It's Been Real and It's Been Fun is the recap episode of Survivor: China. Whilst revisiting the key moments of the preceding twenty-seven days, the episode featured fourteen new scenes that revealed more about the contestants' struggles with the elements, their lighter moments in camp and the rising tensions amongst the survivors.



Jeff Probst narrated the episode, and began by introducing the seven contestants remaining in the game: Todd Herzog, Courtney Yates, Peih-Gee Law, Erik Huffman, Denise Martin, Amanda Kimmel, and James Clement.

I'm smaller than the rest of our people, but I'm quick and I'm smart.

Todd Herzog

My strength is that I'm not a strong player.

Courtney Yates

I'm gonna come off as a bitch and I'm gonna come off as bossy.

Peih-Gee Law

Unless I'm way off, I haven't made any enemies.

Erik Huffman

I want to stay in this game as long as I possibly can.

Denise Martin

I try hard. I'm athletic. I'm a huge threat in this game.

Amanda Kimmel

I really would love to see how these people'd be without me here. It would be hilarious. They honestly would be dead.

James Clement

Days 1-3

On Day 1, the sixteen contestants arrived at a Buddhist temple and were forced to carry their luggage up an enormous, winding staircase. As most of the group joked about the long climb, with Jean-Robert Bellande jesting that they just build their camp on the side of the stairway, Denise and Chicken Morris fell to the back of the line and tried to enjoy a leisurely hike at their own pace.

We got to the temple. I mean, it was hard. We're carrying our bags up three hundred and forty stairs. We figured this is it, "Oh, we're ready to start this thing up!"

Frosti Zernow

We're just climbing up these really steep stairs and every time they curved around – every time we thought we were there... Another curve. And another curve.

–Erik Huffman

All the young kids are, like, grabbing their stuff, running up the hill. The big guys' got it [their luggage] over their head, walkin' up. I got stuck with Chicken and he's like, "Take it slow. We don't have to rush. Ten at a time. We're gonna do ten this time." And he'd stop and sit down and wipe his brow. I'm like, okay, I'm gonna hang with this dude for a while!

–Denise Martin

Upon reaching the top of the stairs, the men were separated from the women at the gates by several Buddhist monks. The women were given shawls to cover themselves (because, as the monk said, "their clothing was too short") before entering the temple, embarrassing Ashley Massaro. The group then participated in a Buddhist welcoming ceremony, where Leslie Nease was faced with a moral dilemma due to her Christian faith. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the group was split into two tribes: Fei Long and Zhan Hu.

I was, like, looking at my outfit. I was uncomfortable and I was embarrassed! It's definitely not appropriate for a temple! The Buddhist monks actually came over and gave us drapes. All the girls had to use drapes for their dresses. I'm sure they don't get a whole lot of skimpy dresses in the temple!

Ashley Massaro

I'm a believer in Jesus Christ and in the Bible it says, "Thou shalt not bow down to any other god." Y'know, it really felt like worship and I just couldn't do it.

Leslie Nease

After settling into camp at Fei Long, Todd nominated Aaron Reisberger to lead the tribe. Aaron, somewhat reluctantly, accepted. Meanwhile, at Zhan Hu, Chicken's attempts to direct the construction of the shelter were shot down, prompting him to stop giving his opinion.

I am very, very smart in trying to push the leader role moreso onto Aaron.

–Todd Herzog

Well, I just give 'em my opinion and then nobody want it, so I'm done suggesting.

Chicken Morris

By Day 3, hunger was beginning to set in. Zhan Hu began eating worms to survive. Erik was the first to try, and with instruction from Peih-Gee, squeezed the excrement out of the worm before consuming it. Peih-Gee continued harvesting the worms, urging the rest of her tribe to try them, including the squeamish Dave Cruser, Jaime Dugan and the unfazed Sherea Lloyd who commented that worm "wasn't bad at all! I could do another one!" At Fei Long, Amanda began catching frogs for the tribe, and both tribes found themselves eating leaves (with Jaime noting that she "preferred the worms over the leaves") and the roots of lake-plants ("sea celery," as James termed it).

We weren't finding any plants we could eat that were edible and we couldn't get the fire, so no rice. So there's nothin'. I was... I was just ready to eat something.

–Erik Huffman

I'm, like, sitting here squeezing poop out of worms, like, making people eat them. But I think they'll be glad that they pushed their boundaries. And I think that's the key to surviving out here.

–Peih-Gee Law

We're still living so primitively. Nothing to eat. We're drinking dirty rain. Bugs. Y'know, they're eating worms. I mean, it's just gross. It's just filthy. It's disgusting.

–Ashley Massaro

However, not all food was good news. Jean-Robert vomited after ingesting spoiled rice, and the clams that Fei Long dug out of the lake were equally suspect (and prompted bouts of bickering between James and Jean-Robert over the latter's determination to eat anything they found). When Fei Long later found a series of small plant bulbs, and Courtney asked whether or not they were poisonous, James jested that they "usually just [gave] it to Jean-Robert."

At the first Immunity Challenge, a lack of food and sleep affected Zhan Hu's performance and sent them to the first Tribal Council where they voted out Chicken.

Days 4-6

The next day at Fei Long, Amanda and Todd formed an alliance, and Aaron began to take control as the leader of the tribe by singling out Jean-Robert for his laziness around camp. However, Jean-Robert revealed in a confessional that his lazy attitude was part of a long-term strategy.

I wanted to give the perception that I'm a little bit lazy so that later on when I am contributing and putting in the work effort, y'know, people are noticing.

Jean-Robert Bellande

However, it wasn't long before Aaron's leadership abilities began to be questioned. James noticed Aaron, and several other members of the tribe, sunbathing and napping on the boat and grew furious with their lack of work ethic. Leslie suggested he talk to the sunbathers, and despite Jean-Robert's protest, James waded out to the boat to confront Aaron. He told the tribe leader that he needed to be contributing, and when Aaron claimed he'd tried to get a fire going, James was shocked that he'd given up. The gravedigger continued to rant at Aaron about the fact that the two of them were the only people who were helpful at camp (citing the "stewardess," the "two older ladies who don't do much" and the "card-player" as useless), but adamantly argued that he couldn't do all the work on his own. Eventually, he dragged a reluctant Aaron out of the boat, threatening that he wasn't going to continue to pull all the weight on his own.

James comes marching down and, "Aaron! You're supposed to be a leader! You're supposed to be showing us what to do! And you're down here taking a nap!?" And I'm, like, thinking he's yelling at me at first. I looked over and he's like, "You're just a flight attendant! I'm talkin' about him – our leader!" And I was like, "Okay..." Like, let him get ripped up, y'know?

–Todd Herzog

There's just too much delegating, y'know? A whole lot of not getting done. I'm not doing all this stuff by myself anymore. You're gonna pull the rope with me or they all gonna die. I'll move over in that cave.

–James Clement

At the first Reward Challenge, Fei Long came out victorious and the kidnapping twist was revealed. The red tribe kidnapped Jaime, and she received a sealed bamboo tube to open back at camp. On top of their defeat, Zhan Hu returned to a flooded camp. However, Dave took control and suggested cutting out a channel in the dirt with a machete to drain out the camp area. The tribe unified to clean up their campsite and an efficient drainage system was put into place, much to everybody's joy.

It was like somebody just took all the water from every ocean they could find and just poured it right on top of us.

–Frosti Zernow

It was pretty disheartening. My first reaction was just, "Oh brother, here we go." Something else to worry about. But, y'know, when there's a problem, you can only spend so much time being worried about it. You really just have to just, "Alright, let's fix it."

–Erik Huffman

We're digging channels, trying to get our different plateaus to drain. We have three plateaus here at our camp and the top one's draining into our living one which is draining into our bamboo prep field which is then tumbling about two meters down into the lake.

Dave Cruser

Hopefully we'll be able to get this really dry and finally have, like, a comfortable camp that's not wet and muddy, so... The water's actually starting to flow now, so I think it's actually working!

–Peih-Gee Law

Meanwhile, at Fei Long, Jaime opened the sealed tube to discover that it contained a clue to the whereabouts of a Hidden Immunity Idol hidden at the Fei Long camp, and she would have to give the clue to a member of the opposing tribe before rejoining her own. In an attempt to sabotage Fei Long, she chose to give the clue to Leslie, their weakest member. However, Leslie then chose to share the clue with Todd, hoping to form an alliance and taking him completely by surprise.

My strategy as far as the clue is I want to give it to whom I think is their weakest link.

Jaime Dugan

I feel like the Lord really gave me a gift. I told Todd that the Idol is here, so we're gonna team up and use it together. And I trust him.

–Leslie Nease

I can't believe she told me! I'm in shock! I would never tell anybody! What was she thinking?

–Todd Herzog

The next morning, Aaron woke the tribe early to lead a pow-wow. After prefacing his speech with a cheesy motivator - "It's been real and it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun" – Aaron announced that he was going to step down from his leadership role. This surprised everybody, particularly when, immediately following his abdication, he began to dole out the day's chores.

I just can't stand all the Brady Bunch antics that go on in this tribe. Aaron stood up this morning, put on his little suit and jacket with his little "powwow." Like, some of us haven't even taken our head off the bamboo yet.

–Courtney Yates

Aaron came up with this new brilliant idea: "I'm relinquishing my leadership position." What!?

–Jean-Robert Bellande

"No, I am not the leader." And then right afterwards, he told us all what to do.

–Todd Herzog

At Zhan Hu, Dave was beginning to struggle with a lack of sleep. His crankiness with his tribe continued as he refused to eat before the challenge, wanting to prevent energy being wasted through digestion. The rest of the starving tribe persisted, wanting to eat to give them energy for the challenge. In the end, Dave was proven wrong when his exhaustion cost Zhan Hu immunity. Yet despite his poor effort in the challenge and his constant bickering with Ashley, it was Ashley who was voted out at Tribal Council.

I'm up first primarily because I got shuffled and squeezed out of every comfortable sleeping position there is. No one can see I'm the tallest person around here. That's starting to get under my skin a little bit. Hello! Öffnen Sie Augen, bitte schön! [translation: Open your eyes, please!] Y'know?

–Dave Cruser

Dave hasn't been eating. He hasn't wanted to because he insisted his energy is high. He keeps telling everybody he somehow gets, like, magical energy from the air – he doesn't need to eat! I'd think he'd be smarter than that.

–Peih-Gee Law

Days 7-9

Days 10-12

Days 13-15

Days 16-18

Days 19-21

Days 22-24

Days 25-27

Still in the Running

S15 chicken bw
S15 ashley bw
S15 leslie bw
S15 dave bw
S15 aaron bw
S15 sherea bw
S15 jaime bw
S15 frosti bw
Hae Da Fung
S15 amanda t
Hae Da Fung
S15 courtney t
Hae Da Fung
S15 denise t
Hae Da Fung
S15 erik t
Hae Da Fung
S15 james t
Hae Da Fung
S15 peihgee t
Hae Da Fung
S15 todd t


  • This is the first episode since "I'm Not as Dumb as I Look" to show the full opening credits sequence featuring all sixteen contestants.
  • This is the only recap episode to air in the middle of a cliffhanger episode. This was because CBS could air only recaps on Thanksgiving of odd-numbered years due to NFL coverage.
  • The episode title was said by Aaron Reisberger during his tribe "pow-wow" in which he abdicated his leadership: "It's been real and it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun."
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