That morning was an indicator, if any, of the craziness that would transpire. Information delivery was not our strong suit and in the worst case scenario, we ran around like a bunch of headless chickens and in the best case scenario, we were disappointed at not receiving what was originally promised.
We line up in the lobby with our hair and makeup impeccably done, though I was still scrambling to put my heels on and trying not to look frustrated. At this point, I’m fully expecting a line of Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Rolls-Royce, etc., to be waiting for us outside the hotel. Why you ask? It’s either because we were told so or I was just imagined it while daydreaming again. If you said the latter, good guess, but not this time.
30 minutes of waiting around later, we were told there has been a change in plan. Instead of 14 individual cars, we’re only getting 4 cars and 3 “limo”. I think we had a Bentley, a Ferrari, a Aston Martin and a Porsche maybe. Needless to say, those who didn’t get to ride in one of those four cars were bitter and disappointed. Yes, I was bitter! My “limo” was like an over-sized four-wheeler that was hot and stuffy with limited AC. I was already sweating without even getting out of the car. And when I did for the first time since arriving at Chongqing, I felt like I’ve just stepped into a burning furnace. Looking back, the AC was probably working, but because the car was absorbing so much heat from the sun, it couldn’t cool down even with AC.
A quick car ride later, we arrived on set. We probably spent more time waiting in the car to get the “entrance” just right than on our way there. I think they were going for auto-show-model entrance when they originally rented the cars. I just don’t think any of us were quite model-material quite yet.
Nevertheless, we lined up next to the cars, smiling and waving at the cameraman as he came around to get our closeups.
Perhaps it was because we were so dolled up that made the other team underestimate us. In a way, this competition revealed who we were on the inside. We can hold our own in any situation, no matter how messy things get, both literally and figuratively speaking. Throughout that day, no one complained, except maybe “It’s really hot” or “I’m really sweaty”.
The actual show may only have been an hour, but rehearsal and prep took another hour. All throughout rehearsal, we were walking on plastic covering in 6 inch heels and a tight dress; up stairs, across the stage, down the stairs and repeat. We did this several times until the taping official began. My only goal was to stay on my feet and remember to look up.
I understand why they wanted to film us first looking like pageant girls, but it was silly on our end to wear the 6 inch heels instead of the 4 inch, which would have been much safer and more comfortable. I call it unnecessary risk. But we look damn good! Way out of place, but we definitely outshining our competitors.
Hair up and lashes (fake eye lashes of course) off, for safety reasons, and we were really to begin the games. If I could go back, I would definitely use lighter, more natural looking makeup that day. In the rest of the pictures, I have these dark lips, though intimidating, but also not flattering.
After introductions were done, we were sent to our team tents behind the stage to await further instructions. At this point, we still had no clue as to what any of the games were. Finally, a man in glasses finally came over to explain all the different games we might encounter. I took on the role of translator if anyone didn’t understand the Chinese explanations. There were a total of 12 or 14 possible mini games. Whichever teams wins 3 mini games first, is the winner. Meanwhile, everything takes place in MUD!
Lucky for us, we’re not talking about mud that’s made from soil and water. This is a special type of mud that resemble the mud baths and mud masks you can get at beauty salons. In essence, it’s actually quite good for your skin. It also made the mud that much more slippery.
The first game was called 流浆溢彩, (A Stream of Glowing Rainbow of Mud). Yea, a very pretty name.
Basically, the rule of the game is to transport buckets filled with muddy water from one end of the pool to the other by carrying the bucket on one’s head. The first team to float the balloon from the container wins. to make it more challenging, these buckets also have little holes drilled around the middle. As if running on slippery mud wasn’t already a challenge of its own. We were not use to walking in mud, let alone running in it.
I was the first one to go and I was trying very hard not to fall in the beginning. It didn’t even cross my mind to run.
I realized, after looking through the pictures and video (below), my biggest weak points were not starting off with a fuller bucket and spilling half of it because I wasn’t holding it evenly. If only I can do it all over again…
It wasn’t until my second round that my competitive nature took over and I just ran like the wind. I also fell like a sack of potatoes as a result.
We were a very optimistic group. I think that’s what America had taught us. We might have lost the first game, but we can still celebrate and have smiles on our faces. Our unity is what impressed our Chinese counterparts the most.
In the next game, 有球必赢 (Mud Soccer), two players are attached by the arms and you have to play as a single unit. I played the first round where we almost scored a goal, but unfortunately the ball went behind the goal net. 😦
Even though we lost again, we did manage to score a goal! We couldn’t have been happier with that single point, a glimmer of hope for that chance to win. The 2 loses only made us that much more determined to win the next game. We had a common enemy and a single mission, to kick the other team’s butts!
The third round turned out to have some of the most intense moments in our China experience. The game was called 一站到底 (Last One Standing). It involves the whole team on a 1v1 knockout basis. Whether they were trying to intimidate us or prepare us, we were told the first player on the China team will be their captain, who was once undefeated in this game where she knocked out all 8 of the players on the other team. Her entire team was chanting “1v8” and she even said herself that if she doesn’t knock us all out, she would drink the mud from the pool.I think even though everyone believed she was indeed very strong, our confidence wasn’t reduced in the least. In fact, we have never been more eager to prove them wrong.
As always, I was the first to go. Unfortunately I miscalculated my strategy and ended up getting pushed over the edge within 10 seconds. Embarrassing… I was hoping that I can avoid direct impact and knock her over by pushing her on one side when she least expected it. Instead, I was too slow and ended up getting pushed when I least expected it. Though, I am grateful that I didn’t get hurt is all.
When 3 of us got knocked out, Fiona stepped up and within 10 seconds, knocked the reigning champion into the mud. HAHA! While we screamed and jumped with excitement, the other team was dead silent, completely shocked. Could a new champion be born? In the interviews with the other players from the China team, I saw how completely unprepared they were to witness such an event. I saw panic when Fiona continued to knock more people out until we were evenly matched in players. Her win brought the entire arena into a heightened frenzy. Our entire team was screaming at the top of our lungs.
The key is being stable and knocking your opponent off balance, immediately followed by forceful pushing until she’s completely off the platform. I think the reason Fiona was undefeated for a long time was because she practiced yoga. This is also another reason I love going to yoga. It teaches you how to ground yourself and find balance in life. In this game, once you lose your balance, it’s very hard to regain it.
Fiona was finally knocked out after defeating 5 players in a row and instilling fear in our enemy’s heart. In her place was Crystal, who also put up an amazing fight, also injuring herself in the process. Everyone put up an amazing fight till the end, but faced with a more experienced team, we couldn’t triumph in the end. Losing is understandable. Yes, the taste is bitter, but we can say without regret that we gave it all we got and came together like a family.
In a friendly bonus round, we played a game of team tag where we show the world just how in sync we were. We claimed our little victory and celebrated like winners.
At the end of the day, we were exhausted, but unbelievably happy. The smiles on our faces could not be any more genuine.
What a truly amazing day this was. I knew then and there, the journey of a lifetime has finally begun.
Click here to see the actually footage of the whole game. Please SHARE and SUBSCRIBE if you enjoyed reading this tidbit for more exciting stories to follow!