We found love in a foreign land

A couple enjoys the spring in a rape flower field in Zaozhuang city of Shangdong province. More and more young, educated and high-income Chinese couples are choosing not to have children.

We met... On a plane to Bangkok.

Angela Tang, 42, general manager, and Ari Sengupta, 39, head of global supply chain

By a stroke of luck, I got upgraded to business class and ended up seated next to a cute guy with a kind smile and warm eyes. Like me, he was heading to Bangkok for work, but I found out later that he had also been planning to meet up with a Thai acquaintance he'd been interested in - the trip was to figure out if a relationship would develop with her. Luckily (for me at least!), she wasn't free to meet up with him.

Ari chatted me up over the in-flight meal.

He commented that the chicken rice served wasn't done Hainanese-style, like those in Singapore. I rolled my eyes - why would anyone expect to be served authentic Hainanese chicken rice on board a Thai airline? He later admitted he'd just wanted to strike up a conversation with me. Well, it worked and we ended up talking throughout the flight - we clicked instantly, like two friends catching up.

When he asked me out for dinner that evening, I felt comfortable enough to say yes - and it went well.

But it took a while before I warmed up to him.

Despite our connection, my feelings for him were platonic. We continued seeing each other in Singapore, but I never gave much thought to dating him until three months later, when he left for a work trip. I missed him terribly and we called each other every day, racking up a few hundred dollars in phone bills.

When he came back, our relationship naturally developed.

It just felt so right. Two years later, we tied the knot and now, we have two daughters. I never found out which airline staff member had upgraded me that day, but I would love to show her a photo of our girls and tell her that she did a wonderful thing for me.

"I'm still not sure how I came up with the chicken rice line. But I remember thinking that a cheesy pick-up line probably wouldn't work, so I should try something completely insane. I'm glad it worked!" - AriWe met... At a rock concert in Kuala Lumpur

Nasihah Jailani, 25, and Ahmad Nizaruddin Abdullah Sani, 27, co-founders of events venue Alt HQ

I fell for him the moment I saw him.

It was 2009, and I was helping out at a merchandise stand at a rock concert when a guy walked up, looking to buy some shirts. I was stunned at how boyish-looking and cute he was. I even fantasised what it would be like to date him.

But he was cold and rude when I introduced myself.

He gave dismissive, one-word answers. He later explained that he'd come up to the booth earlier, but because I'd been too busy, I'd brushed him aside. I apologised and once we started talking about music, his mood softened. He even gave me his e-mail address.

Call me crazy, but I knew he was the one.

We regularly chatted online after I went back to Singapore. I made my feelings clear from the start, but he admitted that he'd just come out of a relationship and wasn't looking for anything serious. Even so, I knew deep down that something would develop if I gave it time. There was something about his laid-back attitude that I loved.

Two months later, I went back to Kuala Lumpur to meet him and had the best time of my life. We were falling hard for each other, but he never made a move. When it was time to return home, I cried at the airport because he didn't send me off. Then, fifteen minutes before my flight, my phone rang - it was him calling to say he was at the airport! I ran out of the boarding gate and dashed into his arms for a goodbye kiss - it was like a scene right out of a movie.

We got married last July.

We're maintaining a long-distance relationship for now, and see each other once or twice a month. In a few years, I plan to move to Kuala Lumpur to be with him.

"I don't regret the way we first met at the concert - even though it didn't go well, it makes for a good story. Sometimes, first impressions are not everything." - Ahmad Nizaruddin

"It was instant attraction. I even fantasised what it would be like to date him." - Nasihah

We met... On a singles trip to Hokkaido

Joy Choo, 37, finance manager, and Zephan Goh, 31, senior IT executive

I'd been single all my life.

I had joined several trips for singles that were organised by dating agencies, but never did connect with anyone. In 2010, I got an invite to a one-week Hokkaido trip organised by social networking agency Clique Wise and I RSVP-ed in a heartbeat. I wanted to see the city and thought that maybe this time, I'd find someone I could click with.

On the flight there, I ended up sitting next to Zephan.

My first thoughts were: nice smile, seems like a guy-next-door type. But being my usual shy self, I only managed some small talk with him before we settled in for the night flight.

Love bloomed in Hokkaido .

On the first day of the trip, we visited a chocolate factory that had an icy, slippery floor. Zephan immediately offered to hold my hand and walk with me, which I thought was really sweet. That seemed to be the start of something. Throughout the trip, he would take every opportunity to be by my side, sitting together with me at mealtimes or walking next to me during the tours. I learned later on that he was attracted to me from the start.

I didn't think I would find love so quickly.

By the time our plane touched down in Singapore, we were in love. The weekend after we returned, he asked me out for dinner, where we reminisced about our trip over sandwiches. On the way home in the train, he asked me to be his girlfriend. We'd only known each other for two weeks, but if a person feels right for you, why not? We are now married with a beautiful baby girl.

"I was attracted to Joy the moment I saw her. I went on the trip with the intention of finding a life partner, and I'm lucky I found the perfect woman for me." - Zephan

"He won me over in less than two weeks." - Joy

Can a summer fling become real love?

Yes!

"It can work, but only if both parties are ready to come back down from the holiday high and get to know each other through conventional dates." - Violet Lim, CEO and co-founder of SDN Trust accredited agency, Lunch Actually

No!

"Online communication tools and social media have made long-distance relationships easier to maintain, but historically, only very few couples make it in the long term." - Martine Hill, relationship counsellor at Alliance Professional Counselling.

Looking for love when you're on vacay?

Martine Hill, a relationship counsellor at Alliance Professional Counselling, and Violet Lim, CEO and co- founder of dating agency Lunch Actually, tell us what to watch out for.

1: Manage your expectations

People may act differently when they are abroad, so be aware that he may not be the man you met while on vacation. For instance, people tend to be more playful and adventurous while on holiday, since there's no pressure and no one familiar will recognise them. So, the guy you met on the trip may be a more exciting version of his usual self. You may also attract someone who only likes the "holiday" you.

2: Know what you're getting into

The two of you could be looking for different things - you might be looking for long-term love and he, a casual fling - so ensure that you guys are on the same page before starting anything.

3: Stay safe If you're on a date and sense that something is not right, remove yourself from the situation. And always inform a friend of your plans.

4: Be realistic

Many holiday romances fizzle out after the trip, once life goes back to normal. Be prepared that your Mr Right was only a Mr Right Now.

5: Don't try too hard

Coming across as desperate and needy will not attract men, wherever you are in the world.

6: Getting serious?

Have "the talk". First of all, make sure he is single and available. Then, suss out if he has a history of holiday flings that fizzled out into nothing - a warning sign you should not ignore. Also discuss how you want to continue the relationship.

[[{"fid":"217292","view_mode":"default","type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":297,"width":238,"border":"0","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]Get a copy of the July 2014 issue of Her World, Singapore’s No. 1 women’s magazine. Her World is published by SPH Magazines and is available at all newsstands now.

Check out more stories at Her World online, www.herworld.com.

Purchase this article for republication.

SERVICES