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Faces of Palm Tree Orphanage

Whenever Ash and I feel down, our first resort is to reminisce about our time at Palm Tree. The slideshow below shows you why.

- Greg & Ash

3…2…1… Action: Palm Tree Orphanage’s Multi Use Recreation Area

Below are three videos shot in the main common area where dance parties, volleyball, tag, and everything within a child’s imagination take place at the Palm Tree Orphanage.

Our main man, Poun, playing soccer with Ash:

On just our second night at Palm Tree, a party was held in honor of Ben Justus’ departure. Watch the child acrobats in action:

Before the party got rocking, the children performed a traditional Khmer dance:

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) Feeling in the dumps? Watching kids being kids will always lift your spirits.

3…2…1… Action: Children of Palm Tree Orphanage

Rumor has it Cambodian children are among the world’s cutest. Rumor no more.  The videos below were compiled during our one month stint as volunteers at the Palm Tree Orphanage in Phnom Penh.

The youngest child residing at Palm Tree is Da (1 year of age), whom has learned to protect himself amongst the 90+ kids:

After Greg composed an award winning vignette of basic colors, he instructs the little ones in unison:

Sophoan instantly became Ashley’s little buddy at Palm Tree. Watch this adorable video of her tiny friend reciting her English ABCs:

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

  1. Working with children takes a ton of patience. Working with kids when your primary language is their second amplifies this patience quota. Repetition is paramount and use of simple English words helps the cause.

3…2…1… Action: Operation Koh Samui

Inhabited fifteen centuries ago by fisherman, Koh Samui, located in the Bay of Thailand, is a dream come true.  As you will see in the three videos below, the island has come a long way.

The Western facing shore of Koh Samui is rated high amongst windsurfers.  Greg, is not a windsurfer, as seen below:

Norah Jones fingers a perfect background on the piano as Thailand says goodnight:

Ash’s #1 prerequisite for her 47th birthday was a bathtub in our lodging.  So she got one, it just happened to be inhabited by a demon tub snake:

- Ash & Greg

Learn from our Footsteps:

1) Koh Samui is an incredibly happening place these days.  If tranquility and splendid sunsets are your desire, opt for the Western coast of Thailand’s 3rd largest island.  If searching for all night parties, Chaweng, on the Eastern coast is your bogey.

That’s Amore – Engagement Back Story and Video (Part II of II)

Almalfi CoastLet’s take a trip back in time to May 2009. On a leisurely Sunday stroll down Michigan Avenue, Ash and I found ourselves talking about our post round-the-world-trip lives. Among the obvious questions, we wondered what city we would call home. Then a round item that goes on a girl’s finger took over the circuitous conversation. Next thing I know, Ash had seemingly tricked me into a detour down Chicago’s most expensive street full of clothing, hand bags, and jewelery boutiques. There on Oak Street, Ash had designed her dream engagement ring after two hours. My mental camera took a flurry of photographs and visions of living like a pauper clouded my vision.

Our Vessel View from Positano from Harbour Bryce Showing Off His Abs

Throughout that Summer, I exchanged several emails with my Brother’s talented jeweler in the City of Seven Hills. During our Cincinnati farewell tour, I was able to sneak away for an engagement ring design meeting with Rachel. With the size four platinum setting and accompanying shiny stones created one month later, I patiently waited for the perfect round-brilliant diamond to present itself. Jeff (my brother) took a trip to inspect one potential winner in October, but it did not past muster. But in November, I smashed my piggy bank and purchased a stunning example of Earth’s toughest mineral. It has been said that once a man buys a ring, the proclivity to exchange it for a “yes!” is nearly insurmountable (seems like a fair trade). Gladly, I faced no such difficulty with the ring locked in the Franklin Savings & Loan safe deposit.

Capri's Tunnel of Love Cathy Reading the Inscription

Ash's Engagement RingEight months passed and my only route to see the finished product was a heavily guarded online photo. With the assistance of two covert collaborators (Sue, my mother and Cathy, Ashley’s lovely mom), a plan was hatched to discreetly ship the goods to Kansas then subsequently flown to Zurich, Switzerland with the Miller family. To mask Operation Taxes, all emails related to the mission were held under the subject of “Taxes.” This ensured Ashley’s prying eyes were never awakened. A white lie to throw Cathy off the scent was told when I informed her the extraordinary moment would take place in Greece. While in our villa on Italy’s Almafi Coast, I took possession of the ring and got my first look at it. I was blown away… it was precisely what Ashley desired. I couldn’t wait to pop the question!

I Think She Likes It! An Engaged Couple's Embrace

June 14th was a brilliantly sunny day along the Almafi Coast, perfect for an all day boat adventure to the island sanctuary of Capri. Once on board the 33 foot vessel, I alerted Captain Antonio and First Mate Barbara of my prearranged plan. A basket of shells was arranged with the ring box buried under the eight envelopes containing pictures with meaningful inscriptions. Barbara informed me that two hours would pass before we reached the natural rock feature, the Tunnel of Love. Nursing a few Peroni beers and my heart pounding, I did my best to absorb the beautiful coastline as the minutes ticked by. When the obvious rock formation came into focus, my nerves turned to excitement. Antonio, a masterful boat Captain, rocked the vessel into a shaded position just short of the watery tunnel. Barbara snuck around port side and delivered the goods. The Millers, Ashley included, were clueless to the gravity of the event ahead when the envelopes were disseminated. But once Kiley began reading her picture’s testimonial to love, the situation became clear. One by one, each Miller read aloud and as the final moment drew closer, tears welled up in my previously determined eyes. Once Ash fought through the terrible handwriting, my rehearsed speech turned into a jumbled mess of emotions. Then I spun around until I rested on one knee. With a flurry of tears and grins on board, Ash and I embraced for the first time as an engaged couple!

Braden's Dance with Death Capri's Blue Gratto Game Over

This video says it all:

The rest of the day was unforgettable including Capri’s luminous blue gratto, Braden’s tango with a jellyfish, and celebratory toasts!

June 14, 2010… the happiest day of my life.

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) Making such an important purchase of compressed carbon certainly takes reassurance that you have selected the right ring. If possible, find a confidant to view the ring before buying. My circumstances obviously required this assistance to the nth degree. Many thanks to Jeff and Kim for their invaluable help.

3…2…1… Action: Thailand’s Andaman Sea

Watch Ash and JRob feed Sinja and Keawa after an impromptu elephant ride while cruising on motos near Krabi, Thailand:

Spring Break 2010 aboard a private longtail boat to Chicken Island! Warning, JRob’s pale skin may be blinding:

Walking Koh Phi Phi’s jungle to Maya Bay, made famous in Leonardo DiCaprio’s backpacker hit, The Beach:

Another look at Maya Bay, this time from the azul water:

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

  1. Thailand is chalk full of islands… and plenty of tourists to occupy the white sand beaches. A little research will yield lonely beaches as fantastic as their well known brethren. Even a ten minute walk away from where the longtail boats arrive will ensure a private experience.

3…2…1… Action: Taj Mahal, Rickshaws & Monkeys Monkeying Around

The sun is rising on Agra’s majestic Taj Mahal in this dawn video:

Check out the streets of Agra during this evening rickshaw ride:

Monkeys monkeying around Agra’s Red Fort:

This time the monkeys play King of the Shrub then Ash and I realize that we are in such a historical place:

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

  1. Though cute and fun to watch, monkeys that have grown accustomed to a human presence can be quite aggressive. While Ash was enticing a young monkey to come closer to the camera, the baby’s mother jumped on her back while unleashing a terrible howl. As I helped spring the angry creature from Ashley, another monkey scratched my leg. You have been warned, beware monkeys!

3…2…1… Action: Slumdog Millionaire Slum, Bollywood Beach & An Indian Railway Experience

Slumdog Millionaire depicted the Dharavi Slum accurately. The video rolled while Ash and I were on the verge of tears, appalled by the living the conditions and bubbling waters of the moat surrounding the slum:

Ash commentates while at Mumbai’s Juhu Beach where the Bollywood stars live:

Bollywood stars love a good beach carnival:

Watch as our Mumbai to Agra (Taj Mahal) train pulls into the Bandra Train Station with hundreds of men in line:

Take a peak inside the cramped restroom and sleeper car of one of India’s long distance trains:

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) Flying from city to city is certainly doable at reasonable prices for the most part in India. However, part of understanding the Subcontinent is riding with the locals. The 2nd Class Sleeper (AC2) cars are comfortable enough. Just mentally prepare for an odd ride with numerous stops, roaming touts, and noisy nights.
2) Everything you need to know about riding Indian Railways can be found on The Man in Seat Sixty-One website:

3…2…1… Action: Mumbai’s Laundromat, Gawking Men, Filthy Yet Holy Water & Traffic

Taking your washer and dryer for granted? This video of the Dhobi Ghats (open air laundry) will make you very thankful:

Whose that lady? The Indian men can’t take their eyes off Ashley:

The filthy water of Banganga Tank is considered holy as the spring feeding it is thought to come from the River Ganges:

Snarled traffic with rickshaws, bicycles, mosquitoes, and multitudes of honking vehicle types:

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) India is full of scam artists on the street. Be weary of buying tickets for shows, tours, or transportation from complete strangers. Though your hotel will make a commission on any sale, knowing that you will get what you paid for is worth the extra money.

3… 2… 1… Action: Penang Island, Malaysia

Situated in the Strait of Malacca, Penang Island offers fish spas, round the clock religious celebrations, temples, and terrible live music.

Watch Ashley squirm at a beachside “spa” as the yam-yam-yam fish feast on her feet:

Now it is my turn with the flesh eating monsters:

Listen and watch a unique wake up call in Malaysia:

Take a peak inside the Kek Lok Si Temple:

Ash and I were not surprisingly the only paying patrons listening to Malaysia’s Elton John and his sick band, Third Dimension:

- Greg and Ash

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