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Couples mass for Valentine vows in Bangkok

More than 1,000 couples lined up Wednesday to seal their marriage vows on St. Valentine’s Day in Bangkok's Bang Rak — which means “Love District.” Police have tried to put a crimp in the frolics of teens by declaring a 10 p.m. curfew for those under 18.
/ Source: Reuters

More than 1,000 couples lined up on Wednesday to seal their marriage vows on St. Valentine’s Day in this city's Bang Rak — a phrase that translates as “Love District.”

“It’s really an unique experience, something I don’t think I can ever experience anywhere,” said Londoner Joseph Wadsworth, 49, after marrying his 29-year-old Thai bride.

They were among 26 couples dressed in Thai costumes — including five foreigners marrying Thais — married en masse in a Buddhist ceremony as hundreds more couples queued for their turn.

Each couple then signed their marriage certificates on stage before making way for the next wave.

The first 10 couples, who started lining up in the middle of the night, won marriage certificates of gold, life insurance worth 1 million baht (about $30,400) and free honeymoons in Thailand.

“We’ll see the marriages of 1,000 couples today. Last year we had 936 couples registered on this day,” district chief Pimolrat Wongrak said.

“People, including foreigners, know our district very well from its name,” she said.

Other couples were to be married at an annual underwater mass wedding off the southern island of Kradan.

St. Valentine’s Day has long been a day for celebrating love, but police have tried to put a crimp in the frolics of teenagers in Bangkok, a city with a worldwide reputation as a fleshpot, by declaring a 10 p.m. curfew for under-18s.

They would be sent home or marched off to a police station to wait for their parents to fetch them if they were spotted on the streets after that time, Bangkok Deputy Police Chief Kamol Kaewsuwan said.

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Police would also be on the look out for public displays of affection by youths hanging out in shopping malls, cinemas and other entertainment venues.

The crackdown follows an Assumption University poll of 1,578 teenagers published last week that found one third of teenage girls would have sex on Valentine’s Day if their boyfriends asked them.

Another survey of 1,222 youths by the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce found 11 percent planned to lose their virginity on the day of love.

Teenagers were unimpressed by the curfew declaration.

“It won’t stop teenagers from doing what they want,” said 16-year-old Bann Kosolawat. “They can do it in the daytime or any other day if they really want to.”