WE WERE fortunate to have spent time with German-Thai actor/model Mario Maurer, who recently flew to Manila for a Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)-sponsored campaign to promote Thai culture.
“We wanted to find a Thai superstar with influence among fans around the world,” said Kajorndet Apichartrakul, director of TAT to Singapore and the Philippines. “I cannot name all of the Thai superstars here but we found that Mario is a representative of the young generation.”
Mario exuded confidence as he walked into the press conference in a crisp, tailored black suit, and slicked-back hair.
He described Thailand and its many beautiful destinations as an experience of Thai hospitality.
Singling out Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya as must-see places, Mario pointed out: “Actually, Thailand can be visited all year round. If you’re a first-timer, I would suggest visiting Bangkok where you can explore old temples, eat good food and meet people. If you have free time, you can take a one-hour flight to Chiang Mai. I love the food, the people and the weather. Go to Pattaya for its beaches.”
Aside from scenic, Instagram-worthy tourist spots, Thailand is also popular for its unique and herb-laden food. “I love Pad Thai,” Mario said, referring to the popular soaked dry rice noodles with vegetables. “We also have tom yum (Thai soup) and sotang (Thai salad). Be careful, they’re very spicy. Tell your chef to put less chili because we like our food spicy.”
He admitted trying to learn to cook Thai food, but with difficulty. “But I know how to do a Thai massage and Muay Thai,” he said before standing up to demonstrate the proper Muay Thai fighting stance.
Enumerating the things that make Thailand an attractive tourist option, Mario said: “We have a very good transportation [system]… At night, you can take the tuktuk (Thailand’s version of the rickshaw).” Mario then directed our attention to a red tuktuk, the first of its kind in Manila, just outside the convention hall.
Asked what other things friends traveling as a group can do in Thailand, Mario said: “If you’re there for a short trip, go to Amphawa, a floating market by the riverside. You could shop there and even have a massage in the boat… Try ziplining in Chiang Mai. I did and it was very good. Do the elephant trip where you ride on an elephant and go around.”
He emphasized that one of the best attractions in Thailand, especially Bangkok, is shopping. The Thai capital boasts a number of shopping malls and bazaars that are known for their low prices and wide selection of clothes, shoes and accessories.
JJ Green Market
“I always go to the night market,” said Mario. His favorite? “It’s called the JJ Green Market.”
Much to our delight, he noted that JJ Green also has food markets and four branches in Thailand.
“I always go there because it has vintage stuff,” he said, adding that it has a variety of Thai-made and imported
Of the imported brands, he singled out Penshoppe, for which he had been an
More than anything else, Mario explained why Thailand is called the Land of Smiles: “We are a very friendly people. We’re ready to show you guys where to go.”
He added that Thais and Filipinos are known for being hospitable and respectful.
<span style=”font-size: large”><em>Photography Raymond Cauilan</em>
<em> Assistant photography Raymund Seranillo</em></span>