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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Index of Interesting Blog Posts

Most Amazing

 A Lone Humpback Whale    

 Panama Canal Crossing

 Isla Talon


 French pastries delivered?!

 El Salvadorian chicken boat

 America's Cup Races

 French Canal Boat


Emotional or Funny

 Reaching the Canal

 We can't catch a thing

 Flying the Dingy

 Snakes on a boat Part 1

 Snakes on a boat Part 2

 Melissa can't fly a Spinnaker

 Embarrassing laundromat trip


 Helping the Mexican bureaucracy

 Squid attack!


Best Land Side Trips

 Caiman Capture!

 Swimming in the Amazon River

 Arches National Park

 Machu Picchu

 Best Zip Line

 Paying our first bribe

 Seeing our first wild monkeys

 Evening in Tlaquepaque

 Melissa attacked by monkeys

 Most beautiful cities in the world

 Oaxaca market day

 Monte Alban ruins

 El Salvadorian wedding

 Copan ruins

Scary Stuff

 A bump in the night

 Remind me why Greece is fun?

 Tried to kill the boat owner

 Getting caught in a fishing line

 Apsaras tries to sink herself

 Dark and stormy night at sea

 Fire aboard the boat!

 A scary marina entrance

 Michoacan Mexico Unrest

 Engine trouble at sea at night

 Automatic weapons fire?

 Frogman Mike


The MacGyver Stories

 Debugging the starter problems

 Outwitting the Panama Canal

 Bringing back the icemaker

 Fixing Saltydog's autopilot

 Saltydog gets a new navigation system

 Towing a boat across the bay

 SSB Seminar

 Stabbed by a broken beer bottle in Mexico

 Autopilot failure in Alaska

 Removing the washer/dryer

 Where is that leak anyway?

 The day Dave wanted to sell the boat

Rescue Stories

 Paddleboard Rescue

 Rescue on the Amazon River

 Fuel transfer at sea

 Aground & Rescue of Joint Decision

 Day 1 and Day 2 of fixing the generator




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Day 10 – Easy Trip Home

Woke up at 7am and started getting organized for the trip home.  After breakfast we had our LPG cellulite fighting massages.  I can see a noticeable difference on my legs now.  Then our final training appointments where Anthony gave me more variations on the home workout.  And then our final lunch.

We divvied up the cash we had left for tips for everyone – which they were extremely grateful for.  Given that they live on $500 a month, a tip of $10 is a half a day’s pay.  I left most of my remaining snacks with Anthony who was happy because he rarely gets low carb snacks as they don’t exist in this part of the world.  I was able to part with them because I still had plenty for the trip home in case the airplane food was not edible for me.

After all our backup planning – we didn’t need them.  The flights home were uneventful, other than a bit of a hassle canceling one of our backup flights that the airline claimed we checked in for – but Expedia was able to straighten it out for us and got us all the money back.

Ultimately, I lost an inch on my waist and 3 lbs.  Given that I weighed 160 lbs to start, 3 lbs is 2% body weight which is healthy – likely true fat loss – plus likely a smidge of muscle gain.  Erica lost 6 lbs and three inches off her waist.  So the program clearly works!

In the end we paid $188 per day – all included – room, daily massages, every other day LPG massages, training, food and water.  And we spent $40/day in spending money on other stuff – souvenirs, spa appointments, touristy stuff.  Plus the $1700 in airfare to get there and back, though according to Kayak, you can get there for $700 if you plan ahead and travel economy.

A few notes on Thailand.  All the signs are in Thai and English so its easy to get around.  Though some of the translated English can be a bit funny.

I didn’t need my power converter because my computer charging cord can handle 110 or 220V, as can my phone charger.  We always felt safe.  Even in the poorer areas of town, we never felt anything sketchy and both Erica and I have pretty good radar from having traveled all over the world.

I would happily go back again.  In fact depending on how the job search goes, I just might!

Day 9 – The wrong place to pick a fight

Woke up around 7am.  Have routinely been sleeping exactly 8 hours solidly and waking up refreshed.  Must be those massages.  The heat rash is looking much better, so maybe the coconut oil theory is working.  Did a bunch of email and blogging and then headed up for breakfast.  Eggs again today.  Soon after had a terrible stomach ache.  Probably too many eggs this trip.  Dang it.

I booked another flight home tomorrow as a backup – cancelable for 24 hours.Erica has a flight out Thursday to Spokane for a quick overnighter, and then departs Saturday for a week in Mexico.  So getting home has become more or less imperative.   Good news is that according to the Hong Kong airport officials, operations are returning to normal today.  So fingers crossed that by tomorrow all will be well.

Then onto workout using the “do by yourself” exercise routine that Anthony designed for me.  Erica volunteered to do it too because it sounded like more fun than the treadmill.  We traded off exercises which gave us both the right amount of time to rest between sets.  The hour flew by.

Then a protein shake before boxing class.  These champions that come to teach us are a riot.  They make a big deal (think Abbot and Costello antics) when you land a punch or a kick solidly.  Today my trainer tried to actually get me to hit him.  Couldn’t do it.  I can slug away at the protective pads they wear but I can’t take a shot at him for real.  Seems my boxing career might be over before it begins.

When I came downstairs for my class, Anthony said that some weird guy had come into the gym by jumping the fence.  Early this morning he came in and did a work out.  Shortly before 1pm he came back, and when Anthony asked him to check in with the front desk he said, “go back to work, you are just standing around talking”.  Anthony insisted he leave, which he did but then came back.  This time Eric (Erica’s trainer) went to try to talk to him.  Eric was joined by Erica’s boxing trainer (a world champion boxer) and some of the other staff.  This time the guy agreed to come back later and pay the membership fees.  But the he showed up a fourth time in the lobby while Anthony was there pretending not to speak English.  Anthony tried google translate on his phone, but the guy just stood there.  So Anthony stood in front of him refusing to budge for a full 10 minutes before the guy finally left.  The girls in the office were all bent out of shape about the whole incident.  And lets be super clear – this is unbelievably stupid on the guy’s part.  If the girls in the office decide to make a call – it might well be to the boxing training facility next door – at which point a bunch of guys show up and he might not be heard from again.  This is a family friendly place – so you have to believe that the locals are not going to take kindly to an out of town bully messing with the young girls in the office.  I kid you not, the boxing training is next door – here’s a picture from the pool on the roof of our building!

After boxing it was time for a shower and then lunch.  Followed by a dip in the pool and a bit of relaxing reading a book.  And then (sadly) the very last of the evening yoga classes with Mel.  We love her classes – they are so relaxing and increase flexibility.  Then dinner and (again sadly) the last of our evening massages.

Day 8 – Chaos day

Awoke just before 6am this morning to a text message from Cathay Pacific saying that our flight today from Phuket to Hong Kong was canceled.  I hopped on the Cathay Pacific website to see if they had rerouted us.  No such luck.  But I could check in for the Hong Kong to Seattle leg if I wanted to.  Not helpful.

An alert on the website indicated the source of the issue is the riots and protests in Hong Kong over Hong Kong’s new law that would allow extradition of suspects to the jurisdiction where a crime occurred.  Hong Kong did this in response to a murder that occurred in Taiwan where the suspect fled to Hong Kong and nothing could be done to enact justice.  However, opponents of the law are concerned that the law would apply to political dissidents from Taiwan and China.  The problem with the airport isn’t so much riots there as work stoppage protests – air traffic controllers, ground crews, and airline crews called in sick in droves – thereby affecting air travel.

The challenge for us is that the only routing Cathay Pacific flies from Phuket to Seattle is through Hong Kong.  After figuring all that out, I booked us another flight home on Delta through Shanghai that leaves at 11pm tonight rather than our planned 6:30PM departure, though with a significantly longer layover it puts us home 12 hours later.  And even though the price is the same as the refund we would get from Cathay Pacific, its coach instead of the cushy Premium seats we already paid for.  Its on a 24 free cancelation deal, so having the backup plan in place, I could then determine what other options we have.

By then it was almost 7am and the front desk here at Action Point was opening up. I jetted downstairs to determine if they had room for us to stay longer – which they do.  We can stay till Thursday from their POV with no impact.  Then back upstairs to text Erica to let her know I was working it, and she said to come on over to her room for a quick conversation.  We decide that we could stay longer provided Erica is home by Thursday morning at the latest.

So I get on the phone with Expedia to see what they say about our options – since the original flight was booked through them.  The agent called Cathay Pacific and we sat on hold for about an hour.  Thank goodness for free WiFi calling through T-Mobile while traveling!  They were able to rebook us on the exact same itinerary as our original ticket two days from now.  So that will work – provided that the Hong Kong airport is back up and running in two days hence.  We canceled the backup ticket, but tomorrow, I am going to book another one that we will cancel later for free too – so we have a running backup plan.

Bumping our return out two days then led to a bit of a scramble rearranging a few meetings I had scheduled this week.  And I called a few folks back home to check in and see what fun I would be missing at work.

After which it was time for breakfast.  Followed by another LPG cellulite fighting massage.  Then onto our regular personal training appointment.  I asked Anthony to design a work out that I could do myself while traveling over the next few weeks before I can find a gym and get into a routine there.  He designed one that I can do with just a few weights – which I ordered on Amazon so they will be home before I am.

Upon return to my room after lunch, I discovered that Alaska Air had rescheduled our flights to Puerto Vallarta for Christmas.  Sigh.  Some days… wouldn’t be a big deal except that we are meeting my uncle and his wife there and we were all coordinated time wise so we could pile in a single rental car to make the trek out to the AirBnb where we are staying.  So shot a quick email to my aunt to instruct her to go hang out at the marina next to the airport till we get there.  Lots of great restaurants and a nice view – so way better place to hang out for a couple of hours than the airport!

Another ice bath.  Ahhhh.  I’ve developed a bad case of heat rash so the ice water feels really good and quells the itching.  Heat rash is caused by clogged sweat glands that get unhappy because they can’t release sweat.  Turns out that one of the things that can cause the rash is use of creams or oils that are petroleum based that can clog the glands.  Yesterday I bought coconut oil to substitute for the oil that the massage therapists here use as I suspect that might be part of the problem.  Yes, ok, maybe you can get too many massages!  Not that this stops or discourages me from continuing with my daily massage mind you.  But for sure this puts an end to hot yoga!

Day 7 – Every possible cheesy touristy thing

We started out early today, alarm set for 5:30 for a 6am departure for our hike to the big buddha.  We hopped in the taxi and were dropped off at the base of the hill.  The grade was at least 7% at the bottom. It would flatten out for brief periods, but was pretty much uphill all the way.  Others had warned us "you will feel like crawling up the hill".  The yoga teacher told us that we could do it in 40 minutes.  Not so much.  Though admittedly after you start to get warmed up it does get a little easier.

All over Thailand there are wild dogs.  They seem well fed and friendly for the most part.  Though we were told not to wander off the road because they can get aggressive if you wander into what they consider their turf.

We hit stretches where there were little restaurants overlooking the view.  Had they been open we might have stopped and given up.

Only in Thailand will you see a sign like this one.

Though we were saddened when we saw elephants being kept in small areas - chained up and later brought out with saddles for people to ride on.  Elephants belong in the wild.  They are such beautiful and intelligent creatures.  There used to be 200,000 in Thailand, now only a few thousand.

After a mere hour and forty minutes, we are nearly there!

We had been passed by numerous runners getting their exercise by jogging up the hill.  Many were at the top to cheer us across the finish line - despite being the snails by comparison.

Then at last the big buddha!  It is still under construction underneath, but the exterior is spectacular.

And the view from the top of the hill was worth all the pain!

Everywhere there are wishes or notes written on durable metallic like paper.

In a tent structure beside the buddha the monks are praying.  I asked before taking this picture (most didn't).  And the smiley guy on the right nodded yes.  I then bowed in the traditional Thai greeting and they bowed back.  I figure that must be good luck.

As they are still working on the construction, you can purchase a tile ($10 USD) and write on it and it will end up in the facility somewhere.

After that we hopped back in the taxi (who had now been hanging out for three hours) and rode back to Action Point for breakfast.  We decided since there were no activities on Sunday we should go do the tourist stuff and see what there was to see.  So I texted the taxi driver and asked if he was available to take us around all afternoon.  He quoted us a price of $400 BHT per hour ($13 USD).  Along the way he told us he would charge us a maximum of 5 hours no matter how long we were out.  But we told him no, he had quoted us a price and we agreed to it.  So in the end, we were out for 7 hours, so we paid him $110 USD with tip.  He was nearly embarrassed to keep it - having already made $40 taking us to the hike this morning.  Thai people here typically live on $500 USD per month.  So in one day he made more than a week's pay.  But as you will see - he totally did right taking us to numerous fun places.

Our first stop was the elephant sanctuary.  The taxi driver had never been to this particular one - but after a few wrong turns and a drive past the cock fighting ring (bleck) we found it.  For $88 USD each (most expensive touristy thing we did) we got to play with a baby elephant and two full grown ones.  They told us that the baby boy was 5 years old and his dad was killed by hunters for the ivory.  The two full grown females had been rescued from "slavery" - you could see the scars on their legs where they had been chained.  At this facility they are rehabilitated and returned to the wild.  Whether this is a tall tale for tourists remains unknown.  But we like to think its true.

When we arrived there was a group of tourists but they were on their way out - so we essentially got an hour with the elephants all to ourselves.

The baby elephant "kissed" us.  This tickled and was hilarious.  The trunk is strong and can create suction - I'm surprised we didn't have hickies.

We got to feed the baby elephant.  He would go pick up a bottle of soy milk, and bring it to you, and then open wide so you could dump it down his throat.

They then took a hose and filled his trunk with water.  A full grown elephant can hold nearly three gallons of water.  The baby elephant would then spray us with the water.

After doing all his tricks, the baby elephant was allowed to play in the mud.  Apparently they love mud - much like pigs.  It protects them from insects and sunburn.  And then he got his bath in the water.  And then it was time to feed the big ones their lunch - bananas.

After the last video clip – the other big elephant came over to share the bananas.  The first one would take a banana and eat it.  But you have to believe that for these giant beasts that a banana is pretty much like a gummy bear would be to us.  So the second one pretended to eat them, all the while storing up a big bunch in the curl of her trunk.  Once she had accumulated a big bunch of them, then she would toss them in her mouth and chow down on them.

At this point we would have been allowed to get in and bathe the elephants in the muddy water.  But as we had a long list of activities planned, we figured we would head out.  This caused a scurry of activity.  Oh no! You must not go!  You must eat first!  So they brought out some fresh cut pineapple - and despite fruit not being on our diets we didn't feel we could refuse.  Then the reason became clear - they had taken pictures of us with the elephants and put them in cheesy elephant frames for purchase.  $15 USD.  Yes, suckers that we are, we bought them.  Cuz all the money goes to the elephants.

Next stop was Tiger Kingdom.  While Melissa's favorite animal is elephants, Erica's favorite is Tigers.  Some years ago when in Bangkok, she visited a Tiger sanctuary run by monks.  This was much more touristy.  It was essentially a zoo where the tigers were kept in relatively small cages, and people would parade through the cages having their picture taken.  The handlers would often poke at the tigers to get them to pose for the pictures.

Ultimately probably not the best environment for an endangered species.   None the less, for $40 USD each, we got our 10 minutes with a couple of the smallest of the tigers.  Note that they mostly slept through the whole thing - clearly accustomed to the crowds.  Though one of the baby tigers tried to make his escape over the fence, but jumped back into his cage when yelled at by a handler.

Melissa with a tiger by the tail...

The taxi driver then suggested we stop by a jewelry store where there is an amusement park ride.  You get in what looks like a mining car and wind through "caves".  Each cave tells a different part of the gem journey from formation when the earth was young, to being mined and the different mining techniques, to being made into jewelry, and finally the history of gems through human history.  Its actually pretty well done.

Of course at the end you are each assigned a sales clerk to lead you through the giant jewelry store.  We wandered around looking at all the fancy jewelry and trying stuff on that we would never buy.

In the end they lead you to the "cheap" room - at least relatively speaking.  Erica bought a pair of earrings, and I bought a pearl necklace and two bracelets.  We each spent about $130 USD.  So seemingly cheap by US prices for real pearls.

By then we were starving!  It was 4pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we asked the taxi driver to take us to a place where the locals eat.  Diet is good and all at "fat camp" but we can't leave Thailand without eating one local meal!  I ordered green curry and crispy pork ribs.  Erica ordered another spicier curry and some "local leaves" with dip.  It was yummy.  The next day when I confessed to my trainer that we had a "cheat meal" he asked what I had eaten.  After telling him, he said, that's not cheating!  That's good healthy food - you even skipped the rice!

Then the driver dropped us at the local Sunday street market.  

We have a rule in our house – nothing can be purchased unless it has a specific place where it will live once we take it home.  This is what happens when you get old – you find yourself with too much stuff.  So everything you purchase has to be perishable like food, or has to replace something else that will be tossed out.  With this in mind, I choose my purchases in the market very carefully.  I bought:

  • Pajamas covered in elephants.  Cuz, who doesn’t need those?
  • An ankle bracelet with elephants and bells.  Erica says now she can hear me coming, so that’s a plus.
  • And don’t forget the elephant frame with the picture of me with the elephant.  Because the money went to the elephants.  (Anybody doubt that Melissa loves elephants?)
  • A pair of earrings – because, well, I thought they were cute.  And we girls can always use more earrings.
  • A new sarong that is in a lovely batik fabric that matches my swimsuit.
  • A new hat because.  Well, um, because I’m pretty sure I need a new hat.
  • A present for Dave.

All totaled I spent a whopping $55 USD.  I love Thailand.

Then we hung out and visited the local temple while awaiting the taxi driver to pick us up and take us back to Action Point.  Exhausted but feeling like we had done all the cheesy touristy stuff there was to do!

Once back, we had dinner and then our massage.  Time to pack up and head home tomorrow.  Or so we thought.  <Insert gloomy foreshadowing music here.>

Day 6 – Busting my ass

The day started out as usual, rise early, head to breakfast at 8, and then first fitness class at 9am.  It’s a cross fit class, but with a twist.  This time we were working in teams with everyone’s performance determining who “won”.  This of course is intended to create competition to both be fun and motivate people to work harder.  But this tends to work against me when it comes to physical activities because I will push myself harder than I should.  I know this.  You would hope I would compensate.  Alas no.  Half way through having exhausted myself, I managed to reinjure my glute muscle that I already weakened with an injury a few days ago.  So I had to desert my team mates half way through.

Then onto the LPG massage.  Go away cellulite!  We won’t know if this worked till we get some additional treatments back in the US.

I called Dave back home because I have not talked to him in over a week.  He is busy trying to get the boat read for our two-week trip in September (more blog posts on that coming soon).

Then we decided to head off to the spa yet again.  We got facials and foot massages.  Yes, I know, we’ve got our daily massage.  But you know they don’t spend a lot of time on your feet.  So our feet were feeling neglected.  Total cost for the two of us combined was - $66 USD.  Crazy cheap.  Funny part was that when the treatment was over – I got up and the therapist said “Good Morning” at which point Erica started laughing.  I then asked “who was snoring?” because I had been listening to someone snore and couldn’t figure out if it was someone on the left (Erica) or the guy to my right.  Apparently, that would be me that was snoring.  Huh.  Didn’t know you could be just enough asleep to snore, but still enough awake to wonder who it was.  This exchange just made Erica laugh all the harder.

Then it was time for our second work out of the day – another round of Thai boxing.

In the evening we hung out in the pool and then had dinner.  The “inmates” here that are part of the weight loss program are from English speaking countries – UK, US, Canada, Australia.  So we are starting to make friends.  Tonight, we chatted with a guy who was a cop back in NJ.  Very funny dude.  Claimed that being a cop was “like high school with guns” because it was all about who was sleeping with who and who wouldn’t sit with who in the break room.

Day 5 – Aches and pains but no whining

Awoke this morning and was relieved to discover that my pulled glute muscle is doing ok.  I credit the ice bath.  It’s still a bit sore, but I can do the stairs without favoring my left leg.  Usual routine of breakfast at 8, hang out by the pool trying to solve the murder game, and then 10:40am hot yoga.  We are doing better at hot yoga and not getting so overwhelmed by the heat.  Then time for a protein shake.  I was feeling very low energy so I went to lie down for a bit before my personal training time with Anthony.  I showed up moving slow.  I suggested getting on the treadmill for a bit of a walk to see how I was doing.  Within 5 minutes I was jogging.  Haven’t done that in years.  OK I only jogged for a couple of minutes – but small victories are still victories.  Then onto the rowing machine – did 1000 meters in just under 6 minutes.  I’m told that’s pretty good.  I’ve nothing to compare it to.

Erica was moving slow this morning too.  She has been getting progressively more sore.  She complained of this to Eric her trainer today and he decided on some different exercises which seemed to relieve some of the soreness.  Goes to show that you can’t do the same exercises again and again, you have to mix it up.  This is Eric her trainer.

After training it was time for lunch and a float in the pool.  Then another ice bath/steam room rotation where we went back and forth.  In theory this is supposed to be good for flushing toxins from your system.  I don’t know about that – but it does make you feel better – so who cares why?

Then time for stretching yoga on the roof while watching the sunset.  Ahhhh.

You can see the big buddha from the roof.  Plan is to hike up to see it on Sunday.

Then dinner – yummy salmon and (yet another) green salad with balsamic dressing.  There are tons of geckos here.  They come out particularly at night in the restaurant.  They are all over the ceiling and its fun to watch them scurry around.

We went to the evening class on Chakra Meditation.  Erica has been looking forward to this all week.  She meditates all the time.  No one but us showed up for the class so it was like a private lesson.  She had us lay down on the floor and she started to whisper what she wanted us to do.  I remember maybe the first 5 minutes before I was sound asleep.  Woke up just in time to head back to the room for the nightly massage.

Day 4 – Opposite day

I was up at 5:30 am and wide awake.  Apparently, all I need these days is 8 solid hours.  Couldn’t convince my body that because it was still dark out that it should go back to sleep.  So got up and headed up to the top floor restaurant so that I could do some work and write these trip blog posts while watching the sunrise.

Good news is that I don’t have any bruises from yesterday’s boxing match – much to my pleasant surprise!

We had early morning Yoga class.  This time another version of the hammock class.  You use the hammocks sort of like a TRX to help you work out.  In the end, Mel taught us how to hang upside down in them.

Here is a fast action 30 second video of the class:

Then headed to the restaurant for breakfast, after which it was time for another endermologie massage.  Then lunch – another great Thai chicken curry.

Then a workout with Anthony.  Second exercise he did was step ups on a box.  Its conceptually easy – you step on the box like it’s a stair alternating between right and left feet.  I was very hesitant because the box was quite high – like 18”.  I asked Anthony to use the shorter box – 8” high.  And he was like “no way you got this”.  Hmmmm.  Right leg no problem.  First step up with the left leg – riiiippp – tore the left glute muscle and wrenched the left knee too.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.  I managed to finish the work out – but was limping.  And discovered that going up the stairs was quite painful.  This is so not good.  Asked the front desk if I could get an ice bath today to see if that would help.  They had the giant blocks of ice in the bath within 40 minutes (where do they come from?).  I did two rounds of 10 minutes sitting in the cold hoping that would help.  Oddly, 10 minutes went by fast and I would have been quite content to sit in there longer.  But Erica did some quick google searches that said that you shouldn’t stay in longer than that.

Meanwhile I suggested Erica sit in the ice bath too – cuz why waste the ice?  So she got in and was shivering cold.  And she is always the one that is warm.  So today I’m content in the ice and she’s cold?  Ok, this is officially deemed opposite day cuz clearly the world has gone upside down and backwards.

Meanwhile one of the other residents went to the kitchen and made himself a protein shake.  No sign of the kitchen staff, and I was hungry too.  So I went over and made myself one.  But mid blender mixing, the cook came back.  I got scolded – no one but the cook is allowed in the kitchen!

We had planned to hire a driver and go see the sites around the island, but I was not feeling like doing anything other than resting my injured butt.  (No wise cracks!).  Erica and I then hung out in the pool, and got out another murder game to play.  We are one puzzle from being done with all three that I brought along.  Then what are we going to do?!

We headed off for evening relaxation Yoga.  I wondered how that might go, but other than one exercise that I had to modify to make it work with my injury it was fine.  Evening Yoga is really all about stretching and meditation.  Tonight’s class used big heavy flat weights (30 KG) – the kind you put on a bar and weight lift with.  At first, we lay on the floor with our legs at a 90 degree angle up against the wall, and the instructor put the weights on our chest.  We then sat with the weight for several minutes.  This increases the stretch and makes you have to work harder to take in a deep breath, and is oddly relaxing.  So the class was essentially a bunch of different positions with a similar theme.

By the time we walked back upstairs – my injury was feeling much better.  Still a bit of an ache but no sharp pain.  Fingers crossed that tomorrow it doesn’t stiffen up.  Will also take another half a muscle relaxer to try and make sure of that.

Dinner was a spicy shrimp and pork dish with another big green salad.

After dinner, back to our rooms to relax and await our massage before bed.

Day 3 - Isn't the other guy supposed to get bruises when you box?

Bounced awake after 8 hours sleep. Feeling pretty good. Sore in places but not so stiff I can’t move. Did some work on the computer before meeting Erica for breakfast at 8. Our first class wasn’t until 10:40 so we had a couple of hours to kill. We decided to play with the murder puzzles (https://www.huntakiller.com/). I brought three of the six in the series with me. Was fun because it was like old times working together.  Stuff she spotted I wouldn’t have and vice versa.  Erica, “hey what are these funny white dots in this painting?”, me “that’s Morse code!”.

We then did hot yoga. Its yoga done in a studio heated to 105 degrees. No that’s not a typo. You sweat like a pig. Theory is that it forces a lot of toxins out of your body, and lets your muscles get warm so they stretch. Can’t say whether I think it’s better for your muscles, but for sure you sweat like a pig. About 10 minutes before the end of class I got nauseous. Probably not dehydrated as we have been drinking so much water, but just overwhelmed by the heat. Erica could barely stand up afterwards. She was thinking it was food related.  After some debate we went up to the restaurant and ordered her some coconut water. They have piles of coconuts delivered every morning that have been machettied down so they are easy to pop open and put a straw into. We’ve seen other people drinking them down. So we gave one to Erica – and sure enough 5 minutes later she was fine. So electrolytes. So I decided to have one after my second work out too as a preventative measure. I’m not crazy about the taste, but the folks here swear by them as restoring electrolytes.

I had a protein shake – this time protein powder, coconut milk (as opposed to coconut water), and some avocado. No better than yesterday’s mix. But Erica tells me that the ProClub has a new shake mix that is vegan – meaning its plant material now instead of soy. She says it tastes great. So, if that’s the truth, I might be able to go back to shakes in the morning. Whoo hoo.

I’m sore but not unmanageably so, and better after the yoga. And I noticed this afternoon that the stairs are getting easier. There are 4 floors – my room is on 2. Main gym on 1. Restaurant/pool on 4. So you go up and down all day. There is an elevator but I am determined not to use it. As I headed upstairs I realized I wasn’t dreading the stairs anymore because they don’t seem so hard.  Progress and its only day 3.

I then headed off to take a shower to cool down before kick boxing class. This was 1:1 with an instructor. They just smile and laugh when you pound on their padded hands or belly. If you do it right and really land a punch they light up. It is pretty funny really. And a good workout. We shall see what kind of bruises I have tomorrow. You learn not only to pound with your fists (punch, upper cut, etc.) but also to land elbow jabs and kicks pretty hard. So I warned Erica not to freak if I show up tomorrow with a lot of black and blue. Don’t hurt at all – just thinking how easy I typically bruise. We shall see.

Meanwhile Erica did her workout too – she is deceptively strong.  She keeps fooling her trainer because he doesn’t believe her when she explains what she can do.

Then a second shower, followed by lunch – a chicken salad. And then more murder puzzle game – solving the second box worth. After that we had our daily massage. The woman who did my massage was a masochist. She asked if I wanted a Thai massage and I was like “yes!”. It’s my favorite kind. But she wailed on me so hard I must have said ouch 50 times (no exaggeration.) Ok, admittedly afterwards I feel less stiff and sore. Yes, I know that breaking up the scar tissue helps. But man does it hurt at the time.

Then we piled in a van to head to the beach for stretching yoga at sunset.

Gorgeous beach. It’s the “off season” so there are not very many people here. Still too many for my taste though. I can’t imagine how many there are in high season. We were told we would see 50 (seems about right) and in high season there are 500.  There are wild dogs here but they are tame.  One came to join us for our yoga session.

Since its Dave’s birthday today (tomorrow his time), I wanted to send Dave a “happy birthday” message.  So Mel helped me write “Dave” on the beach so I could take a photo and tell him he was here in spirit with us for his birthday.  The ocean didn’t exactly cooperate though – attempting to erase her writings before I could take a picture.

After that we headed back for dinner – salmon and a salad.  Then off to bed.  I was sound asleep by 9:30.

MacGuyver knows his fridge system best

Shortly after we moved the boat to Carillon Marina in June 2018 all the coolant leaked out of the refrigeration system.  So we called Cliff Marine service to come take a look. Dave was certain that there was a leak in the system somewhere. Cliff had serviced the unit and filled the coolant before we left Seattle for Mexico in 2012.  So he knows Apsaras’ fridge system. Figured calling him was logical.


He came out June 2018.  Dave wasn’t present but Melissa was.  She explained that Dave was sure we had a leak because the fridge and freezer suddenly stopped working.  Cliff disagreed. Cliff was sure that what happened was that the coolant leaked out slowly over time because we hadn’t had the system recharged in years.  And he swore that while the coolant leaks out slowly, it reaches a point where it can’t cool anymore and hence seems to suddenly stop working. He checks things over and refills the coolant and charges us $450 for the service.  

Dave was suspicious this was not the problem, but sometimes you need a process of elimination to find the real problem, so he went along.  File this under the category of MacGyver knows best. A bit like when your doctor tells you what’s wrong with you when you know that the doctor doesn’t know your body like you do.

Ten days later, Dave discovered that the refrigerant had leaked out again.  There was some dried green stuff that apparently leaked out the back of the pressure switch on the high pressure side.  He can’t say for sure, but he doesn’t remember seeing this before. His theory is the sensor melted when the system overheated due to low refrigerant not the other way around.

A week later Cliff comes back and replaces both the pressure switches.  Cliff is sure these were the source of the leak. Cliff claims to have done a nitrogen leak test.  A nitrogen leak test is where you take all the coolant out of the system and pressurize with nitrogen - which is a much smaller molecule than the coolant.  So in theory it should leak out faster than the coolant. Cliff says that everything is now fine. This costs another $700. Again Dave is dubious this is the actual source of the leak.  (You all know what comes next.)

Two weeks later - sure enough all the coolant leaked out again.  Disgusted at spending a ton of money and making no forward progress - having damaged both pressure switches after Cliff claimed it was fixed, Dave decides to go buy a set of pressure gages and coolant so he can diagnose the system himself.  Once properly equipped, he adds some coolant to the system and turns off the fridge side - running only the freezer and the system continues to run for months with no problem. Ok, so now we know the problem is on the fridge side.

With the freezer running fine, for short weekend outings, we freeze a gallon jug of water in the freezer and move it over to the fridge to keep it cool.  We went all last summer and winter with it this way.

But eventually it’s gotta get fixed.

So we tried to call Cliff again, but he’s retired so he referred us to Ben.  Ben showed up June 28 to try to diagnose the system. Melissa instructed essentially, “don’t give up till you find the leak cuz there is one and it's in the fridge side of the system”.  Several hours later Ben said that he thought the leak was in the fridge plate itself. The way the system works there is a plate in both the fridge and the freezer through which the coolant runs taking away the heat and thereby cooling the plate down to freezing or near freezing.  The plate has to be sent in for repair/remanufacture. Ben removed the plate and capped the system. He then refilled the system with Nitrogen so that he could leave it that way while the plate was being repaired. That way we can be sure when the plate is reinstalled that it is indeed the sole leak.

Here are some pictures of the plate being remanufactured - they had to replace all the piping inside:


And on Dave’s birthday, Ben came back with the plate and reinstalled it.  And low and behold no Nitrogen had leaked out meanwhile. Cost for Ben and the plate rebuild was $1800.  But finally fridge is back in action and ready for our two week upcoming cruise to Canada!

Day 2 - How many massages can one get in a single day?

Woke up early this morning at 6am despite having taken a half a muscle relaxer last night. Drat. Breakfast was silly. A bowl of cooked beans in some sauce alongside some steamed veggies. Nowhere near enough protein. Seems that without eggs the kitchen has no idea how to feed me breakfast. Later Anthony (my trainer) said to just ask for bacon or ham if that happens again. Though they will think it odd as the notion of meat for breakfast does not exist here.

Was dragging for the first work out which was like a cross fit class. The instructor (who today happened to be Anthony) had rounds of various exercises – about half of which involved squats. I was like “not happening”. So for like half the exercises I just made up something else to do from all the stuff Tiffany used to make us do at the ProClub. I did that thing with the medicine ball where you sit on the ground and twist back and forth touching it to the ground. And wall sits. Later Anthony said that he was glad that I adjusted the workout to suit my own fitness level.

After that I was beat. Really dragging. So went for a protein shake. This time I went and sat at the bar and instructed them on how to make it. I told them I wanted coconut milk instead of water, and they added some almond butter. And ice – to make it more like a milkshake. Still not great but edible – not nearly as disgusting as yesterday. And I got a good dose of fat. Then went and laid down for 30 minutes after which I started to feel better. They tell us that low electrolytes will make people super tired here because you sweat so much in the heat. They suggest coconut water. So the coconut milk in the shake likely perked me up.

Then time for the LPG massage. https://www.endermologie.com/en/endermologie-lpg/ Device that massages – feels good – and is supposed to reduce the cellulite. And improve circulation. Might have to go for some sessions after I get home – but I’ll bet they cost more than the $26 per session we pay here.

Then personal trainer workout. Lunges. Bleck. Could be worse I suppose – could be burpees. Then lunch – chicken breast and salad. After which we hung out in the pool for a while. Then I got cold. Yes, that’s right, cold. So we got out of the pool. I actually love the weather here. Cools off in the evening so that you can just sit in the open-air restaurant and enjoy. We drink a LOT of water every day though. Today I drank an entire gallon.

I realized I needed a pedicure. So we texted Mel the yoga teacher and she told us where to go. Went down to reception had them call to make an appointment and call us a taxi. We jetted off only to get to the area where all the massage shops are – it’s a street lined on both sides with like every other place offering massages and other spa services. The taxi driver says “which one”, and we are like, ummmmm….. But then I saw one that looked like the pictures on the website Mel directed us to. Voila! The hotel told me there would be an ATM across the street since we’ve not gotten any local currency. Alas no, there was a money exchange but not an ATM. Back in the taxi and down a couple of blocks to the 7-Eleven (they are all over the place here) where there was an ATM. Then back to the spa. Only to be told that we had called their other location to make the reservation. Doh. But not to worry they can take us in. Good thing because we asked the taxi to come retrieve us in an hour. Mel was right the place is amazing. They have an open-air garden in the ceiling.

The interior is also gorgeous with brass bowls for feet washing.

So I got my pedicure and Erica decided on a facial – which came with a massage (second of the day). She said it was pure bliss. For the pedicure and facial I paid $1000 BHT plus $100 BHT tip. That comes to $36 USD for both. (Later we were told we overpaid.) Erica is like – lets come back and do that again only this time get a Thai massage and a facial. I’m like “yeah, but we have massages at the hotel every day”, and she’s like “yeah so?”. Hmmm. Yeah, good point. More massages for everyone!

Back at the hotel now it’s time for end of day stretch/wind down yoga class for an hour. Ah. Meditate stretch. Yep nice and relaxed. Mel is the yoga instructor and all-around fun organizer.  She has been all over the world studying holistic medicine.

Then time for dinner. Some kind of pork soup that was pretty good.  Then back to the room for my evening massage.  My second since I had the high-tech one this morning.  Will be Erica’s third of the day since she also got one with the facial. We rescheduled most days so that the massage comes after dinner so we can just roll over and go to sleep.

Yeah, this definitely does not suck. Though I am getting more sore. We shall see whether I can walk tomorrow or not… Be nice if I can since I get to learn to box tomorrow. Erica did it today and she said that when she punched the trainer really hard he would laugh and get a big smile. And no apparently the trainer doesn’t hit back.

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