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Operation Koh Samui: Ash’s Birthday

Baan Taling Ngam Resort - PalmsAdjusting our travel plans on a daily basis is nothing new for us. We have acclimated quite well to the windy, and sometimes unknown, world path. But for Ash’s 27th birthday, we were determined to celebrate in a relaxing and charming environment. That required endless hours of research and what resulted was a brilliantly executed plan. After re-routing Southeast Asia and India, Ashley’s birth anniversary would be observed in gorgeous Koh Samui, Thailand.

Baan Taling Ngam Resort - Beach Room 103 View

Shot Through ResortAshley’s folks provided me with a birthday budget and I whittled down the list of potential Thai islands and hotels. Knowing that yours truly would share in the birthday spoils, I was resolute in stretching the money. We boarded a bus in Ao Nang on Thailand’s West Coast with Ashley having no idea where the wind would take us. Not until we transferred from bus to ferry four hours later did she know Koh Samui was our destination. With cuckoo clock precision, a driver from Baan Taling Ngam Resort awaited our arrival and whisked us to the clifftop perch. Having found a steal of a deal on the World Wide Web (invented by Al Gore), Ash was ecstatic to rest her dogs in decadence for five nights after a ½ year globetrotting on a shoestring.

Infinity Pool Sunset from Baan Taling Gnam Resort - Dock

Infinity Pool - Greg's SplashThe incredible pools, immaculate rooms, warm ocean, heavenly sunsets, britches busting breakfasts, sandy beach, accommodating staff… we were thrilled. Some guests turned a weary eye when our worn backpacks were unloaded. As they should, we didn’t fit in here so well! That feeling set sail once we uncorked a bottle of complimentary wine and we relaxed in the lap of luxury. We had seen sunsets on five continents, but the intense colors over the Bay of Thailand were something else while perched high above the sea. And there was an unannounced comedy show for all guests to enjoy, except for me.

Beach Baan Taling Ngam Resort from Beach

Greg Trying to WindsurfThe beach briefing lasted all of five minutes and in no time I was crashing into rocks, docks, and coral trying to windsurf. The northwesterly wind was steady as was my determination to succeed. Going down wind was thoroughly enjoyable, but finding the proper angle and balance while traveling into the wind proved frustrating. My feet, previously diced by the Andaman Sea, paid a heavy price with the sharp coral just two feet below the blue waves. Up, down, up, down, up, cruise for thirty glorious seconds, splash. After forty tumultuous minutes trying to windsurf, I was defeated and humiliated. No doubt, those imbibing on pina coladas beachside had a good laugh at my expense. Upset with myself, I gave Ashley the silent treatment for two hours.

Nursing Greg's Feet Back To Health Sunset over Taling Ngam Beach

Couples MassageAlas, the birthday girl’s day was upon us. The resort offered “breakfast in bed” at a king’s ransom, so I did the next best thing and prepared plates of food from the delicious (and included) buffet. Waking the newly 27 Ashley, she was touched by my thoughtfulness. Enjoying the breathtaking view as the morning slipped away, Ash was brought to tears as she read emailed well wishes from family and friends. Two particularly exciting bits of info were also disclosed on the special day. First, Ashley’s entire family was booked on a flight into Switzerland and out of Italy, a Miller invasion of Europe would reunite us for 11 days. Secondly, though early in the gestation period, my Brother and Sister-In-Law were expecting their first child! Elated, the time for our couples massage had arrived. Who knows where that sixty minutes went… it was that relaxing. Having notified the resort it was Ash’s birthday, the spa provided a free milk bath. There was no way we could have afforded this service, so it was an absolute surprise to the birthday gal. Now guys, I know you are thinking, a milk bath? Really Greg? Yeah, really. It was incredible. The bath was prepared overlooking the Bay of Thailand, rose pedals floating in the suds, a chocolate heart, and a chilled bottle of champagne. Way to go Baan Taling Ngam, making me look good!

Milk Bath With Love Milk Bath

View of Bay of ThailandCompletely at peace with the world, I ordered room service for our terrace to be delivered at sunset. Without a doubt Ashley’s favorite item for ambiance, I was able to locate a few small candles for the occasion. Surf and turf, fresh vegetables, red wine, outstanding seafood soup… it was a meal of meals. Earlier in the day, I secretly had a birthday cake delivered (again, compliments of Baan Taling Ngam) to the room. I had Ash close her eyes as I lit the multi-colored candles and when those blue eyes revealed themselves, I knew she had enjoyed a Thai birthday to remember.

Sunset from Baan Taling Gnam Resort - Ash Ash's Bday Candlelight Dinner

The next day, reality reared its ugly head as we rode an overnight 2nd class sleeper train from Surat Thani to Bangkok. But ah, it was good to live the high life for five days and celebrate Ash’s birthday in style!

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) Smile. A smile is universal and goes a heck of a lot farther than an angry tone when something goes wrong. Sure, there are times that require raising your voice, but we have found that a reasonable approach coupled with a genuine smile usually gets the job done. When the AC in our room broke, we nicely informed the staff and asked what they could do for us. Ten minutes later we were in a new room with a $60 bottle of Argentine malbec (our favorite wine).

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