We last left off in Japan covered in mud and shivering from the cold. As Team Ass Burgers (Zev & Justin) are in first place, they're now the first to depart. The clue instructs the hairy twosome to fly to Lijiang, China and make their way to Jade Dragon Mountain to find their next clue. Zev is instantly upset as he's not a people person and, you know, there are a lot of people in China. Team Takei (Ron & Christina), on the other hand, are thrilled as they speak Chinese fluently and think this will give them an extraordinary advantage in the next leg. When Team Pee Pee (Kisha & Jen) opens their clue, all of the haunting memories of their last Chinese experience came flooding back. I just assumed they were upset with Jen's tiny bladder so naturally I expected Kisha to chuck all the water bottles out the window before Jen could take any sips, but it turns out Jen was more upset that she called Luke a bitch when he crashed into her at a clue box. Silly, if you ask me. I would have been upset at Margie for being a tattle tale. Did you see the twinkle in Margie's eyes as she signed, "She called you a bitch" to her son? She definitely took a sadistic pleasure in it. I think she's been hanging out with Jaime & Cara too much. Their evil is contagious.
Team Banshee (Kent & Vyxsin) get their clue and they're stoked. They've decided to approach this leg with PMA - Pre Menstrual Attitude. Anytime they're confronted with an obstacle, they'll collapse into a dyed black piles of tears. When facing a challenge like opening a car door or popping the trunk, they'll shake with the anxious uneasiness they feel within. When life gives them lemons, Team Banshee will squirt them into their own eyes, wince from the pain and then squirt again. They'll fight adversity with more adversity. It's a Cure album come to life. To watch Team Banshee attack the race with PMA is to sway side to side morosely in big black clunky shoes. And the tap drips/Drip drip drip drip drip drip drip drip
Teams simply have to drive themselves to the airport and board the one mandatory flight that leaves for Kunming, China the next morning. Easy. Cake. Level playing field. Well, one would think. Little do the other teams know that PMA is an unstoppable force that makes even driving to the airport a seemingly impossible task. There's woe and discontent whirling in clouds all around and, seriously, who can concentrate in a car full of raindrops? Definitely not Miss Vyxsin. The gray hopelessness that envelopes her is making it not only difficult to stop her mascara from running, but impossible to read either a map or a compass. Her tears make the arrows on the compass into blurry little daggers that bounce this way and that. East, West, North, East again, South... There's no earthly way of knowing/Which direction we are going So while every other team is boarding their flight out of Japan, Team Banshee continues to drive into the unknown abyss.
Teams arrive at Kunming and now they have to decide whether to take a train or a plane to Lijiang. Armed with their native language, Team Takei finds a guy with a laptop who helps them find an early train. The other teams don't discover the early train until 10 minutes after it departs thus pushing Takei into first place. Justin is a little miffed he missed the earlier train, but takes comfort knowing that Team Banshee is probably lost forever in the black hole that is Japan. Visions of pink and black swirling out into deep space dance like sugarplums in Justin's head. Sweet dreams sasquatch.
Meanwhile Team Takei has arrived in Lijiang and with a comfortable lead Ron can seek the local sustenance he's been craving. Like Bourdain and Zimmern before him, Mr. Ronald Hsu is a connoisseur of Asian street food. Chicken feet, beetles, goat testicles, crickets, squid... Ron loves it all. He's a moody foodie if you will. With full bellies and a bag of mushrooms for later, Team Takei arrives at the clue and discovers that the shuttle doesn't leave until the next morning. Christina groans repeatedly while Ron sits in the back and munches happily on his fungi.
Back at Kunming airport Team Banshee is slowly making their way back into the race. They're hours behind the other teams, but they have PMA on their side and no one can take that away from them. Creatures kissing in the rain/Shapeless in the dark again So while hope and eyeliner bring them together, forgetfulness and leaving their passports at a random ticket counter threaten to tear them apart. Fall fall fall fall/Into the walls/Jump jump out of time/Fall fall fall fall/Out of the sky Kent reprimands Vyxsin with a verbal tongue lashing and a threat of gunfire to her face ("Vyxsin, I'm going to shoot you.") while Vyxsin just covers her face while the animals cry. Droopy and depressed, the gruesome twosome manage to wallow their way onto an early morning flight where they hold fast to the hope that miracles happen everyday in The Amazing Race. After all they've endured and the cobwebs they've encountered, aren't they due a little miracle?
At this point all of the other teams have arrived at the shuttle bus so Ron hides his entomological smorgasbord in his pants and prepares to kick some Chinese ass. The teams are whisked away to Jade Dragon Mountain where they encounter a challenge: Yak Yak Yak. Teams have to saddle a yak and then ride it over a precarious section of the river. Team Cowpat (Jet & Cord) weren't yakking around as saddling anything with four legs is second nature to them. Mallory treated her yak like it was in the Rose Bowl Parade while Zev fell off and had the locals laugh at him. Ron was anxious to show off his vast knowledge of Chinese so he shouted "Xie xie" (pronounced sheh-sheh) to everyone he came into contact with. Now, I have a 3 year old niece which means I've seen an episode or two of Ni Hao Kai-Lan in my time. The first thing Kai-Lan teaches you is how to say thank you in Chinese - Xie xie. As I've I only ever seen Ron & Christina say "Xie xie" repeatedly I'm beginning to doubt they really speak Chinese fluently. I think they're just hardcore Ni Hao Kai-Lan fans.
After the stupid yak ride where no one was kicked in the head or tumbled down the side of a mountain, teams are instructed to ride a gondola and find Spruce Meadow. On the sprint to the gondola the teams begin to feel the effects of the altitude. I used to "winter" in Breckenridge and let me tell you, that altitude is an evil bitch I will never conquer. Your head hurts, you get nauseous and if you drink any alcohol whatsoever you run the risk of passing out. As I'm 1/5th gin, I've almost vomitted in the middle of a grocery store and did in fact pass out while getting dressed in my bedroom. I realize that sounds like a typical Saturday night, but I assure you it was not. The nausea and difficulty catching your breath is awful. Let's just say, you'll never see my ass at Machu Picchu or climbing Everest. I suspect that Team Ass Burgers might have been drinking in this challenge because both Zev and Justin shouted "Faster faster!" to the automated gondola.
Once at the top of Spruce Meadow teams encounter a Road Block. Apparently, back in the olden timey days a bunch of animals had a race and the order in which they placed in the race is now the Chinese Zodiac. Teams members must search among tens of thousands of hanging charms for the twelve animals of the zodiac. Once they've found their charms and put them in the correct order, they'll receive their next clue. Jen, Luke, Big Easy, Zev, an evil redhead and Christina begin the hunt for charms. Christina immediately starts chanting the zodiac in Chinese because apparently her mother made her memorize it as a child. I think you and I both know that Kai Lan must have a zodiac special at some point.
Dig, dig, dig, search, search, search... Team Banshee is now at the yaks! Miracles do happen on The Amazing Race! Don't tell Justin though or he won't be able to sleep softly anymore. So while the goths are off taming a yak, Mallory - without the benefit of speaking Chinese fluently or being a Ni Hao Kai-Lan fan - assembles her charms correctly and is now in first place. She tells Luke, who's been off to the side struggling with his charms, to look at hers and copy it. You know what? I'll bet if you go back and rewatch every episode of TAR with Margie & Luke in it, you'll find that they've received help in every single challenge. I swear those two never do anything on their own.
OK so once teams have assembled their charms, they have to catch a bus to Old Town Lijiang where they'll find an ancient prayer wheel and get their next clue. I crossed my fingers and hoped they'd have to spin the wheel and ask for a knife.
The other teams begin to finish up their charms and only Elmer Fudd (Zev) is left behind searching for his wabbit. Remarkably enough, Zev, clad in an Elmer Fudd hat has only one charm left to find and it's a rabbit. Oh, come on! What are the odds of that happening? If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was a bit written by Justin. The only reason I knew it wasn't a bit was when I saw something new and unfamiliar. It's called Justin's Devil Face. It's when eyebrows and beard become one and an evil grimace takes over his once happy mug. You see, out of nowhere Team Banshee showed up at the charm place and I swear I saw steam blow out of Justin's nose. He crossed his arms, paced back and forth, kicked some innocent Chinese children and yelled at Zev to "Hurry the hell up! Kent & Vyxsin are here!!!"
At this point the other teams are all catching their buses to the Golden Child prayer wheel. Ron & Christina, however, get inside something that looks like it's going to take you to your car in the Disneyland parking lot. It had no doors and it goes faster than 25 miles an hour. Christina begins to suspect that she's on the wrong mode of transport as she mumbles to herself "Buses have doors". Meanwhile Ron is losing, his. shit. His arms are waving this way and that, mushrooms are falling out everywhere, drool flying in the wind of the open air cart they're riding in... when Christina decides to jump out of the moving cart to stop a bus passing by. Bitch falls flat on her back while Ron is hurling profanities at anyone who'll listen to him. Finally, the cart stops and Ron leaps out and does what I thought only young Middle Eastern and Israeli men did - he starts throwing rocks at the passing buses. As if the scene couldn't get any weirder, the Globetrotters see Christina running in the middle of the road and they instruct their bus driver to stop. Now, I know a lot of you were really mad at the Globetrotters last week for accidentally taking Takei's fanny pack so I can't help but wonder if this random act of kindness on their part changes your opinion of them in any way? If it were me, I wouldn't have stopped my bus. In fact, I would have said, "Drive faster!" I was stunned - STUNNED! - that the Globetrotters stopped. Was it a karmic thing? Did they see Christina fall out of the cart? Were they scared of Ron's rocks? I have no idea, but I was blown away.
Once at Old Town Lijiang each teammate must locate his or her Chinese Zodiac, write a wish on a piece of paper and deposit it into the proper slot to receive their next clue. Mallory started writing a paragraph of wishes while Gary simply wrote "Win". Teams then encountered a Detour: Hammer or Horn. In Hammer, teams have to pulverize molten candy in the traditional method. In Horn, teams have to carry a huge ass ceremonial horn and lead dancers to the next clue. Most teams choose Hammer while the Globetrotters get stuck on figuring out what their zodiac sign is.
Back at the charm place, Zev is repeatedly putting his charms in the wrong order. Justin has bitten the head off a panda and Vyxsin is in the middle of a mental breakdown. She can't find anymore charms and it's all very upsetting to her. She can't think. She can't focus. The charms are all swirling before her in a blurry haze. She's run out of Midol and all she can do is collapse into a pile of tears and beg a passerby for some Ativan. Zev finally manages to figure out he had two goats instead of a horse and the panda population narrowly escapes extinction. Vyxsin, however, isn't faring quite as well. She's now making a noose out of her charms and looking for an appropriate place to hang herself. In the hanging garden/In the hanging garden
While on their way to pound some candy, Ron spots an open market. Xie xie! He decides that right now, in the middle of a Detour, with all the teams frantically racing around him is absolutely the best time to try some grilled delights. The fish is looking particularly fresh today and can't he just have a bite? "No daddy!", Christina screams. Ron remarks what a great deal the fish are. He may not see sale prices like this again. "No daddy!" After dragging her father through the market by the hem of his jacket, Chritina and Ron eventually make it to the Detour where Ron then proceeds to eat the very candy he's supposed to be pounding. "No daddy!" Ron's no dummy. You don't pass up free candy when in China. "This is good. Xie xie!" "No daddy!"
So while Ron is getting his sugar rush on, poor Vyxsin has lost her ever loving mind. She's dizzy and tired and confused. The charms, the charms, are everywhere. They haunt her soul. They tear apart her sanity. She can't escape the land of the charms...
At this point, the rest of the teams are finishing up the Detour and Margie & Luke actually finish in first place winning a trip to Aruba. They're followed by Team Cowpat, Team Christ, Team Takei, Team Pee Pee, Team Globetrotter and Team Ass Burgers. There is no time for celebration though as the race is still on. Ugh! My hopes of this being a truncated season are being dashed as quickly as Vyxsin's sanity is and we are given another To Be Continued ending with no team going home. Even though Kent's make-up is smeared and Vyxsin belongs in a padded cell, their nightmare is about to get even worse as they've lost their fanny pack somewhere back at the gondola.
So, what did you think of last night's episode? Will Team Banshee catch up just like Team Cowpat did in the first leg? Will Ron find more tantalizing treats in another part of China? Will Vyxsin ever be released from the mandatory 5150 that China put her in? Comment it out bitches and have a great day!
As penance for getting my ass kicked in Words With Friends by Jen from Team Pee Pee - and simply because she likes to gloat - Miss Jen Hoffman gets the title and the prime photo spot this week. Congratulations bitch!