The Reality TV Guru

The Amazing Race episode 5 recap, October 23, 2011.

Tommy and Andy ride a Thai elephant on The Amazing Race (photos courtesy of CBS)

Welcome to the fifth episode of The Amazing Race! With no eliminations last week, eight teams still remain in the race around the world.

This week’s Race begins in the morning with previous leg winners Andy & Tommy leaving a Thai island village at 10:07. Teams will take a local taxi (more covered pickup truck with benches in back) to the next destination where they will ride elephants up a hill to their next clue.

Both Andy and Tommy have biblical references marked on their belts. Andy is sporting Proverbs 19:2 which reads “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way” (New International Version) and Tommy has Thes 5:16 “Be joyful always”. They sure seem to be living (and racing!) by these words. Andy & Tommy reach the site of the elephant ride next to a mountain stream on a jungle hillside. The mount the elephant and make their way. Later, the elephant handler dismounts and lets Andy guide the elephant.

Meanwhile, Justin & Jennifer depart the Pit Stop at 11:01, almost a full hour behind the first-place snowboarders. They are followed by Jeremy & Sandy, Laurence & Zac, Ernie & Cindy, Amani & Marcus, Bill & Cathi and Liz & Marie. One by one over the next hour (except for Liz & Marie, who leave much later at 1:35), these teams reach the elephant site and begin their rides.

After Andy & Tommy finish their ride, they get the next clue. It is a Roadblock that requires a team member to search for a bundle on the bottom of a waterfall pool where a flutist is playing nearby. Tommy finds the bundle fairly quickly after a few dives and opens it up. Inside is a ceramic koi fish which Tommy breaks open to read the next clue. From there, teams will have to take a taxi to an outdoor spirit house shop, disassemble one of these structures and then deliver it to a temple to get their next clue.

Meanwhile, Justin & Jennifer finish their ride and Justin goes looking a bundle in the waterfall pool. Instead of diving in, though, he uses a stick to probe around. “I don’t see anything,” he says but he eventually finds one of the bundles. In the same order they left the pit stop, the other teams arrive to the waterfall pool task in bunches with several of them in the pool at the same time looking for the bundle.

Andy & Tommy complete disassembling the spirit house, deliver it and pick up their next clue. Now one of them has to reassemble the spirit house exactly as they found it! Tommy does this task. Tommy makes the remark, “It is interesting with the Buddhist temples, but God is greater than the temple.” Andy adds, “I don’t feel any weird vibes coming here. We know the one true God.” Saying this on temple grounds in the presence of people there seems to be rather disrespectful and even chauvinistic. Are they expecting everyone else to have the same beliefs and worldview they do?

Karma strikes as Tommy can’t remember exactly how the spirit house was originally arranged and keeps getting “No” as replies to his questions if he got it right. Now he has to go back to the outdoor shop to have another look at other spirit houses to see how they are arranged. “I should have paid more attention,” he says. Yup. Proverbs 19:2. He takes notes at the outdoor shop and then returns to arrange the spirit house properly. The next set of instructions have teams taking a bus 550 miles to Bangkok and then to the Bangkok Noi Canal.

Justin & Jennifer are next to the spirit house location. They wisely think they’re going to have to reassemble, so Jennifer snaps pictures of the spirit house on their taxi driver’s Nokia cellphone before they disassemble it. (Uh, oh, is this against the rules?) Jeremy & Sandy arrive there in third, followed by Laurence & Zac. Jeremy makes a drawing and takes notes of how the spirit house is assembled.

Justin & Jennifer finish disassembling the spirit house and deliver it. Jennifer reassembles it, saying, “It may not be the same religion as mine, but it still warrants respect. I wouldn’t want anyone disrespecting my crosses or anything like that.” Her attitude is a pleasant contrast to that shown by Andy & Tommy towards the spirit house and temple. She assembles the spirit house properly and they’re off in second place.

Without notes, Zac is having trouble remembering how the spirit house was assembled and keeps getting rejected. He needs to go back and take notes like Tommy did. Laurence is not pleased, saying it’s something he “could have knocked out pretty well” himself and calls it “a pain in the a**.” Jeremy, on the other hand, gets it right the first time using his notes, putting him and Sandy in third place.

Meanwhile, Liz & Marie are clear back in last place and have to do the Speed Bump. They have to spend time to help clean up elephant dung and then wash the elephants. In spite of being behind everyone else, they seem to be making the most of it, enjoying themselves with each task. They love the elephants and note that the dung doesn’t smell so much.

Back at the temple house shop site, Amani is taking notes on how it is assembled even though the instructions don’t explicitly say that they’ll have to reassemble it later. Ernie & Cindy skip the notes and quickly disassemble theirs. This comes back to bite them as Ernie ends up having to return to take notes to reassemble the temple house properly.

Andy & Tommy, Justin & Jennifer, Jeremy & Sandy and Laurence & Zac all reach the bus station and book a 4:30 ride to Bangkok, 13 hours away. The taxi ride to get there was expensive and some of them are almost already out of funds. Laurence & Zac end up on later first-class bus than the other teams. We’ll see if first class gets them there any quicker… and it doesn’t. They think they’re on the wrong bus and dismount from the bus on the way to Bangkok and end up stranded on the streets. Whoops, that’s not the place to be. They end up hoofing it back to the bus station. They then order tickets for a second class bus at 8:00 with the notion that they’re not allowed by Race rules to take a first-class bus.

Ernie finally gets the spirit house assembly correct as 7th place Bill & Cathi arrive. Bill gets it right the first time with some notes. Ernie & Cindy reach the bus station but then get into a squabble with the taxi driver over the payment of 4,500 baht for the fare. They try to give him US $100 but he won’t accept it. A lady intervenes and tells Ernie that they have to pay the driver in baht currency, then she threatens to call the police telling them that they’ll need to pay him $150 if it’s in U.S. currency. Ernie gets angry and tells the guy, “You’re a terrible driver.” What? All the guy was expecting was to be properly paid! Cindy later explains that “it was not our finest hour. That behavior is not acceptable in our lives.”

Liz & Marie have a similar problem when they reach the bus station. A bus is about to leave, but they don’t have enough money on hand to pay the taxi driver that got them there the full fare. They end up missing the bus. “This is a nightmare.” In a stroke of good fortune, the driver will take what they’ve got and then tells them to get in the taxi so he can catch up to the bus and get them on it.

It turns out some buses run quicker than others (especially an express bus) and Ernie & Cindy are the first to arrive in Bangkok. The other teams soon arrive and they’re all taking taxis to the Bangkok Noi Canal. Ernie & Cindy complete the task to feed the fish at the canal and make their way to the Pit Stop at the M.R. Kukrit Heritage Home. Taking various buses and taxis reshuffles the team order and Bill & Cathi are running in second place after feeding the fish at the canal, with Amani & Marcus right with them in third.

Traffic is horrendous in Bangkok (it can take half a day to travel through the city) and Ernie & Cindy get anxious about reaching the Pit Stop. They decide to leave the taxi and hoof it, thinking it will be faster than sitting in a mostly stationary taxi. Oops.

Bill & Cathi and Amani & Marcus are in a pair of taxis that seem to have found a quicker route around the traffic jam and they reach the entrance to the Heritage Home at almost the same time. Amani and Marcus reach the mat with Phil welcoming them, “You are team number one!” Marcus & Amani jump for joy, just as Bill & Cathi walk up in second. Ernie & Cindy appear in third and look happy with that.

Out of money, five hours taxi ride away from Bangkok Noi Canal, Liz & Marie decide to walk the distance. Out of principle, they choose to not to “walk up to people and beg that did not already have money.” They walk a long way and encounter a taxi driver standing outside his car. They tell him they don’t have any money, but would he give them a ride? Surprisingly, he agrees. Maybe it’s the Amazing Race camera operator practically begging for a ride, too! After all, following these gals around with all that video and sound gear must be tiresome.

Andy & Tommy continue to get the karma treatment as they ask for directions to the Heritage Home. They hand over their clue to a lady to give someone else in a building for directions and then she returns saying her colleague is busy teaching, please have a seat and wait. Andy says it’s “God’s will” (Ok, so it’s not karma) that they’re waiting when they should be racing. Finally, a guy appears to give them directions and off they go.

Justin & Jennifer arrive to the Pit Stop mat in fourth place. Justin says, “We were hoping for first place, but we will take four.” Later, Andy & Tommy reach the mat in fifth place, with Laurence & Zac arriving at the same time in sixth. Phil clarifies the Race rules with them, telling them that first-class prohibitions only apply to air travel, not to other modes of transportation. Oops, they’d been better off staying on that first class bus the previous night after all.

Jeremy & Sandy are the next to have a misadventure as they near the Heritage Home and are told that they are within walking distance. Sandy seems skeptical about walking it without any guides, “Are you sure?” she asks Jeremy. Later they ask another taxi driver how far it is and he tells them half an hour. They realize they’ve made a mistake and board his taxi. Meanwhile, Liz & Marie finish the fish feeding task and then approach some taxi drivers asking for directions to the Heritage Home and telling them they have no money. One guy offers to help and gives them a free ride.

In spite of their delays, Jeremy & Sandy reach the Pit Stop in seventh place. Liz & Marie are the last to arrive and are eliminated from the Race. They’re in tears and say that their dad passed away earlier in the summer and that they were doing the Race in tribute to him. He’d be proud of them. Go, you, girls.

Next week, a tough physical task and a call for help. Stay tuned!

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