I'm a great believer in love as a wonderful health tonic. Love makes the heart beat stronger, and sends flushes to your skin that no amount of wonder creams can match.
But Valentine's Day has somehow put a lot of pressure on people. Guys feel obliged to buy a big bunch of flowers for their girlfriends _ oh no, one measly rose just will not do! Gals are on edge to see whether they will get any surprises from their beaus, and all hell breaks loose, accompanied by buckets of tears, if the hapless guy forgets the big day.
Shopping centres and flower shops thrive on this special day of love. People are buying teddy bears and bunny rabbits and all sorts of cuddly toys for their friends. And if you're lucky enough to be earning a six-digit salary, then you'll be expected to presenting your lady with some diamond jewellery. Austrian crystal just will not do, no matter how sparkly!
Night spots promote the day with special menus and party events, with special pink drinks and hunky deejays and prizes for the best-looking couple.
District offices with auspicious names like Bang Rak (District of Love) take full advantage of the big day to hold special wedding registry events, with sponsored gimmicks, lucky draws. Nonthaburi apparently had to cancel its big mass wedding at the last minute when auditors found it has misused its official budget two years ago on a similar "cultural" event that didn't benefit the public at large, but just the wedding couples and their families.
Then there are underwater weddings and Indiana Jones-inspired adventure weddings.
Thailand is amazing in that sense. We are great believers in using every occasion to have a good time. Even the Tourism Authority of Thailand joined in the fun, announcing that all couples arriving at Suvarnabhumi airport would be presented with a special gift, photographed in funny heart poses, and fast-tracked through immigration.
Where does that leave the single travellers, business travellers and families, I wonder? Given the reputation of our immigration counters, or rather the lack of, I wouldn't be surprised if those marginalised groups of travellers might have felt a bit indignant at being left out of all the fun. And I'm not sure those couples would appreciate being asked to strike funny poses for the camera. Couples might even have resented being plucked out of obscurity, especially if they chose Thailand as the destination for a secret rendezvous.
And then there's the buffalo wedding. I have nothing against buffalo getting married. The guy was a hunk as far as buffalo go, with huge 3m long horns that could turn heads.
Owned by local MPs, the buffalo went through the whole gamut of a traditional Thai wedding, with long drum processions and dancing girls and "toll gates" set up by the bride's family and a dowry worth 99,000 baht. Monks were invited to bless the couple, who were dressed in splendid outfits.
The local district officer was on hand to sign a marriage certificate for the couple, which I'm told was a proper legal document.
I've heard of dogs getting married, so why not buffalo? But to actually provide a marriage certificate signed by the district officer seems to me a bit unnecessary, especially when the gay community is still petitioning for their rights to be recognised, including the right to be joined in matrimony. I wonder if the authorities have got their priorities right.
My favourite love story of the week has got to be the one about Noina and Mamiew. A strange friendship was struck in Trat province between Noina, a wild elephant, and Mamiew, a half-breed domestic/wild pig.
It's not clear how they met, but the two started seeing each other nightly, when Noina would come to call between 6pm and 7pm and Mamiew would join him on nightly jaunts in the forests. At 5am, Noina would bring Mamiew home and head back to his hilly haunts behind the village.
Accident have happened, like when Noina fell on top of Mamiew which put her out of commission for a few days. It didn't deter the 80kg pig, but she made sure she walked up front after that.
One night, Mamiew was shot by a hunter. Noina brought her home and trumpeted for help. The bullet had grazed the pig's neck but luckily she was not fatally wounded. However, she was feverish for a few days, and had to recover under the vet's care. During Mamiew's time out, Noina came by to visit every night, and threatened to tear down the fence to see his friend.
Mamiew's owner had to go and calm him down, saying that the pig would be better in a few days' time, and to be patient. It seemed to work. Photos show a blurry image of the elephant and the pig, eyes glinting in the darkness, as they head off on one of their "dates".
What a heart-warming story! Let's just hope the local authorities don't decide to hold a wedding for them.
Usnisa Sukhsvasti is the Features Editor of the Bangkok Post.
About the author
- Writer: Usnisa Sukhsvasti
Position: Features Editor