Leg 16.12 – “It ends where it all began!”
This is it! The Final Leg of this Amazing Race! Teams must first take high speed rail to Taipei and find the Tao Zhu Yin Yuan Tower and search this unique and efficient building for their next clue.
That clue tells teams that they are finally heading home! Teams will fly on Cebu Pacific via Manila to… Tacloban City!
Upon arrival in Tacloban, teams must make their way to Santo Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum for their next clue.
Here, teams must assemble a traditional habal-habal. Once it is deemed safe enough for them to ride in, they will be given the next clue.
And that clue reveals the Road Block! Who’s got good muscle memory? Teams will hop into their habal-habal and choose a driver to take them to the longest bridge in the country, the iconic San Juanico Bridge!
For this Road Block, one team member will put on a taklub, or traditional fishing basket, on their back and take a speedboat to the San Juanico’s highest point. Here, they will use a mechanical ascender to pull themselves up to the roadway to reunite with their partner.
But as they pull themselves up, they will encounter six different pairs of photos representing tasks or locations on the Race. Teams must decide whether they encountered the left photo “Before” or “After” the right photo. Teams will pull a flag with either “Before” or “After,” depending on their answer at each pair and place it in their basket. Upon arrival on the roadway, teams will get their flags checked. If they get all flags correct, they will get the next clue. If not, teams will incur a six-minute penalty for each incorrect flag which they must wait out before they can receive the next clue and another flag which they must hold on to until further notice.
Teams will run back to shore along the bridge and choose a marked jeepney to take them to Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park.
Here, teams will jump into a kayak and row themselves to one of the nearby cathedral-like caves by following the sound of a Waray-Waray song performed by local musicians. They must then search inside for a large, flagged slab of stone which features a pattern. They must retrieve this stone and keep it until further notice. They will also find the next clue nearby.
That clue points teams to Delza’s Native Products in the municipality of Basey in the neighboring province of Samar.
Here, teams must finish weaving a section of a banig to receive the next clue and a small section of banig which they must keep until further notice.
Teams must now make their way to St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Basey.
The clue they will find here tells teams to find the Madonna of Japan back in Tacloban.
And the clue they will find here will direct teams to find the Balyuan Amphitheater on foot for their next clue. And that clue reveals ANOTHER! Road Block!
The team member who did not perform the first Road Block on this Leg must complete this one. For this Road Block, teams must assemble a large 15×15 foot puzzle featuring designs usually seen on the tattoos of those celebrating the local Pintados festival. Teams will also need to include the flag, stone and banig section they’ve acquired on this Leg into the final puzzle.
The Road Block participant must then search the completed puzzle for their FINAL clue of the Race! That person will need to see the message: “It ends where it all began” and relay that to the judge before they can reunite with their partner.
Once the judge approves of the hidden message, teams must figure out the message is telling them that the Finish Line is located where this Race first began! The Starting Line location which was MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park!
The first team to cross the Finish Line will win all the things!
Woohoo! Another Race successfully completed! And with a pretty great Leg, if I do say so myself. =D
We first start with getting teams back to Taipei and another Instagram-worthy location like last season. It also helps make things easier for teams to fly out of Taipei to Manila.
Now, Tacloban has been on my Starting/Finish Line shortlist for a while and I’ve just been waiting for the perfect time to have it on a route. Well, this was the perfect time. It’ll be rare for TARPHDME to have a non-hub Starting Line location. So basically, like TARUS uses Los Angeles for LAX, TARPHDME will have to use locations reasonably close to Manila International Airport or the other “hubs” such as Clark in Pampanga or Mactan-Cebu. All airports who maybe direct flights to an international destination.
But we can make an exception once in a while. And Tacloban is a great choice for that exception if only so we can play up the General MacArthur angle. “I shall return!” Well, teams DID return! So it’s a cute little bit of fun on that part.
Anyway, our first task back on home soil will be assembling the habal-habal. It’s a simple, straightforward task that should require patience and attention to detail. Just a physical task teams need to get done.
We will have teams open the clue immediately after the task instead of at the San Juanico Bridge so they won’t be influenced by seeing the task already right in front of them. Of course, we want teams to decide who will do the Road Block only on the clue and not actually seeing the possible task right in front of them.
The San Juanico Bridge is certainly a must-have location. And what better location than this to have a traditional TAR ascender task. Perfect set-up for our 4K UHD drones! Should be some stunning shots while the task is happening and even as teams are boating their way to the location.
As for the task itself, we can’t just make it a simple pull yourself up task. There’s certainly several things teams could do as they pull themselves up. One early option was doing math problems based on items or moments from the Race. (A TARPHDME staple!) Another option was having trivia questions about the Race which would give teams the code needed to unlock boxes as they went up. And another was teams having to collect flags based on the number of one thing they saw on the Race or the Leg number items were encountered on.
But we decided to do a Before and After instead, just to be different from the similar tasks TARPHDME has done before. Our goal here is to make it challenging enough for teams that all three might get at least one wrong answer. Having to wait out a penalty would be great drama. But at the same time, we don’t want to see one team get so many wrong that it puts them all the way behind with no chance to catch up. I put six minutes as the penalty as a balance. No team will be more than 36 minutes behind, hopefully.
To help exhaust teams a little more, we will have both team members running back to shore.
And of course, another TARPHDME staple, Keeping something until further notice!
Next up will see teams heading into the caves. Listening for your next clue in a save is certainly not a new TAR task. But it’s never been done here on TARPHDME, so this was a good spot for it. Especially with wanting to feature a Waray-Waray song. This is also a good location for teams to retrieve that stone slab they must keep until further notice.
So, I didn’t know Leyte and Samar were basically connected by the San Juanico Bridge. So it’s a good Final Leg having teams crossing provinces!
The banig task certainly is cultural and local so it’s a great and tedious task for this Final Leg. Again, another great spot for teams to be given something to keep until further notice.
After the extra Route Markers at the church and the statue, we have the climax of our Final Leg and episode.
Another cultural and local task, we have teams assembling a LARGE puzzle of at least dozens of pieces featuring the famous tattoo designs seen during the local Pintados festival. Our goal here is for a large and intricate puzzle. One where teams have to use ladders and stuff to put together. And having to plop in a cloth flag, a stone slab and a banig into a puzzle made of, I assume, plastic or even heavier material, should be a challenge in and of itself. But the intricate designs should be made challenging.
Now the final task will be for teams to have a good eye and see the message hidden in the intricate design. The original plan was for both team members to be able to look after the Road Block (assembling the puzzle itself) was completed. But it could be more fun and dramatic if one team member has to do it themselves. A possibility is that one team member, the Road Block participant, can’t see the message right away while their partner might. Lots of drama to be had here, especially if all three teams are here at the same time. (Which is our hope!)
Another option was to put this puzzle task at MacArthur Landing to up the tension and drama even more. And that’s possible too. But I decided to have it at a separate location. Another possible scenario is teams don’t know what “It ends where it all began” means so a team might have finished the puzzle but go to the completely wrong location which might allow the 2nd team to pass them to the Finish Line! Exciting!
Overall, I think this can be a great and exciting Leg. I think there are many points here where teams can catch up to each other. We want to see teams racing side-by-side, especially on the Final Leg.
And for the route overall, I think this was a pretty solid route. One of the more diverse and fresh-looking routes TARPHDME has done! Hehe.
So, until next season! (Which actually might be closer than we think! ;))