my biggest race ever

Last Thurs­day, view­ers bade good­bye to Mohd Khairie and Ethan Lim – the re­main­ing Malaysian team on this sea­son’s TheA­maz­ingRaceAsia. Here’s an ex­clu­sive per­sonal ac­count of Khairie’s jour­ney on the re­al­ity TV show.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FASHION -

Mohd Khairie, who with his buddy Ethan Lim bade good­bye to TheA­maz­ing RaceAsia last Thurs­day, gives an ex­clu­sive ac­count of his jour­ney on the re­al­ity TV show.

IHAD never con­sid­ered my­self tele­vi­sion ma­te­rial, much less to see my­self on an in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned TV se­ries. Re­al­ity TV shows, by the way, were some­thing I’d en­joyed watch­ing on idle Fri­day nights or while run­ning on the tread­mill at the gym. Of­ten they’d just end up as small talk be­tween me and my friends. The thought of au­di­tion­ing for one, let alone The Amaz­ing Race Asia with its huge fan base and lit­er­ally thou­sands of ap­pli­ca­tions ev­ery year, never even crossed my mind.

All this changed last year when a pretty long-haired girl picked a friend of mine over me, which ad­mit­tedly stung a lit­tle more than it should have. And as his­tory has proven time and time again, never is a man more ad­ven­tur­ous than af­ter love lost, which sent me on a spur of ad­ven­ture-seek­ing.

Con­se­quently, 2010 was a year of sev­eral firsts for me: go­ing white-wa­ter raft­ing, con­quer­ing my fear of heights, stick­ing to a weight loss regime, and, of course, au­di­tion­ing for re­al­ity tele­vi­sion.

Get­ting picked for the show was quite sur­real in it­self. The two months pre­ced­ing the race when Ethan and I had to keep a lid on our par­tic­i­pa­tion on the show was dif­fi­cult to be­lieve, es­pe­cially when there were days when the fact just re­fused to sink in. We trained for it, dis­cussed strate­gies, di­vided re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and planned on what to pack, but still it seemed like we were plan­ning for a hol­i­day rather than a gru­elling race across sev­eral coun­tries with nine other teams. Then came race day. I don’t think I can ever for­get the feel­ing of stand­ing at Thean Hou Tem­ple in Kuala Lumpur just be­fore the cue to race. It was in­tense and I think it was only at that moment that it fi­nally dawned on Ethan and me that we were part of one of the world’s best races.

Then Al­lan (Wu, the show host) shouted, “Go!” Ev­ery­thing hap­pened so fast that I only now re­mem­ber most of the race in bits and pieces. Batu Caves. Colombo. Bungee jump. Run­ning to catch a flight. Scuba div­ing.

I don’t think I can ad­e­quately de­scribe the feel­ing of a dream come true.

Yet dur­ing the race while be­ing in some of the world’s most beau­ti­ful places, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the most ex­hil­a­rat­ing ad­ven­tures, what made the biggest im­pres­sion were the per­son­al­i­ties sur­round­ing the race and how they led me fur­ther to the path of self-dis­cov­ery.

(Tengku) Hilda may be an acquired taste for some, but watch­ing the Malaysian and her hus­band Ivan (Eve­tovics) race showed me just how pa­tient and lov­ing a cou­ple could be, while Hilyani’s (In­done­sian Hilyani Hi­danto) op­ti­mism, de­spite be­ing elim­i­nated in the sec­ond leg, never ceased to amaze me.

Richard & Richard (Richard Hardin and Richard Her­rera of the Philip­pines) were good fel­lows who raced re­spectably and never spoke ill of any­one, while Michelle and Claire (Sin­ga­pore­ans Michelle S. Ng and Claire Goh) were the fun­ni­est, down-to-earth peo­ple I’ve ever known de­spite their be­ing quite the celebri­ties back home.

See­ing all these pos­i­tive traits man­i­fest in the most stress­ful of times showed me what it re­ally means to treat oth­ers, as well as your­self, with re­spect.

The par­tic­i­pants aside, it was also mean­ing­ful for me to have met so many help­ful peo­ple along the way. You didn’t watch this on TV but in the Syd­ney (Aus­tralia) leg of the race, Ethan and I were com­pletely broke, and a very sym­pa­thetic cab­bie of­fered to drive us to our des­ti­na­tion free of charge. In the Philip­pines, a bus tick­et­ing con­duc­tor ac­tu­ally stepped out of his booth to point us to a bus that was leav­ing ear­lier than the rest.

The warmth shown by these com­plete strangers to­wards Ethan and me is some­thing that I will al­ways re­mem­ber and cher­ish.

Now, af­ter the race, I tend to look back at the be­gin­ning and start to eval­u­ate how much I’ve changed and what I’d like to take with me. If I could, I’d like to shake hands with the girl who started this in the first place and thank her, be­cause if it wasn’t for her I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have gone through the sin­gle most amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of my life.

I’ll try to em­u­late Ivan’s love and re­spect for his wife, Michelle’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed, Ethan’s metic­u­lous plan­ning and at­ten­tion to de­tail, and per­haps en­joy life with Manas and Sahil’s (cousins Manas Katyal and Sahil Banga of In­dia) vivid sense of hu­mour.

Through these peo­ple I learn there are far big­ger things in life than sim­ply win­ning, and that life it­self is an amaz­ing race, filled with road­blocks and de­tours, but with the right at­ti­tude you’ll al­ways come out first. n TheA­maz­ingRaceAsia4 airs Thurs­days at 9pm on AXN (Astro Chan­nel 701). The four teams left in con­tention are: Jac­inta “Jess” James and Lani Pillinger as well as Richard Hardin and Richard Her­rera (from the Philip­pines); Claire Goh and Michelle S. Ng (Singapore); and Hus­sein Baron S. and Natasha Su­tadis­as­tra (In­done­sia).

Right at­ti­tude: Mohd Khairie (left) and buddy Ethan Lim at the Pi­nang Per­anakan Man­sion in Pe­nang dur­ing the first leg of the race, work­ing out their next move. Khairie may have lost (in love and the race), but he’s gained in­valu­able lessons on life.

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