This week on Tour Group, the travelers conclude their adventures in Sri Lanka before heading to Thailand, where drama starts to erupt over a visit to the Red Light District and an R-rated rendezvous in a hotel room. Read on for my complete travelogue of the episode...
It's the start of Day 24 and it's the travelers' last day in Sri Lanka. Rather than some rest and relaxation, the tour guides have a couple of very different surprises left before the group says goodbye to Galle. For these final two Sri Lankan cultural excursions, the travelers must separate into two groups: Rachel Grant and Sandhurst Miggins are taking half of the travelers stilt fishing while head tour guide Brandon Presser brings the rest to get their palms read by a Tamil fortune teller. On the drive over, Brandon explains that the practice of Tamil fortune telling originated in the region of India of the same name and has been passed down through bloodlines for generations.
Arriving on the ramparts of an old colonial-era fort, the travelers each take a turn having their fortunes told while overlooking the ocean. The old Tamil fortune teller's predictions for the future are a bit of a mixed bag. Via interpreter, she tells Misty Kingma that she will have five children and predicts that Misty's boyfriend Jared Levy will move one more time for his wife (perhaps cross-country to where Misty lives in LA?). The fortune teller also informs Misty's twin sister Jenna Kingma that she lives life like a child, while Michelle Harvey doesn't agree with the reading that her ex-husband is a "good person" or that she has a short fuse when it comes to her anger. (Michelle can protest all she wants but the cameras may tell the truth when it comes to that pattern of behavior.) However, most out of left field is Jay Ward's reading, whom the Tamil fortune teller predicts has two possible women to choose from in his future. Sorry, but Jay doesn't swing that way and I'm pretty sure his partner back home wouldn't exactly appreciate being left for a woman...
Meanwhile, stilt fishing turns out to be a completely different change of pace for the other group. The activity gained popularity in the 1940s and is unique to the country of Sri Lanka but since much of the coastline was ravaged by the 2005 tsunami, stilt fishing has become something of a dying art. The local fishermen explain that it's easier to see the fish in the shallows when you're sitting on the stilts - so easy that they don't even have to use bait! - and with that, the travelers are hoisted up on the sticks to get their fishing on. It turns out, though, that what I mean by "getting their fishing on" actually involves sitting on the stilts for hours, waiting for fish to bite. After nearly two hours of sitting in the sun, Jetta Bates Vasilatos decides she's had enough and gets down from her stilts to fish while firmly planted on the ground. In the end, only Steven Roberts, one-half of the Georgia boys, and Sandhurst manage to catch a single fish each. At least everyone else can chalk it up to a cultural experience?
Following these last two activities, the tour guides have some major news for the travelers: they'll be leaving the next morning for Bangkok, Thailand! However, the first thing the tour group needs to know is that Thailand has very unique customs and traditions when it comes to public behavior. Brandon explains that the most important rule of etiquette in Thai culture is the concept of "saving face" - which basically involves not losing your temper or yelling in public (hence Thailand's nickname as the "Land of a Thousand Smiles.") Hmm...any bets on how well our travelers will be able to save face and smile through their feelings towards each other?
To celebrate their last night in Sri Lanka, Michael Cook has arranged to grill out and cook dinner for his fellow travel companions. Michael's idea for a cookout may have involved steaks and kegs of beer, but since we're in Sri Lanka he gets the new experience of grilling up some gigantic shrimp, prawns and other native fish. While one Georgia boy cooks, his half-brother Steven seems to be getting himself into some trouble with Michelle and Heather Marianna. By the time dinner is served, Steven shows up for the meal with some scandalous gossip about getting naughty with the trip's two divas during nap time. Michelle has preached far and wide the whole trip about how PG-13 she is, but Steven claims that boobs came out in the bedroom and - as they apparently say in the South - he "sucked some titties." This salacious piece of gossip spreads like wildfire among the other guys, and when Michelle overhears Steven telling Sandhurst and Jared Levy, the look of rage in her eyes could turn the breathtaking Sri Lankan sunset to stone.
Early the next morning, the travelers jet off to Thailand, but when they arrive in the heart of Bangkok and pile into two limos, Michelle is still fuming about the rumors from the night before. As the limousines wind their way at a snail's pace through the traffic of Bangkok, Michelle turns her ire on Sandhurst, ripping into him for listening to Steven's story. Umm, hello...Michelle? As Brandon so clearly reminds us in his confessional, didn't we just have a conversation about the importance of saving face? You could literally get arrested for yelling at your tour guide. Poor Sandhurst has no other recourse than to sit in the back of the limo and take the verbal beating from Michelle while repeatedly telling her that he's over the drama.
The group's first stop in Bangkok is at Sompong Thai Cooking School, where they'll be dividing into two teams to learn how to make some traditional Thai cuisine. Now this is my kind of cultural experience! The catch is that the travelers are being put into pairs with people in the group whom they wouldn't normally choose, so naturally Michelle and Steven are paired together. Half the travelers don red aprons to make spicy green curry, while the others grab blue aprons to make papaya salad. Turning tomatoes into roses looks like the most complicated part of either lesson, but in the end the food looks delicious and Michelle and Steven are even able to put their tension to bed by creating a papaya salad together. Talk about the joys of cooking!
Arriving at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok, the three guides discuss how to possibly contain Michelle's pattern of angry outbursts while the first thing Heather does is upgrade her room to a suite. For the group's first dinner in Thailand, Brandon reserves a gorgeous private veranda and all the travelers come together to enjoy the stunning view of the city. There are no set plans for the evening, so Jared suggests that the group take the night to go explore Patpong, Bangkok's infamous Red Light District. This suggestion is met with wide-eyed chagrin from Misty, but before she can protest too much her boyfriend is off with the guys for a night of Thai debauchery. Not much of the Red Light District is caught on camera because it seems that Bravo's crew didn't come along, but the recording Rachel caught being given an authentic Thai massage by a hulking, shadowy figure in the dark seemed appropriately terrifying.
Early the next morning, Steven, Sandhurst and Jay are recapping the eye-opening events of the previous night's adventure when Misty drops by Jared's room to give him an already-scheduled fashion makeover. (The playboy regularly looks like he's dressing for a summer on the Jersey Shore, so this is very much needed.) However, Misty can't help but bring the night before in the Red Light District and the newly minted couple gets into their first fight of the trip...and of their two-week relationship. Misty is obviously upset that Jared ditched her without even talking about it, but Jared argues that both Misty and Jenna have mentioned to him that they want to spend some more time together. After storming out of the room once, Misty explains that she feels Jared is attacking her, and the pair trade barbs about their respective dating histories. However, the couple ultimately decides to laugh the incident off and move forward. When in Bangkok, right?
What did you think of this week's adventures in Sri Lanka and Thailand? Do you think Steven's telling the truth about his naughty encounter with Michelle and Heather? Will Misty and Jared's new relationship last the remainder of the trip? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below...