Chance to travel drew pair back to `Race'

Cousins Charla, Mirna now look forward to their `normal lives' after finishing third in all-star season

May 08, 2007|By Sarah Kickler Kelber | Sarah Kickler Kelber,sun reporter

Towson cousins Charla Baklayan Faddoul and Mirna Hindoyan acknowledge that Baltimore's traffic can be bad, but as contestants on CBS' The Amazing Race: All-Stars, they saw much, much worse.

"You haven't seen anything until you see Hong Kong traffic at rush hour," said Hindoyan, an attorney. "It's New York times 10."

It was the second time the pair had competed on the adventure reality show, which wrapped up Sunday night.

In 2004, the women placed sixth. On Sunday, they came in third - behind the first-place (and $1 million-prize) winners, "dating couple" Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner, and the second--place team, "beauty queens" Dustin Seltzer and Kandice Pelletier.

The cousins, both 30, decided to give Race another go because they felt honored to be chosen for an all-star competition.

Traveling to far-away lands was far from the hardest part of the competition, both said. "We love to travel," said Faddoul, a real estate investor. "We have been to so many places, we feel like we have been almost everywhere in the world."

In fact, Hindoyan added, including the eight countries they went to in Season 5 and the 10 they visited this season, the cousins calculate that they have been to a combined total of 46 countries.

Despite their experience, they found the competition in the all-stars season to be fierce.

Because each contestant had been on the show before, Hindoyan said, "everyone had an edge and knew all the tricks. It was the best of the best, so everyone had to work extra hard." Such savvy included being familiar with airline standby lists - the better to secure the most timely flight - and knowing how to follow a taxi to find a destination.

The competition also included tasks called "roadblocks," in which an individual team member takes on a particularly difficult challenge. Hindoyan's favorite task occurred during the last leg of the race, but didn't make it on the air on Sunday's show.

"Probably the wildest thing I have ever done wasn't shown," she said. "I had to free fall off a cliff in Hawaii. I was waiting for a harness, but then I found out there wouldn't be one." (She fell into the water.)

Faddoul's favorite roadblock also involved falling, although she did have a harness. She leaped from Macau Tower in China. "I think this is the highest [jump] they have ever done on The Amazing Race," she said.

And would they do it again?

"Maybe if someone gave us a million dollars," Hindoyan said. For now, though, they have their "normal lives to get back to."

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