Monday, October 17, 2011

We're Going To Bucket!

Derived from the Malay word bukit, the unfortunately named province of Phuket actually translates to "hill". And from a distance, this mountainous island with its white sandy beaches and lush forests, indeed looks just like a hill. A solitary, peaceful, harmless hill. But like the great storyteller Aesop once said, "Appearances are often deceiving." What may look innocent on the outside is sometimes gnarled and twisty on the inside. Crystalline blue waters can rush together and drown, gentle breezes can suddenly blow violent, and perky umbrella people can invert and attack. Throw 16 frantic Americans into the mix and you've got yourselves a carnival of chaos, a jumble of martini wishes and serial killer dreams... Welcome to Thailand, bitches! Let's recap, shall we?

As Team Snowbunny (Andy & Tommy) was the first team to finish, they are now the first to depart. Teams must fly to Phuket, Thailand and travel by taxi to a floating pier where they'll find their next clue. With last week's default win still swirling around in their brains, the Snowbunnies are eager to make a clean finish and win a legit first place. With a skip in their step and a jaunty clicking of their heels, the Snowbunnies take off and head to the airport with Team Gilligan (Laurence & Zac) hot on their heels. Once at the airport, the Snowbunnies quickly discover that there is actually no direct flight to Phuket and they'll have to fly to Jakarta first. In the interest of time, they book the earliest flight to Jakarta and decide to figure out the rest of their travel itinerary once they land. Seeing Team Gilligan scrambling for tickets to a land called "Fuckit", the Snowbunnies tell them to get an earlier flight to Jakarta at another ticket counter. As an evil sorceress sitting in my dungeon of delights, I again have to wonder why the Snowbunnies are so eager to help everyone. At first I thought it was to knock out a stronger team, but Team Gilligan are no flounderers. They're travel savvy, fit, and well-versed in all things nautical. Could it be that the Snowbunnies are just really nice guys? Pfft! Look, there's no crying in baseball and there's definitely no niceness in The Amazing Race. I won't have it!

Team Grammer (Jeremy/Kelsey & Sandy/Camille) is next to depart and with a toss of some diamonds, Camille exclaims, "We're going to bucket!" I think Bucket is located in the valley of Broom, south of the river of Mop, and east of the land of Dustpan. I've never been there before, but I hear it's lovely this time of year. It turns out Camille has never been there before either as she half excitedly declares, 'It'll be foreign to me." Camille may throw evil dinner parties and call all of her friends bitches, but it's her quirky ability to turn a phrase that I love the most. Words are like puzzle pieces to Camille and the way she pieces them together creates a trippy jigsaw of wonderment and joy. Yes Camille, foreign lands are foreign. Imagine that!

While Camille sits and dreams about all the duty free goodies she can get, Team Bert & Ernie (Cindy & Ernie) breathes a sigh of relief. You see, Bert scheduled a practice trip to "Pookit" Thailand earlier in the year and they're already experts in not only Thai cuisine, but traditional Thai folk dance. Ernie, especially, excels in the Silk Weaving Dance of the northern territories. Ever since Bert forced him to take a pan flute class, he's always had an affinity for bamboo pipe music.

So everyone arrives at the airport and all of the teams go ahead and book their flights straight through to Phuket. Meanwhile, Team Snowbunny and Team Gilligan are midflight giggling and sipping champagne over what an enormous lead they have. Not so fast sonny jims. Once they land in Jakarta, they discover that all flights to Phuket are already full. Having no choice but to book a connecting flight through Bangkok, Ginger, Mary Anne, Gilligan, and the Skipper too lose their lead and are now an hour behind all of the other teams.

Once in Phuket, all 6 teams are frantically leaping into cabs and heading to the floating pier. Through the thick of night, they whiz and weave through traffic. Some cabbies are subjected to abuse while others are gleefully cheered on from the backseat. Sipping my gin fizzy at home, I had a feeling that wherever these crazy racers were headed was going to be closed. I've watched enough seasons to know that if you land somewhere at nighttime, chances are you're sleeping in the gutter underneath the stars. And wouldn't you know it? The floating pier is closed for the night.

Camille takes one look at the "Closed" sign and immediately whips out a fluffy pillow encased in 500 thread count Egyptian Cotton along with her hand knit flax seed-filled eye shades. If Camille Grammer has to spend the night in the street, there's no reason she can't do it in style. Once she's changed into her silk jammies and fluffy slippers, she pulls a duvet out of the secret compartment of her backpack and begins the laborious process of steeping some chamomile tea using nothing more than a zippo and a thermos lid. The other teams around her are flitting about excitedly and murmuring to one another about how late Teams Snowbunny and Gilligan are, but Camille pays them no nevermind. In fact, she's spritzing the street with a lavender-scented spray and retrieving a travel ambien out of her bra. Camille might sacrifice a shower and stick her hair in a fetching side pony when a blowout isn't readily available, but no way will she skimp on sleep.

A new day dawns and with it a renewed spirit. The teams are pumped, Camille is well-rested, and everyone is ready to tackle an unnecessarily wobbly dock in search of their next clue. The dock itself looks like something out of an America's Next Top Model runway challenge rather than a working, functioning nautical apparatus, but, hey, that's what makes this challenge fun. Let's watch racers slip and slide their way to a broken ankle! Stoner #1 gets to the clue first and it's a Detour: Coral Reconstruction or Beach Preparation. In Coral Reconstruction, teams must construct a coral nursery and load it onto a kayak along with a tray of live coral. Paddling out to a buoy, they must dive underwater and strategically place their coral into the nursery. In Beach Preparation, teams must collect 20 chairs and 10 umbrellas with the corresponding sticker found in their clue and set them up to the exact standards of the beach club.

Team Snowbunny, Team Armani (Amani & Marcus), Team Fresh Prince (Justin/Carlton & Jennifer), Team Grammer, and Team Geritol (Bill & Cathi) choose Coral Reconstruction while Team Parent Trap (Liz & Marie) and Team Bert & Ernie choose Beach Preparation. The teams pile into their individual speedboats and it's a trash talking orgy of fun. Camille is reminiscing about her night's sleep while Marcus is making fun of Carlton for playing Titanic. Meanwhile, Bert is looking hungrily into Ernie's eyes (in French!) while Bill makes sure Cathi doesn't lose her dentures in the water. LizMarie and LizMarie pour acid on some friendly dolphins and off to the challenges we go!

Once everyone reaches the beach it's a hectic madcap romp hither and thither. In the hustle and bustle of the pandemonium, Team Gilligan gets all flustered and ends up at Beach Preparation instead of Coral Reconstruction so they decide to switch challenges. It turns out the Team Gilligan aren't the only seaworthy team in the race. The Twins are expert lifeguards and know the ins and outs of all things beach blanket-y. That makes me happy because hopefully, with those two psycho killers in a good mood, innocent Thai lives will be spared.

Unfortunately, Beach Blanket Bingo is much harder than it sounds and LizMarie ends up sprawled out under a pile of chairs. All we see are her little legs sticking out and a piece of a ponytail. LizMarie sighs with exasperation and digs LizMarie out. Ernie looks on and laughs at how wimpy those twins are. Silly girls should have taken a weight lifting class like he did. Meanwhile, Kelsey has gotten to work on the lincoln logs while Camille figures now is as good a time as any to work on her tan. She just happens to have a broad-rimmed sunhat and an assortment of swimsuits from the Hermes Resort Collection in her satchel. You gotta love her preparedness.

The Snowbunnies piece their nursery sculpture together quickly enough, but taking it out to sea proves to be quite the challenge. With gale force winds blowing, their tiny kayak bobs violently in the water. It's a good thing they're surfers though. They understand things like riptides, hanging ten, and starfish. They quickly place their chessboard of coral into the underwater nursery and are given the thumbs up and a new clue. Is there any way of stopping these guys short of a nasty staph infection? Team Fresh Prince isn't having the same kind of luck as they're both too busy throwing stuffed animals and Play-Doh at each other to work together. Team Armani works together well, but Marcus isn't a competitive swimmer (no way!) and it was difficult for him to stay underwater for any length of time.

Back on the beach, Kelsey isn't satisfied with the seaworthiness of his structure. Camille takes another sip from her martini and slurs, "Fuck it, let's go." Just as Camille is lazily sucking an olive off of a toothpick, the Snowbunnies pull in and receive a medallion. Teams must now travel 13 minutes by speedboat and locate the island featured on the medallion. With a high five and a sassy side step, the Snowbunnies speed off into the distance. If only the Twins could have the kind of luck those shaggy haired ne'er-do-well's have. Instead, we find poor LizMarie tangled up in a beach chair and LizMarie sharpening the base of her umbrella into a deadly spear. Oh no, not again!

A gaggle of locals are innocently sitting at the beach bar enjoying a cold brew and I immediately knew the inevitable... death. Those merry men had no idea when they woke up this morning that yellow-haired devil twins from America would leave their tropical paradise in a trail of blood and tears. The streams run red now in fair Phuket. The babbling brooks burble crimson. A tsunami is nothing compared to sweaty-toothed angelic looking girls with an insatiable bloodlust. One by one those giggly Thai men met their untimely demise at the end of a rainbow colored umbrella. Plop, plop, plop into the sand they went. Team Parent Trap may be crap at setting up beach chairs, but their spearing aim is unprecedented!

At this point in time, Team Fresh Prince have finally stopped pulling each other's hair long enough to actually pass the challenge and paddle back to shore. Sure, they were whacking each other with their oars the whole time, but they did it in such a way that propelled them closer to the beach. On their way back is when we see Camille tossing grapes into the air to catch in her mouth. Since she's completely ripped by now, she miscalculates the arc of her grapes and tumbles over the edge of the boat with her mouth wide open and a firm grip on her martini glass. Not only is her martini completely ruined (!), but she took the coral nursery with her and now it's floating in pieces all around the Grammer's yacht. Kelsey takes one look at his bride trying to scoop the martini back into her glass and makes the decision to switch Detours. Once on shore, Kelsey frantically starts collecting chairs and umbrellas while Camille set up a croquet set and wonders if anyone wanted to play with her. Ca-mille!

While Team Armani wasn't drunk or anything, the coral Detour proved to be much too difficult for them. Their nursery fell apart, the coral went flying, and their innocent little kayak sank to the bottom of the sea. By the time they doggie paddled back to shore, poor Marcus was exhausted. In fact, he's never been more exhausted in his entire life. I wanted him to sit down and catch his breath because he was totally freaking me out. Watching a big guy like that breathing that hard had me worried. Plus, he kept talking and talking and talking. I'm pretty sure I shouted "shut up!" at the screen. I'm not totally insensitive though. I shouted it with great worry and concern for his well being (and the oxygen in the atmosphere - seriously, he was hogging it all).

At this point, Kelsey has had just about enough of Camille draping herself all over the cabana boys. He yells, "Come here now!" She spits back, "Don't talk to me like that!" You tell him, Camille. If a rich lady wants to have a little romp with a strapping young lad, then she should be able to do it uninterrupted. Besides, isn't it happy hour yet? Drinks for everyone!

I wonder if the twins are old enough to drink because had they been floating on a cloud of tequila shots with Camille, they might not be in the state they're in now. Not only are there bodies scattered all around their beach chairs, but LizMarie has crumpled herself into a pile of tears. LizMarie kicks sand in her face and LizMarie shouts, "Stop it!" It was when an umbrella crashed down on LizMarie's head that I thought we might have our first twin on twin crime. Thick salty tears fell into the sand and LizMarie stood over LizMarie clutching one of her deadly umbrellas with fire in her eyes. I clutched my pearls (and a crucifix) until the diabolical gaze left LizMarie's eyes and breathed a sigh of relief when LizMarie dropped her deadly umbrella and went back to working on her beach chairs.

Speaking of working on beach chairs, Bert is doing a bang up job lining hers up. With a tape measure in her right hand and a T-square in her left, her chairs and umbrellas are lined up within a millimeter of one another. After Ernie raked the sand and Bert installed a koi pond and some chandeliers, it's no surprise that Bert & Ernie pass their task with flying colors and a gold star which makes it such a shame that they canceled their Maritime Navigation class that one time. Bert thought north was south and Ernie thought east was west and two hours later they pull up to a pier in Cambodia. Luckily for them, they speak Cambodian (Learning Annex Class!) and were able to get back to the Road Block in time to stay in fighting position.

At the Road Block teams have to climb up an island rock and retrieve their clue from a bird's nest. In addition to surfing and snowboarding, the Snowbunnies are also expert rock climbers (and lacrosse players and golfers and gymnasts) . Andy shimmies up the rock face like a spider monkey and gets the clue without breaking a sweat. With a few cartwheels and a back handspring, the unstoppable clowns spring into the Pit Stop in first place... again! This time they each win $5000 and I don't know what sort of deal their wives made before the guys left for the race, but those ladies are smart! Apparently, they're the ones getting all the prizes. I'll bet they have to do the joint rolling for next year or something.

Eventually, the other teams begin finishing up the beach chair task and everyone (save the twins) are en route to the Road Block. For the most part, the Road Block was a piece of cake for all of our teams. Hey, if Bill can do it, anyone can do it. It was leaving the Road Block and finding the Pit Stop that had everyone all jumbled. Gilligan and the Skipper, nautical geniuses, ended up sailing to Malaysia while Team Armani got so lost at the Pit Stop that they ended up letting several teams pass them by. In the end, we have Team Fresh Prince in 2nd, Team Grammer in 3rd (drinks for everyone!), Team Gilligan in 4th, Team Bert & Ernie in 5th, Team Armani in 6th, Team Geritol in 7th, and Team Parent Trap in last place. In the beginning of this leg there was something in the way Phil said, "The last team to arrive MAY be eliminated." I don't know what it was - a little sauciness, a little twirling of his moustache - but something tipped me off that this would be another nonelimination leg. Lo and behold, Team Parent Trap is safe! They live to kill another day.

So, what did you guys think of last night's episode? Will the Snowbunnies continue dominating? Will Team Gilligan ever live down the fact they got lost... AT SEA? Will Camille schtoop the pool boy? Comment it out bitches and have a great day!

Sorry this was shorter than usual. I was sans DVR this week and that crappy kept timing out. I finally had to give up and make some stuff up based on my notes. My apologies.