Thailand, Two Ways

Last summer my travels took me to Thailand, a country of wildly visual delights. Eleven months after my return, there’s rarely a day that passes that I don’t think of the country and its amazing people. My journey there began after a day-long trip from Atlanta to Bangkok, via Chicago and Tokyo. A night’s rest at the Anantara Bangkok Sathorn was the perfect elixir for my weary body—and to prepare me for the week ahead. Early the next morning, my group headed south to the Thai royal seaside town of Hua Hin where, over the course of the next few days, we explored nearby vineyards (yes, vineyards in Thailand), temples and bustling water markets.

Our arrival coincided with the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, a charity benefit that raises money for the country’s elephant population. (This year’s tournament is September 12-16.) Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa, the event’s host, is a five-star property, and features some of the most exquisite gardens in southeast Asia. The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is similar to regular polo—but played on elephants instead of horses. After wrapping my head around that, I discovered that one of the tournament players, Sara Story, is an interior designer based in New York City. Small world.

Beyond viewing the polo matches, exploring the resort’s gardens and pools, and wandering the nearby night markets of Hua Hin, my most memorable experiences of Thailand include the food—from street food to haute cuisine. Our trip concluded with a final stop in Bangkok where we enjoyed Chef David Thompson’s exquisite mastery of Thai food at his Michelin-starred restaurant, Nahm, located at the Metropolitan Bangkok hotel. His celebrated cookbook, Thai Street Food, is available in the United States and is the perfect primer on the delicate artistry of Thai cuisine and how to balance sweet and savory in every dish. While the Thai silk pillows gracing my sofa and the som tam (green papaya salad) I’ve tried to recreate are subtle reminders of my trip, the real, electrifying essence of Thailand can only be captured in person.;;