During my trip to Southeast Asia I spent two days on a small boat in Halong Bay in Vietnam. Apart from me there was also an old Italian couple onboard. Both of them were already over 80 years old and have spent more than 50 years of their life together.

On the second day of our tour we went to a viewing point early in the morning to watch the sun rising from the sea ushering in the day. As we arrived at the observation platform our small group immediately spread out in all directions. The old Italian man and I stayed behind sitting on a bench facing east.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, he looked at me and asked what I would expect from life. This question took me by surprise, but I decided to answer honestly. I said, “Well, I want to have a good job and make a lot of money. I want to see the world and places like this. And I want to have fun in life.” The Italian man looked at me for a while. Then he nodded and said: “Yes, these are all very good aims. But there is something more important than all of these aims.” I looked at him bewildered and asked: “What is it?” With a soft smile on his face he answered while watching his wife who was slowly approaching us with slow steps: “Find the right girl.” At this moment, the sun started to rise from the ocean.

Many years have passed since that morning in Vietnam. Even though I will never see this Italian man again and even though I do not know his name, his words have given me a lot to think about over the years and have accompanied me throughout my life. Today, after all this time, I can wholeheartedly say, “I have followed his advice. I found the right girl.”


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