"It was like the Homer Simpson 'Doh!' moment for me. I knew I was cooked."
That's how Shii Ann Huang, the 28-year-old executive recruiter from New York City, described the realization on Survivor: Thailand Thursday night that the two tribes had never merged.
Thrown onto the same beach to live together, the contestants believed a merge had occurred, but when they turned up for the immunity challenge, host Jeff Probst told them they still were members of two separate tribes.
Shii Ann had considered jumping ship on her Sook Jai tribe members and forming a voting block with Chuay Gahn and the other members of Sook Jai were aware of this. She was voted out of the Sook Jai tribe 4 votes to 1.
"I thought there was a merge; everyone thought there was a merge, and, had there been a merge, I would have gone a lot further," she said Friday morning on The Early Show.
Like other ousted contestants, she said she enjoyed the weeks in Thailand and had made friends with her fellow castaways. She did, however, say that she admired the other team and thought that it had much more camaraderie than her own tribe.
For three days, the 10 contestants joyously mingled, socialized, and swam with a refreshing set of new faces. They enjoyed their cheese and crackers while singing campfire songs and drinking large quantities of wine. Brian broke out his guitar and became noticeably intoxicated, as did Jan.
But at the challenge, it was abruptly brought to their attention that they were not intended to merge into one tribe, instead they were just two tribes living on the same beach.
This was particularly tough for Shii Ann to hear, as she had spent the majority of the previous days making alliances with the Chuay Gahn tribe members, under the impression that it had become an individual game. Clearly, her plan to form fledgling alliances with the other tribe backfired on her.
The Sook Jai lost a challenge in which the teams were imprisoned in a makeshift jail and had to unlock their shackles with 15 keys that were hanging outside the jail. The Chuay Gahn won immunity, sending the Sook Jai to Tribal Council.
Shii Ann made a last plea at the Council to vote Penny off instead, but the tribe had already seen her turncoat ways, and her fire was extinguished.
She left the island knowing full well her mistake: "I committed the classic error of plotting and scheming too much. This has been a really really humbling experience for me."
But she maintains, "The last three days were really some of the best days of my life."
To her tribe she wished, "good luck to the rest of you who are still in the game. No hard feelings."
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