February is a special month with two days dedicated to love. The Western version of Valentine’s Day resulted from Chaucer in the Middle Ages. The Western version of Family Day resulted from the provincial governments of Alberta and BC giving a day off to all the workers and students in their respective provinces.
We have been fortunate to happen to be in various places around the world on Valentine’s Day. The most memorable have been in Asia where they seem to love to cater to that Western idea of romance. At the well-known Kayon Resort in Bali, we were taken through the restaurant to an outside open room with a Balinese roof overlooking the jungle and lush gulley. In the middle of the room was a single table surrounded by a huge heart made of rose petals. In front of us between us and the jungle view was a twelve-foot iron art piece in the shape of a heart filled with smaller hearts each with a candle. We had two staff standing discretely behind us in the corners to attend to our every need.
They created this elaborate dinner because I had casually said when I made my reservation that it was a special dinner for my wife. I look at any dinner in a restaurant to be in that category. They really took the comment to heart and made it a lifetime memory for us.
We stayed at the TMS Hotel in Da Nang, Vietnam when they had a Valentine’s dinner with a specific menu designed for the evening. There were two chefs, a French chef and a Vietnamese executive chef who had created and made a harmonious and fresh tasting menu complete with special drinks. We were the only ones there! Probably because it was a new hotel and Valentine’s Day is not a big thing for couples in Vietnam. The chefs came out and spent some time with us talking about the menu and posing for pictures.
In Hoi An, on the Pearl River we had two romantic dinners on a specially built teak ship that had twelve tables for four, two kitchens and a bar. We were the only ones on the boat for both dinners and had the attention of two servers, two attendants, two line cooks, the chef, a bartender along with the ship staff. The Italian chef befriended us, and we had tastings of special wines and liquors.
Afterwards we attended a play at the Hoi An Memories Theatre built to house a two acre set and 150 actors. The hour and half play told the story of the lanterns of Hoi An. How two young romantic lovers met and fell in love. He went away to fish on the open sea and each night she would light the lanterns to guide him home again. In the meantime, the village was attacked and embroiled in a conflict of life and death. The hero of the play was instrumental in saving the village and the lovers were reunited.
All of these events were unique and have become wonderful memories. But, love and romance are not cheap. For the budget traveller, the week of Valentine’s Day is the most expensive week for travel after Christmas week. Accommodation cost generally increases by 25-50%. Special restaurant meals are more expensive like New Year’s dinners. There are flowers and gifts to buy. But, in the end, it can be worth every penny.