The Amazing Race Season 34 started in Munich, Germany. Aastha Lal and Nina Duong lost some time at the beginning of the race and never caught up. Showbiz Cheat Sheet talked to the couple about their slow start, their new friendship with Big Brother alums, and more over Zoom on Sept. 22, 2022. This is what they had to say.
Aastha and Nina on their slow start for ‘The Amazing Race 34’
[SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers ahead for The Amazing Race Season 34 premiere.]
Q: You had a slower start than everyone else. Did you notice everyone passing you?
Aastha: We were trying to be really thorough, right? We remember season 33 where people go out and they they have trouble finding directions because it’s so rural. And like, we were trying to be really smart to get really thorough directions so that we didn’t have to stop and where we could just go, bam, bam, bam. It was only a couple of minutes, but it was only a couple of minutes. But I think that we were a little too thorough.
Nina: I will say, I think, you know, surprisingly, sometimes edits are not the most accurate, but that was pretty accurate because like we just it wasn’t fazing us because, you know, I think previous racers in other seasons, if you watch it, you always learn to like run your own race, don’t follow people, right? So we realized we’re not going to do that. We are going to run our own race. And it doesn’t matter if everybody is just passing us. It doesn’t matter until it mattered.
Aastha: We’re Asian kids. We were doing our homework, you know.
Q: You said a couple of minutes. How many minutes would you estimate?
Nina: No clue! I have no clue. Do you know?
Aastha: About three minutes.
Nina: I don’t know about that.
Aastha: We end up losing the race by 3 minutes, but I don’t think it was because of that. It was another reason.
Nina: Well, no, I mean, it’s a component of multiple reasons. But anyway, we are going to be on the same page now.
Q: It was shown that Aastha mediates two hours a day. Do you think that level of chill affected your need to rush in this game?
Aastha: That is such a good question and no one has asked that all that. And I think, yeah, I was like so calm during it. And usually like we have lesbian game nights and I’m so competitive like I will literally to the death play like taboo, you know what I mean? Just like so competitive. But for some reason, my, my brain didn’t it switch on like go mode until a little bit later and I don’t know why.
Nina: She was too lassiez-faire.
Aastha: Too lassiez-faire in the beginning and it kicked in later. But at the beginning I was just like I was in my mindset, my meditation mindset.
Q: Your strategy was to guess the park was the pitstop and go to a challenge close to it last. Were you correct on which park had the pit stop?
Aastha: I was pretty close, actually. So it was just a hunch because we thought it was going to be next to like a river or somewhere across from where we start at the Nuremberg Palace wherever we started right. So like it was a hunch, it was actually very close. But, you know, there was another reason we got eliminated. We’ll talk about that later.
Aastha and Nina answer if they bickered during ‘The Amazing Race’
Q: Are you familiar with Big Brother at all? Did you know who Claire Rehfuss and Derek Xiao were?
Aastha: No idea, no idea. We literally like we would do covid testing with them in the lobby like we just saw them. We were like, we like vibed with them like through our eyes because we weren’t allowed to talk to them.
Nina: They were just so cute, like as a couple from afar, like even without any verbal communication, I was like, oh my gosh, they’re so cute.
Aastha: Yeah, we had no idea who they were.
Nina: Yeah, but now we do. They live like literally a couple of blocks out.
Aastha: We’re really good friends.
Q: The other duos had some bickering but we didn’t see that with you two. Was it really that smooth sailing for you?
Aastha: I mean, we didn’t really bicker too much. I think we, you know, to be honest, I thought we were flying. Besides the beginning, we we’re looking for directions. Nina killed the ice challenge. We actually passed for the saw challenge. We actually passed a couple of teams. Like we did really good in those two challenges, to the point where I delusionally thought I was like, I think we might be in first place. And then got to the barrel challenge, which was the nail in our coffin, you know. And so I thought because it’s such a crazy scramble, you don’t know where anybody else is.
Nina: Yeah, but I think at the end of the day, when it comes down to the bickering, I do believe that even like that, the portrayal that you see of us is like I think we’re very supportive of each other and we love each other very much when we make mistakes, right? Like we’re in it together. And that was like the whole barrel thing. It’s just like one of us is taking it one way. The other is taking it, and we’re both going to finish this essentially.
Aastha: Yeah. And what you see is what you get with our relationship. We’re very respectful when we talk, when we talk to each other. So I’m glad, actually.
Nina came up with the plan for thorough directions
Q: I read Nina that Aastha got you into the show after you started dating. Do you think you had her take the lead in the race because of that?
Nina: Oh, my God. So this is actually so interesting, right. So like in theory, like I will say, looking back, I should have leaned more into her expertise in someone who’s watched the show a lot. I caught up a lot with a lot of episodes in the amount of time. But what I will say is, like in our relationship, I’m usually the one who’s more dominant. And when you see those two dynamics interacting with each other in, you know, stereotypical race partnerships, those two usually don’t bode well. Right? Like a more dominant partner that that doesn’t know the race as well here with a very passive partner. Oh, absolutely.
Aastha: It’s usually Nina’s way or the highway in our life. And she thought that that could–
Nina: I was like I have an idea and it didn’t work out. But it was like, I think really mapping out and being thorough. That was mine. Right, it was in theory. I mean, sometimes it’ll work. Sometimes it wouldn’t. It didn’t work.
Q: Aastha, can we expect to hear about The Amazing Race in your stand-up comedy in the future?
Aastha: Oh my God. Yes, I’m working on that right now. And so thank you so much for mentioning that, because I’m trying to transition to a full-time comedian. And so I hope last night’s episode made you laugh a couple of times because that’s what I’m trying to do. And we were–I was telling so many jokes to a fault. And so it was like, focus! You need to focus!
Their friendship with Claire and Derek
Q: Do you have any double dates with Claire and Derek since you guys are also neighbors?
Nina: We had a double date with them a couple of weeks ago and then we have a game night coming up. They really love games. Yeah, but it makes sense because I mean, you saw them on Big Brother and you’re about to see them on Amazing Race, so they’re very big gamers. We will be having game night. They will likely post about it and they’ll likely win.
Aastha: They came to a comedy show of mine, which was really great. And Claire is a vegan and I’m a vegetarian. So, like, we’re gonna do more foodie adventures.
Q: Did you think you’ll ever go back to watch their season of Big Brother? They actually weren’t a couple on the season. They started dating right after, which is very interesting.
Nina: When we got eliminated, we actually ended up watching the entire series just so we can find out about them. Because what’s so interesting is because we got eliminated on the first leg. We didn’t know anybody’s names or anything like that. It was so quick, right? Those introductions at the starting line. So the only ones that we knew were there’s a Big Brother team, let’s find them. So then we watched the entire series.
Nina and Aastha on meeting The Cookout of ‘Big Brother 23’
Q: Quick thoughts on Big Brother 23? It’s a big, it’s a big season for the show.
Nina: Oh, my gosh. Huge. We were actually at a premiere party yesterday. We met a lot of The Cookout.
Aastha: We met like the whole Cookout was there. Xavier [Prather], Azah [Awasum] and [Hannah] Chaddha was there. Like, we met. We met a whole bunch of them. It was cool.
Nina: Yeah. I mean it was a really good season. I think it’s too stressful for me. I–I’m such a truthful person, so I can’t stand all that backstabbing. Yeah, it is way too much. Yeah. Oh, I can’t. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how they do it for sure. Yeah, not my show, but I see how people can really be into it.
Aastha: I think, you know, I think I will apply for next summer because you never know. And why not? I think I’d be good. I think I’d be good for it.
Nina: Yeah, Aastha’s great at manipulation.
Aastha: What? That’s awkward.
Q: Did you have a favorite in The Cookout?
Aastha: Oh, Azah actually. I loved her before, and then I met her last night, and she’s so funny. She’s so funny, and she’s so, like, down to earth, and she’s like, ‘I know I was crying a lot in the Big Brother, but I’m really funny.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, you are, girl.’ So we might do some stand-up together. She was interested in doing stand-up.
Nina: I think she’s my favorite too. She’s so authentic the entire, the entire way.
This interview has been edited and condensed for this article.