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Season 5: Episode 1 - IMPORTANCE OF BEING ELDEST: JOHN RAYMOND FIRST TO GO
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

SURVIVOR: THAILAND has arrived, and after a tension-filled Tribal Council on night 3, John Raymond, the 40-year-old pastor from Slidell, Louisiana, was voted out of the Tribe, six votes to two. John was caught off guard by the vote and became the first person voted out of SURVIVOR: THAILAND. As his torch was extinguished, John gave his final words, "Well, I get the distinguished honor of being the first one voted out of [SURVIVOR: THAILAND]; this is quite a surprise for me. I didn't think there were any alliances on the team, but I guess there was, and I just wasn't a part of it." ( John's final words )

CHOOSING OF THE TRIBES
The fun begins on TarutaoSURVIVOR's premise is simple: separated into two competing tribes, the Survivors must learn to live off the land and, more importantly, to adapt to each other. Every three days one tribe will be sent to Tribal Council, where they will vote one of their own off the island, until only one remains to claim both the million-dollar prize and the title of SOLE SURVIVOR.

Separated by gender, the two groups of castaways were brought to a small island off the coast of southern Thailand in the Andaman Sea, thinking they were to remain as separate tribes of men and women. Host Jeff Probst was there to greet them.

After the Survivors introduced themselves to one another, Jeff warned them not to assume anything in the game of SURVIVOR, and threw a curve ball at the bewildered castaways. He added, "In Thailand, the elders are given the utmost respect; they are revered." Jeff then asked the two eldest Survivors, Jan Gentry, the 53-year-old teacher from Tampa, Florida and Jake Bilingsley, the 61-year-old land broker from McKinney, Texas, to step forward. Jeff told the shocked pair that they were now responsible for picking their own tribes. Along with this awesome task, the two had to decide upon tribal locations and names.

Jake picked the tribal name Sook Jai (Happy Heart) and Jan chose Chuay Gahn (To help one another). Alternating their tribemember choices, the two elders felt the pressure of creating a new society, as a teary-eyed Jan explained, "I was scared, and I'm not really a leader, and I was put in the spot light, which kind of frightened me."

Jake confidently filled his tribe with younger, more athletic castaways, while Jan's choices tended to be the more elder members in the group. The final picks came down to Clay Jordan, the 46-year-old restaurateur from Monroe, Louisiana, and Erin Collins, the 26-year-old real estate agent from Austin, Texas. Humbled by being the last person picked, Erin stated, "I am not used to being picked last at anything, I probably needed that experience."

For the first time, the two competing tribes had been created by the Survivors themselves, as Chuay Gahn and Sook Jai pushed off from the small island and began their long paddle toward the main island of Koh Tarutao, which would serve as their new home for the next 39 days.

BUILDING A NEW HOME
As Sook Jai paddled to shore, chaos was the victor as a frustrated Shii Ann Huang, the 28-year-old executive recruiter from New York City, stated, " In a perfect world we would have arrived, hugged, immediately drawn up the plans, and start to dispatch people to do whatever. Instead, we all went wild." As the younger Sook Jai tribe members searched for mangoes and excitedly swung on vines, Jake Bilingsley, the 61-year-old land broker from McKinney, Texas, calmly described the situation: "I have a crew that is totally enthusiastic and is ready to go…but they know nothing."

Chuay Ghan sleeping arrangements"We've got a natural cave and everything," exclaimed Ted Rogers, the 37-year-old software developer from Durham, North Carolina, after arriving at Chuay Gahn's beach. He was quick to realize the advantage of having a natural shelter to protect them from the angry monsoon season. Not having to build shelter, the tribe began to prioritize their needs and went out in search of food. While wading in the low tide, Ghandia Johnson, the 33-year-old legal secretary from Denver, Colorado, sarcastically explained, "We got all kinds of food, y'all. There is so much shellfish, there are shellfish stuck on top of shellfish!" As night fell, the Chuay Gahn tribe returned to their beach with buckets of crab and oysters.

NO JOKE: THE QUEST FOR WATER
Day 2 began as Tanya Vance, the 27-year-old social worker from Kingsport, Tennessee, found herself sick, vomiting from what the tribe believed to be dehydration. Realizing that water is essential for survival, the Chuay Gahn tribe set out to find their water source. Confused by its remote location, as well as a rising tide, the tribe split up as Helen Glover, the 47-year-old navy swim instructor from Middleton, Rhode Island, John Raymond and Tanya Vance paddled their canoe around the bend in hopes of finding fresh water.

After finding their water source, John designed a plan to trick the others into thinking that a brackish pool of salt water was actually the real water source. John's prank was quickly ended by his revelation that they had indeed found the true water source, much to everyone's relief. Already tired from having to swim one mile due to the rising tides, Ghandia wasn't amused, "It wasn't really a time to joke about that," she noted.

MESS WITH THE "SHII DEVIL" AND GET THE HORNS
Ghandia JohnsonDay 2 displayed both the advantages and disadvantages of the two different beaches as the Sook Jai tribe found their water source almost immediately, right next to their camp. However, without a cave on their beach, they quickly realized the need for a proper shelter to protect themselves from the persistent monsoon rains.

Not everyone agreed, however, as Jed Hildebrand, the 25-year-old dental student from Dallas, Texas, explained, "My tribe's priorities right now are out of whack. Everyone wants shelter. I'll mention food and people will say, 'I want a floor.' We have to split work up." Defiantly, Jed went on his own in hopes of catching fish, which concerned his tribemate Robb Zbacnik, the 23-year-old bartender from Scottsdale, Arizona: "Jed likes to do anything he wants, and we really need his strength, especially when it comes to building shelter."

Robb continued to display his frustrations as he and Shii Ann Huang, the 28-year-old executive recruiter from New York City, argued over the tribe's division of labor. "He is messing with the wrong girl. You do not mess with the 'Shii-Devil' and not get the horns," Shii Ann warned.

IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: FLYING YOUR FLAG
Puzzling over the Thai PuzzleJeff starts the raceAfter receiving Tree Mail, both tribes met host Jeff Probst at the first Immunity Challenge, Flying your Flag, where he explained the rules. The Survivors had to race around a small island by paddling a boat. Along the way they would have to visit several stations, where they would have to complete certain tasks or puzzles in order to receive a tribal flag. However, only one person from each tribe would be allowed to compete at each station. First tribe to have successfully completed each puzzle, gather their flags and race back to the floating dock, would win.

Sook Jai wins Immunity!As the race began, the two tribes paddled toward the first station, where Chuay Gahn took an early lead. Heading to the next station, Brian Heidik, the 34-year-old used car salesman from Quartz Hill, California, dove deep under water to release his tribe's flag, giving Chuay Gahn an even greater lead. Panic-stricken by her team's rapidly diminishing lead, Ghandia Johnson of Chuay Gahn struggled to complete a complicated Thai Puzzle. Sook Jai finally arrived and Jed Hildebrand calmly completed the puzzle as Sook Jai came from behind and won Immunity, sending Chuay Gahn to Tribal Council, where they would have to vote one of their own out of the tribe.

PREPARING FOR TRIBAL COUNCIL
A worried GhandiaBack at camp, Chuay Gahn consoled a crying Ghandia Johnson, who couldn't help but feel vulnerable in the upcoming vote at Tribal Council: "I am a legal secretary; I work with facts. The fact is that we had a big lead, and I took too long with that puzzle. So now I am feeling like it is time for a sister to go."

Feeling at risk of being voted out as well, Tanya Vance, the 27-year-old social worker from Kingsport Tennessee, added, "I have been sick and I can't control what my body does, but I am still going to try to stay here."

Farewell to JohnJohn RaymondIn the end, it was John Raymond who received six out of the eight votes at Tribal Council and became the first person voted out of SURVIVOR THAILAND.