For someone who has a fear of heights, rappelling down a skyscraper in the rain is probably not their idea of a fun day out. But what would you do if there’s a USD100,000 cash prize on the line?
In Tom Barrett’s case, he didn’t have much time to think about his fears. He is after all living his dream competing in a mad dash around the world, in the fifth instalment of The Amazing Race Asia. With his girlfriend Anita, they are representing Thailand, and are one of eleven teams selected across Asia, vying for a chance to win the title and the cash prize.
What made you decide to take part in The Amazing Race Asia?
I’ve been hooked on the show ever since the US edition premiered in 2001. I’m a naturally competitive person and I really wanted to be a part of the action! When The Amazing Race Asia went on a break after its last season in 2010, I contacted the network on social media to ask when it would be making a return.
Needless to say when the fifth season was announced, I submitted my audition tape together with my girlfriend and we were quietly confident that we would be selected.
"I think it’s easy to watch the show at home and judge the competitors from the comfort of your sofa, but I wanted to experience the challenges for myself."
What did you find most challenging or unexpected during the race?
I think the most challenging part was having to communicate and work with my partner on a daily basis. We are both hard-headed and when it came to tackling challenges, we both had different ideas on how to approach them. We had to quickly learn to adapt to each other, compromise, listen and understand our varied strengths and weaknesses.
Do you think studying abroad and having hospitality experience helped you?
Studying abroad and meeting people from different cultures definitely helped me in the race. Having worked in the guest services department of several hotels, problem solving has become second nature to me.
How has The Amazing Race Asia changed your life?
To be honest my life hasn’t changed that much. It would be a bit of a stretch to expect a large fandom from a reality show! There’s been random fan podcasts and blogs that have popped up, so that’s always fun to hear and read about. The most I get are nagging questions from my close friends and some strangers on my Instagram who want to know if we did win the title.
How has the race changed your approach to your career in hospitality?
The Amazing Race Asia has put me through a lot of stress and dealing with people from all walks of life. These things run parallel with my career in hospitality and it’s easy to see that the skills are intertwined between the two. There were times where I nearly broke down (ok, maybe I did!) on the show, and that allowed me to see how much pressure I could take. Now I have a better understanding of myself and how much I can accomplish if I set my mind to it.
I look forward to heading back to manage my Mexican restaurant, Casa Azul in Bangkok. I am also in the process of completing and opening Bangkok’s first eco-friendly green school called IPC Green. A lot of work has gone into it and it will be generating it’s own electricity. The future is looking bright!