4 Tatler Couples Who Love Travelling As Much As Each Other
1/4 Melanie and Dermphan Yoovidhya
Melanie or May Yoovidhya, vice president of Breguet Thailand, is animated as we wait for her husband Dermphan, CEO of Lima Resort Group, to arrive. Whipping out her phone and swiping at the display, she eagerly browses through photograph after photograph of the couple’s travels, recalling the minutest detail of various scenes and incidents. “When I travel I’m a bit compulsive about taking photographs,” she laughs. My husband, Ton, mainly travels to go snowboarding,” she adds just as the man in question enters. “It’s true,” he chuckles as he pulls up a chair. Married for almost three years now, the Yoovidhyas have been to many exotic corners but most of their trips revolve around snowy locations. “Northern Japan is a recurring destination,” says Ton. “So he can go snowboarding!” May chimes in with a smile and an exaggerated roll of her eyes before adding, “But after that I insist we go sightseeing and shopping.”
The young couple’s trips are usually a mix of adventure and relaxation, although both admit that there isn’t much spontaneity in their travel plans. “Except that this past winter Ton would often drop everything after a call from one of his friends and go jetting off to some piste,” says May with feigned truculence—currently pregnant with their first child and unable to fly, her frustration at not being able to travel is palpable.
So what has been their most memorable destination so far? Their answer comes immediately and in unison: Africa. They are referring to their honeymoon in 2017, an exotic trip to the Dark Continent’s famous eastern savannah. It was a chance to experience the authenticity of the wilds and to do something fun together before settling down to start a family. “East Africa is truly beautiful,” says May. “And travelling during the low season made the trip all the more private,” Ton adds. “We stayed out in the wilderness with no one else around us.”
One of the highlights of their African adventure was seeing the Big Five—lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo. “It was wonderful,” Ton says. “At one camp we were approached by a herd of elephants. We are used to seeing domesticated or tame elephants in Thailand but these were much bigger wild animals and unpredictable, so we were told not to make any sudden movements or even breathe too loudly around them. Getting so close to them was scary but also exhilarating.”
The couple also spotted several species of giraffe during their trip, which led them to spend time at Giraffe Manor just outside Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Said to be one of the most Instagrammed properties in the world, it is home to a herd of Rothschild’s giraffe, an endangered sub-species with only 1,660 or so left. “They were lovely,” laughs May. “In the mornings and evenings they would gather outside the dining room windows and crane their long necks into the room in the hope of being given a treat. Not many people can say they have shared their breakfast with a giraffe.” It is something the youngest addition to the Yoovidhya household may be able to look forward to on a safari trip.
2/4 Alisa Phanthusak and Puwanart Kunpalin
Alisa Phanthusak and Puwanart Kunpalin knew each other for years before they were married in 2017. The CEO of PTS Group Holdings, which operates Tiffany’s Show and Woodlands Hotel and Resort in Pattaya, and her TV-radio personality husband, whose family owns Chaophraya Cruise Group, arrive arm in arm for our chat having seen toddler son Paul off on an activity. “We first met through work when Alisa hired me as a singer to perform at the grand opening of her family’s hotel. Years passed and then she hired me again to emcee a Miss Tiffany’s beauty pageant. That’s when we became an item,” Puwanart, or Un, explains.
Long before they had their son the couple indulged in a shared passion for travel on hiking, skiing and diving trips. Alisa laughs, “Un is no stranger to adventurous travel because the radio station he works for organises competitions with trips as the prize and he gets to accompany the winners.”
“Its true,” says Un. “Over the years I have slept in a glass igloo, gone dog sledding and swum in the Arctic near the North Pole. Too cold for you I think,” he says giving Alisa a sly smile that she returns with interest.
Now that they have a youngster in tow their travels have taken on a baby-centric hue, but they are happy about it. “Paul dictates everything,” Alisa says. “At the moment wherever we go we tend to stay close to the hotel because of his needs—mealtimes, baths, naps and so on. We’re in no rush but we are looking forward to him being a little older so we can do more.” In fact, 20-month-old Paul already has some serious air miles to his name following his first big trip, a European cruise with his parents in October last year. One of their ports of call was Rome and Alisa and Un remember their visit to the Eternal City with mixed feelings. “The Vatican was unbelievably crowded and it was very hot, so the baby cried all the time,” Alisa chuckles. “We were surrounded by all this culture, art and architecture but saw little of it because we were so preoccupied trying to calm him down.” Un nods in agreement and simply says, “Rome in high season with a baby…don’t do it.”
Although they married three years ago, the two admit they haven’t yet taken a honeymoon. Alisa says, “We did make plans to go to New York because we both love concerts and musicals and wanted to do Broadway. However, work constraints and then my pregnancy got in the way.” However, both experienced New York as youngsters before they met and Alisa, who studied in the US, says that perhaps a nostalgic trip back to the Big Apple is on the cards. “I want to drive down 5th Avenue again and visit my favourite Soho café, if it’s still there.”
And their most memorable trip to date? “For me that would be our jaunt to Antwerp for a Madonna concert in 2015,” says Un. “It was just two weeks after the Paris terrorist attacks and cities around the region were on high alert. The trip was really last minute and the hotels were full, but I love Madonna and I was determined that we’d make the show. In the end we managed to rent a small house with some friends and although France and Belgium were still in mourning, just being there and celebrating life after the terrible attacks was really quite uplifting.”
See also: Better Late Than Never: 5 Couples Who Found Each Other Later In Life
3/4 Kornkanok Yongsakul and Kanisorn Premprasert
As she casually sips a cup of tea Lek Kornkanok Yongsakul tells us how she met her husband, Kanisorn Premprasert. “It was around four years ago through a diving group set up by mutual friends,” says the founder of RBL Training. “Both Kanisorn and I are sporty and love to dive and run.” By the time they married in February 2019, the pair had become seasoned travellers in their own right.
Yet to have children, the couple are able to indulge their travel bug but Lek admits they may take the planning of trips a little far. “We treat holiday planning like a military operation,” she laughs. “We’re both into project management so we schedule a day to meet to hold a planning session and from that point on we each work on our allotted responsibilities. I research places to eat, daily itineraries and sites to see, our daily budget and even the weather forecast for the days we will be away. Kanisorn organises practicalities such as the plane tickets, hotel bookings and car rentals.”
Their shared love of diving led them to take their honeymoon in the Maldives and Lek describes the trip as the perfect blend of adventure and romance. But it isn’t only diving that brings them together on the travel front. Seasoned athlete Kanisorn has introduced his wife to the joys of marathon running and now the pair plan trips abroad around some of the most high-profile marathons in the world. “Our trip to take part in the Berlin marathon in September last year had been in the works for a year,” Lek chuckles. “When we found out in 2018 that we’d both been successful in the lottery draw for starting places in the race—50,000 runners were randomly picked out of many, many more applicants—we were ecstatic. We started planning right away and it was a big trip because we decided to visit Scotland for a whisky distillery tour with friends before participating in the marathon. The race itself—my first full marathon—was grueling in the rain but finishing it gave me such a buzz. Then after the race we spent a few gentle days recovering in the Czech Republic and Austria.”
Not long after their return from that epic trip Kanisorn discovered that he’d won another lottery draw to participate in the Osaka Marathon in December 2019. “The problem was that when he was out on training runs he was starting to feel pain in his legs so he asked me if I would like to go in his stead,” Lek explains. “I was starting to like marathons so I accepted and began two weeks of intense training. But then I got a tendon injury and couldn’t run.” Chuckling, she continues, “In the end the doctors said Kanisorn was okay to compete so he did eventually run the marathon while I split-second planned a solo trip around Osaka and Kyoto.”
For the couple travel means creating new stories together. “Everything we experienced in the moment is made even more special because we know we have each other,” Lek says. “For both of us even the shortest of trips refreshes the mind. Like marathon running, in which you try to zone out distractions and run with an uncluttered mind, travel frees you from the daily concerns of urban life. It makes you open your eyes to what’s around you.”
See also: Inheriting The Buck: The Offspring Of Major Thai Family Businesses
4/4 Elizabeth Wongwasin and Pollathit Pukphibulya
Of our four couples, Elizabeth Wongwasin and Pollathit Pukphibulya, or Lisa and Pop, have been married the longest, tying the knot in 2006 after what, by their own admission, was a traditional romantic courtship that had its beginnings when they were in their teens. “We first met at a family dinner—his dad and my dad are friends,” Lisa explains, adding with a laugh that their meeting wasn’t a planned matchmaking by their parents. “But it wasn’t until two years later at another dinner that we really talked,” interjects Pop. “You were seeing a musical that night,” his wife recalls. “It was raining and you had to wait for the car. My father said, ‘Just go keep him company while he waits.’” At the time Lisa was a university freshman and Pop had just finished his graduate degree in San Francisco.
Now, almost 15 years on, the two work together to run their own business consultancy called So Good Consulting. Being in such close proximity to one another wasn’t always taken for granted though. “We were not allowed to travel together even after we started dating. It was a big no no for my parents,” Lisa laughs. Pop grins too, “We went to Hong Kong together once before we got married and my parents came with us!” “After we got married I didn’t have to ask my parents for permission anymore,” Lisa chortles, “We travelled a lot after that."
Perhaps with a little bit of rebellion in mind, the pair chose to honeymoon in Las Vegas where, much to Lisa’s chagrin, Pop was distracted by the gaming tables. It’s something they laugh about now. “The whole time he was supposed to be with me, he was in the casino instead!” “But I did teach you how to play the slot machines,” Pop counteracts. “Yes, only to get rid of me,” Lisa throws back. “You gave me a tiny budget and told me to make my fortune.”
These days the easy-going couple prefer trips to scenic destinations over adventure travel with places such as Iceland—to see the Northern Lights—on their to-do list. They also have to take five-year-old son Pasu into consideration. The couple’s first trip with him was to Hong Kong in December 2017 when he was a toddler but Lisa’s family came along to help. The first solo jaunt with him, a 2018 trip to Osaka didn’t go to plan. “It was scary because towards the end of the trip Pasu got a fever of 40 degrees Celsius. We did everything we could to lower his temperature. It was so high that the airline was reluctant to let him fly. He was fine within a few days of our return thankfully.”
As for other destinations on their travel radar, Lisa—whom Pop describes as a ‘Christmas freak’—says she has always wanted to visit the town of Colmar in northeastern France at Christmas. “It is unbelievably romantic and picturesque in winter with its cobbled streets and medieval and renaissance buildings. But Pop doesn’t really like really cold places, unless it’s Japan.” However, France is an attractive destination for Pop for other reasons. “During our honeymoon I took Lisa to a Michelin-starred restaurant and we’ve been hunting stars ever since. Even Pasu is becoming something of an epicurean. When he’s old enough, I hope to be able to take him on a wine appreciation tour of the châteaux of France.”
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