So, yesterday morning Amber IM'd me to tell me that the latest episode of The Amazing Race was set in Seoul and they went rafting in the DMZ. My response can best be summed up as "..." since I'm pretty sure I would remember an American reality TV show causing an international incident by crossing into the DMZ, an area that is best known for the fact that people CAN'T go there. Even though I don't watch the Amazing Race, I figured this episode would be worth watching.
The teams arrived in Korea and it was raining, which, of course it was raining. The rainy season was abnormally long this year, and by abnormally long, I mean it rained for five straight months. We went weeks without seeing the sun. I thought my shoes would never dry. That weather was what I saw practically ever day from June to October.
On the drive to Seung-il Bridge, Nat or Kat complained that "most of the signs are completely devoid of any sort of English characters." An interesting observation since, in fact, ALL OF THE SIGNS are in English and Korean.
So, I understand why Amber told me the teams were rafting in the DMZ. The teams constantly referenced the DMZ and claimed to be in the DMZ or the DMZ area. I wonder how much of that was added for rating due to the recent tensions because, really, no. They weren't at the DMZ. They were rafting at a popular tourist destination. If the teams were in the DMZ, then so is Seoul. So am I.
Can we talk for a moment about how RIDICULOUS the third challenge (getting from Camp Casey to the World Cup Stadium) was. Like, seriously, they took the subway. The subway where every station is labeled in English. There was ONE transfer. The name of the station they were going to was WORLD CUP STADIUM STATION. How is that a challenge? If I only have to transfer once, I count it a win. Also, Jill and Thomas (the couple) kept sitting the seats reserved for the elderly or the handicapped. Seats that are clearly labeled as such in English and with pictures. I kept cringing because way to Waegukin Smash and give the rest of us a bad name, guys.
The Mokdong Ice Rink (home to the fourth challenge) is one of the two evacuation spots for Americans in Seoul should the Norks invade. The more you know....
I'm sad none of the groups opted for the Namdaemun challenge because Namdaemun is pretty awesome. It's also a lot more authentically Korean than an ice rink. Plus, I've had the ginseng tonic (the nurse at my school gives it to me whenever I'm sick) and it's not half bad.
I LOVED the shots of the teams trying to hail a taxi and failing. It's next to impossible to hail a taxi on the side of the road in Seoul You have to go to a taxi stop and wait in line.
The Pit Stop - the Temple of Heaven - is a super obscure location. I had never heard of it and according to Google, in 1968 the Westin Hotel was built on the site and the temple is now part of the hotel complex. It's essentially a knock-off of a Chinese temple build by the dying throes of Imperial Korea. There are so many better places that could have been chosen.
I enjoyed this episode, but I don't think I could watch the show on a regular basis. Too many of the contestants act like arrogant, entitled assholes and embodied every negative sterotype people have about Americans. When they were searching for the statue of the airplane at Hangang Park, Thomas gripped, "How does nobody know what an airplane is?" and I had to pause the show so I could shout, "I don't know, maybe because airplane is ENGLISH and you're in KOREA, jackass. Try asking for the 비행기, but wait, you don't speak in Korean. You just expect everyone to speak English." I might be overly sensative because I do live in Korea and know enough about the culture to notice when the contestants are overtly rude, but it was still a constant sorce of annoyance for the entire episode.