Episode 4 took the racers back to China.
Chinese Zodiac Mobile
One member of each team had to search through thousands of wooden charms, searching for the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. Once they found all 12, the had to hang the charms on a mobile in the correct order. This challenge reminded me a lot of the paper plane challenge from Episode 1, and a few teams really got frustrated in their search.
Still in China, Episode 5 had a couple of good puzzle challenges.
Honor the Past
This was one of the Detour options. Teams watched a procession of 15 actors in different traditional Tibetan outfits walk around a stage. Teams had to memorize the order of the performers, and put a set of similarly-dressed dolls in the same order. Since a lot of the outfits had similar elements, this puzzle was pretty challenging. Some teams had to go back and watch the performance several times, but a couple of teams actually got the order right on their first try. The teams who did well seemed to employ two strategies: 1) One teammate focused on the first half of the procession while the other focused on the second half, and 2) They remembered the order by picking out the most outrageous or distinctive piece of each person’s costume (the Globetrotters used descriptive terms such as “mop” and “buckethead” to help memorize the costumes).
This puzzle challenge was both mentally and physically exhausting. One member of each team had to reconstruct a life-size dinosaur model (20 feet high, racers were even given step-stools) made of puzzle-like interlocking wood pieces. There was only one diagram to guide all of the teams, and it was a short jog away from each member’s “dig site”. Each dinosaur not only needed to be assembled correctly, but each of the pieces needed to be locked in and stable before being approved. Jet from the Cowboy team finished first (and miles ahead of the other teams). His strategy seemed to be running back to check the diagram frequently.
A lot of teams struggled with this challenge, mostly due to small details in their assembly being mixed-up or backwards. As time went on, some teams became emotionally frustrated with the challenge, unable to see what was wrong with their model or discouraged at having to take most of the model back apart to fix mistakes. Other players became physically exhausted from lifting and placing the heavy pieces, especially the ones high up.