Destination Asia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2007, 12:00am

Two girls learn to co-operate during gruelling 24-day race

A reality show is not real after all - that's what Aurelia Chenat and Sophie Teng found out after taking part in The Amazing Race Asia II.

During the gruelling competition, 10 teams from Asian cities covered 50,000 kilometres across four continents in 24 days.

'The whole race was unreal. The competition was so intense that we forgot where we were,' says Teng, a 27-year-old writer.

'We only focused on the clues and raced to the destinations as fast as possible.

'We were almost totally detached from real life. We only spoke to local people to seek help rather than to learn more about the place.'

Teng joined her ex-roommate Chenat - a 24-year-old model - for the Asian version of the American reality TV show. Produced by AXN Asia, The Amazing Race featured two-member teams sorting out clues and racing around Asia to win the US$100,000 grand prize.

The show gives participants the chance to visit places that are beyond the reach of ordinary tourists.

'We were allowed to go into restricted sites. It's like you are living in a different world, and can do anything you want,' says Chenat, who was born in France and came to Hong Kong a few years ago.

After the race, it took them a while to adjust to their normal lifestyle. 'The first night we finished the race, I still dreamed about it and kept checking the time. Even the crew members couldn't get out of it in the first few days,' says Chenat.

The Hong Kong team came second in last season's race. This prompted more than 300 locals to apply to join the second series.

Only two Hong Kong teams were chosen to take part in the competition.

'The selection process was tough. Each applicant had to submit a short video of himself or herself. You have to be special to stand out from hundreds of participants,' says Chenat.

While other team members were couples or good friends, Chenat and Teng did not have such a strong foundation.

Actually, they did not get along well when they lived together.

'We stood out from other teams from the beginning - we went in opposite directions while the others ran along with their teammates,' Chenat recalls.

Choosing the right partner is important, but synergy is the key. 'We did not agree on many things, but we shared the same goal - to win the competition,' says Teng.

'At the end of each day, we talked about the problems and always managed to compromise.'

Most reality shows focus on the participants' negative aspects. There are heated arguments and gossip. But this did not bother Chenat and Teng.

'It's just a TV show. My friends know me well and they know I'm not the kind of person portrayed in the programme. Also, people forget about it after the show,' says Chenat.

'Don't take things too seriously. Despite the keen competition, we became good friends with the other contestants. It's only during the race that we tried to outrun each other.

'The most important thing is to enjoy the race. It's a good chance to gain experience, travel around the world and have fun - all for free.'

The first episode of The Amazing Race Asia II will be broadcast on November 22 at 10pm on AXN channel