Leg 21.01 – “Stop knocking my balls off!”
Just a few days ago, the final three teams of Season 20 crossed the Finish Line here at the Bantay Ball Tower in Ilocos Sur. But there’s no time to waste because 12 new teams are ready to go on this *gasp* 21st season of The Amazing Race Philippines: DryedMangoez Edition!
But there’s something familiar about these 12 teams. That’s right, 13 of the Racers are no stranger to the Race. Actually, they have returned for a second chance, but this time, with brand new partners!
And because there’s no time to waste, the Race begins immediately with a Duel Duel. At the Starting Line, one team member will be hoisted into the air by their partners. Below them is a sea of 120 large burnay jars. Holding a large rubber ball, the hanging team member’s objective is to shoot their ball onto one of the burnay jars to determine which flights they will take to their first destination: Taipei, Taiwan.
There are three different flights with room for four teams on each. The first flight can be claimed by dropping a ball onto a red and yellow-colored burnay jar. A red-only burnay jar gets teams on the 2nd flight while a yellow burnay jar gets teams on the last flight.
But! Teams will also get the opportunity to win a Fast Forward Note, an Express Pass or a Super Yield. If teams land on a flight burnay, they have the option of forfeiting that choice in order to attempt to win one of the three advantages. Teams will no longer be able to go for one of them if they have officially claimed a flight ticket. Teams are also allowed to forfeit a later flight if they would like to continue trying for an earlier one.
Teams are also allowed to sabotage another team by playing defense with their balls or knocking another team’s ball off a burnay jar. All 12 teams will participate in this challenge at the same time initially until all have claimed flights.
After the Duel Duel, teams will be driven to Laoag Airport to get on charter flights to New Manila International Airport from which they will depart to Taipei. Each flight arrives in Taipei within an hour of each other starting at 6am.
Upon arrival in Taipei, teams must make their way to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall where they will find an Intersection.
For this Intersection, teams will pair up and learn the entire changing of the guard ceremony. They must then find the demonstration area somewhere on the grounds and properly perform the ceremony in order to receive the next clue.
Teams are no longer intersected and must now make their way to Taipei 101 where they can find the next clue on the 101st Floor Observation Deck.
That clue tells teams to make their way to Shifen Old Street in the Pingxi District.
Here, teams must find five locals to join them in releasing lanterns into the sky. Teams will help locals assemble lanterns before they will assemble one for themselves, write their wish on it and set them off into the sky together.
Teams must now travel by train to Alishan and find this tea plantation where they will encounter their first Detour: Hard Work or Easy Find.
In Hard Work, teams must harvest a total of four baskets worth of tea leaves by hand.
In Easy Find, teams must search the sprawling tea fields for miniature Race flags. There are many Race flags spread out across the field, but teams must collect a total of 25 different types of flags.
After the Detour, teams will enjoy a cup of tea before hopping back onto the train to Kaohsiung. Upon arrival in Kaohsiung, teams must head to Weiwuying Metropolitan Park.
Here, teams must choose a palanquin and memorize a set of Taiwan deities. They will pull the palanquin while searching the sprawling park for each of the deities. Once they believe they have the correct deities in the palanquin, they can bring them to the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts.
Teams will exchange the palanquin for their next clue, a Double Road Block: Who’s on Beat? And Who’s in Step? The team member “on beat” will learn a drum routine which they will play while their “in step” partner leads a lion dance team of four locals.
When teams successfully complete the performance, they can search the Arts Center for the Mat.
And the first Pit Stop of the Race will be on stage in the Concert Hall.
The first team to check-in here will win P200,000 courtesy of, of course, Shell V-Power Nitro+.
The last team to check-in here WILL be eliminated.
And we’re off!
So, one of the hardest things about doing TARPHDME is finding good locations for a Starting Line and even Finish Line. When I was wrapping up TARPHDME20 last year, it was around the same time TAR Israel had aired the second of the two seasons that filmed back-to-back. Those seasons featured a Final Leg and then Starting Line in the Philippines. So I thought, Why not?!
The Bantay Bell Tower in Ilocos is a perfect and beautiful location. And I thought it would be fun for this “back-to-back” filming gimmick.
Anyway, this Starting Line task was sort of inspired by TARAu5 (which I’d like to kind of forget, at this point lol). Originally, I had something involving the burnay jars of course. And this kind of task is something TAR Israel would regularly do too. So there’s that. It’s just an easy way to hand out the special powers and have a fun competition right at the start of the Race.
It’s hard to believe Taiwan has only been visited twice on TARPHDME over 20 seasons. So it’s definitely a great choice for this first Leg. Sadly, Google scouting means I’m recycling a few Route Markers and tasks from those two Legs. lol
We first start out with a very typical changing of the guard task which has been done all over the world on various TARs already, including on TARPHDME. I made it an Intersection here because it would be too boring to have all 12 teams doing it one after the other. Plus, having an Intersection right at the start of the Race when teams don’t really know each other yet (on a regular season of course) can bring about interesting dynamics and potential drama.
Teams will travel a long distance on this first Leg. The lanterns task is just an extra task to fill the Leg and also to feature the great location. I’m sure there’s other possible tasks here too.
A tea plantation task is definitely recycled from the first Taiwan visit on Season 6. But it’s a good physical and luck task in the middle of the Leg.
The palanquin task recycles a task from a TARPHDME visit to China, I believe. But I have it here just to get teams close to the Center for the Arts and have a bit of a physical task at the end of the Leg. It’s also a mental task since teams will need to memorize the information.
Finally, the Double Road Block is just a straightforward task. Another learn and perform task, which can be repetitive. So we can decide which one to keep. There could also be a different task here at this beautiful arts center of course. And it will look beautiful all lit up at night, especially teams running around after dark and eventually making their way to the concert hall.
Overall, a very full opening Leg. Perhaps not the most exciting on paper. But that’s where good casting comes in to save the day!