John and I went to Thailand in January 2001 to the Wedding of Lily, my best friend from school. She is Thai, and the wedding was in her hometown of Bangkok. We had decided to have a much-needed holiday afterwards and went to the Island of Ko Tao in the Gulf of Thailand to do some scuba diving (both enthusiasts).
On about the third day, we were diving on a pinnacle of rock, which comes up from the seabed at 30 meters almost to the surface. When we reached the bottom, instead of gradually spiraling back up the pinnacle as we had planned, John beckoned to me to follow him and headed away from the rock, over a seabed covered in spiny sea urchins. I was very confused, but kept following him until he eventually stopped on the first area of sandy seabed we found (so he could kneel safely). There he turned round and went down on one knee. I still didn’t realise what was going on. There he was kneeling on the sand, 30 meters underwater, surrounded by a cloud of emperor angelfish and with a backdrop of crystal blue water and coral. He reached into a pocket and brought out a closed white cockleshell. He held it out to me and opened it. Inside he had written “WILL YOU MARRY ME ?”. I burst into tears, and flooded my mask, nodding vigorously.
The only witness was a moray eel, watching us curiously from a coral encrusted pile of rope and rocks. We hugged and took our regulators out to kiss, and then headed back to the pinnacle, followed by the angelfish, and gently spiraled up as we had planned, admiring the fantastic underwater views, tightly holding hands until we reached the surface.
Once back on the diving boat I said “Yes” again, to avoid any confusion! He’d planned the whole trip for this, including a ring shopping stop-off in Amsterdam on the way home 2 weeks later.
I still have the cockle, now wrapped in a piece of Thai silk, in a little box. I’d never known how romantic he was! We’re getting married on 11th May 2002.