining them and Henry & Bernie, but due to that mistake, they find that they will be taking the second bus. Taking Mai & Oliver’s place on the first bus will be BQII. And that bus heads off forcing Mai & Oliver who’ve returned to the Caltex station to wait for two other teams before leaving.
Geoff & Tisha and Ida & Tania leapfrog over Mai & Oliver who have lost time in their confusion. And again, poor Oliver has drag his and Mai’s backpack to the bus. The man has eaten bugs, frogs and scorpions and then spent hours washing a double decker bus, and you make him carry your bags??? Have some consideration, woman!
So the second bus leaves and Mai announces to the world that she’s never washed a car. Ok.
This leaves the last four teams, Niroo & Kapil, AD & Fuzzie, William & Isaac and Vince & Sam to bring up the rear as they all finish cleaning their respective buses. They finally depart while the first bus carrying Henry & Bernie, BQII and Neena & Amit arrive at Wat Phai Rong Wua. They discover that they’ll have to look among hundreds of Buddha statues for their next clue. But the thing is that it’s very dark so finding the envelopes will be difficult and the buses will depart 20 minutes after they arrived so if they’re not on that bus, they’ll have to try to get the next one while searching for their clue.
The second bus has arrived carrying Mai & Oliver, Geoff & Tisha and Ida & Tania. So you have six teams searching for clues in a very dark area. While all teams are carrying flashlights, one can only see so far. But Mai & Oliver pick up a clue and are able to get on the first bus. They’ll head to the Chiang Mai Bus Terminal, over 8 hours and 585 kilometers from Bangkok to find their next clue.
Geoff & Tisha are the next to find their clue amon
g the gold Buddhist statues and they’re the next and last team to get on the first bus. So all of the teams that were in the first wave to arrive at the Wat Phai Rong Wua are still searching for clues and have missed their bus. Henry & Bernie find their clue ensuring they’ll be the only ones on the second bus.
Neena & Amit and Natalie & Pailin finally find their clues, but now they have to wait for the third bus and all of its teams to find the envelopes before they can leave. When the final bus arrives, Neena tells them to hurry up to find their clues as they don’t want to wait so long and she tells the final four teams to look at the base of the statue, not for a cluebox. Awfully nice of her, but I can’t kill her for this because with each passing moment, the other two buses lengthen their lead on the last teams. Eventually, the last teams find clue and get ready to boarded a crowded bus with seven teams to Chiang Mai.
While the last bus with seven teams on board is just leaving Bangkok, we see the first bus carrying Mai & Oliver and Geoff & Tisha arrive at the Chiang Mai Bus Terminal. Once they rip open the black and yellow envelope, the teams find that they’ve reached a detour.
Say it with me now. A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. I wish this sentence was still used in the US TAR, but I’m glad it’s here in TARA. In this detour, teams have the choice to decide between Race or Rice.
In Rice, teams must work together to pound rice into a sticky paste to make two small rice balls. While the rice balls are small, pounding the rice will be very difficult. Teams that don’t have the muscle to pound the rice could take a long time.
Mai & Oliver and Geoff & Tisha share a songtel to take them to the detour. And as Henry & Bernie arrive, they decide to do the rice detour and Henry is excited to use his chef skills only to have Bernie remind him that cooking will not be involved. Oh, snap!
The first three teams are now pounding rice into the paste in hopes of making two rice balls. And when the last bus arrives, to a team, all decide to do the rice. Race! It’s faster and you won’t be in the hot sun for long!! I don’t understand these decisions sometimes, but as I mentioned at the beginning, at this point, Killer Fatigue is taking its toll rather early in the race. Usually, Killer Fatigue is not a factor until the midway point of the race, but in this first leg that has had vomiting, the washing of a double decker bus and trying to find clues in the dark (and this is all in the first 24 hours), no one is thinking clearly.
After pounding the rice for a long time, Mai & Oliver finally have enough paste to make rice balls and they are the first to get their clue. They are relieved to find out that the next destination is the pit stop, Ratchaphruek Garden World, which is named after Thailand’s national flower. As you can tell, this is the first pit stop in this leg of the race and the last team to arrive may be eliminated. Mai & Oliver are quickly followed by Geoff & Tisha who shared the songtel with them to the rice detour.
Henry & Bernie finish the rice task third and they’re off to the public gardens (I’m not going to write the name of the garden again, once was tough enough). As they ride in the songtel, Henry and Bernie are eating a rice ball and he has the line of the episode when he says, “You know what this would be good with? A side of scorpions.” Great line and it was an organic moment (no mugging for the camera unlike a certain team from last season who constantly posed and mugged, but we’re not going to mention them this season. Oh, maybe one of them might get a mention later in this recap, but that’s later).
In the first songtel, Geoff and Oliver decide that when they arrive at the mat, they’ll do paper, scissors, rock to decide who will be in first place. Henry says at best, he and Bernie will be first, at worst, they’ll be third. It appears the two songtels are in a race to see who finishes first, but I really don’t think it was that close. Maybe Michael McKay can confirm that for me. But Geoff feels he sees Bernie & Henry.
However, it’s Geoff & Tisha and Mai & Oliver who reach the mat first. And as agreed upon, Mai and Tisha do paper, scissors, rock to determine who finishes first and will receive the very first prize of the race. Mai wins. She and Oliver get to step on the mat in first and they receive $2,500 each (dreaded product placement ahead) from Standard Chartered Bank which they will spend after the race. Geoff & Tisha are on the mat second and grateful for the help they received from Thai natives Mai & Oliver. Even though they lost $5,000, Tisha says she wants to play the game fair. I like that and she may be someone who could be rewarded down the road.
Henry & Bernie hit the mat third and she recognizes that the greeter with Allan is none other than Fang’s Bites fav from TARA2, Paula Taylor of Paula & Natasha. I was so sad when they were eliminated. Of course, Paula is looking so lovely here. Yes, I’m smitten, but how could you not be? She’s so pretty and has such a great smile, the only drawback is her relationship with Mutt of TARA2, but I can overlook that.
Anyway, we continue with the recap and this is where it turns ugly. Suddenly, Mai has told Oliver that she has had enough of the race and wants to quit. For long time fans of The Amazing Race, who does this remind you of? If you said Flo from TAR3, you would be correct! And Oliver blows up not comprehending what he’s hearing. Of course, he then lets Mai have it for making him carry her 30 kg backpack all over Thailand.
She replies, “You keep complaining, ‘I’m *bleep* carrying your backpack. So heavy. Blah. Blah. Blah. So don’t *bleep* carrying my bag.”
He fires back, “I didn’t complain!” Um, yes you did, Oliver.
And after another fiery exchange he says, “Just don’t complain for when I’m doing everything, ok??!!!” She’s not helping either, but the man is tired and says so. She should not have made him carry her heavy backpack. Obviously, Mai was thinking, “Oh The Amazing Race will be a fun time and I can make myself more famous by being on TV.” Well, the race is physically demanding and Mai is finding out that she has a lot of growing up to do. This is not for princesses. I can’t condone Oliver’s behavior either, but this has the potential to blow up even further the longer these two are in the race.
Back to the seven racers who will decide who is going home. Some arrive at the rice task, ready to pound some paste into rice balls. Most have started the task, but one team that is having trouble just getting to the task are cousins Neena & Amit. Their driver got lost, then they got directions pointing them in the wrong way. This leads to their downfall.
Over to the race detour, William & Isaac and Ida & Tania wisely choose to drive the buggies. Why more teams didn’t choose this task is beyond me. When I hear buggies or rice, I’ll go with the buggies. At the rice task, AD & Fuzzie and Niroo & Kapil decide to change tasks and race buggies. But those who stay, Vince & Sam and Natalie & Pailin finish their rice balls and head to the pit stop. Ida & Tania cross the finish at the race task and are next to head to the pit stop. Brothers William & Isaac are the next to get their clue as they finish the race detour. And while they leave, Neena & Amit are just arriving, which is not good.
Vince & Sam step on the mat next, but because they did not pay their songtel driver, they cannot check in. So they have to run back to the gate.
To the race detour, Niroo & Kapil and AD & Fuzzie have buckled into their buggies are on the dirt track.
Back at the public gardens, Vince & Sam pay their driver, but she’s not happy with them. Ida & Tania arrive and they jokingly ask for a porter to take their heavy backbacks (again, pack light!). Because of their mistake with the driver, Vince & Sam lose two spots as Ida & Tania are checked in 5th and William & Isaac are awarded 6th place. Vince & Sam are officially in 7th.
Leaving the race task in 8th place are Neena & Amit, but their adventures to the pit stop are just beginning. AD & Fuzzie and Niroo & Kapil appear to be in the race for last spot to remain in the race. As they head for the pit stop, AD points out her pouch is dirty and gives a mock cry. I think she was faking that, but some who have watched feel she lost it at that moment, but I think she was joking.
However, not appearing clueless are AD & Fuzzie as they reach the mat in 8th place and safe for another week.
But not safe are Neena & Amit who keep asking for directions and are constantly pointed to the wrong way.
Niroo & Kapil aren’t getting much help either as their songtel driver stops to get gas.
Neena & Amit finally stop at a tourist information center to find out where the gardens are and have the person there tell the driver where it is.
Niroo & Kapil’s driver appears to be taking his sweet time filling the songtel’s tank. But they manage to get to the gardens and father & son are checked in 9th, barely hanging on.
And bringing up the rear after leaving the Caltex Bus Wash on the first bus so many hours ago are Neena & Amit and they are promptly eliminated. And Paula’s look says it all. Neena & Amit were good, but as we have come to find out in the race, if you get a bad driver, it can really get you in trouble and that’s what happened here.
So the final order of finish:
1. Mai & Oliver – winners of US$5,000 from Standard Chartered Bank
2. Geoff & Tisha
3. Henry & Bernie
4. Natalie & Pailin
5. Ida & Tania
6. William & Isaac
7. Vince & Sam
8 AD & Fuzzie
9. Niroo & Kapil
10. Neena & Amit – eliminated
Coming up next week: