When we Westerners think of St Valentine’s Day, we automatically think of red roses, candies in heart- shaped boxes, mushy Valentine cards, and winged cherubs flying about shooting starry-eyed lovers with arrows !!.
Even though St Valentine’s Day is not officially recognised in Thailand, as the steady stream of foreigners settling within the Kingdom gains momentum each year.
The popularity of the traditional “day for lovers” has opened many Thai entrepreneurs eyes to the opportunity to make some extra money.
The hills and valley’s around Chiang Mai have long been home to the production of a large proportion of the roses grown in Thailand.
This area of Northern Thailand offers the cooler months required to get the rose plants to flower freely.
Many of the growers in this area now focus their crops on being ready for what has become a highly lucrative trade in recent years.
A bundle of 10 red roses is priced at 300 baht today for Valentine’s Day compared to 100 baht on an ordinary day !.
With the current global economic slump, the vendors are all having to work much harder this year not only to attract the customers, but to also get them to loosen their purse-strings, many are creating excellent displays using red hearts, ribbons & even strawberries !!.
They are also designing very imaginative floral creations incorporating food & drink.
Several shop keepers commented that the demand for single roses has been much stronger this year, as people have chosen to tighten their belts & save money rather than buying the more expensive rose bouquets.
The product that struck me as a perfect “alternative” gift for St Valentine’s Day was beautiful, fresh & succulent strawberries, picked & sold the same day, in a lovely gift-wrap presentation with a lovely red bow attached.
This I am sure appealed to many visiting tourists to the Chiang Mai area, but as we “residents” are spoilt because they grow here ALL YEAR ROUND, its probably not the best idea to give to a loved one !!.
The final item that was doing a roaring trade today (despite its extremely high price) was gold, the current price is 30% higher than Valentines Day 2008 !!.
There is a small “Chinatown” area in Chiang Mai and this is the very best place in the city to buy any form of gold whether it be fine jewelry,necklaces, rings or even gold bars, the Chinese owned shops are far more open to “negotiation” than their Thai counterparts.
Anyway, whatever you do decide to do today, have a great day !!.