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Monday January 14, 2008 3:49 pm

The Amazing Race 12: “Sorry, Guys, I’m Not Happy to See You”

The Amazing Race

Since the racers had traveled a whopping 4,000 miles to get their last pit stop, the producers of decided to stick with Osaka, Japan for just a little while longer.  To start the 10th leg of the competition, the teams had to first travel by taxi to the the building ‘with the hole in it’ (the Umeda Sky building).  Once there, they had to locate the ‘Floating Garden’.

The first three groups (Christina/Ronald, Nate/Jen, Nicolas/Donald) kicked off the race within minutes of each other.  Standing by were TK and Rachel.  The losers in last week’s non-elimination round had to wait a whole three hours before they could proceed.  Luckily for them, access to the garden wasn’t available until 10am —approximately three hours after this leg started.  In other words, a huge chunk of time had already been erased for the hippies before the day had even begun.

Once the teams had pinpointed the Floating Garden (actually located on top of the Umeda building) and the first clue box, they were given their next set of travel instructions:  they now had to fly approximately 1000 miles away to Taipei, Taiwan.  Hoping to beat TK and Rachel out of the country, the first three groups raced to the airport.  Meanwhile, the hippies - who had now reached the Umeda building - were having difficulty locating the ‘garden’.  After wasting time searching the grounds, they later walked right past the yellow and red marker upstairs.

Shortly after entering the airport, Christina and Ronald noticed that there was an EVA Air flight leaving for Taipei @ 1 PM.  Realizing that Nate and Jen were nearby, Christina then asked the ticket agents to tell any inquirers that the flight was full.  Whether they had to lie or not, that’s exactly what the EVA employees ended up doing; the now frustrated and bickering couple were forced to look elsewhere. Fortunately, they were able to get seats alongside Nicolas and Donald on a 1:15 PM China Air flight.

Once in Taipei, the duos had to get through immigration before hitting the road. Instead of getting directly in line, Jen thought she and Nate should work on exchanging their money first.  She later regretted that decision when she realized how backed up the wait was.  When the birthday girl and her beau finally lined up, they were served a big surprise.  Not only were they now behind Nicolas and Donald, they were positioned after TK and Rachel.  The hippies had somehow managed to catch up.  After leaving the airport, Jen was still worked up about TK and Rachel’s progress.  The seething competitor wished she could rip the dreads out of TK’s head.  (With our without a candle, she should have known that wish would never come true.  She said it out loud.)  Her annoyance only grew when she had to face the hippies (and the grandfather/grandson) on the same train to Taichung.

Christina and Ronald – who had at least a 15+ minute lead on the other teams – were already en route to the Taipei Main Station.  From there, they had to travel by high-speed rail to Taichung then take a taxi to the town of Jiji.  After arriving at ‘Acrobatics Jeep’, they were handed their next Road Block.  For this section of the race, one person from each team was forced to endure a ‘tricky ride’.  The racer first had to sit calmly while a stunt driver rocked their vehicle on a giant teeter totter 25’ above the ground.  After the elevating experience, the lucky participant then had to test their lungs below.  While riding in an amphibious car, the passenger had to hold their breath while being driven underwater for 17 seconds.

Since participation in the Road Block was based on a first come, first served basis, it was critical for the teams to arrive in a timely fashion.  Successful cab wrangling outside the train station helped TK and Rachel come in second; they were followed by Nicolas (“I Want To Shave TK’s Beard Off)/Donald then Nate/Jen.  (Ronald and Christina had already completed their task by the time the other groups had shown up.)  Following their stints as backseat drivers, the duos then had to travel by rail back to Taipei and locate the GK Teahouse.  Unfortunately, it was now time for the hippies to perform their extra Speed Bump.  Before they could get on the next train, TK and Rachel had to travel to a field 1 mile away and take part in a traditional Chinese ritual performed during the lantern festivals.  After putting on safety suits, the couple had to run while a gauntlet of fireworks were being aimed right at them.  Once finished, they would then be doused with water before moving on with the race.

Christina and Ronald made it back to the station in time to catch the 7:16 PM ride out of Taichung.  At this point, they knew they would have at least a 20-minute lead on the other groups since that was how often the train departed.  Despite reaching the station at approximately 7:30 PM, Nate/Jen and Nicolas/Donald were denied passage on the 7:36 PM train.  (Apparently it was not possible to print out tickets fast enough.)  This meant they now had to wait until approximately 8 PM to leave (45 minutes after the father/daughter duo.)  The delay also gave the hippies a chance to catch up—- which they did.  Now the teams at the back of the pack were officially on equal footing again.  Cue another Jen bitch session:  “I can’t handle this anymore.  I just don’t understand why we are working so hard.  TK and Rachel just slack off and they caught up to us.  It’s just stupid.”

After exiting the train, the teams made a mad dash toward the taxis.  Nicolas and Donald, who took off in a different direction than the other two couples, wound up having the slight advantage.  The grandfather/grandson pairing found their way to the teahouse after Christina and Ronald had already left.  Thanks to a lost driver, Nate and birthday girl ended up arriving fourth behind TK/Rachel.  Once they had consumed ther teas, the racers found a clue written in Chinese on the bottom of their cups.  The translated instructions directed the teams to the Gong Guan Night Market where they would find a ‘happy clown’.  He would provide the details for their next Detour.

For this portion of the race, the teams had to choose between Fire or Earth.  In ‘Fire’, the pairs had to make their way to a park where they would participate in a mystical Chinese ritual.  After writing messages of luck, they had to burn spirit money under 20 lanterns.  The fire would fill the lanterns with hot air and send them soaring in the air.  In ‘Earth’, the groups had to make it to a different park where they would walk barefooted back and forth along a jagged rock path.  Believing it was simply a mind over matter, all four duos chose to go the ‘Earth’ route; what they didn’t agree upon, was how to get there.  After being told that street traffic was bad, Jen broke from the pack and insisted she and Nate and get there via the subway.  Although Nate had a gut feeling a cab would be quicker, Jen refused to listen.  To make matters worse, they would also have to take a bus in addition to the subway ride.

LESSON OF THE DAY:  SUBWAY + BUS IS RARELY FASTER THAN ONE CAB RIDE.

Once they had reached Ximen station, Nate and Jen continued to fight over their next step.  Jen: ”You need to step up and make the decision. You’re the man.  Thanks a lot for ruining my frickin birthday.”    Nate:  ”All you do is freak out.  You’re the one who got us into this mess.”  Awesome.

Although TK/Rachel and Nicolas/Donald had already completed their Detour by the time Nate and Jen arrived, the two teams had some trouble finding a cab driver to understand them.  All they had to do at this point was make it to the pit stop, but they were now starting to lose valuable time.  Since it was obvious Christina and Ronald were going to get their second win a row, the goal was now to make it into the Final Three.

Unfortunately for Jen, Phil did not have a nice surprise waiting for her at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Plaza:  she and Nate were the last team to arrive.  Happy Birthday!  (TK and Rachel came in second; Nicolas and Donald placed third.)  The couple were now forced to go home without ever getting a single win during the whole race.  LOSERS: Nate and Jen.

Adding the cherry to the top of my sundae, Nate and Jen gave the viewers a nice show after the competition was over.  Instead of ending on a peaceful note, the two continued to argue…this time about the state of their ‘relationship’.

”We just freakin’ killed ourselves during it.  (I know Jen.)  And we didn’t even focus on our relationship. All we cared about was the race.”

Ahh…..isn’t love grand?

(For a status update on Nate and Jen’s relationship, click here.)
(You can review last week’s episode here.)

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