Valentines Day – Laotian Style, Luang Prabang, 14 February 2001

Villa Santi, Luang Prabang

Janie and I have very happy memories of the few days we spent in Luang Prabang, Laos; 12 to 15 February 2001. Everything about that stage of our journey felt right.

We stayed in the picturesque Villa Santi, depicted above and below.

The monks’ grub run takes place outside the Villa Santi at dawn

We did really interesting touring with a delightful guide, Prasauth. We are usually happy with our guides, but occasionally we are fortunate enough to get a really exceptional guide with whom we form an affinity. Prasauth was one such guide.

Trying some rare fruits with Prasauth

The itinerary for our touring is linked below:

Steppes Itinerary Cambodia Laos & Thailand February 2001

I wanted to get Janie some flowers for Valentines Day. Luang Prabang seemed to be awash with flowers, yet I didn’t see anyone selling them. I had a chat with Prasauth about it the day before Valentines. I tried to explain the tradition to him and said that I wanted to buy some flowers.

“That might be very difficult,” said Prasauth.

“But why?” I asked, “I see flowers everywhere. Surely I can buy some?”

“I’m not so sure”, said Prasauth, “we don’t really buy and sell flowers here. I’ll see if I can get some for tomorrow, but I don’t think it will be possible.”

Wind the clock forward to Valentines morning. Janie and I are taking an early breakfast on the beautiful balcony shown in the top picture of this piece. Then Prasauth appears, below, waving a lovely bunch of flowers and proclaiming, “Happy Valentines Day, Janie”.

It was a bit like a muddled up version of the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene. Everyone else who was taking breakfast on the balcony, plus the passers by on the street, observed the dramatic moment along with us.

Prasauth then bounded up the stairs and presented Janie with the flowers. Janie clearly worked out what had gone on, so with poise thanked us both profusely at the time. She and I had a good laugh about the event afterwards.

As soon as I got another quiet moment with Prasauth I tried to settle up with him for the flowers. He was having none of it and refused any payment.

“But Prasauth, it isn’t my Valentine to Janie if I don’t reimburse you for the flowers.”

“No, no”, said Prasauth, “they didn’t really cost me anything so I couldn’t take any money from you.”

I never found out where they came from. Perhaps his garden. Perhaps a favour he called in from a friend.

At least let me buy you a wee dram of Lao-Lao, Prasauth?

I think I might have persuaded him to take a nip of Lao-Lao (the local rice wine/whiskey) with me, when we got to Xang Hai village later that day…but I have a vague feeling that he refused even that.

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