The Promise of Love in Nan

The Promise of Love in Nan


Words: Sirimaya
Published: March 15, 2019

A sucker for romance will find Nan one of the most romantic places to visit in Thailand.

First, it was a mural of a man whispering into the ear of a woman. Then it was a song of a Lua woman who went to great lengths to express love to her man. Finally, there were photographs of a starry sky.

It’s enigmatic. It’s intriguing. It’s Nan, a small town in the north of Thailand. You can read about its history, culture and geographic location from official sources. But if you’re looking for sentimental, romantic stories, then read on.

The Whispering of Love Mural

The Promise of Love in Nan

My darling, there is no perfect place to guard your love. I fear placing your love in the water it will get cold. I fear hanging your love in the sky it will get lost in the clouds. I fear keeping your love in the palace, it will be locked away. I can only place your love in my heart. Let my heart forever be pounding for you, crying out for you, in my sleep and when I am awake…

This is an English transcription from the original poem in northern Thai dialect: “ฮักน้องกูปี้จั๊กเอาไว้ในน้ำก็กั๋วหนาว จั๊กเอาไว้ปื้นอากาศกลางหาว ก็กั๋วหมอกเหมยซ่อนดาวลงมาขะลุ้ม จั๊กเอาไปใส่ในวังข่วงคุ้ม ก็กั๋วเจ้าปะใส่แล้วลู่เอาไป ก็เลยเอาไว้ในอกในใจ๋ตัวจายปี้นี้ จั๊กหื้อมันไห้ อะฮิ อะฮี้ ยามปี้นอนสะดุ้งตื่นเววา…

Need we say more why Thais make it a point to go and see this mural at Wat Phumin. Why there are so many versions of this ‘whispering couple’ on t-shirts and paintings, in figurines and sculptures and more…

The Fascinating Courtship Ritual of the Lua People

Thai folk musician Pongthep Kradonchamnan shared a fascinating courtship ritual of the Lua people that he learned of during his time in Nan, around 25 years ago. He said when a Lua woman wanted to tell a man she loved him she would offer him a cigarette…

But not a typical cigarette that could be bought from any shop. The woman would grow her own tobacco plant from which she would harvest the best leaves, wrap them in wild banana leaf and cure them in honey and again in night dew. The entire process takes months.

That’s not all. She would also go up into the mountains to find a ‘salor-prao’ tree and collect its soft, sweet-smelling rolling leaves for the cigarette. For a thread, she would take bark from a hemp tree and place this in a creek, secure it with a rock and let the stream wash away the weak fibres to leave only the toughest and softest line. This the woman would knit into a thread and dye it with red colour extracted from another tree bark.

Once she had her perfect cigarette she would give it to her man, without saying a word. And he would know that she loved him.

The Romantic Starry Sky

The Promise of Love in Nan

Picture yourself camping under the stars with your loved one. Suddenly, you spot bright fireballs in the night sky that come and go literally in a flash. Some look brighter and seem closer than others.

These streaks of meteors take place a few times every hour… more ‘shooting stars’ than you could wish for.

The best time to see them is during the cool season, between November and January.