Don’t worry, fellas – I’m not about to wax lyrical about love, romance and the future Mrs Man vs World. Trust me, that would be just as awkward for me to write as it would be for you to read.
Instead, I’m seeking to chronicle the start of a new and exciting chapter in my life, a wonderful bookend to my adventures backpacking through South East Asia.
It all started in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, where I purchased an engagement ring from Tiffany & Co. The women reading this (hi Mum!) will know of it but the guys may not, so allow me to enlighten you, fellas: it aint your standard jewellery shop.
Think premium luxury jewellery with prices to match. An international jewellery chain that’s far too fancy for its own good.
Needless to say, I felt like an idiot walking into Tiffany’s at Suria KLCC, the mall at the base of the Petronas Towers, in my jandals (flip-flops).
Having made my once-in-a-lifetime purchase of a diamond ring, I was not about to hang around with a giant green Tiffany bag waiting to be mugged; I caught a taxi immediately back to our cheap-and-cheerful hotel in China Town.
Thankfully, this was the first and only time that a taxi driver in Malaysia did not try to rip me off.
The plan, at least initially, was to propose to Nicola in Paris in a few months’ time. Too clichéd? That’s the conclusion I eventually came to as I lay sleepless in bed that night.
Nope, I’m far too paranoid when I’m on the road to leave a diamond ring in my backpack for too long – besides, I wouldn’t be able to wait that long. I love surprises.
It had to be Kuala Lumpur, Melaka (our next stop) or Bali in a week’s time.
It simply had to be the latter.
After a couple of days in Melaka – a brilliant little city that I’ll write more about in the future – we were at KL International Airport, waiting to board our flight to Indonesia and I would not take my day-pack off, not even for a second.
Can you imagine how different this story would have been if I’d lost the ring so close to the finish line?
The place was here; the time was now. An hour before sunset on our first proper day in Bali, I hatched my plan: pocket the ring, drag Nic to Kuta Beach and, when the time was right, get down on one knee. Like me, it was simple but effective – or so I hoped.
The sunset on Kuta Beach was glorious. Nic picked a spot on the sand on which to sit and I followed suit. Nervous, heart beating in my ears, I looked around to make sure no beach hawkers were coming our way. I reached for my pocket and…
I saw some kids with bracelets racing across the sand towards us. Bugger. I really should have had a couple of stiff drinks beforehand.
As soon as they’d trundled off in search of softer prey, I shuffled over on one knee and gave my little speech. The details are a little blurry but I think I said “Ahh, I can’t stand it anymore. I’ve wanted to give you this for a week but I’ve wanted to marry you for much longer – Nicola, will you marry me?”
“Are you serious?”
A split second of silence.
“Of course I’ll marry you! Yes.”
A shadow moved in behind us as Nic’s eyes darted over my shoulder. A woman holding an infant stood before us begging for change. Seriously?!
We got rid of her with the use of a few, shall we say, choice words and we were left to ourselves. Nic, always the brains behind the operation who actually plans our travels, immediately started to spit-ball ideas for our honeymoon.
There we were, two young travellers on the beach in Bali, engaged to be married and already planning the honeymoon.
They lived happily ever after (too much?).