The Twinkie Times

The life and times of a Chinese American. Born a Jersey boy, lived the expat life, attended boarding school (Lawrenceville), converted to a frat boy (Sigma Pi), got an MBA (Columbia), returned to China, and back to the East Coast now trying to carve out an identity and life as an Asian American dad (gulp) in the midst of a "tertial life crisis" ©

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry TwiXmas

As we bust out our Santa hats, flip-flops, and shorts for this unseasonably warm Christmas Eve on the East Coast, we wanted to wish all of our friends and family a Happy Holidays and a healthy and successful New Year.  2015 has been nothing short of life-changing for us, oftentimes indescribable the mixed emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, despair, and hope.

We have the utmost respect for all parents now so as we prepare to ring in 2016, we wanted to say a big thank you to Mama Su, Mama Lau, Papa Lau, and all the generations before us for raising us and paving the way for us in our journey from adulthood into parenthood.

Please enjoy this short 2-minute video and fun holiday message:

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Casa del Twin,
Not a creature was stirring, not even Calvin

The stockings were hung by the fireplace with care,
In hopes that the babies would not wake with a scare

The boys were snuggled in cribs each in their room,
Lucky us, let the Walking Dead binge-watch resume

When from the baby monitor there arose such a clatter,
The parents sprang from the bed to see what’s the matter

Peter was awake, such a happy little guy,
Toothless grin and round face like a Smiley Fry

Noah was sitting up, all giggles galore,
Laughing even when Calvin has a midnight accident on the floor

The boys had now learned how to stand,

But they were too scared to fall down and land

A bit of soothing & shooshing then cry it out:  just let them
Anyways our day would soon start at 4:30 A.M

Oh, the babies first Christmas, what a lovely sight
Happy holidays to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ready or Not, Here We Come

So I just celebrated my last birthday as a MNK (married no kids).  I am happy to announce that after many trials and tribulations, we are expecting. And of course, it is not like us to do anything half-assed, so it is not one but two babies . . . BOOM

Apparently, the little ones were first the size of poppy seeds,
then sesame seeds so we joked about making our own little everything bagels.  As we enjoy this quiet time of television watching and once-a-week laundry cycles, we have been looking for a bigger place to live since our household size will double in March.  There is a mix of emotions as I balance the relief and joy of getting to this point with the terror and uncertainty of what to expect.  I find myself woefully unprepared and reading "daddy books" seems fruitless.  Instead, for practice, I should set two different alarms on my phone for 2 AM and 4 AM nightly, go upstairs and then listen to Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody" on repeat.  The alarm names could be Twin 1 and Twin 2.

All joking aside, we feel very blessed and eagerly await parenthood.  And just like R-Fed, we are happy to be having two peas in a pod.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Beginnings

So I took a brief hiatus from this blog as we had a lot of things on our plate. First, we had to make a rather hasty return to the United States and bid adieu to Shanghai as well as part ways with my cute little nephew, sister, and brother-in-law.  The return to NY was prompted by the need for Jenn to undergo radiation treatment (flashback to Feb 2011) in this very high-tech Star Trek-looking device:

Luckily, that went off without a hitch and other than some side-effects of the steroids during the radiation therapy and the obligatory hair loss, it was relatively uneventful.  We quickly settled back into our old condo & routine and before we knew it, Jenn was working in the city again and life had returned to some semblance of normalcy.

However, I had returned to a similar position when we had first departed for China (flashback to May 2011) and so it felt in some ways like taking a step backwards.  It was not long before I contemplated trying something different; after all I had been with the same company for 14 years upon graduating from college.

The job search process can be very emotional.  It is essentially like another full-time job that entails hours of research, constant follow-up, and rigid organization.  There were many ups & downs and after tapping my personal network, trying different headhunters, and joining it seemed as if I was destined to remain at my current company.  But just when it seemed like all hope was lost, two amazing things happened within weeks of each other.  Many people say that when you apply to jobs online via a company's web-site that it goes into a "black-hole" so I was absolutely thrilled when I got a callback.  Things moved very quickly and before I knew it, I was flying out to Mountain View for final round meetings.  To-date that was the most intense and difficult 4-hour interview I have ever endured but it was also thought-provoking and I enjoyed meeting everyone there.  Although the circumstances and the location did not work out for us, it was around the same time that another opportunity presented itself via a reference from a former colleague.

Again, things moved very quickly and within weeks, I was in final negotiations for the precise details of the offer.  It has now been almost exactly 2 months and this is how I feel:
(the picture is actually from the Battlefrog Race: a 5K obstacle/mud course designed by Navy SEALS)

I am trying something completely different and it has been non-stop busy since day one but I am learning a lot and enjoying it so far.  I have done more Powerpoint in the past 6 weeks than in my first 10 years at my first company and now my dreams consist of Excel and Flowcharts instead of SQL and Production outages.  I miss my former colleagues with whom I had formed very strong bonds but those are friendships which will continue to cross corporate boundaries.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Team SU Reunited

It's been quite busy in Shanghai since my sister, brother-in-law and 3 year-old nephew moved here.   We are enjoying ourselves and have migrated our blogging skills over to Tumblr since it is not blocked by the Great Firewall (GFW).  Check out my more succinct chronicle at or my sister's blog at

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Monday, December 10, 2012

HK: H & H IV

An archive of previous Adventures:
Part I: Tokyo
Part II: Japan
Part III: Shanghai

This time, Henry visits Hoa in Hong Kong for a boys weekend of epic proportions.  Asia is great because traveling is generally quite efficient and convenient.  I was greeted at the Airport Express train station by Hoa since it happens to be connected to our new office in Kowloon and we headed back to his apartment together.  I was still recovering from a cold so I had the occasional cough or sneeze all of which were met with icy stares and masked eyes.  They are very sensitive to H1N1 or avian flu in HK so any sign of the slightest sniffle and I felt like I was patient zero.  In contrast, during my subway ride to the MagLev on the Shanghai side, a mother was pushing her stroller past me and hocked a loogey right on the train by my feet.  Other than my mouth dropping open, nobody batted an eye.

On Friday we had a whirlwind day at the office.  It was my first time in the brand new ICC tower and I was blown away by the complexity of the new double-decker smart elevators.  Hoa was explaining to me that none of them have any buttons for the floors and when you swipe your badge it is programmed to know what floor you are going to so it will group you with others to maximize efficiency.  The two opposite elevator banks would also alternate going up or down to leverage the physics of a massive pulley system.  Once inside your moving metal box, it is even more disconcerting when it stops all of a sudden and the robotic concierge tells you that someone is getting on the elevator in the upper level.  It seemed incredibly complex and all of my coworkers that I spoke to complained about how you have to budget an extra 10 minutes anytime you need to transfer floors for meetings.

It was great to catch up with old colleagues and chat with others who had previously only been a voice on the other end of a conference call.  After work we met up with our other good friend Joey who had recently moved back to HK from Shanghai and set off for Macau.  All of our significant others were out of town which is why this was the perfect storm for a guy trip.  Traveling to another country had never been so quick and easy.  We bought tickets for the ferry, quickly passed through customs, and found our seats on the jetfoil.  In 50 minutes I was greeted by the bright neon lights of casinos equivalent to the Asian Atlantic City.  Since Macau was a former Portuguese colony, it has a lot of European architecture and influence.  We hopped on a city bus and explored the sites a bit.  Luckily, Joey was like a walking GPS and although he had only been to the city a handful of times, he was able to navigate us around and immediately knew which stop to get off at for the center square because he recognized a certain tiled wall.  We enjoyed the Feliz Navidad decorations and bought a bunch of Macau snacks and beef jerky as souvenirs.

Next we took a tour of all the mammoth casinos.  They have most of the big players that you would expect: Wynn, Sands, MGM, and Venetian.  Almost all of the rinky dink hotels also had their own smaller casinos and the Lisboa had two huge establishments which I assumed was a Portuguese company.  The older Casino Lisboa was the home of a unique sight that was famous err perhaps notorious.  In one of the shopping malls attached to the casino there was a 'racetrack' for chickens (a Chinese phonetic euphemism for prostitutes).  Just like Las Vegas, this sin city of the East is also home to its fair share of street-walkers but in this case, it is a circular parade of beautiful women in tight dresses of every color of the rainbow strutting back and forth through the shopping mall.  To your right, a fruit shop where you can buy some pears or a watermelon, to your left, a silk shop selling everything from ties & scarves to traditional Chinese gowns.  And all along the corridor in between was a stream of cleavage and make-up looking bored as can be walking back and forth in an endless loop.

After gawking for awhile, we decided to head over to a spa to get a massage.  For most of these places, you pay an entrance fee and then food and drink are included while your massage is deducted from your balance.  The facilities were very clean and you can just relax in your robe on lounge chairs or try one of the many whirlpools, the sauna, or the steam rooms.  You could play checkers, cards, or mahjong and they even had a decent selection of DVD's with portable players.  We opted for some tea and then loosened up in the hot tub a bit before getting some dinner.  I'm a sucker for marketing so I tried the 'Portuguese' fried rice which was essentially fried rice with some weird mystery meat.  We asked what the 'Soup of the Day' was and they replied, "soup" so I guess we were probably expecting too much from the kitchen and staff.  After our massage we passed by the casino's again and considered stopping by to gamble a bit but since I could barely see through the haze of smoke and almost every table was baccarat, we decided to head back to Hong Kong.  At the ferry terminal we enjoyed some po-tarts or Portuguese egg tarts which are like the normal dim sum treats but flame seared on top like creme brulee.

On Saturday we slept in and took advantage of the nice afternoon weather to play some volleyball in the park.  I had never seen public volleyball courts on converted tennis courts before but right in the center of Causeway Bay there was a sprawling section of concrete soccer, basketball, and volleyball courts.  After dinner we headed to Blackbird Lounge where Joey knew they had a nice rooftop desk.  Our other friend Tammy was also in town for business so we enjoyed catching up while making fun of the strange mix of clientele which included a group of 50-year old women sporting tiaras.  Next stop was Brickhouse, a hidden Mexican joint in Lan Kwai Fang, which is like Sanlitun in Beijing, or Bleecker St. in the Village.  It was as if Tammy had been transported back to Williamsburg because it had the same hipster vibe as Brooklyn.  We met up with some other former NY friends there but then decided to retire for foot massages (translation: 60-minute naps)

Sunday saw us temporarily join the ranks of the yacht people.  We met Joey at the yacht club for a very nice lunch outside overlooking the harbor before we took his sweet boat out for a cruise.  That was probably the nicest watercraft I have ever been on and he took us on a leisurely cruise out to Sai Kung.  At Clear Water Bay, we slowly drifted around the marina looking at other boats and Joey excitedly pointed out different makes and models.  For Tammy and I, we could hardly tell the difference and I suppose for some guys, these big bad expensive toys are like bags for women.  I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a Goyard or a Chloe either.  We took turns driving the boat back to HK and it started to rain quite heavily as we pulled into the dock.  Hoa had already organized a 4 hour volleyball tournament at night so we went to a local shop to buy some mops in case the courts had big puddles.  Of course by the time we showed up, it had already stopped raining so we looked retarded carrying 4 mops and 2 golf umbrellas between the two of us.  Regardless, we had a great time playing ball and us two old men were incredibly sore on Monday morning.  I left the HK office at 11:30 am and then rolled into the Shanghai office at about 5 pm to finish up my day.  All in all, a great long weekend.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

End of the Road

What an Adventure . . .

So the last episode is finally upon us (we get some cameos at the end).  I will not provide any spoilers and for those who have actually watched the whole season, I hope you enjoyed it and are as pleased as we were with the winning team.

What a fun ride and although I wish we had made it a little longer or even to the finals, it was still an amazing experience and we are grateful to have been part of this season of the show.

Anything else I might write would not do any justice to the incredible summary and photo-collages that Khai Shing put together here.

For the airing of the Finale, ICS used my hook-up to arrange a party at the Shanghai Brewery.  It was jam-packed and they almost would not let us upstairs even though Jenn, Brandon, and I were on the show!  However, after some smooth talking, the cover was waived and we were greeted by adoring fans.  We were even asked to sign some autographs (4 to be exact).

It was great to see some of the other teams (Trainers, Yelin, Father/Daughter, Harvard, Brandon), the cameramen, production crew, and directors there.  From what I can remember of the night, I had a great time - from pre-gaming at Zapata's with pitchers of margarita, to the Shanghai Brewery Finale party, onto the after-party at Camel Bar, all the way to bowing to the porcelain god.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Episode 7: Swan Song

*SPOILER ALERT* - please watch Episode 7 above before reading below

"Su Chef"

We started off the day in great position.  Despite being on the second bus, we made good time and actually arrived in Nanjing before the first bus.  After we found a taxi, we were quite excited to be headed to the Hilton since we mistakenly thought we might be staying there that night given their sponsorship of the show.  The clue says something about "slice and dice" and at home I am always the sous-chef that helps wash and chop all the vegetables so we decide that I should do it.  Unfortunately, it ends up being a cooking challenge and that is definitely not my forte.  I can barely tell the difference between a cucumber and a zucchini and other than boiling pasta am a pretty slow cook.  Luckily with Jenn's help, I was able to pick the right ingredients and seasoning on my 3rd try and ended up being the first male to complete the challenge.

Famous Historical Nanking

We were very excited to be in the former capital of Imperial China and were looking forward to visiting some of the famous sites such as the City Wall, Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, or numerous Temples/Gardens.  Instead we find ourselves at a railway factory and I tried to get excited since I thought we would get to operate some heavy machinery like forklifts and what not but alas we used granny carts to haul scrap metal over a total length of 4.5 miles in a stuffy warehouse wearing thick uncomfortable uniforms.  Jenn tells me that she has a splitting headache (probably a combination of dehydration and lack of circulation in the warehouse) so she balks at running.  Instead we teased the Harvard team on always being so serious and how they should smile more often.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

As we finished our last lap of transporting scrap metal, we could see the Taiwanese Models working on their task and we were very curious what the 'Screw This' challenge was.  We departed the railway factory at about the same time and made our way to the Zhening Tower.  The Models beat us to the tower but we ran into them outside the elevator.  They gave us some gloomy high-fives and then when we got to the clue box we saw why.  We had been Yielded by the Fiancés!  Well this gave us an excellent opportunity to rest and recuperate since Jenn was still not feeling well and both of us were starving having just walked over 4 miles.  I had spotted a KFC at the base of the tower so I ran back down to buy us a snack.  Our cameraman was also hungry and nobody had gotten an opportunity to eat yet so I bought burgers for everyone.  Once the Yield was done and the hourglass had run out we opened the clue to see what was next.  Uh oh.  We had to spin like astronauts at the University of Aeronautics!  Maybe KFC was not a good idea after all.  Damn you Colonel Sanders and your enticing secret recipe!

Top Gun

It was rush hour in Nanjing so it was very difficult to find a cab.  I suppose this added time helped our digestion since I can almost guarantee I would have thrown up if we had spun immediately.  We finally made it to the University and there was a platoon of soldiers waiting for us.  They strapped us into what looked like giant hamster wheels and started spinning us.  Jenn was laughing so hard and she later tells me that a rock flew into her mouth.  They showed us 10 pictures of different aircraft and we had to identify them out of a total of 20.  Our heads were still spinning so of course we got it wrong.  I was really dreading going back on the wheel but we were determined to complete this challenge and this time we decided to divide & conquer with Jenn memorizing the first 5 pictures and I would take the last 5.  This strategy worked and we got it right the second time.  We do the Top Gun high-five and head to the Danger Zone (ie. Olympic Stadium).


We walked to the center of the stadium to meet Allan Wu.  It was an amazing feeling to walk onto the field and it gave us a small impression of what professional athletes enjoy regularly.  Our luck had run out this time and it was NOT a Non-Elimination.  The two of us were proud of our performance and the fact that we made it more than halfway through the Race.  We walked off the field with our heads held high and as we approached the track, the other teams popped out near the stands and started cheering for us.

It was a wild ride but a memorable experience and we have made some lasting friendships with the other contestants.  Since we got our wallets back, we wanted to take everyone out for a nice dinner so we found a restaurant close to the Motel 168 and booked 2 private rooms.  We ordered up a feast that night to go along with the 18 one-liter beers that we finished.  It was a great farewell dinner and everyone had fun.  After we were done, Jenn and I grabbed our huge backpacks and hopped in a taxi to go back to the Hilton.  We went to the front desk, gave them our credit card, and told them to give us whatever room was available.  That might have been the best night's sleep I have ever had and then in the morning we ordered room-service:  breakfast-in-bed.

A final thank you to everyone involved with the Amazing Race China Rush for giving us this opportunity to be a part of this adventure.  To the fans for watching, thank you for your support.  There is so much work that goes into producing a reality TV show and many of them are never seen.  To our cameramen: Paul, Jonas, Sam, Lou, and Jason it was great working with you and we look forward to catching up soon, off-camera of course.  Same for the assistants: Molly, Nikki, Rainbow, Sophie, and Jesse.  For the post-production crew and video editors, it is amazing how you have taken hundreds of hours of raw footage and weaved such entertaining stories every episode.  Congratulations and thank you.

Some people have asked who Jesse Burke is - the one mentioned in the closing credits.  He was one of the Game Producers on the show who tragically died while on another assignment after filming completed for China Rush.  Jesse was hands-down the best Game Producer: organized, transparent, and fair; he will be missed.

Watching the finished product now on TV and having settled back into our normal lives we miss the Race and wished that we had further continued the journey.  However, for us, it was never about winning or losing, more about sharing this incredible experience together and enjoying yet another adventure as a couple.  We tested our limits, visited some interesting, off-the-beaten path places, and met some really great people.  I am proud of Jenn for lasting as long as she did and if we had to do it all over again, I would say "on your mark, get set, GO!"

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Episode 6: Deleted Scenes

*SPOILER ALERT* - please watch Episode 6 above before continuing


This leg brought us to Huangshan in Anhui.  I was very excited because my mom is originally from this province but I never had the chance to visit.  Having started Leg 1 in Shanxi which is my dad's hometown as well I could now proudly say that I have been to both of my ancestral homes.  Luckily for us, we would not have to scale Yellow Mountain with our heavy packs and we only stopped off at the base entrance to find our first clue.  Actually, Jenn and I were very curious to visit the majestic mountain so we recently went back for a visit.  Pictures are here: Picasa Web Album.  What a huge difference money, credit cards, and leisure time can make!

1, 2, 3. . . 199, 200

When we arrived at the village, it was a total maze.  Every alleyway looked the same but Steven and I worked together to navigate the narrow lanes.  At the counting challenge, the stress of the Race finally got to us.  To our credit, this was the ONLY time where we had a brief chink in our marital armor.  Each giant scroll that we had to count had somewhere between 220 - 280 characters on them and there were 8 huge scrolls.  Perhaps it is my database engineering background that had me immediately dividing them into columns and rows to multiply for the sum but Jenn was counting every single character.  When I delicately and politely tried to persuade her to attempt a different method I was shot down.  Actually she did eventually switch methods and after comparing our notes we were able to clinch the correct total.  Surprisingly, we later found out that the Trainers did in fact count every single character in that room, all 2,421 of them!

"Hairy Tofu, get your Hairy Tofu Here!"

Selling the hairy tofu was one of our favorite tasks to do during our adventure.  We had always wondered what it would be like to work at a food stall and now we had the opportunity to find out.  It might not have been very clear on TV but the hairy tofu was really very hairy and the hair was mold.  Imagine if you left a piece of wet bread out on the counter for a week.  The green and white hairy mold that appears is the same white stuff that covered this mushy stinky tofu.  I cannot fathom anyone eating this let alone enjoying it but fortunately for us, people seemed to be quite excited.

We had such a good time that even after we sold the required amount of 100 RMB worth, we just kept going and cooked up the rest of our supplies to give to some of the children and other passersby.  The one scene I wish had made the final cut was when an older European gentleman was strolling by.  Being an astute salesman, I immediately saw dollar signs and I ask him if he speaks English.  He replies "a little" but tells me he is German.  Bingo.  I took 4 years of German so we chat briefly about how I love Audi's and Jürgen Klinsmann and then I ask him to buy some hairy tofu.  Unfortunately, he says he spent all his RMB and all he has is one Euro.  So then I start asking everyone who will exchange the Euro for RMB and finally another shopkeeper agrees to take it for 10 RMB.  We then joked about the United Nations working together as he politely tried to swallow some of the moldy smelly bowl of pan-fried sludge we sold him.

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

The next day we headed to the 9 Dragon Waterfalls for the Roadblock: who's at the end of their rope?  Well Jenn was pretty exhausted and she was missing the comforts of home so figuratively it made sense for her to take this one.  Strategically, we thought it might have something to do with rock-climbing and since she is an intermediate climber having spent some time in Colorado, we agreed that she would perform the challenge.  Of course it ended up being repelling down the waterfall so if selling the hairy tofu was the funnest task so far, this one was by far the coolest.  It was a long hike up to the pavilion and then an even more treacherous and difficult climb up the muddy path to the top of the falls.  Jenn has no problem coming down the mountain but then when she has to drop into the freezing cold water, she hesitates.  From the rocky shore 50 feet away I could hear her howling once she plunged into the lagoon but we got our clue and were on our way.

We arrived at the rope bridge at the same time as both the Socialites and Fiancés but then it was a foot-race to the Pit Stop.  Jenn was pretty tired from hiking up and down the mountain and her legs could not run any more.  I offered to take her backpack but she wanted to finish on her own terms.  When we arrived to face Allan we were again prepared for the worst and were totally baffled when he tells us we were lucky #7 again.  Allan Wu tells Jenn that she is very hard to read and he cannot tell whether she is disappointed, happy, or relieved but he tells her to get fired up!  加油

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Friday, October 05, 2012

Golden Week - Gangnam Style

National Week and Mid-Autumn Festival both fell on the first week of October which meant that it has been really crazy here.  We wanted to avoid the 34 million tourists in China so we headed to sunny Busan in South Korea.  It was a fantastic 3-day trip but unfortunately this meant that I have not had a chance to update the blog and comment on the latest episodes of Amazing Race China Rush.  I did however get to satisfy my Psy fix and perfect my Gangnam Style dance!  Check out pictures from Korea here: picasaweb.

Since our return, work has been extremely busy as Steven so astutely pointed out:

Please stay tuned for upcoming stories about our adventures on Amazing Race China Rush!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Episode V: Hennifer Strikes Back

*SPOILER ALERT* - please watch Episode 5 above before continuing

Betty the Lamb

Another day, another Speed Bump, no problem.  We began dead last at the Pit Start and the clue says we have to make our way to the Ancient water town on Xin Shi.  Jenn and I each flag down a taxi and proceed to quiz them both on our destination.  Having been burned one too many times by cabbies already we both agree that the female driver seems confident in the quickest route and we hop in her car.  We definitely made the right choice because we ended up being the 3rd team to arrive at the water town despite how they may have edited the final cut.

This time we are immediately faced with our Speed Bump and when we saw that it was yet another eating challenge we were both dubious.  One look at that giant plate of steaming snails and my stomach turned.  Being a firm believer of "try something new at least once" we sit down and each pick up one small mollusk.  I reach into my MacGyver fanny pack (these had to be worn at all times) and found some toothpicks that I had stashed away.  We manage to fish out the "meat" and chew hesitantly.  Jenn winces loudly and then spits out a pebble the size of a Tic Tac.  We tried our best and managed to get through about 5 of the slimy critters each but the pile of rocks we were building was almost as big as the shells.  I'm sure it's a delicacy but we could smell the river when we walked into the town, saw the dead fish, witnessed the dirty dishes being washed in the waterways, and noticed the chickens/livestock wading in the water.  The restaurant worker admitted that the snails were not washed and there is only so much that soy sauce can mask.  Contact me privately if you want to know what became of the plate of salty rocks.  I can tell you but then I'll have to kill you  ;-)

The next task was very fun and creative.  We stupidly chose the fattest sheep so she would barely move and I had to carry her into the boat almost risking a Grandpa-Ryan-like moment of throwing out my back.  Luckily I remembered to lift with my legs and we got Betty the Lamb into the canoe.  We observed the Fiancés lamb take a nose-dive so our strategy was for me to hold down fidgety Betty while Jenn rowed.  Fortunately, Jenn spent a year doing crew and she had also participated in Dragon Boat racing in NYC so we finished that task quickly.  We were on our way to the resort in 3rd place and we swapped cabs yet another time because one driver admitted that he did not know the way.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

We arrived at the resort at the same time as the BBQ Cousins and began searching the ground for the right pool.  Luckily we thoroughly explored the area because Xiao Bing and I were prepared to jump into this dark murky pool to see if the clues were hidden on the deep end.  Instead Jenn spies a kayak in the wading pool and I jump into the boat to retrieve the clue.

The choice to head up to the bamboo forest was made because we were concerned about going head-to-head with the all male teams in a physical challenge.  After we climbed into the hills, Jenn's eagle eyes spotted a clue high up in the trees and we brainstormed on how we could get it down.  Nobody told us there were axes further up the slope so I pull out my Swiss Army knife to try to saw through the bamboo, no dice.  I shake the trunk as hard as I can but the clue is securely tied up there.  I try to climb up but it is so dirty and slippery that I can barely get off the ground.  Finally from another part of the forest we hear chopping sounds and spot the Trainers wielding an ax.  They point us towards the hatchets so I run up to retrieve one and then start slashing the bamboo with all my might.

Bubbles in the Brain

So we were on our way to the reservoir and had made a significant comeback from 8th to 3rd.  Unfortunately our good taxi karma was about to run out.  Our driver knew how to get to the resort but he had no idea where the reservoir was.  We circle around the mountains for 30 minutes and finally pass the Fiancés and Socialites on the road.  Nobody knew how to find the reservoir.  At one point, we were a bumbling congo line of taxis heading up the mountain but I really doubted the reservoir was any higher up.  We finally found a local who knew the area and he gave us directions.

When we finally arrived to do our scuba diving, we had already dropped several places.  It just so happened that I have my scuba diving license and although I have never gone since my open-water dive 12 years ago, the little piece of plastic sitting in storage back in NJ gave me the confidence to breeze through this challenge and find the sword at the bottom of the reservoir in no time.

We needed a Light Saber

Another taxi snafu cost us a few places but we made it to the Sword Pond in one piece.  Unfortunately, the hike down went on forever.  Going to the pond was fine but we dreaded the return hike up the steep stairs and our bags seemed to get heavier with each additional step.  By the time we reached the bottom of the mountain it was dark out and we could barely see what we were doing.  Luckily we had packed a headlamp so this helped even though Jenn looked like Inspector Gadget.  We huffed and puffed our way back up the mountain with our heavy packs and finished in 5th place for the 5th Episode.  Yes!  :-)

Big congratulations to the Twincredibles on their first place finish and really unfortunate that their prize was for a destination about an hour away from their tropical hometown.  It would be like if we were back home and won a trip to the Jersey Shore - whoop-dee-doo.  BUT we would gladly take those Phuket tickets off your hands . . . ha ha ha.

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