My connection with Thailand began as a youngster when I relocated there in 1968 which also happens to be the year Joey graduated from high school. I was in and out of Bangkok for some seven years during the Vietnam War era. In the early 1980's, I re-connected to discover a number of the Thai associates I knew had moved into senior positions in the Thai government and, in particular, the Energy Ministry. Like a bolt from the blue, Thailand was my new "go to" for future oil prospects and it worked. From Thailand, it was a logical leap to Vietnam which required time in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. I was successful in having the Thai state oil company join in Vietnam oil exploration and Bangkok became my base of operations.
Accordingly, for the 35 years Joey and I have been married, Bangkok has been our home away from home.
As far as Bangkok homes are concerned, hotels are the absolute best places to be. For many years, we led the frequent stay leaderboard at the legendary Mandarin Oriental. However, a dear friend, Jason Friedman, lured us away from the Mandarin to The Siam Hotel and the rest is history. Therefore, since The Siam opened some eight years ago, that is home and the hotel staff there is part of our extended family. Brian Garrett and our daughter, Sara, joined Joey and me for a birthday celebration there last year.
In case you wonder what is so special about this hotel property, you are looking at it. The General Manager, Nick Downing (to my right above), the AGM Khun Nawee (shown as a picture image as he was on a short break with his family), and the photographer who is not shown, Khun Jill. In fact, the entire organization make it home. We leave clothes and a car there to make it even more cozy.
Moreover, The Siam staff have been major supporters of The Elephant Story. Khun Jill, to the right of Khun Nick and behind Joey, has been a mainstay in securing Thai products for the store. It is rumored that Joey is filing adoption papers for Khun Jill. In any event, much of the hotel staff joined in an effort to knit blankets for newly born baby elephants and scarves for their mahout owners last winter. Needless to say, the hotel atrium is spectacular.
From the moment you enter the hotel, you feel like you have returned to a previous era in the history of Thailand. Khun Jill is shown below with us in front of the reception desk.
The Siam Hotel is a property of the Sukosol family and has an unprecedented array of Thai antique furnishings and accent pieces from a lifetime of collection by Khun Kriss Sukosol, a well-known Thai singer and movie star. His mother, Khun Kamala, a renowned singer, was kind enough to build a fabulous property on land they owned on the Chao Phraya River in the historic Dusit section of Bangkok to display his unprecedented collection. The two of them are shown below in one of their favorite settings - performing on stage in a charity concert.
The grandeur of the property is shown below and highlights the deft art deco architectural hand of Bill Bensley. The tropical setting of Bangkok is evident everywhere you go through the intimate feeling of thirty-nine rooms and suites.
If you wonder whether I am writing this piece as an infomercial for The Siam Hotel, I am not. I am writing as my birthday is approaching and I will not be able to celebrate my birthday there as I have since The Siam Hotel opened. Therefore, I am sad but optimistic that I will be back next year. If you are in the oil exploration business, as I am, optimism is a necessary requirement to get out of bed every morning as the most probable outcome in that line of work is failure. My Thai friends, I will see you next year, Khun Ed.