Amazing Race

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The Cowboys reach Zhujiajiao just before the models do, and it's a bit of a scramble in search of the boats, past Tai Chi squads and over footbridges. The models reach the waiting boats first, and the gondolier starts rowing them out into the canal, using a single stern-mounted paddle that doubles as a rudder. Looks like it takes some finesse to navigate one of those. The Cowboys aren't far behind, but both teams have plenty of time on the leisurely voyage through the city to admire the atmosphere. "I feel like I'm in, like, Sicily," Brent says, getting his Italian cities mixed up. Caite doesn't even think it looks real. She has a point; the place is so clean and picturesque that it looks more like a theme park than a city where people actually live and work. In a post-leg interview, Jet describes the setting as "tranquil," which seems to be a new word for Cord.

Meanwhile, the other two teams are way lost, and not able to communicate with anyone, least of all their cabbies. Michael complains about how people on the plane told him a third of the people in Shanghai speak English, but "we met the other two-thirds, that was for sure." Watching this at home, 13.3 million Shanghainese citizens say to each other, "Oh, yeah, those guys!"

The models' boat docks, and they soon find their clue box next to a big old steam pot of some kind. Which seems like kind of an unnecessary beacon, given how few times we've seen people failing to find clue boxes this season. I'll give them that at least. The envelope indicates a Road Block. "Noodles have been a staple of the Chinese diet for at least two thousand years," Phil says. I think I heard that somewhere. "Even in the Middle Ages, noodle houses like [the one in the background behind him] were open 24 hours a day." Then Phil is transported to an outdoor table outside that establishment, where a chef is deftly stretching, swinging, and twisting massive ropes of dough into noodles, and even Phil looks impressed as he says the teams will have to "master the complex art of making noodles by hand." As we'll see, "master" is a pretty strong word, but starting with a big lump of dough, they'll have to imitate the chef's work until they've produced one thousand grams (or a "kilo," for us metrically-challenged Americans, at least those of us who don't deal cocaine) of noodles, which will be weighed on a scale sitting right there on their work table. And then Pingping will give them their next clue. Who's Pingping, you ask? Why, he's the world's shortest man. Indeed, dressed in a miniature chef's jacket, with an elfin face peering out from under a miniature toque that still looks gigantic. Dude looks like Verne Troyer's Mini-Me. If this isn't specific enough, his official height is stated as two foot five. Caite will be doing this Road Block, and as America's goodwill ambassador, dressed in her own chef's jacket and toque that she needs to wear for the Road Block, she gingerly approaches Pingping like he's a skittish zoo animal. "He was so adorable," Caite interviews, seemingly unaware that she's referring to an adult human. He and Caite watch the chef-judge perform a little demonstration, as from the viewing area on a nearby footbridge, Brent estimates that Pingping is the length of his shin. Good for you, Lurch. Caite gets started twisting the dough, but she's not exactly smooth. In fact, she knocks the pan off her scale with one early swing. Or maybe that's just a subterfuge so she can sneakily recalibrate it. No, just kidding. That would never occur to her.

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Amazing Race

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