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Postcards From Phuket, Thailand -- Rachel Buehler

Every so often when a U.S. Women's National Team plays out of the country, a player will write an e-postcard, filling in the fans back home on the happenings of the team, off-field activities, and anything else on their mind.  Today, 19-year-old defender Rachel Buehler checks in from Phuket, Thailand, where the USA is preparing to open the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship on Thursday.  Buehler, who was a member of the 2002 U.S. U-19 World Champions, has recovered from two ACL surgeries in the last two years to make it here.  Today, she shares her thoughts on Phuket Island, spotting elephants and her second go-around at a world championship.

I must say Phuket, Thailand is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and that's saying a lot, because I'm from San Diego.  Being able to wade out into the sea and watch the sunset as we cool down from our afternoon training is something none of us will soon forget.  As we ride the bus to training, the sights and sound are definitely different than anything we are used to.  There are hundreds of scooters whizzing by as we pass huge houses and tiny huts, and streets just packed with shops.  We even saw some guys riding elephants the other day.

It's been fun having a police escort everywhere we go, but we seem to be forcing some scooters and cars off the road.  I thought we had a bad driver on our trip to China, but this has been a bit scary.  The fun part of the bus rides, besides playing chicken with the cars coming at us, is that everyone in town seems to be waving at us as we go by, so I like to wave back at them.

We have been really focused on resting when we are not on the field, so the players have been passing their time in many different ways.  A bunch of the girls have been playing poker, but I'm not much of a card player, so I've been shopping and doing a lot of painting by numbers.  I've been working hard on a dolphin scene and I think it's come out pretty well.   Does it sound like I am boring?  Well, maybe a little bit, but I am still having lots of fun with the girls and enjoying just being in such a wonderful place.

I am rooming with Alexa Orand who is the youngest player on the team and I kind of like being her big sister.  She is a great kid who just loves life, but sometimes she does or says what pops into her mind without really thinking about it, so I have to keep an eye on her.  Everyone says I'm kind of the mom on the team, and I guess that might be true.  I make sure everyone has sunscreen and everyone uses my anti-itch cream for their bug bites.  I guess I'm kind of a veteran on the team, but I certainly don't feel old at all.  Well, maybe my body is starting to feel kind of old, but I think because I have freckles and red hair and I am smiling all the time, people still think I'm 16.  I guess that's a good thing.

The team is pumped and we are anxious to get the tournament going.  I think we are a bit nervous, but it's not bad nervous, it's excited nervous.  We know all the other teams are going to be really good, but we have trained for so long and have become so close-knit. We feel that will play a big part in putting it all together on the field.  I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to play twice in a world championship.  The first time around, everything was just new and crazy.  It was awesome, but it was almost overwhelming. This time I've had more time to digest it and experience it and I think I will enjoy the tournament in a whole new way.

My dad is coming in a few days to watch, but I have to say "hi" to my mom and little sister, my grandma and aunts and thank them for all the support they given me over the past four years I've been with the U-19s.  It's been a great journey.  And I can't forget to wish my Stanford teammates good luck in the NCAA playoffs!  I miss you all.

Take Care,