Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Racing and Rowing

Last week I wrote about visiting the same region of Vietnam as was on The Amazing Race in this post. This week's episode was even more amazing to me since they went to some of the exact same places we had been. The first clue was at a statue of Lao Tse in Hanoi. They had rigged the statue to say the clue out loud rather than have the contestants just pick up a written clue. This was easy to do because the park that this statue is in is used for morning aerobics every day at 5 am. Bright and early, dozens of women come out every morning to wiggle what they got to the latest pop tunes. It’s way more Jane Fonda than Tai Chi.

Then, as I predicted from the previews, the show went to Halong Bay, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The bay is littered with tall limestone islands that look like mossy dragon teeth. The racers had to climb one of the island rocks and then search for a clue inside a mammoth cavern that we had also visited.

At the detour, they had to either make a delivery to a floating village or pull up cultured pearl nets. Only one team went to the floating village, and it is truly entirely free floating. Each building is it's own boat or barge and none of them are on stilts. The village is in the middle of the sheltered group of islands and is only accessible by boat. If you look at the video, you can see one of the large tourist junks docked to one of the houses.

We didn’t see any pearl farms, but we did watch an elderly couple row around checking their fishing nets. The old man sat in the bow of the boat while the wife rowed. If you saw any of the Amazing Race episode, you will remember how hopeless most of these teams were trying to row the boat. I wish I had a video clips from the show that I could mash up with the footage I have of this lady effortlessly maneuvering the boat all by herself.

I’m always joking with my wife that since we like to travel, we should sign up as a team for The Amazing Race. She thinks that would be a ticket straight to divorce court. After seeing all the bickering angry couples on this episode, I’m inclined to agree.

Watching this episode really brought back fond memories of our trip to Vietnam. But I’m glad I went to Halong Bay as a pampered tourist rather than as an exhausted reality show contestant.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: Who would you take with you as an Amazing Race partner?


dykewife said...

i watched one episode when it was played while i was at the university. i was surprised that anyone who likes/loves each other would put each other through that. i can't help but think it would be better to do the show with someone you don't like. it'd force cooperation and it wouldn't be the epic loss of things fell apart as it is when the relationships do in the process of the quest for the win.

Anonymous said...

Like so many other "reality" shows, these teams are more or less cast for the program. So you know that somewhere during the interviews, the producers noticed some crack in the "we're so much in love" armor that they know is going to bust open like a pinata once the killer fatigue sets in (and remember, this season the travel is east-to-west, so the time zone thing is going to be worse).

To answer the question, I'd take my brother. Like another pair of brothers noted a couple of seasons back, "We're not here to decide whether or not we still want to be brothers." I think he'd be a riot to travel with and he shows these amazing (heh) flashes of insight that could prove useful.