Since the very beginning of planning our trip around the world, the idea of getting engaged was always at the forefront of my mind. However due to humans natural instinct to blab and spoil surprises, it has been the biggest thing I have managed to keep my gob shut about. Even when consistently pestered about the fact I should propose whilst travelling, otherwise I will waste a great opportunity, which was obviously not going to be met with (this was always said in-front of Cheryl of course), well actually this is where I am going to propose and this is how its going to happen, Cheryl do you like the sound of that?!!! So I think people forgot that although I was denying like hell I would propose, agreeing to that I will be would just seem pointless and waste the surprise.
Therefore I spent the same time as planning travelling, as I have with the proposal, researching where is the most beautiful scenic place we will go, most quiet, most off the radar/untraveled etc. We had always planned to do some kind of cruise in Halong Bay, which we were going to do cheap and easy so we can see what all the fuss was about. My thoughts however was to cease an amazing opportunity to propose in one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. Luckily we had already selected that we would be doing a cruise in the much quieter Bai Tu Long bay, so it made booking etc a lot more less suspicious with Cheryl.
Once I had my location, it was time to think about how it would actually happen, would i buy a beautiful ring and risk it getting stolen or lost whilst we travel all these various places. Then came a blessing in disguise, in the form of a donation from Cheryl’s mam who gave us both a male and female family heirloom, so that we could wear to ward off lady boys and other such unwanted attractions. Both rings were beautiful and although wedding bands, the ring Cheryl received was a very simple but beautiful platinum ring with a subtle design around it. It didn’t have a huge rock on and therefore wouldn’t risk her having her arm chopped off or somebody trying to steal it whilst sleeping etc, you hear many stories of this kind of thing happening.
The stage was therefore almost set, all I needed was to plan where exactly in Bai Tu Long I would propose and how. I then struck gold when I found a cave dining experience, which involved dining in a candle lit cave and be served gourmet food in a very private and intimate setting. Everything was set and now came the hard part…….getting it all booked without her knowing. Before we left it was easy to research everything without being rumbled as we had our own devices, however whilst travelling, we are sharing my iPad and therefore this made for a very secret agent approach to everything, which luckily Cheryl obviously trusts me a lot and didn’t question my shifty nature whilst booking the trip and emailing questions etc.
I had asked the company to keep it a secret from Cheryl and only speak to me about it when she wasn’t present, once we were on board. They could’t have obliged any more. Not only that, but they also unintentionally made the trip extra special, as you can read in our post ‘going on a pirate boat’. I was blown away by how lucky we got with the upgrade and almost private boat, it couldn’t have panned out any better. Everything we done before the cave experience went absolutely perfect, we had also got on joking terms with the crew and it set everything up beautifully.
We came out of our room for dinner and one of the guides apologised that they had forgot to set a table for us and would need us to wait while he sorted this and really went to town on joking about dining in our room and other alternatives, which Cheryl thankfully replied ‘yeah, why don’t we eat in a little boat’, you couldn’t have scripted it better. The guy ceased the moment and said ‘OK Lets go’, to Cheryl’s horror I obliged and joked along, just saying come on lets see where this leads to! Once i stepped in the boat she started getting a bit sussy, but i played along some more and said lets just appease them and see what happens, again could not have asked for it to go any better.
We arrived into the mouth of the cave, which was all beautifully lit up with candles and Cheryl really didn’t have a clue what was going on. I chivalrously helped her up out the boat, through the candle lit cave and pulled out her chair at our fancy table for two, then the tears came flooding, I hadn’t even said a word yet and she was so blown away by how beautiful it was. The guide then took our wine order and said he would come back in 10 mins with the drinks and starters and gave me the nod and wink that only men understand, which means ‘go for it’. Cheryl managed to stop the tears slightly and then they came flooding back again as soon as I dropped onto one knee and before even waiting for her to say yes, I had nervously put the ring on her finger. The rest of the night was just amazing and the food we ate was beyond any of my expectations, without the help of the company and fantastic guides, none of it would have been possible. The crew even gave Cheryl a bunch of red roses as a good luck and congratulations which made her almost start crying again!
The cherry on the cake was when we came out of the cave and the guide said, ‘wow look up’, which we were met with a star filled sky, that was just mesmerising and unspoiled by light or clouds. He then went on to say he had never seen stars over the bay for a very long time or this bright, which could have been a total lie, but given the moment, it made it all that better.
And who said I don’t have a romantic side eh!!
—Stay Classy World—ACastling—