Category Archives: Plans

Back home!

Today it marks exactly 2 months since we arrived in Florida. So much has already happened that even though it feels we have been back for a while, we still talk about the trip every-single-day. It is either an event, a type of food, a place, someone we met, anything that reminds us constantly about the trip. We certainly hope that these feelings and memories will stay with us for much longer!

We have been settling well at home. After a few weeks of staying with friends, we moved back to the Monkey House on July 1st. One week after we arrived from Rio, kids left for Camp Dudley and Camp Kiniya, which was really their return to a “normal” life, while also gave us time to put the house back together and start looking for jobs. Chris hit the ground running and within just a few weeks had already a couple of job offers at local schools. I started consulting for one of Palo Alto’s distributors while looking for more permanent opportunities. Thankfully, we came back in a good time and there are plenty of *great* opportunities out there.

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Our 10-month luggage

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Monkey House

Chris and I took a road trip to pick up the kids at camp. It was very special, I had not been to camp in 4 years and missed the farewell celebrations before. We drove North with our friends, Matt and Jamie Ferrelli, and stopped to visit Baltimore, Brooklyn Heights and Burlington (VT) on the way there. It was wonderful to see the kids’ happy faces as we arrived at camp. Louisa even mentioned that she missed our trip more than she missed home. Chris then flew to San Francisco and I made the drive back with the kids. Fortunately, we got to visit with several good friends in the East Coast: the Baileys in Greenwich, CT; my Kellogg friend Carini, in Wake Forest, NC; and the Dickinsons, in Charleston, SC. It was a great bonding opportunity with the kids, they both excelled at being co-pilots and we enjoyed listening to good music and comedy shows at the car.

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Baltimore with DWIII

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School is about to start and we made the decision that both kids will continue the Florida Virtual School for one more year. They were very excited and happy when we told them, both want to get involved in more sports and other extra-curricular activities. We have enjoyed seeing all of our friends too.  Also starting to work on a list of projects around the house, which is a lot of fun!

As we look back and realize how easy it has been to slide back into life and jobs, Chris and I are thankful for following our guts and making the decision to take the year off. We would not have done anything differently and only wish that everyone can have the courage to follow your dreams. It is easier than you think!

What’s next?  Well, we look forward to starting working full-time soon, welcoming a new puppy, touring high schools for Sebastian, attending our friend Ricardo’s wedding in Portugal, and having both sets of grandparents visit this Fall and Christmas. And of course, we can’t wait to plan the next family trip!

 

Are we sick in traveling?!

You can imagine correctly that moving around a great deal in different climates via planes, trains, and buses will bring its fair share of sickness. No Gammill has been immune! We’ve had colds, stomach issues, headaches, infections, and limb problems. Fortunately, nothing serious and most of it passes quickly (ha ha).

I, however, feel like the guru for worst experiences. Thanks to some bad food, Indonesia and  Burma left me feeling like the 2nd & 3rd doses of a colonoscopy exam! In Australia, I jammed my finger tackling Sebastian in the waves and did not bother to address it until Indonesia. By the time we got to Malaysia my pinky was a bent experience! I did visit 3 different doctors and am happy to report that the final doctor – a friend of Onn’s in Penang -determined that it was not broken and needs a long time to heal (ligaments). My left shoulder has had the same problem my right had a few years back and I’ve been slowly trying to recover from that using otc anti-inflammatory pills; it has finally started to feel better after 2-3 months of pains that have driven everyone crazy.

The bottom line is that colds and illnesses inevitably happen during travels. The good news is that medical care is excellent when we have needed it. In case of emergency, we do have a health plan (with high deductible) for our travels and I recommend that as a precautionary measure for any long-term traveler. On top of that, we carry around a small pharmacy of medicine that would put a smile on my father-in-law’s face. Considering all the fun things we’ve done: jumping 40+ meters off bridges, racing speed boats in rock gully, zip lines in 3 countries, river rafting and caving, not to mention taking red eye buses on 2 lane highways….well, we’re doing pretty darn well! Here’s to your health!

Happy Easter everyone!

Caving & Zip lines in Lao

Full safety caving & zip line in Lao!!

GastrOnn Delights in Penang

I thought about naming this Fun, Fitness & Food in Penang but really, none of that occurred without our dear friend, Onn who brought us into his family, friends, and some amazing experiences with food, fitness, and fun!

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Old souls give thumbs up to life!

Branson Buds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onn & I are high school friends that stayed in touch over the past 30 years mostly via fb but occasionally in person when our paths crossed. I’ve seen him as a newlywed, a father, and a friend; on every facet, he is nothing short of a classic gentleman while also being a kid that loves to have fun! So enjoy this blog ride…

One of the blessings of travel is food. A mere 25 years ago, I recall eating the spiciest pepper EVER at a Penang hawker food stand with my good friends, Eustace, Randall, and Onn’s father. No surprise that my return is just as spicy and memorable only this time we had an expanded familial experience.

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Georgetown Wines

 

The photo above is one of our big nights with our families bonding at Mee Lyn’s restaurant wine bar in Georgetown. We enjoyed a feast this night of steak, bruschetta, and of course churros – the best I’ve ever had! More important are the people in the photo: behind Leticia is Onn, his wife, Mee Lyn, and his father who hosted me 25 years earlier. Onn’s mom is next to Louisa and myself and she can do ropes (more to come in fitness) like you won’t believe! Behind us is Wilson and his wife – he’s a jazz musician that adheres to the classics when he’s not sharing his knowledge of wine. An entertaining night was enjoyed by all.

Before we connected with Onn, we trooped around the historic area of Penang which is pretty cool. Onn’s father eloquently described it as, “The only place where you have a church, a temple, and a mosque all on the same street.” He is absolutely correct and they are not far apart; what’s most impressive is the fact that “these places of worship have never once in all of their history fought nor attacked each other.” And Onn’s father could not have explained it any better – Penang is a diverse and peaceful place. If only the rest of the world understood!

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Red & Black – Georgia colors! At Onn’s garage

A hawker market is an open area with food stands; think of it as a mini food trucks area with anywhere from 10-25 or more trucks. They started in the 1950s so if you thought the food truck thing is new, then you’re a bit behind. Regardless, you should feel jealous because they are awesome.

Before we met Onn, we went on a hawker search and failed – it was closed! But that didn’t stop us because our mistake discovered Passion of Kerala where we feasted on southern Indian food with our right hands (ok, just me). Then life changed when we connected with Onn. It really started to blur over time, especially with the hawker food, but I’ll give you my best recollection of the dining smorgasbord.

Zealand’s was the sight of our first feast with full family eating around a fast moving round table. To me, it was a reunion seeing Onn, his parents, Mee Lyn, and Wilson – all of whom I had not seen for years. I can only recall some delicious noodles, fish, stews and fried chicken that was extra crispy with Asian spices as I wobbled out! Another highlight evening was what I call the VIP dinner at Green Ocean which included stuffed crab (see photo) and great friends.

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Zealand’s Family Lunch

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Stuffed Crab

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entertainer of the night was none other than Onn who broke a chopstick in half…with a paper napkin!

Chopping chopsticks!

Chopping chopsticks!

Mee Lyn’s Georgetown Wines restaurant was the home base for the week. We met friends, family, and many glasses of wine with great food.

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Churros

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Bruchetta

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Cheesecake

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Durian

Did I mention hawker markets? One morning I hopped on the scooter with Onn to buy breakfast for everyone. The entire trip took 20 minutes and included 6 different food stallsfor noodles, dessert cakes, fruits, and Chinese snacks as well as a speedy ride to the market and back. Whirlwind! The kids love eating sweets in the morning!

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Another night we ate out with Onn and friends at another hawker area that really gave us the feel for the eating culture of Penang which is that you get to eat whatever you want quickly! Leti and the kids love pork buns so they got them; I ate shrimp curry noodle. And for dessert, Sebastian and I enjoyed flavored ice with strawberry ice cream on top; you mix it all together with beans and other ingredients at the bottom of the bowl to give it a delicious taste. Are you starting to get the picture? Yes, overwhelming in a gastronomically awesome way!

To work off all that eating, we trained with Onn and learned some awesome workouts. The two highlights are definitely the ropes that I mentioned earlier. Basically, you take a 50-60 feet rope 1-2 inch diameter and use it to workout; sounds easy peasy??? NOT!!! I guarantee in one minute that you will feel the burn! The second learning point was Onn showing the kids how to defend themselves; the only downside was that I was the dummy bad guy that he used as a target!

We also did what many tourists do including the cable car up Penang Hill, Butterfly Farm which is the best in the world, Snake temple, Spice garden, 3D Museum, Peranakan museum, and of course Onn’s family temple to name a few.

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3D Capture!

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Me & My snakes

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Buddhas

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Photo Bombed at Penang Hill

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Olympic Gymnast Leti! At Escape, Penang

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Yoha!

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Ziplining Crew

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15 years strong! At Penang Hill

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29 years Strong!

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George Town, Penang

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And then there was Escape: pronounced like Dory: ehs-cap-ehhh but I’ll let Sebastian share that story for you. Yes, Penang is a truly diverse place for religion, food, and experiences – I will be back only this time it will be less than 25 years from now!

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Climbing competitors unite!

Sorry but carried away with the photos this time around…hope you enjoy a few more to end:

Ladies Night

Guys Night or maybe this should be Ladies Night or Cool babes with Dork Night…

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Family Night @ Georgetown Wines

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Team Es-caw-peyyyyy!

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Da Boyz