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" ©

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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