In my entirely unprofessional assessment, China is probably the third most interesting country in the history of humanity. (It’s behind only Monaco and Narnia, and who can prove that Monaco is actually a real country?) Roughly a sixth of the world’s population lives in mainland China, and the country has become the second largest economy in the world — not too shabby for a nation with a cultural history that stretches back to before the Bronze Age. The People’s Republic’s complex mix of communism and capitalism is difficult to understand — especially if you’re someone who, like me, only subscribes to The Economist to read the hilarious photo captions — and depending on your perspective, the country’s political system can look vaguely totalitarian or precisely totalitarian. Certainly, China’s rise to prominence hasn’t come without negative side-effects. (Although that’s hardly unique: let’s not forget the Trail of Tears, or slavery, the decades-long battle for women’s’ suffrage, the Gilded Age, Herbert Hoover…) Still, whatever your feelings on the country’s political system, there is undoubtedly something worthwhile about taking a trip to China to learn more about the place.
Zev would beg to disagree. “A lot of people in China,” he deadpanned. “I’m not much of a people person.” Zev wasn’t too happy about Race‘s travel itinerary: Teams had to fly out of Tokyo and make their way to Jade Dragon mountain outside of Lijiang. Ron and Christina were decidedly more excited, since they both speak Chinese. Other teams were tormented by bad memories – Jen remembered an unfortunate run-in with Luke (“I called a deaf guy a bitch!”) and Jaime claimed that being in China on her first Race was “probably one of the most miserable days of my life.”
Kent and Vyxsin wouldn’t have any of that negativity. They had a new motto for the day: PMA, “Positive Mental Attitude.” They were unflappable. Nothing could worry them. When Vyxsin noted they were departing in seventh place, Kent happily chimed, “Lucky seven!” Because life is chaos, things began to go wrong almost immediately. First, Team Mascara couldn’t find their car. Then, when they did find it, Kent couldn’t open the door. Oh, whoopsy-daisy, he was pushing lock! Vyxsin gritted her teeth. Remember, everybody, PMA.
The teams were all slated to hop on the same flight to China. The airport wasn’t too far away, and this seemed like one of those no-brainer race-evening plane flights. Unfortunately, Kent and Vyxsin drove about three hours in the exact wrong direction. Vyxsin started crying. “We’re so far away right now. We’ve been going the wrong way this entire time.” It was extremely reminiscent of the Goths’ Italian Waterloo, where Vyxsin took a wrong turn. History repeats: Yet again, Vyxsin was crying into her maps like a cartography student at a Dashboard Confessional concert.
NEXT: Yakety Yak (Don’t talk back)