Superwomen From Tel Aviv via Bollywood to Thailand

by Ravit El-Bachar Daniel
Bollywood Orly

What brought Orly Elbaz to Thailand 17 years ago was Suvarnabhumi airport. Most of us arrived in Thailand through this airport, but Orly arrived here because of this airport, before it existed. It was her husband’s involvement with the airport development project that introduced them to life in Thailand. Since then, travelling and all its aspects became a main key in her life, seasoned with Bollywood dance and a busy family life. Orly, married plus 3 children and 1 grandchild, will celebrate her 52nd birthday in October. Yes, no one believes her when she mentions her age or her ‘grandma’ newest title; but we’ll get back to that later. “We started our expat life journey nearly 20 years ago, when we moved from Israel, our home country, to India, following my husband’s work in the building and real estate industry. About 3 years later my husband Kobi was offered to take part in building Suvarnabhumi Airport project, and we moved to Thailand, settled in Nichada Thani, a gated community for expats in the northern part of Bangkok.”

When and how did you start your involvement in the travel and hotels industry?
In the days we moved to Thailand, we had an opportunity to invest in real estate; one property grew to another, and step by step we developed residential projects and hotels in Pattaya. We now own 4 hotels in Pattaya: Centara Grand Phratamnak, Amari Residences, Centara Azure and Centra Avenue, which is the first kosher hotel in SE Asia and caters to the religious Jewish community who travel to Thailand.

On Vacation

Although I am not involved now with the hotels (we hire management companies to run them), over the years, I was helping promote our Pattaya hotels, gained experience in travelling and developed a deep knowledge of the Thai culture. Therefore many Israeli travellers who either knew me in person, or just heard about me from others – started approaching me more and more to get recommendations and suggestions on hotels and trips in Thailand. I was happy to assist them whenever I could. After some time I’ve decided to develop this activity and utilise the social media to share my knowledge with a wider group of audience. I then opened the FB group “Thailand – my perfect vacation”, which is directed to Israeli travellers who plan a trip to Thailand and look for information in their native language. Quickly the group grew to 40,000 members, which was the main force to collaborate with the travel agency “Lametayel Thailand” and tailor full-tour itineraries.

You travel quite a lot. Where have you travelled to recently?
In the past few years, since my children have grown (I have two children over 20 and one teenager), most of my trips are around my family. My son Niv studies in the USA for his Masters Degree; my daughter Nataly lives in England and my Mom lives in Israel. So over the last few years my trips are mostly between those countries.My recent trip was to England when I was lucky to be present in the birth of my first grandchild Erik Michael – an immeasurably unique experience.

Bollywood Expat dance group

I’ve heard you are very much into Bollywood dance..what got you hooked on that?
Since I remember myself as a young child – I was dancing. When we relocated to India, I was introduced to the Bollywood world, which derived from the Indian cinema. The Indian dance combines leg moves in complicated rhythms, requires a flexible body and a musical ear. It is lively and has colourful and decorated outfits. I was exposed in India to all this cultural beauty that I hadn’t seen before. When we moved to Thailand, I met in Nichada Thani another woman who had moved to Thailand after living as an expat in India, she was a Bollywood dance instructor, who had a deep familiarity with the Indian culture and dance. She opened a dance group in our community, and I joined. The dance group now includes expat women from all around the world, we are often invited to perform in various events, and this experience always gives me a ‘high’ feeling.

Grandparents

You have recently become a grandma yet still have a teen at home. Tell us about your motherhood and grandmotherhood experiences. What kind of Mom you are? What kind of grandma?
Yes, I raise a teenager – my sweet Noi; and I’ve earned the title of Grandma this year. When my daughter Nathalie gave birth, I felt as if I had given birth myself – it was endless happiness. As a grandma my role is purely to pamper, kiss and hug. As a Mom, my task is different: to raise and educate. I try to be assertive, dominant and act as a role model for my children, whilst pampering them as well. I believe I gave my grown children tools and values for life. I try not to stick my nose in too much, but offer advice and help when needed, especially to my older daughter who herself is taking her first steps in motherhood.

You always have the perfect look, no one can catch you without the right outfit/makeup/hairstyle, not to mention – your body shape doesn’t look as if it changed over the years. Your Instagram photos look as if they were taken from a fashion catalogue (and you know how to pose). I’m pretty sure no one believes you have a grandchild. How do you do that? What are your secrets?
Thanks for the compliment! I try my best to maintain a good nutrition and healthy lifestyle. My workout is dance – I dance 3/4 times a week. I believe that getting up in the morning, get yourself dressed, put on makeup and everything else that makes you feel good with yourself, is influencing the course of our day, and this is part of who I am. I was probably blessed also with good genes, as my family members, for generations, always looked younger than their real age.

Tell me a little about your own childhood. What type of child were you?
I was a happy child. Although a single child to divorced parents, my parents always took well care of me as much as they could, and haven’t missed anything from me. I grew up in Tel Aviv, I was socially active, active in sports, the Scouts, and of course – dance. I’m still in touch with my classmates with whom I grew up with. All these years we maintained a good friendship. It is not easy to live abroad and keep close relationships with your childhood friends, and I find it so valuable.

Who are you? Who is Orly that not everyone knows?
There is probably no Orly that not everyone knows, as I am an open book, quite direct, say things as they are, the good and the bad. I believe in my truth. At the end of the day, I am a mother, a wife, and work as everyone else and I love life.

Orly Elbaz

What drives you?
I have a motivation for achieving and experiencing new things, for trying and daring. When there is a motivation – I can mark V on another fruitful day. I believe in learning as a great source of motivation. Every day I learn something new, big or small, and moving forward I gain knowledge that helps me grow. I am ambitious and I like challenges, I set myself goals and do not give up, using positive thinking.

Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
On Tel Aviv beach, surrounded by my husband, children and grandchildren.

Your top tip to inspire other expats women in a foreign city?
Go out and participate in community events. Let your voice be heard. Believe in yourself and in your capabilities. Try new things, and above all – enjoy the experience!”

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