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I met Nori in Hong Kong, at a Mexican restaurant, in 1998 - our eyes met across the quesadilla and it was love. Well, not really. I thought Nori was dating someone else, and she thought I was gay, but everything worked out anyway and we started dating soon after. (Many thanks to April Henry for the introduction!) After a few years working in each of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney, Australia, we quit our jobs to travel the world starting April 1, 2003.

Just before we left Sydney on The Big Trip, I had called Nori's father to ask for his permission to marry Nori. He was shocked. I wasn't sure if the silence on the end of the line was positive or negative, but he recovered and gave me the green light.

After a month of travel in New Zealand, we visited the Cook Islands. While in Rarotonga (the main island), I sneaked away and bought a beautiful black pearl and diamond pendant. Although the weather on Rarotonga had been horrible, I had a good feeling about Aitutaki island, and had decided that I would 'pop the question' there. As it turns out, the weather was fantastic, and I was able to convince the owner of our lodge on Aitutaki (a local chief) to let us stay one night on her islet - Akaiami island - located on the edge of the Aitutaki lagoon.

I couldn't imagine a more beautiful location for the proposal. Akaiami was stunning, a palm-fringed beach looking out on the deepest blue lagoon. During the day, we snorkeled across a narrow strait between Akaiami and a neighboring islet. On the way back, Nori said "What a perfect day!" I smiled to myself, thinking, it's about to get better.

That evening, we walked down to the beach to watch the sunset. The brilliant colors of the sky reflected in the mirror of the lagoon, and I had just reached in my pocket for the pendant when we heard a loud splash. Tens of small fish began leaping out of the water onto the beach, and a local came running out from the palms, rake in hand (please see the Rake Fishing section of our Engaged in Aitutaki travelogue). It was absolutely hilarious to see him gathering the fish in with the rake, but I had serious business to attend to.

I pulled out the pendant and placed it on her neck. "Will you marry me?" I asked. I hate to admit it, but I don't remember exactly what her reply was. The mind sort of swirls in moments like this (I don't remember anything of my skydive either), but I think she may have said "Yes! Oh! I'm the luckiest woman on earth! There's nothing I want more than to be your wife!" But she may have just said "Of course."

Everyone asks, "Why the Czech Republic?" Considering that Nori, a Thai-Chinese-Japanese-American raised in D.C., and I, an Idahoan of Norwegian descent, met in a Mexican restaurant in Hong Kong, what could be more natural than to get married in the Czech Republic?

Actually, when we got engaged, we knew that we wanted to be married the summer of next year. We also knew that on our Big Trip itinerary that placed us in eastern Europe. So we did some research, talked to lots of travelers, drew up a list of possible locations (Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Dubrovnik etc.) and finally decided on Cesky Krumlov!




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