In a couple of weeks, I’ll be celebrating five years of wedded bliss to the lovely Mrs Field. But following a moment of madness on honeymoon in Vietnam, I did well to get past the five day mark.
After spending time in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi – probably the most hectic city in the world – we were ready for part-two of our honeymoon. A relaxing cruise around the magical limestone karst island-dotted Halong Bay, with a night on board a traditional junk anchored at sea, followed by a few nights at a luxury hotel on Cat Ba Island.
The first thing that struck me as our junk pootled out to sea from the harbour at Halong City was how quiet it was. As lovely as mainland Vietnam is, there comes a time when you can’t take the constant beeping of scooter horns anymore. We had reached that point, and loved the almost total, blissful silence as we were overtaken by butterflies the size of seagulls and seagulls the size of small planes.
I say almost total silence because I could hear dogs barking. Halong Bay is scattered with tiny floating villages and fish farms, and unbelievably these are protected by guard dogs, prowling around their meagre perimeters to ward off would-be poachers.
That night we were treated to one of my all-time favourite holiday meals with fresh crab and tuna amongst Vietnamese specialties. Before heading for our cabin, we lay on the sun-loungers on the junk’s top deck and stared up at the stars in pitch darkness – there must have been millions of them.
The next day, we were encouraged to get off the boat and into the water, with a kayaking trip around some of the karsts with our tour guide. Kat and I didn’t fancy that, so decided to swim to some nearby beaches. We both took deep breaths, and plunged into the warm emerald waters. As soon as my feet had left the deck, my heart sank – “there goes my wedding ring”, I thought. It was a size too big for me when I bought it from Ernest Jones, and it had been on my to-do list to get it re-sized when the honeymoon was over.
However, on resurfacing I was gobsmacked to see my ring hadn’t budged. We spent a leisurely afternoon jumping repeatedly from the boat, relaxing on secluded beaches on uninhabited islands with jungle vegetation on top like spiky green Mohicans, and getting horribly sunburnt.
Later that evening we were dropped off at our resort on Cat Ba Island, and as I gladly accepted a welcome cocktail in reception I noticed something didn’t feel quite right. My left hand was not feeling as itchy as it had since the wedding. AAARRGGHHHH! THE RING’S NOT THERE! I ran back to the minibus that had dropped us off, and searched frantically for something shiny, although in my heart I already knew – it had slipped off on my second (or third, fourth, or fifth) jump from the boat and would never be seen again.
Returning to reception sheepishly, my confession to Kat that I’d lost my wedding ring was to this day one of the hardest things I’ve had to say. I can still picture her face, and I had a lot of grovelling to do to save our marriage!
I’d love to be able to show you a picture of the original ring, but our wedding photographer must have been the only wedding photographer in history not to take one of those close-ups of the two rings, possibly on a cushion. This is the nearest you’ll get.
So if you ever find a platinum wedding band on the floor of the South China Sea, engraved with “Fez & Kat 2/10/2010”, please get in touch.