MARION WALSH-HÉDOUIN, of Minor Hotels, enjoys authentic THAI EXPERIENCES in her free time …
My passion for travel began when I left Ireland in 1993, to attend Thames Valley University in London where I studied European Business Studies and French. The allure of living in London was too much to pass up, and I spent three years there before heading to France for four years, working with chef Alain Ducasse in Monaco. I moved on to New York for four years. All told, by the time I was 28, I had a mid-life crisis and decided to travel for nine months. I visited the so-called golden triangle of Thailand, Burma and Laos and loved the lush beauty of the area. When I landed in Hong Kong and saw the sunset on the waterfront I thought it was wonderful. Perhaps it was wish-fulfilment, but ten months later I had secured a job there and worked in the city for over two years before moving to Thailand. I’ve been in the Far East ever since.
Bangkok has an interesting dynamic. I live in the heart of the city with my two children, Chloe, four, and Sean, two. My husband, who’s French, lives in Dubai; people often raise an eyebrow but the arrangement works for us and my kids have the best of both worlds. I love the fact they are being raised in a multi-cultural environment. I grew up in Ballycroy, Co Mayo (near Achill island) and we always return in the summer, so that the children can value their Irish roots. Of course, after ten years of living in Bangkok, I find it hard to adjust to the Irish climate.
My job is part marketing, part public relations; I look after a team of 25 and oversee the global campaigns and launches for Minor Hotels. With 154 properties around the world, I have no time to get bored! I always say that in any holiday destination you’ve got to “drink the KoolAid” to really experience the customs of a country. In Thai terms, that translates as getting an authentic massage; part of the fabric of society here. When I’m off work I head to China Town and Soi Nana – one of the it streets and home to Teens of Thailand – a fun bar owned by Niks Anuman-Rajadhon, who serves creative infusions of gin. I like the speakeasy vibe and also the décor. I also direct friends to Tep Bar, which is off the tourist trail. It has simple wooden tables and they do a good range of home-infused ya dong (herbal whisky) as well as Thai tapas.
For shopping, I often find gorgeous silks and cottons in the Jim Thompson Factory outlet (Sukhumvit Soi 93, Bang Chak), I bought the most beautiful raw silk for my wedding dress there. I definitely recommend Narin, a terrific tailor, if you want to get clothes made while staying in the city.
My absolute favourite restaurant is Face Bangkok. It’s a collection of Thai houses, created using traditional techniques and materials and offers guests a choice of Indian, Thai and Japanese food, all in the same complex of wooden buildings. My personal favourite is their Indian food, which is the best in the city.
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