Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Amazing Race Asia -- World Premiere TONIGHT!

Co-workers; from left--Zab & Joe

Member 1   
Name  :  Zabrina Fernandez

Occupation  :  TV Producer

Age  :  26

Hometown  :  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Member 2   
Name  :  Joe Jer Tee

Occupation  :  TV Producer

Age  :  29

Hometown  :  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Friends from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Zabrina and Joe Jer are nothing if not loveable. Viewers will find themselves taking to these two immediately, for their ready smiles and easy-going camaraderie. These two young women are looking forward to the fun and the adventure of The Amazing Race Asia - particularly being able to share it with a friend.

Friends from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and self-described reality show freaks, these two ex-colleagues see their friendship as an asset that will support them through their efforts in the race.

"We're good friends," says Joe Jer "We can talk to each other."

Zabrina agrees. "We have the same sense of humour, that's why it's good."

Friendship comes with its own price - both of them can also be very direct, something that causes occasional friction. Eventually, though, the two manage to clear the air, and are all the stronger for it.

Joe Jer and Zabrina met at the workplace, while working for a TV station. Joe Jer had been working there for some time before Zabrina joined the firm, and was one of the first friendly faces that Zabrina encountered there and soon a friendship blossomed when they discovered that they both had a mutual love for television. Not just a love for television, but in particular, for reality television shows. They are hard-core fans, and the two of them see this as one of the strengths that they will bring to The Amazing Race Asia.

"We know the game," says Zabrina. "We really know it. We watch it all the time. We take note of all the things that go wrong and right in the game.

Knowing the game backwards and forwards also means that they know what mistakes to avoid, when to push one another, and when to let go. They've already developed some strategies that they will be bringing to the game, including keeping their heads, not laying blame, and not wasting time bickering. They plan to make decisions first, take appropriate action, whether right or wrong, and then bicker later. Clearly, they intend to learn from the mistakes of others.

A love for television is not the only thing that they have in common. It is obvious from watching them interact how similar they both are - quick-witted, spontaneous, and more than a little gutsy. They banter easily, back and forth, and are quick to pick up where the other left off, as though they're used to finishing each others' sentences. They're also both into sports, and can be quite competitive.

In other ways, they can be quite different.

For example, Zabrina is the more emotional of the two, and can cry at the drop of a hat. Joe Jer, on the other hand, is somewhat more stoic, and does not react quite so easily. Fortunately, the two of them seem quite comfortable compensating for one another's shortcomings, so whenever Zabrina would get tense over the auditions, Joe Jer would calm her down.

"Joe Jer's also quite stern, so I'm quite afraid of her," says Zabrina. Jokingly, of course, but Joe Jer is quick to protest.

Their fast-talking style might become their trademark on the show - they trade barbs, back and forth, with the ease and the pace of a television sitcom. Joe Jer is punctual to a fault, Zabrina is never, ever on time, Joe Jer is a perfectionist, Zabrina a little more laid back, Joe Jer is more thrifty than Zabrina, and the list goes on. Viewers may enjoy trying to spot these differences, although it might be difficult to find them since the two are good at supporting one another.

Having worked together, the two have already worked out many of the kinks in their relationship. They have had fights, yelled at each other, and so on. They have already seen how their friendship works under pressure, and are confident that it will survive The Amazing Race Asia.

"The Amazing Race Asia is a whole new game," says Zabrina, "There hasn't been an all-woman team winner yet, so we could be the first."

Acknowledging their shortcomings, including the fact that they do not appear to be physically intimidating, the two still manage to give it a positive spin, hoping that their opponents will underestimate them. Besides, they have people skills, and will use whatever they have to their advantage during the course of the game.

Taking part in The Amazing Race Asia was, for them, a chance to break out of their routines and try something new, with the prospect of some nice prizes at the end. It will also give them the opportunity to do some travelling, something that both of these women enjoy.

Both of them are already savouring the prospect of The Amazing Race Asia, looking forward to the adventure of the entire thing.

"We're going to enjoy the ride," says Joe Jer.

They are also hoping to make it all the way to the end, even though they might look like unlikely contenders. They're still willing to use everything at their disposal, particularly their wit and intelligence, to make some waves and stir things up a bit.

Clearly, these are two young women who are looking forward to the fun and the adventure of The Amazing Race Asia - particularly being able to share it with a friend.

Dating; from left--Andrew & Syeon

Member 1   
Name  :  Andrew Tan

Occupation  :  Managing Director

Age  :  26

Hometown  :  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Member 2   
Name  :  Syeon Park

Occupation  :  Business Development Manager

Age  :  28

Hometown  :  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This result-oriented boyfriend and girlfriend have already developed strategies for the game. Putting their eighteen-month-old relationship under pressure is one way to see how strong it is, and these two are confident that they have what it takes and have enough in common to make it work.

Andrew and Syeon from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, already have a strategy.

"Every team needs a leader," says Syeon, "And if there are two leaders, then you just wind up arguing."

The solution is that there is only one leader. Andrew is the leader, and in any situation during the race, he will make the final decision (after a short debate, if necessary).

This sort of foresight should make for a very interesting game, particularly since it lays the blame squarely in Andrew's lap if he makes bad decisions.

But this is an interesting couple all around, another example of cross-cultural dynamics at play. While Andrew is a true-blue "Malaysian Sensation" (as he describes himself), his girlfriend Syeon is of a Korean-Australian background.

They two have known each other for three years, having met while snowboarding in Jindabyne, Australia. Friends at first, their correspondence turned into a long distance relationship while she was in London and he was in KL, and they've been together for about eighteen months now. They describe their relationship as interesting, fun and … childish. They think it's important that they have many common values and principles, partly because it lends strength to their relationship, but also because they feel that it will help them to be in sync during the Race.

Both Andrew and Syeon are active in sports, a passion that they both share, so an average day might include a trip to the driving range, or to some other sporting activity. Their different upbringings contribute to some degree of friction, but each is learning from the other.

"I'm a very independent, friendly, outgoing person with a Western mentality," says Syeon, a fact that contributed to a certain degree of culture shock when she came to Malaysia to live with Andrew. In return, Andrew points out that he's not as direct or confrontational as Syeon, and their different mindsets certainly make for interesting lives. However, the two do communicate very well, and it through this communication (combined with a degree of honesty) that they have overcome their problems so far. It remains to be seen whether the bond that they have will survive the experience of The Amazing Race Asia.

Besides sharing values and common principles, both are very result-oriented individuals who achieve many of their goals by prioritising and making intelligent decisions. Their greatest strength they bring to the game is their belief in one another, and support for one another, but they are a little concerned about the physical challenges. Andrew's objective assessment is that intellectually and physically they're both "quite okay", but he is aware that some of the physical challenges on The Amazing Race Asia may be more physical than they can comfortably handle, and that Syeon will be slower and not quite as strong.

One of their other strategies for the game was to put their emotions aside, and play the game as a game - and play it to win. No difficulty there, since these two are well-used to sport, having an interest in all sorts of sports between them. They're naturally competitive, as well, something that they hope to harness for the Race. Asked to describe themselves, Andrew said "we're a level-headed, result-orientated, determined team".

Syeon shouted "Pocket rockets!"

The idea of taking part in The Amazing Race Asia was born from a couple of impulses. One of the big ones was that it would prove to be an opportunity to test their relationship.

"Under the pressure of the race, a relationship can either go in a positive or negative way," says Andrew, carefully hedging his bets. "We don't know which direction our relationship will go in, since we've never been in this situation before, but we're hoping it will go in a positive direction."

The need to push the envelope was another factor.

"Being in The Amazing Race Asia will let us move out of the comfort zone," says Syeon.

In addition, both team-mates agree that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"You can't buy it. The chance to race around the world, with a loved one, facing a unique sort of pressure, is an experience that no one else can give you," says Andrew.

These two certainly seem determined to take advantage of every opportunity they get. Their strategy is to aim for the top three in every leg because "you have to stay in it to win it", try to be focused and determined, and leave personal, emotional things aside. They're not willing to play dirty to win, or be underhanded, and are hoping that their travel experience will stand them in good stead. They've travelled all over the world, and as Andrew puts it "we don't go for comfortable holidays".

At the end of the day, this very competitive, very sporty couple is hoping to get to the last leg … hoping to do relatively well. Given the emotional and mental resources they've devoted to getting prepared for the competition, it seems like they might actually have a chance.

Ask them what the toughest part of the competition is, and they will tell you that it is the emotional and mental stress. "You can recover from a broken leg," says Syeon, and then leaves the rest unspoken.

Don't forget to catch them tonight,9 p.m, AXN Channel. Don't miss!

For more info on the rest of teams, click The Amazing Race Asia.