Monday, November 7, 2011


Last Wednesday, I had my first 15 minutes of fame... on a Chinese game show.

If you've ever watched SpikeTV and seen those embarrassing shows where people go on obstacle courses over water and pretty much everyone falls off, I'm sure you've wondered, "What in the world possesses people to agree to be on that show?!"

I'm here to tell you.

It was quite easy, really. Aaron called me and said that his friend who works for a TV show needed two foreigners to be on an episode of a show that is similar to Wipeout! and asked if I wanted to do it with him. Being my natural adventurous and adrenaline-rush seeking self, I quickly agreed. Lauren and Emily were asked by Mr. Dong the same day if they wanted to tape an all-foreigners episode the day before I would tape mine. We were in it together.

We're in China, right? Why not?

All I knew going into the show was that I would be on an obstacle course over water, and my objective was to get to the end, even if I fell off. They wanted us to wear bathing suits, which, quite frankly, wasn't going to happen on TV.

I met Aaron and Sarah, who had come along to take pictures, at the TV station a little before 12:30 that Wednesday. We were told that someone would come meet us out front at that time and show us to the bus we'd be taking to the studio. The place where they filmed the show was about an hour and a half outside Shijiazhuang. We stood outside until 1 PM, and no one had come to get us. Aaron called his friend multiple times, and he said that someone was coming. Finally, at 1 PM, we walked over to a bus that had been sitting outside, wondering if that was it. We had previously decided that it couldn't be, because it was full, and no one had bothered to come over and ask us if we were the foreigners doing the show. We were wrong. It was our bus. They had just all been watching us for the last half hour, instead of telling us where to go. Typical.

We got on the bus and headed out for the studio. The place we filmed was pretty neat. It was a spa resort. By American standards, it was kind of cheap-looking. By Shiz standards, though, it was one of the nicest places I've seen since arriving in China. So, hey.

Aaron and I had put together little speeches in Chinese - our name, age, where we're from, what we're doing here, how long we've been in China, etc. We were informed upon arrival that we didn't need to know how to say that. Instead, they taught Aaron how to say something along the lines of Congratulations for winning, and taught me how to say, "I want 1000 kuai!!" Those were the lines we were supposed to tell the game show hosts before it was our turn to do the obstacle.

At the beginning of the show, we were all crowded together for the opening shot. There were the hosts, the weird tiger mascot, a row of girls in referee-type cheerleading costumes, and all the participants. Naturally, Aaron and I were shoved to the front. We were clearly the main attraction.

As the first participant headed toward the obstacle course, Aaron and I were positioned right next to the hosts, and instructed, "Dance! Cheer! Yell! WOO HOO!"

While the first four or five people attempted the obstacle course, one of the camera men was instructed to keep his camera on the two of us AT ALL TIMES. We danced, we sang, we "Woo hoo'ed!" We had the camera zoom in on our faces while we cheered, we counted down with the game show hosts, "Yi, er, san, si, wu!"

Finally, it was our time to go. We were asked our names and responded in Chinese. Where we were from, "MEI GUO!" (America). We said our little script, and then Aaron headed toward the obstacle course. I had to stand in between the hosts, clasping hands with the girl, as the camera watched me watching Aaron. I was supposed to gasp and scream and cheer at all the right times.

Here's how the obstacle course went down:

First, we started on a foam block to the side of the pool. A man dressed as Superman instructed us how to hold our arms, as we had to pose like Superman while spinning in a circle five times. Next, we had to somersault across a foam balance beam to the edge of the pool. After regaining our balance, we had to run and jump across four floating blocks, landing on the anchored fifth. The blocks were huge, tied together, and balancing only on water. I think only two people actually made it across without falling. After making it to the platform, we had to climb up a big, white iceberg-shaped blow up thing. The side was like a rock wall, but it was on a tall object floating in the water. Because it was China, some of the places where you were supposed to put your feet had broken off, so there was a rope running up the side that you could pull yourself up on as well. Once you reached the top, you could either jump or climb down. There was a massive water trampoline that you landed on. Hanging above the trampoline was a banner that you had to jump up and grab. Standing in your way, however, were two people dressed as superheroes who jumped at you, grabbed you, and generally tried to block you from getting the banner. Once you were successful, you had to bail out over the side of the trampoline into a waiting boat, pull yourself to the edge of the pool by the rope, and get out. Then, there was an incline with a rope that you climbed up to reach the platform. They asked a question in Chinese. If you answered correctly, you got 1000 kuai. If you answered incorrectly, they pushed you over the edge back into the pool.

Males had 120 seconds to complete the course; females had 150.

I started off my chance at the obstacle course facing the wrong way. Apparently, I was supposed to stare directly into the camera as I was spinning. Remember, the foreigners were the highlight of this show. I spun and somersaulted, and landed on the platform. I was surprised at how dizzy I felt. You don't think that only  5 spins and 2 somersaults are going to make you that off balance. I put my arms out, balanced myself, and took off at a run across the blocks. I felt pretty good about making it, until I got to the third block. My foot landed off to the side, instead of in the middle. I felt the block start to shift to the right, and thought I could regain my balance. Nope. BAM! Fell off backwards into the water. There were also men in the water filming us, so as I came back up from underwater, there was a camera directly in my face. I laughed and swam toward the platform for the iceberg/rock wall. I love rock walls, but this one was difficult to climb because of the missing places for your feet and hands to go. (They were just broken off, it wasn't designed that way). As I got to the top, someone started playing the Spice Girls. Of course, I had to take a moment to thrust my arms in the air and sing the chorus. Music in English! Then, I jumped down and landed on the side of the trampoline. Again, it's harder than you expect to jump and reach a banner when there are two other people on the trampoline jumping around and trying to make you lose your balance. After grabbing the banner, I launched myself off the trampoline, face-first, into the boat. I have no idea why I went face first instead of just jumping in, but rest assured that Sarah got an amazingly hilarious picture of it. I got to the edge of the pool and pulled myself up to the platform. They asked me a question, I answered, "YES!" enthusiastically, because, really, I had no idea what the question was. The buzzer sounded; I was wrong. Then, I was shoved back into the pool over the edge of the platform.

After I got back out of the pool, I was directed back to the crowd behind the announcers to watch the last two participants of the obstacle course. At the end of the show, there was this weird little outro bit where the cameramen just wanted shots of all of us doing things. This old man started doing this bizarre little dance, and before we knew it, Aaron and I were shoved up next to him, having a dance-off to a Ke$ha song.

I can officially say I've lived; I'm on Chinese TV having a dance off to Ke$ha's "Blow".

Pictures to come soon!

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