'The Amazing Race' recap: The Kindness of Strangers

amazing-race-cast-19.jpgFrom a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles that will serve as the starting line, we waste no time meeting the 19th (!) batch of teams: Andy & Tommy, who are Olympic snowboarders and yet think the other teams will underestimate them; Ethan & Jenna from Survivor, one of whom is also a cancer survivor; Laurence & Zac, who are not just father and son but father and son adventurers; a recently engaged couple named Ernie & Cindy; siblings Justin & Jennifer; grandparents Bill & Cathi; blonde twins Liz & Marie; dating couple Jeremy & Sandy; domestic partners and flight attendants Ron & Bill; married couple Amani & Marcus, the latter of whom is an ex-NFL player; and ex-showgirls Kaylani & Lisa, who seem to have a lot to prove.

Before they even get to head to the airport, the racers have to do a complicated letter puzzle involving searching through hundreds of umbrellas for ones that have letters on them that will help spell out their first destination: Taipei, Taiwan. Kaylani and Lisa are the last to finish the puzzle, which means they're going to have to do an additional, new challenge on this leg called a "Hazard." But that's only the beginning of their problems, because when they stop for directions to LAX, they drive off and leave one of their passports on the ground next to the gas pumps. Meanwhile, Jenna and Ethan are trying to keep their Survivor experience quiet, but wouldn't you know it, other racers recognize them anyway. Kaylani's passport is returned to her through the combined magic of a Good Samaritan and Twitter, so they're not out of it. Yet.

In Taipei, everyone has to search a busy business district for a specific animated billboard that almost everyone walks right under without noticing. Eventually, teams start figuring out with the help of locals that they're looking for the Confucius Temple. That's the site of the first Road Block, where they have to memorize a proverb recited over a phone and repeat it back to a monk. Ernie and Cindy finish that first and head on over to Dajia Riverside Park. There, they join the crews of dragon boats to row down the river. Then it's to the first Pit Stop, the Martyr's Shrine, as they continue to lead the pack.


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