Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Masters does not lie

Why swim at masters.... it keeps you honest!  I was feeling pretty good about my swim fitness and have been swimming a lot.  I swim on intervals on my own but realize if I am not making the interval I put on paddles or stop looking at the clock and just swim "hard."  Hard is relative...I feel tired when I am swimming "hard" on my own but hard is trying 110% to make the interval and not let the person behind you catch up to you. Hard is kicking in and out of the walls because your arms alone just wont do it. Hard is hearing yourself gasp for air on each breath. Hard is ditching bilateral breathing for every stroke in hopes more O2 means I will go faster.  Hard is leaving 3 second after the guy in front of me in hope of a draft to make the interval even though he is 6 seconds ahead of my by the 1st flip turn.  Hard is not even looking at the time, counting distance and taking each 200 or 100 as it is just to finish.  This AM was "hard" at Encinitas Masters! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The race that was not a race

Looks like I am having fun- I can fake anything
I pretty much set the stage both in my head and publicly so no one would think I had a terrible race  that the Carlsbad 1/2 would be a catered training day- more of a temp run vs a race.  I planned it and yet when I was "not" racing I wanted to be racing but I did not have it mentally or in my legs to race.   Hard to explain.. I did a nice 30 min warm up really ez and felt good.  Started the run with the 1:40 pace group and figured I would run 1:40ish without racing.  Who was I kidding after 3 miles I was working harder than I wanted and was just not feeling it.  I also realized it was an hour into the run and I had zero calories so I took a GU hoping that would help...

I slowed the pace a bit and made it my training day.... but I was not happy.  I did not have it in me to race- mentally I did not want to suck it up and gut it out but mentally I was not okay with the training day.  I was having an argument with myself most of the run.   I also ditched my long sleeve shirt at mile 2 when I saw John because I was hot and as soon as we hit the coast I was cold.   Anyway I ran along trying to convince myself this would be quality training run and that was good.  Around mile 7 my stomach flipped... big flip, the kind of flip I get during Ironman.  

Ug...I tell you I can run and eat a ham sandwich in training (okay maybe that is a slight exaggeration) but I have iron gut training on the bike and run but in a race, even when I am not racing, my gut has a new agenda.  Mile 8 porta pottie stop 1.  Pace is slower and now I am yelling at myself for coming out- people are passing me and I am grumpy.  I could have run from home...I am quitting, wait quitting what, quitting my training run.  Seriously get a grip.   So I ran on and kept a steady pace (which I would have been quite pleased with had it been a normal long run)  and then had to ponder..do I take more calories and risk the ramifications or just flat out bonk.  I went for more calories and then stopped at porta pottie stop to at mile 10.  bummer.... I can say the pp's were nice and clean and open when I needed them, again at mile 12.  

After 12 I blasted out and sprinted the last mile... 7:02 - yes is was downhill but I passed everyone I could and tried to finish with a smile.  

So was it the gu or my pre race meal of kale, brussel sprouts, sunflower seeds, avocado and feta cheese?  can you say fiber...but I always eat that way.  Or was it the gu.... well with 7 weeks (- 1 day) because I am not prepared to say 6+ weeks to Ironman I need to re-visit nutrition.

Yes IM #8 and I am still pondering what to do.... I luckily have some long weekends ahead to practice.  

Yes it was fun if i keep saying it then it will be fun...lots of friends out there some who even PR'd!  And seeing familiar faces before, during and after is what makes training and racing so much fun.

So....recovery DAY and then a big week -  IM focus for me is volume, volume and less intensity. So I have to let my friends go on the climbs and roll with the volume as planned.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Afraid to race.....

Ok maybe kinda sorta....I am registered to run the Carlsbad 1/2 marathon on Sunday. I ran this 3 years ago and PR'd with minimal run training and a conservative race plan. Start  out at 8:00 mile 1, 7:45 mile 2, asses... I dropped to 7:30 and finished 1:38 with a killer finish and my fastest mile being 13.  I am NOT a runner but I try....anyway.  The next 2 years I registered and was injured and then sick last year.  This year...I am scared. Ok I said it.  Why.... I did a lot of running in Nov/early Dec and had a PR in Nov at Silver Strand.  I have not done a lot since then...+ 16 days off in Cambodia and a struggle to return to normal since the trip.  Add 7 weeks to Ironman Cabo and my mind is a bit f'ckd up  fragile.  Explain...okay here is a peek in my fragile head right now...if I go out and run hard and the time is not good it will mess with my head and my mental prep for Ironman,   So....I trained through this week and am going do make it a training run....30 minute warm up and then start the 1/2 marathon.

Coach say- use this as a benchmark... I want to, but nope.... I have not killed it this week but logged over 20k in the pool and had 2 solid but short rides and weather permitting a nice ride Saturday.  Sunday will be what it will be.

Another reason...I cannot  afford to freshen up - freshen up from what? I took a vacation, bonked when I came back and am just barely up to speed.  And I cannot afford to freshen up next week.... I am in IM training mode...volume for then next 4 weeks!

why share all this..... I am stressed about  it and well those who know me... I tend to blab about it.  And this is the easiest to blog about... the other stresses in my life this week are too personal for the public, but for those who have teenagers, you know what I am talking about.  Deep breath and take it one day at a time...now wonder I have stomach issues.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I recently sat in the parking lot for 15+ minutes trying to muster the motivation to log a 4500 yard swim.  Yes swimming is my strength but it is also my least favorite aspect of training. I love the swim in a race but despise the swim in training.  People assume that since I "am a good swimmer" that I love it... frankly no.  A lot of that stems from 15 years of competitive swimming and 4 years in college ( on a scholarship) where it became a job.  When a school pays for your education, the own you in a small way.  There is no choice about getting up every day at 5am and logging 5-10,000 yards before class, returning for dry land and weights and another punishing 2-3 hour swim 6 days a week.

I loved it for a long time...but grew tired and wanted to quit.  The issue is if you quit, you lose your scholarship.  If I lost my scholarship I had to leave LSU (mom and dad did not see the value in paying out of state tuition)  So I sucked it up and kept swimming....resulting in my final swim meet being the last time I entered a pool for 10+ years.  Really!

If not for triathlon I would not be swimming... Wait I lied. I swam a lot when I was pregnant with my kids. Running was great but had to end at a certain point.  

So.....swimming is not my 1st choice but a necessary one.  For Ironman people say "you can swim 2x a week and do fine" True but that would be wasting a "talent" and the 1000's of hours I invested years ago....As a strong swimmer, we should swim more. Why?  not because I will knock 5 minutes off my Ironman swim but because I can exit the water with a competitive swim time and a HR of 130. For a 10-12 hour day, that is the $$$.  The swim, which takes a lot out of my competitors, can be  warm up for me  IF, ONLY IF, I swim 4x week and commit to it.  With Ironman Cabo 7 weeks away...I am committed to swimming.
LSU Natatorium- lots of pain in this pool

So today, as I sat and read my phone and wanted to leave...I dug deep and sucked it up and got it done.  Now I have dry skin, smell like bleach I feel great.  But it took a lot of mental commitment to make it happen.

So there you have it.... 

Winter San Diego style

San Diegans are cold weather wimps for sure....but we are having our share of cold weather.  Lows in the 30's and highs barely over 60.  For us that is darn cold but very tolerable.  It is kind of fun running in tights, gloves and a beanie.  Mako and I are doing just fine.  The pool is 82 so that is awesome as well. We headed out to Ocotillo ( my least favorite part of San Diego the S2) for the Stagecoach Century ride last week...okay so the picture is blurry but what I am capturing is snow...yes snow on the Cajon pass.   It was 22 degrees and we are headed to ride...why, why?  Because Ironman Los Cabos is in 9 weeks.

It was 39 at the start and breezy - cold wind.  We had so many clothes on that I could not find my phone for a photo.  KP, Amy, Andy, John and I took off and we hit it hard due to the cold.  And by mile 20 I was still cold and my legs felt like crap.  So I am 4 days back from Cambodia (after 2 weeks off training) and I cannot get my mojo.  Swims are slow, runs are painful and power is so low it is crazy- coupled with ridiculous heart rates and I am not feeling well.  Early on I decided to just ride..... but it was a struggle- long and cold and tiring.  NOT a confidence building ride for IM.

Got it done...no run off the bike and we had to go rescue John at mile 86 who hammered the 1st 50 and was paying the piper. The text I got was " either come and pick me up for be prepared to wait a few hours"  Considering it was close to 3:00 and we had a 90 min drive home, we went and picked him up. 

So after that day....KP said back off.  It is so hard to consider since I feel like I have not been training but rationally struggling through every workout does not make sense.  I am guessing the jet lag was just killer for me - disrupted sleep and long travel.  So I dialed it back Mon- Friday and did base training type stuff. Did not look at my gamin for running or for power on rides.  Just could not deal with the data....and funny by Thursday I noticed that "spring" in my legs. When I came to a hill I could respond... so I held back and rolled into the weekend.

BTW this blog has taken me over a week to write...I am sick of it :)  Bottom line...travel can be exhausting, coupled with 2 weeks off and training does not come right back.  Ultimately I think it was that my blood volume was low due to lack of training, add jet lag and I just had to be patient and not force it.  We are generally in touch with our bodies enough to know when something is not right- whether it be the beginning of an injury, illness or fatigue.  The key is to take heed and early action (or less action in this case - REST) can stave off  a bigger problem.

So I can happily report 2 weeks post Cambodia I am finally feeling 100%!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Returning to civilization

For the last 3 nights in Cambodia all I dreamed about was my bed, our soft bed, my pillows and snuggling with Mako.... It was a heavenly dream.  Reality- 2 hour of sleep followed by 2 hours of wide awake there is a 13 hour time difference.  "snuggling" with Mako is more like gigantic bed hog and he is the only one sleeping and snoring.  Wednesday was the worst..I was so tired and passed out from 9-11 and then wide awake.  Read for a while, worked for a while and then had a glass of wine + 2 melatonin's at 2am.  I return to bed and tried to find a spot to fit as Mako was perpendicular on the bed.  I am settled and he jumps up, sprints down the stairs blasts out the dog door and sprints back up. I am 99% asleep and I hear John grumbling about a stinky poop. I ignore and start to slip into sleep when John realizes Mako has run through his poop and smeared it across the duvet and into the sheets.  Fck!  In a coma we change the duvet, change the sheets and I look over and Mako is upside down asleep as John gingerly cleans his shit filled paw.  I want to be in a hotel in Cambodia!!! Just kidding....

Jet let going West- NONE - we arrived at 11 and were in bed at midnight, slept 8 hours and never realized we were upside down. But this way.... I am skipping naps in hope of sleep and I sleep 2 hours and am wide awake and usually hungry.  I tried melatonin, massage, exercise, wine-  each night it gets a bit better.  Thursday during our Vampire time 11-1 JD came in and piled on the bed and talked like we used to when he was little...I am hoping tonight is the magical night of a solid sleep. Especially since I have to get up at 4am to drive to Octotillo where it is 25 degrees....

I know, why, why do I continue to return to the S2 for torture...nearly died of heat 2x and then had a "challenging" ride when we went camping.  Why? Because I want to be in charge of the S2 and not let it be in charge of me! 

Since returning home I have not had any rice, nothing with lemon grass, have not used condensed mile in my coffee,  have driven on paved roads wearing a seat belt, enjoyed shampoo and conditioner and soap all in separate bottles vs 1 small packet of "all purpose", not missing 1000 motos zooming around. hot water is nice..... travel is good!  Home is nice too - especially if I sleep, really sleep.

As for training...I expected to feel like 1 million dollars....2 weeks of cross training and not..... ride on Wed was really hard, long run on Thur HR was 15 bpm high and pace was 30 sec per mile slow and today swim was tragic.... so- I am hoping blood volume is low and that with a few days I will be back on top.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Inchon Airport - Seoul Korea

Our last day in PP sucked ... To be perfectly honest. After a long day of travel we returned to the Golden House Intl Hotel and it was $20 more per night $45/night - most expensive room in Cambodia. But we liked the location and it is a know product - which is a bonus in Cambodia.

We opted for a drink- 1st glass of wine in the country - at the FCC (foreign correspondents club) based in my brothers recommendation. Great location and nice view. Once we saw the menu we caved in and stayed for dinner. Western food ! I had Mediterranean Chicken cabobs and Greek salad. To die for. JD had pizza which was not so grand.

So much for western food... Riley got food poisoning and got it bad and John got a mild case. Our last day I decided to start exercising - 40 min run and I was hoping for fresh springy legs but in actuality they were heavy and slow. And frankly PP is a really dirty, congested city. We are all ready to leave. We opted to check out the Russian market in hopes of great deals on name brands - R was sick and John too so we bailed early for some RnR. John slept and kids and I opted for another $15 massage and then we hit city market. I quit soon and experimented with local food - grilled corn with spicy chili sauce, shredded mango and unidentified meat salad and Thai energy drink - yowza!! Our flight was 11 pm so we rented 1 room to shower and chill. We spent out last night with R sleeping - still sick, JB reading about a sick guy PolPot and JD and I played cards and drank Heinekens (drinking age is 18 - so when inRome. We had been "enjoying local beer for the past 2 weeks which is terrible but only .50-.75. So we sprang for the good still $1.25. Dinner from the food cart outside the hotel- 1x fried noodles and veggies. 1x rice and roasts pork. 1x rice and veggies - total $3.25- cannot beat that and no on got sick.

11pm off to Seoul- 5 hours and we slept most of the flight.. Now the big bummer - 7 hours in Seoul. Ugh.. We pondered jumping in a cab for a few hours but 1-it is -4 degrees and we are dressed for Cambodia ( we will freeze in LA) and 2- the airport is on an island 30+ miles from Seoul. And there is debate if we need a visa to leave... Since Riley is wearing shorts and flip flops we opted live in the airport.

There you have it.... We read about an amazing spa to hand out in and jacuzzi etc but it was not on the transit terminal and we got confused... So we walked for a bit, used amazing massage chairs for 30+ min and the settled on the HUB lounge- $40 but was "on sale" $22/person. Full buffet and since we have been here for close to 7 hours we started with hot breakfast + Korean food and have to delicious lunch with beer/wine and cocktails. So we have read, facebooked, ate a few times and played cards for a few hours and I started in on Korean beer. Free showers across the way and then we are finally homeward bound!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Random thoughts on Cambodia

More random comments on Cambodoa

- no apparent traffics laws. Motos on both sides of the street sometimes going the wrong direction. TukTuks all over without blinkers or signals. Everyone merges with ease and it works. Complete mayhem yet we have only seen 1 accident

- seatbets? Yes in the front seat only

- No max number for a moto- have seen 5 on a moto made for 2

- the few traffic lights we have seen have large digital countdown u tip it changes

- no crosswalks and no one has the right of way

- Cambodians are NOT lazy

- capitalism at its best. Every other hut seems to be selling some kind of food and drink

- squat pots are ok

- when there is running water there is a "bum gun"' equivalent of a kitchen hose next to the toilet for a spray down. We like

- Cambodian beds are thin and hard

-lemon grass, ginger and lime are staples

- salt/pepper + lime juice is great dipping sauce

- meat and poultry apparently does not need much refrigeration and certainly no packaging for sale

- motos allowed in the aisle of the indoor market

- cows are missing something in their diet here- plenty of grass to eat but all are painfully thin

- cows and water buffalos have the right of way on the road. Ducks do not.

- Cambodia is very safe. Cambodians are loving and eager to help. Cambodians are not afraid of hard work.

- very few processes foods- we have not eaten from a package since we arrived

- mini busses for 12 can hold up to 26

- school is Mon-Sat and they wear uniforms - even in small villages

- Real is currency 4000= $1 and there are no coins. USD is king

- most travelers to Cambodia are Auatralian, German, Belgian

- only city we saw "large" white travelers was Siem Reap

- $12-15 hour massage is a bonus

- nearly every young child shouts hello when they see us.

- there may be no running water in some places but there is often wi-fi

- iPhone is very common among Cambodians in cities- 4 and 4S. The 5 is not here and is desired

- the Korean energy drinks we fell in live with have nicotine in them. We drank them for a week and at the elephant project we did not have them and we had withdrawals - no more for us. Back to straight up coffee.. Mondulkiri coffee is GOOD!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Siem Reap day 2

Siem Reap. Day 2

Side note- due to "mobile blogger" from my IPhone I cannot label or place photos only attach.

Tired we are.... Slower start to the day after a fitful night rest. The bonus is that the hotel serves Bon Cafe- strong and delicious coffee. Our usual omelette with bread and fruit- breakfast of choice every day in Cambodia. We had a family meeting and decided we were templed out and TukTuk'd out so we called D, our "driver" for more adventure.

We headed east and had a sobering visit to the Cambodia Land Museum. US ordered 60,000 bombing missions to the Ho Chi Min Trail ... Killing close to 600,000 civilians- Again JD and Riley no recall of learning this in school. We (the US) do a good job of teaching what makes the US look good. Staggering numbers and horrific outcomes. The museum is also an orphanage for victims of landlines - still a concerted effort to rid the country of the dangerous mines left by the US, Khmer Rouge, Vietnamese and others ..Check out be prosthetics they use- far from the carbon running prosthetics CAF offers.

We were saddened and reflective as we left and soon sound the Butterfly Sanctuary, an uplifting and beautiful spot. $3 entry fee goes to maintaining the beautiful facility and to local farmers. We were the only visitors and it was stunning. From there we went to Butterfly Restaurant back in town but still encased in net with beautiful foliage, water lillys and butterflies about. Growing tired of Khmer cuisine I opted for delightful fresh spring rolls and kir over ice. Weary travelers and we needed a rest...

Short nap to to construction and R and I headed out - she wanted to get a manicure $2 and I opted for $3/30 min invigorating foot/calf and back massage. Pure heaven.

Dinner was a treat. Our driver who lives in Banlung (8 hrs away) has family here in SR and his parents and other sibling came in from PP. We had Khmer BBQ again but this time with the local. It was great fun, limitless food (1/2 of which I was not sure what it really was). BBQ placed on bricks on table with hot dome covered in pork fat for cooking meats and fish. A moat of broth and oil for cooking bountiful amounts of leafy greens, cabbage, noodles, mushrooms. 20 raw meats and fish to select from (open buffet style ), tofu, spam and more... Take all you want and start cooking . We had 14 ppl with 4 bbq's and everyone was cooking, talking, reaching and eating. Out intent was to buy dinner ( very expensive $4 person) but they insisted to be our hosts. Some spoke good English and others limited and we all communicated. I politely tried whatever someone cooked or offered and only had to discretely cough out a few unknown items. Truly local fun...

We have been with D for 6 days now and he is like family. We pay $50/when he drives +'gas and expenses on off days (averaging $7) really the only way to cover as much of the country as we have with limited time. No airports in he northeast and the minibus option (22 -26 people in a 12 person bus, 100 coconuts, 100 lbs of rice, 15 bags of whatever) is off the table. Traditional bus tool 12 hours to our 9. Hats off to John for finding D and working this out. We could fly from SR to PP but we love D and a deal is a deal.

So today we make the 4 hr drive to PP and fly out tomorrow night... 27 hours we are in LA. Loving Cambodia but ready to come home.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Siem Reap

Still in a bit of culture shock but loving SR. Vibrant city with so much to do. After a nice breakfast with some of the strongest coffee yet, from Mandulkiri, we secured a TukTuk for a day of adventure in Angkor. A 20 min ride and we enter the park and immediately am awe struck at the sheer size of Angkor Wat, the most notable temple. Pictures cannot do it justice and the backdrop if water and lush green make it breathtaking. We opted to go at 11, the hottest part of the day but least crowded as most tour busses head back to town for lunch.
Angkor is described as the earthly representation of Mt Meru, the Mt Olympus of the Hindu faith and the adobe of ancient gods. The temples are the perfect fusion of creative ambition and spiritual devotion. We wandered about in awe, climbing stairs and following hallways with scenes of war, heaven and hell and hell with sea serpents and more.

After hours of hard work in the temples we headed to a nice lakeside spot for a nice Khmer lunch. While many spend days at the temples we were done and headed back with our TukTuk driver to our hotel. Next stop was a trip out to the floating village which was amazing to see at sunset. After $80 for the temples we opted out of $60 boat so see the village up close. We have spent more in SR in 24 hours than in a week in the country. We laughed at lunch when we all commented how expensive the entrees were at $7 vs $2-3 we are uses to.

My bro encouraged us (by offering to buy a round od drinks) to check out the Grand Hotel by Raffles. WOW - 5 star resort with really clean people wearing really nice clothes. Scott suggested we "shower" before going... We were out and went as we were- relatively clean. Luckily not the only ones in shorts. $40 later and we were out and gone... Same TukTuk driver $20 for the entire day.

Evening of pedicures on the street while JD got a foot and let massage and a bit of shopping in the night market- another full day!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Onto Siem Reap

Onto Siem Reap

Greenhouse Restaurant is the local spot in San Monorom for English speakers and it has been fun to talk with so many about where they have been or are going. Most headed to Laos and most were recently in Vietnam.

Restless night in a basic guesthouse - greenhouse guesthouse - rooms faces the road and it was very busy and the guesthouse had a dog in front who barked off and on all night.

Speaking of dogs...dogs are everywhere in Cambodia especially on e you get out of the city. They are everywhere, friendly and well behaved. Dirty but fun to see.

This may be our longest travel day but thankfully we are in a car. By bus 12 hours, which means 14 Cambodian time. By car we hope 7-8 hours. No flights as there is no airport. I think it's with it as we have seen so much and would have wanted to miss any spot. We will not make it to the South where the supposed amazing beaches are- but we decided as a family to go North. We have seen amazing beaches but never spent time in the rainforest. Temps in the North are much cooler and quite nice. Mid 70's and high 60's at night vs high 80's -and humid. No rain as this is the dry season and most expensive.

So the Casavee we see drying in the roads is grown for bio-diesel and sold to Vietnam for export. What is sad is the local farmers clearcut rainforest to plant Casavee and year 1 is bountiful and many made good $, year 2 they get 70% of what they grew and prices dropped 50% due to high supply and now they have made it illegal to sell to Vietnam so thy have to sell for 25% illegally and the Vietnamise make up make the profit. So again deforestation for profit but in this case the profit is gone.

Longest day of travel 9 hours but in an air conditioned car... We finally arrive in Siem Reap. Wow what a culture shock. Paved roads, people everywhere and lots of English speaking. We arrive dirty and smelly... Quaint hotel off a busy street on a beautiful plant lined ally (very French). Cleaned up we headed out into the chaos and were loving it all.

We headed to Pub St but were diverted by Dr Fish- you take off shoes and put your feet in a pond where the fish nibble off dead skin. $3/30 min and a free beer. Drinking age is 18 so JD is enjoying a few beers. It is so tickkly at first we can hardly stand it but slowly we adjust and settle in. No go for John but we had a great time. Off to eat... So am many choices and so many people.

We opt for Khmer BBQ where they bring hot oil and a flame to your table - there is BBQ spot in top and you cook raw meat and fry veggies. JD has chicken, steak, squid, alligator and pork and we opted for lots of veggie. Really hot oil so the veggies are not greasy but nicely flavored. Really fun and quite good. Riley fried up some noodles- her favorite Khmer food and we were full.

Off to the market and it is huge... Overwhelming so we just looked. And until we resolve our cash flow issues we are holding back in spending cash. Late night for us 10:00.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mondulkiri - nature lodge and elephant valley project

Nature Lodge and the Elephant Valley Project

After a long day, but comfortable day of travel, thanks to D and the Mitsubishi we arrives in Sen Monorom and were off to the Nature Lodge. A very cool spot that was 15 minute hike on a dirt road and we arrived to a hilltop filled with bungalows and a free house. The registration/bar/restaurant was built in and around a giant tree. Open air with wood slat floors and tree vines and trunks all over. As Swiss Family Robinson as you can imagine. A bit of western food and we all jumped at the chance for a burger and fries - quite delicious.

It was cold and the wind was howling... We settled into our cozy beds with mozzy netting and soon were off to sleep.

Onto the elephant valley project. After breakfast $10 at the Greenhouse for 3 coffees, 3 large omlettes with baguette and fruit plate we were off and running. 12 of us, all white - 3 Canadians, 2 French, 2 Dutch, 2 not sure... But all spoke english and it was nice to converse with others.

20 min later down a really bumpy road we found ourselves on a hilltop where we were briefed. A true Eco-Tourism establishment where they rent the land, supply jobs to 35 locals, give the village 1 ton of rice / year and provide free healthcare for all of the village... The goal - keep them from selling the land to the Chinese who will cut the forest.

We spent the am walking to the valley where we soon saw 5 elephants come and splash in the water and the throw mud about. 3 of them came so close we could touch them.. It was amazing- they are so patient and gentle. Most show signs of major abuse which makes it all the better to see them "being elephants" in the wild. We followed them all morning - while it was amazing it did get a tad boring - sitting and watching. Just when I had enough of standing we hiked back up to base camp for a delicious lunch and bit of RnR before the afternoon adventures.

We walked to the river and met 4 new elephants who frolicked in the mud. Simply amazing to watch them play and be so happy. We learned a lot about elephant abuse and what signs to look for. When you can see the spine they have hauled too much weight which causes the rib cage to compress. Many have holes in their ears which owners put rope or chains through, indentions in their head from the hook and scars along their body from beating. Elephants can only safely carry 10% of their body weight yet when working they are carrying much more.

There's is a big open air lounge with Papasan chairs overlooking the first where everyone relaxes before and after meals. After seeing 0 Americans for a week and few English speakers we are soon amongst 14 Aussies, English and a few from the US - - who works in RB. It is fun to share travel stories and meet other adventurers. Our trip of 14 days is by far the shortest.. Many are 6mos- 1 year.

Our accommodations " the bunk room" open slatted floors and 4 singles with mossy nets. Simulations hard mattress. We were exhausted and were in bed by 8... Up at 6:30 for coffee and breakfast. When coming to the project you pay for "elephant time" AM and PM or you can volunteer and pay less. We opted to volunteer this AM and JD, RM and I opted for macheting - sounds fun NOT. Hot, hilly , biting ants and itchy plants. We trekked to the banana trees and cleared the vines and growth with machetes. It was fun for about 10 min a then lost its fun. But we sucked it up and did our labor. John opted to move bricks - which I wish is what we had done. Once again more unexpected adventures in Cambodia.

Afternoon of washing elephants was amazing... Buckets, hoses and brushes to clean them up. Since they were in a captivity they don't know how to properly bathe... Poor elephants.

Please don't ride elephants when you see them- they are not working animals!!