If you could fly anywhere in the world for free, where would you go? That’s the question our lead designer, Delta Amrhein, and her husband had to answer this year.

Delta’s husband recently retired from American Airlines. The airline’s gift to him was two round-trip tickets anywhere in the world that they fly. Based on input from friends, the Amrheins chose Hong Kong and Bangkok.

After a 16-hour flight in first class from Dallas, they arrived in beautiful, bustling Hong Kong. Located on the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of China. With 7.4 million people in 429 square miles, it is the most populated area in the world.

For comparison, the Charleston area has 761,155 people in 109 square miles. If you think we have traffic and housing problems here in the Lowcountry, Hong Kong has more than 10,500 more people per square mile than we do!

Delta loved the architecture and hotels, and marveling at how big and busy the Port of Hong Kong is. (The port regularly contends for the busiest port in the word, while Charleston is the 27th busiest port.)

 

After two days in Hong Kong, they flew Thai Air to Bangkok. First and foremost, Bangkok is hot and sticky. Every travel website warns travelers about the heat, and Delta confirmed it’s true. They hired a guide for two days who drove them to the important sights.

“Mr. Oat was a lifesaver,” Delta says. “Everywhere was crowded. He took care of us, taking us to restaurants, and making sure we had water and towels after sight seeing.”

The Amrheins made a somber visit to the River Kwai, and saw beautiful temples and shining Buddhas everywhere. Bangkok is also densely populated with more than 8 million people in the city (605 square miles) and 15 million in outlying areas. To escape the crowds, they visited a bar 850 feet up in a skyscraper for a bird’s eye view.

Delta says they loved the food, but curiously there were plenty of Italian restaurants too. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Designer Jim Thompson’s house.

Thompson was an American businessman who is credited with single-handedly reviving the Thai silk industry. (Jim Thompson fabrics can be seen in the movie The King and I). He insisted that silk-making remain a cottage industry, which raised thousands of poor workers (most importantly – women), out of poverty. Delta has always loved his designs, and came home with a lovely scarf.

Welcome home Delta, we’ll be looking forward to seeing how the exotic, colorful East influences your designs this year.