It isn't only tennis that players get to experience when they visit a country to play a WTA tournament - they also have the chance to experience local culture and traditions. In Huahin a sunrise ceremony with local monks, caviar tasting, squid fishing and dumpling making were all on the menu for players at the GSB Thailand Open presented by E@.
An early wake-up call for World No.15 Petra Martic and Thailand’s qualifying wildcard Mhai Mananchaya rewarded the pair with a beautiful sunrise on the beach and a traditional merit making ceremony with local monks - a Thai Buddhist tradition where food and drink is offered to the monks who then offer blessings in return.
Caviar tasting proved the perfect activity for Australia’s Arina Rodionova and fellow Aussies Storm Sanders and Ellen Perez. The trio learned about the unique production methods of beluga caviar at the Thai Sturgeon Farm in Hua Hin before they were treated to a taste of the luxury black caviar produced for the Caviar House of Bangkok.
Austria's Barbara Haas and China's Zhu Lin were treated to an evening squid-fishing trip as the sun set over Hua Hin beach, and learnt that squid are easier to catch at night because that's when they feed, attracted to the light. An added bonus was eating the freshly caught squid!
A cooking class was the order of the day for Kateryna Bondarenko and Nao Hibino who were given a lesson in making dumplings by the sous chef at the Hotel Intercontinental Resort, Hua Hin - a special treat for the Japanese, who has a real fondness for the food.
Players have also had the chance to experience more of the region through visits to Ratchapak Park to see the seven giant bronze statues of Thai kings, to Khao Takiab - otherwise known as Chopstick Mountain - and a trip to see Wat Huay Mongkol, a Buddhist temple that is home to the world’s largest statue of Luang Phor Thuad, a legendary Thai monk.
Those interested in animal conservation can learn about the work of the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation where elephants abandoned by their owners due to ill health, old age or simply because they are unable to work, are rescued and cared for.