AS THE modern tradition of Valentine’s Day celebrations took hold in Thailand yesterday, couples professed their love at romantically decorated tourist attractions and registered their marriages in front of joyous witnesses.
Many couples tied the knot officially at a district office with auspicious name such as Bangkok’s Bang Rak “district of love” or Bang Sue “district of honesty”.
At Bang Rak, the capital city’s most popular celebration site, district officials not only provided a Valentine’s Day marriage registration service but also organised a lucky draw with impressive prizes including “gold marriage certification” for 10 lucky couples.
Sukanya Khamdee, 30, a company employee, said she and her boyfriend reserved first place in the queue by arriving at 11pm on Tuesday, becoming the first couple to register their marriage on Valentine’s Day.
By 4am, the grounds in front of the central post office building, which was decorated to reflect the nostalgic period of the King Rama V era, were crowded – as they are every year. By 8am, nearly 200 couples were waiting in the queue.
Bang Rak district chief director Phakkaporn Sa-nguansak said officials were prepared to register 10 couples at a time, with registrations from 7.30am to 4pm.
In Chon Buri, 99 couples were married on elephant back at the famous attraction Suan Nong Nuch, where there was a grand wedding procession zigzagging through “Dinosaur Valley” featuring mocked-up prehistoric scenes.
In Si Sa Ket, 49 couples were married at the Mor-E-Daeng Cliff in the Khao Phra Viharn National Park amid the romantic atmosphere warmed by the first “three countries’ sunlight”, referring to the park’s proximity to Cambodia and Laos.
The grand event, titled “dreamy weddings in the first sunlight of three countries”, at 7am was witnessed by Si Sa Ket Governor Thawat Suraban, officials, merchants, the couples’ guests and members of the public. The kilometre-long wedding procession of four Thai ethnic cultures was led by three elephants to bring the couples to the Mor-E-Daeng Cliff where the marriage registrations took place before the traditional wedding-blessing ritual.
In the North, Buttree Puedpong, a taekwondo athlete who won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and her groom, Pen-Ek Karaket, who won a silver medal in taekwando at the 2010 Asian Games, joined 12 other couples who professed their love for each other in hot air balloons over Chiang Rai’s Muang district after being married.
The special event was part of Singha Park Chiang Rai Balloon Fiesta 2018 held from February 14-18. The festival will see 35 fantasy balloons from 16 countries including the United States, Canada and Switzerland compete for the Bt500,000 top prize. Another highlight will be a spectacular 100-strong khon performance held from 6pm-7pm on February 16 and 17. Admission to the show is free.
To join in the spirit of the occasion, traffic cops in Khon Kaen and Sakhon Nakhon handed out roses and heart-shaped candy instead of traffic tickets – but only for Valentine’s Day.