Jakarta. "In our hearts, we are winners," said Louisa Kusnandar, a racer from Indonesia, after being eliminated from the fifth season of "The Amazing Race Asia." Her words resonated with the team's loyal fans as they flocked to Holy Smokes restaurant in Jakarta on Sunday (08/01) to meet and greet Louisa her partner racer, Treasuri Tamara.
Both were one of the two teams representing Indonesia in the last season, but they were cut off from the race after arriving last in the eighth episode. However, their efforts left a lasting impression on fans.
"We managed to gather these people here to appreciate what Louisa and Treasuri had done in the race. They were amazing. They always said they did it for Indonesia instead of personal gain. We really respect them," meet-and-greet coordinator Airlangga told the Jakarta Globe.
Though formed during the first season of "The Amazing Race Asia," in 2006-2007, the Indonesian fan base had been inactive for quite a long time before the fifth season.
"Even when the fifth season kicked off, we didn't have high expectations. Once we saw Louisa and Treasuri, we knew these guys were something," Airlangga said.
After that, Airlangga and some of the veteran fans of the show arranged screenings and hangouts, topping it with a meet-and-greet.
"We [the organizers] initially meant it to be an up close and personal session where we'd just have sit and have a chit-chat with Louisa and Treasuri. But when we rolled out the meet-and-greet announcement on Instagram, many people signed up," Airlangga said.
Almost 50 people turned up, who were all eager to listen to Louisa and Tresuri's behind-the-scenes stories. Most of them came from the Greater Jakarta area, but surprisingly a fan from Malaysia got himself included in the mix.
Louisa and Treasuri, who had been best friends long before "The Amazing Race Asia" and still are, reminisced about the race, from the funny anecdotes to their bitter ending.
"When I got the acceptance e-mail, I literally ran out of the house barefooted and just went around the neighborhood shouting 'We got in!'. I called every family member of Louisa's that I knew of to get in touch with her because she was in London at that time," said Treasuri, who is working as a lawyer.
Both thought the day was the most memorable, because it showed how they could exert every physical effort if they were committed to do their best despite not being used to doing intense exercise.
Louisa also told about how they managed to work together though their personalities are far from being two peas in a pod.
"I think our personalities are very different. I learned that, as long as we had the same will, which was to win, we could overcome the differences. No matter how annoyed or pissed off we were, we prevented ourselves from starting petty fights," she said.
Saying Goodbye to Bad Memories
Of all the stories, fans were of course most intrigued by the moments leading to the duo's elimination.
Back in the game, the fan favorites came out strong and were expected to make it to the final. Fans considered Louisa and Treasuri an example because they never incited any drama or demeaned other teams. They even allied themselves with one of the Filipino teams, Eric and Rona, the married couple.
It turned out Louisa and Treasuri were betrayed. They got "yielded," or stopped from the race for a determined amount of time, by Pinay beauty queens Maggie and Parul. In the same episode, they got "u-turned," or backtracked to complete the previous challenge, by Eric and Rona.
Not having much time afterwards, Louisa and Treasuri were last to reach the pit stop, hence their elimination.
"At that time, it definitely hurt a lot. I didn't get along much with Eric and Rona, but it just hurt seeing how kind Louisa was to Rona before that," Treasuri said, though these contestants still stay friends in the end.
The meet-and-greet certainly brought back some painful memories, yet Louisa said it also served as a closure to the whole racing euphoria.
"We may not have won, but seeing so much support and attention from Indonesian fans gave me closure. They understood that we did our very best," Louisa said.
Louisa, who has resumed working as a freelance news anchor at BeritaSatu TV, was amazed by netizens' support on social media back after she and Treasuri lost and by the number of people who showed up at the fan-organized meet-and-greet. She considered the event as a "closing and farewell ceremony."
"Watching the final episode felt painful even before this. Now I can casually share stories and listen to people's opinions. So many people came up to thank me and Treasuri.
They really appreciated us. For fans of "The Amazing Race Asia," this is a big deal because this is the closest thing we can get to winning the race," said the anchor of "Prime Time," "Connect 360," and "Smart Living."