May 19 2006

Amazing Race 9, Episode 12 & 13

It took 9 races, but at long last, the Amazing Race hit Tokyo! Finally, a foreign city I know!

BJ & Tyler (AKA the Hippies) were the first ones out of the gate at 11:18 PM for the beginning of the final portion of the race. Opening their clue, they learned they were to travel 75 miles by taxi to the Royal Kraal. Once there, an elephant dressed in ceremonial gear would give them a T-Mobile Sidekick that contained their next clue. Once they got there, they saw the facility didn’t open until 4:00 AM, meaning all the teams would be together again.

Sure enough, Eric & Jeremy (the Frats) and Ray & Yolanda (RaY) caught up and they all entered together. Once they got their Sidekicks, they read them and discovered they would all be flying 7,000 miles to Tokyo! YES! Once there, they would get a car and drive in to Shibuya. Once there, they would watch the giant video screens for a hint to where their next clue was.

The Hippies made a mistake in thinking a Japanese airline would get them there faster, but they weren’t going to get in until 4:00 PM and RaY and the Frats were going to get in at 2:15 PM. The big advantage for the Hippies though was Tyler’s extensive past in Japan and his ability to speak the language. (I have since learned that the Hippies can speak 36 languages between the two of them) Once in Japan, the Frats got to their car and made it to Shibuya, but RaY got lost, so lost the Hippies bypassed them getting to the infamous intersection.

In Shibuya crossing, considered the busiest intersection in the world, the teams scanned the numerous giant video displays until they finally apotted the message “Find Hachiko”, a famous statue of a faithful dog that is known to just about everyone in Japan. Once they located the statue (not that far from where they were standing) they found a young Japanese man wearing a yellow & red scarf that gave them their next clue, the Detour for this leg.

In this Detour, Teams had to choose between Maiden and Messenger. In Maiden, Teams would travel seven miles by taxi to a Japanese garden and use a palanquin, a centuries old method of transporting Asian royalty, to carry a maiden one third of a mile to a tea ceremony. In Messenger, Teams needed to travel on foot 200 yards to a parking lot where they would pick up a pair of folding bikes and two messenger bags, each containing a parcel. Then, after assembling the bikes, they would to ride through the chaotic Tokyo traffic and deliver the packages to two separate buildings listed on each parcel.

I wasn’t shocked when the Hippies were the only team to take Messenger. I would have been torn, Tokyo street numbers aren’t sequential, but I still would have been tempted to take it. The Hippies flew through their task, and both them and the Frats finished before RaY even started. Once the teams finished, they were directed to go to Capsule Land Hotel Shibuya. You guessed it…the infamous hotel “rooms” big enough to lay in and nothing else. The teams were given departure times starting at 9:00 AM and every 15 minutes after that. The order was Frats, Hippies and RaY.

Starting at 9:00 AM, the teams departed with their clues telling them to drive 80 miles to Fujikyu Highlands, a popular amusement park at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The Hippies caught up to, and passed the Frats, yay for being able to know the language! RaY…yeah…they did bad. Lost again, a lost toll booth ticket and general slowness put them way behind the other two teams. As each team arrived they discovered a Roadblock:

“In this Roadblock, one Team member had to experience the adrenaline rush of three consecutive thrill rides: The Pizza, Denbo and Fujiyama. While coping with the rides, they also had to maintain enough composure to spot a man holding a sign with a message somewhere along the way on one of the rides. Once they completed the three rides, they would tell a park manager what message they saw to earn their next clue.”

During their rides, Tyler tried to convince Jeremy he had missed the sign they were looking for on the second ride, but he caught on. Everyone caught the sign on the third ride and got their clue directing them to the Pit Stop on Lake Yamanaka, seven miles away. They were to take swan shaped foot-peddled boats out to a popular tourist boat known as The Big Swan.

As the Hippies and the Frats arrived at the same time, we were treated to the awe-inspiring sight of a swan boat race…it was…interesting. The Hippies won and for coming in first they won T-Mobile Sidekicks with 3 years of service. As they stood on the mat together, the Frats whines about Tyler’s attempt at deception and how it was dirty playing. Oh…you mean like cancelling cabs? Guess that was clean. RaY came in third.

As the next leg, the last of the race, started, the teams learned they had to drop their cars off and fly 9,000 miles to Anchorage, Alaska. The Hippies took off at 12:18 AM and got back to the hotel where they had first gotten their cars. The bus to the airport didn’t leave for a few hours, so they asked the front desk if they had internet access they could use. They said they could go up to the second floor and use the computer room. Before they did, they asked the clerks to tell the other teams there was no internet.

The Frats arrived and asked for internet access, the front desk clerk said “Yes”, but then turned to “No” and seemed to no longer be able to speak English. The Frats thought it was odd, but just sat in the lobby. An hour later, after booking a flight online, the Hippies came walking in to the lobby and tried to play off that they got lost. The Frats seemed suspicious, but shrugged it off, but the front desk clerks were smiling from ear-to-ear.

The Frats booked a flight throguh Taipei, Taiwan once they were at Narita (my airport I fly through! So cool seeing places I know so well on the Race!). They really thought they had pulled one over the other teams, but they found later flights to Taipei that put them all on the same flight to Anchorage. Once there, they found marked cars and opened clues telling to drive 30 miles to Mirror Lake.

RaY got lost…again. I swear, those two have NO sense of direction. The Hippies and the Frats arrived at the same time and opened thier clues to discover their last Detour:

“In Drill It, Teams needed to use an auger to drill ten holes in Mirror Lake and then push a shack across the lake to cover at least two of the holes in order to set up an ice fishing camp. In Deliver It, Teams had to load a bush plane with medical supplies and, using a map to navigate, direct their pilot to an airfield to deliver the supplies to a first aid station.”

Small problem…the planes were grounded due to weather, so everyone was going to have to do Drill It. The Frats won int hat race, but not by huge leaps. Once the teams finished up here, they got a clue telling them to drive 26 miles to Kincaid Park, put on snow shoes and search the park for their next clue.

At the park, you could tell excitement was getting to the Hippies as tehy ran past the snow shoes three times before spotting them. The Frats got through this task fast, the Hippies were slow. Once they got their clues, they were instructed to fly back to Denver, Colorado and take a taxi 30 miles to Clear History Park in Golden, and search the grounds for a clue. The flight to Denver again equalized everyone, but oh well. It didn’t matter, RaY got lost…again. I wonder how they find their ways to work each day.

The clue at Clear History told them to travel six miles to Red Rock Ampitheater, the starting point of the race. I don’t ever remember the race ending where it began before, so this was kinda cool. The final challange involved running in to a field of 285 flags and finding the flags for each country they had visited on the race and putting them in the correct order that they went to each. The Frats were out of order and picking the wrong flags, the Hippies couldn’t find the Russian flag, but otherwise were in order. Once they figured out the Russia problem, they shifted the flags and were given the go ahead to head to the final pit stop.

After 59,000 miles, 10 countires BJ & Tyler are the winners of the Amazing Race 9!!!!


This is the first time a team I have rooted for since episode 1 has won the whole thing, and played a clean, fun game. The Frats came in second and RaY cam in third.

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