Before we came to Korea, I told Shauna that I would propose to her if we came to Korea together. I always said that before I ask a girl to marry me, I would have to do an overseas backpacking trip with her. That is precisely what we did for the past year in Korea. We have been living together and experiencing new things everyday with each other in a new country. Over the past year we have visited China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Japan twice. I knew I was going to ask Shauna Vo to marry me the minute we left the States and were off to South Korea. I wanted it to be special. She deserved that. I wanted to ask her while living in Vietnam. (After our contract in South Korea, we will be moving to Vietnam.)
However, the time came to plan our fourth vacation together during our year in Korea. We really like to travel. We were torn between going to Taiwan to visit our friend Vivian Ko or make our second trip to Japan to hike Mt. Fuji. We couldn’t decide, so we played a popular game, Rock, Paper, Scissors (가위, 바위, 보 – Kawi, bawi, bo – in Korean). We played best out of three. Destiny would decide where we would spend our next trip together. The moment I won, I decided that I needed to do something special once we got to the summit of Mt. Fuji.
I am pretty old fashioned, so I felt it was important to ask Shauna’s mother for her permission. I spoke to her two sisters, her mother and step dad. Everyone was happy and gave us their blessings. My family was also very excited and happy for the two of us.
I spent more than three months getting ready for this proposal. I immediately went ring shopping in Korea and was really disappointed in my search because of the lack of options. I needed to learn about diamonds and rings so I researched the Internet. I spent a solid month of going back and fourth on what ring I wanted to get. I visited Bluenile.com, Jared, Tiffany’s, Kay Jewelers, DeBeers, and a few mom and pop companies. I learned everything I needed to know about diamonds from www.bluenile.com.
Did she want a princess or round cut? How do I determine if the diamonds are conflict- free? How big of a ring should I get? What was my budget? I was all over the place. The set up on Bluenile.com was really helpful. I read hundreds of positive reviews from their recent customers and was very pleased. Bluenile.com is ranked very high when it comes to diamonds.
After spending weeks searching for the perfect ring, I finally decided on a stunning 1.01 brilliant round cut diamond on 18k white gold. It was perfect for her.
I had the proposal all planned and thought out. I was going to ask a random stranger on top of Mt. Fuji to take our photos and then have them record a short clip about our thoughts about hiking Mt Fuji. I would first talk and then Shauna would finish. I would then distract her to look in the opposite distraction and I would be on one knee. Things went different in reality.
Our bags were set and we were off to Tokyo. We packed two backpacks. Of course, I had the ring in my backpack along with our hiking gear. We decided to fly with Delta this time to Tokyo and I was in for a big surprise. We passed through security without any problems. But, as we were about to board the plane, Delta had an extra security check for hand luggage. My heart was pumping. I had wrapped the ring box into a pink sock for added cushion so the box would not get destroyed. I was so nervous. Shauna went into one line and I went to the opposite line. Shauna was cleared and waited for me in the corner. The lady opened my bag and immediately went for the pink sock. She started to unroll the sock, so (I was freaking out. My heart was racing!) I spoke in my limited Korean – yoja chingu (girlfriend), diamond ring, Mt. Fuji, chuggio (over there). I decided that if she found out I might have to propose to Shauna right there and it wouldn’t be that bad because we met at JFK Airport going through the security line. I was relieved that the lady figured out what I was doing and she let me go. Shauna later asked me on the plane why was she looking at your pink sock? I said, “I don’t know.”
We took a one hour bus ride from Ulsan to the Busan Gimahe Airport, two hour flight to Tokyo, 90-minute bus ride from Narita to Shinjuku station, 2.5 hour bus ride from Shinjuku to Mt. Fuji and started hiking at 8:45pm and made it to the top by 3:10am. We were tired.
Hiking Mt Fuji at night is hard to describe in words. It’s something that you have to experience. It sounds like a cliché, but it is 100 percent true. We hiked up Mt Fuji on a clear night. The silhouette of the steepness of the mountain was spectacular. It was spiritual. The wind blew softly and filled the air with peace and serenity. The sky was filled with thousands of stars across the sky. We were above the clouds and on our way to the summit. We wore our headlamps and came across a few different people just sitting on the side of the path taking it all in. It was an intimate and spiritual hike.
On the 7th station I noticed some guys who were wearing Florida Gator shorts. Turns out that the father of the two sons went to the University of Florida. I told them that I wanted to take photos with them on the top and we went our separate ways. Go Gators! (The Gator Nation is everywhere!)
On our way up to the 8th station I ran into them again and I started talking to the father when Shauna went for a bathroom break. I told him, “I am going to propose to my girlfriend on the summit and I thought it would be even more special if we could get some Gators involved.” I informed him of the plans and when we got to the top, we picked a nice area and waited about an hour. It was bitter cold. At 4:30am I went forward with my plan and proposed to Shauna with everything on video. She was completely surprised and she had no idea. When I asked her to marry me she replied, “okay.” I knew she was surprised. We were filled with joy! I love our life together and I look forward to our life and what it brings.
I would like to thank all of our family, friends and Gators who made this video possible.
Engaged at 4:30am on July 21, 2010
Hiking Mt Fuji and proposing.