When it comes to my week in Thailand I’m not sure where to begin.
My pre-conceptions were all taken from Hollywood and tales of friends at beachside yoga retreats, but the reality was much more than I ever expected in so many ways.
I was invited by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to fly out for six days as part of their Thailand Academy Program. On phase three, this trip was to be all about traditional Thai textile production with a focus on cotton and silk for the UK delegates. I travelled to North East Thailand to a province called Surin to learn all about silk production and to experience an often undiscovered Thai way of life.
Also along on the trip were designers from the UK and France and design students from Germany which would culminate in these designers producing original pieces from their respective countries in the traditional Thai fabrics and, as it would turn out, in traditional Thai summer 42 degree heat. As the Thais say there are three seasons in Thailand: hot, hotter and hottest. We arrived in the hottest season and I got sweaty in areas I didn’t even know could get sweaty. It was glorious (the weather, not the sweating)!
I was really lucky to be travelling with some of the loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the fashion biz: corset maker Ian Wallace who is just one of the most warm-hearted people ever as well as being founder of atelier The Whitechapel Workhouse and chief costume designer for Immodesty Blaise. Bryde Gordon, whose hilarity literally had me laughing the whole trip and is definitely the headwear designer for my theoretical next wedding (her eye for floral headgear is exquisite). May Wong who was effortlessly chic, lovely and talented and does the most incredible things with upcycled textiles. And not forgetting our wonderful TAT representative Bee, who just made the whole trip for us all (and happily answered my millions of questions).
It was brilliant to be surrounded by so much happiness and creativity for the week and definitely got me through the pain of travelling and jetlag.
I didn’t ‘do’ the travelling thing when I was younger and it’s something I’ve learned I really love now I’m a little older. This trip was many things to me – we slept minimally but I came home with a head and heart full of knowledge, peace and love (I’m basically a hippy now) and I’m so thankful for TAT for choosing me to experience all these wonderful things. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Now we’re back and almost over this jet lag it’s my job to write about this wonderful country and I can’t wait to experience it all over again in my pictures and words. The food, the culture, the people, the history… Thailand, I will be back for you.