Under palm trees swaying by ocean breezes, I began to fall in love with my future husband. While my female traveling partner rested in our room with a painful sunburn, I tentatively ventured out with a casual friend (who happened to be a guy) to enjoy beachside bike rides and watching the sun set over the South China Sea. It was fitting, then, that a year later the same guy proposed to me on a gorgeous windswept beach in Vietnam.
I traveled by train from China to Vietnam, and my then-boyfriend met me in Hanoi. We then headed south to the coast, where he showed me the city he had lived in and taught the previous two years. It was fun to see the place where many of the letters I had written him had been read, and his location when penning poems and letters to me. On a day when the rain let up, we borrowed bicycles and rode them to a beautiful beach he wanted to show me.
Since it was January, the air was cool for the tropics, and misty. As I admired the green waves roll into the shore, I noticed my man was bending down. He reached into his backpack and took out a small piece of lined paper. He read his proposal from the script, asking me to marry him. I said yes! I repeated my answer more than once, still surprised with the suddenness of it all since we had arrived at the beach only a few minutes before.
Next he handed me a spiral seashell that fit in the palm of my hand. In the curve of shell I found my engagement ring. I held it for a several minutes, happy, but puzzled. Which hand was it supposed to go on? I honestly wasn't sure. And neither was my fiance. So I made my best guess and
then urged him to plunge into the cool waves with me to celebrate. Despite the disapproval of some Vietnamese onlookers who thought it was too cold and windy for such nonsense, we ran in and enjoyed the crashing waves for a few minutes. Then we pedaled back to share our happy news with the townsfolk and my fiance's Vietnamese friends.
Later we met up with a group of our American friends in Thailand. I found out I had guessed wrong.
Our engagement story was Part 2 in my Looking Back Series. Part 1, Things I Learned, Loved, and Miss from Asia, can be found here.