Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to New York City. A flight attendant in Business Class was roaming around in the cabin, greeting guests before they settled in their seats.
When Katalan, aa professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was on board, she immediately noticed his presence.
“I remember how he looked, what he did, what he was wearing,” Suntaranon informs CNN Travel. “It was a black and simple T-shirt with an awesome Bulgari watch. He stood up to put his TUMI backpack into the bin overhead.”
Their love story unfolded when the plane from New York, New York, took off. These 18 hours flying through the sky would bring about an international romance, with glamourous rendezvous worldwide and over two decades of adventures.
A chance encounter in the sky
As one of Philadelphia’s most acclaimed chefs, Suntaranon has earned abundant accolades for her bright, hot Southern Thailand food at Kalaya Thai Kitchen.
Before discovering her niche in the culinary industry, she was an executive First Class cabin air-flight attendant for over two decades.
The day she first met with Katalan, Suntaranon was initially assigned to an itinerary that would take her from Bangkok to Rome. However, Thai Airways reassigned her to New York at the last second.
As it was the case that the business class cabin was almost empty, she could take more time to talk with passengers.
“I always like to talk to people and take care of them, so I offered him red wine and made him two or three cups of espresso,” she says.
The two flight attendants were in love while on an aircraft. What happened next?
“I had a chat with Ziv and the person in his path – hilarious guy. I was not flirting, just having a conversation while doing what I was supposed to do.”
As the plane was getting closer to its destination, a passenger advised that Suntaranon should be Thailand’s “Next Top Model,” Then she looked at Katalan and said, “If you don’t ask her out, I will,” she recalled laughing. “It was really cute.”
Katalan was determined to keep the opening from going by.
“Nok stood out with her personality, charm and beauty – I do a lot of air miles, and I have never encountered anyone at 36,000 feet with Nok’s personality,” Katalan says. Katalan of her first impressions.
When he stepped off the boat the ship, He said he would take his wife out for a ride while they were there in New York.
“I told him where the crew was staying and said he could call me there,” she continues. “And he did!”
When opposites draw
After attending a meeting for work held in Philadelphia, Katalan returned to New York City the next day to travel with Suntaranon to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
As they walked around, MoMa Suntaranon and Katalan said they were at ease with their presence despite apparent differences.
A quiet and contemplative person, Katalan is severe, thoughtful, profound, and has a calm presence and a talent for numbers, says Suntaranon. “He’s the smartest man I have ever met.”
It is said that Suntaranon Katalan has a bigger-than-life personality that is warm, joyous, generous, and kind. She also has an impulsive nature, the author adds.
“It’s kind of an attraction of opposites,” Katalan says. Catalan. “But on a fundamental level, we have full compatibility because we cherish many of the same things in life.”
As they perused the museum’s famous collection of contemporary and modern art, they realized what they shared in common: an appreciation for art, food, travel, and family.
They also found themselves at similar phases of their lives and had ended their prior relationships shortly before.
Katalan had split with his 20-year wife wit, with whom he had an infant daughter just six years prior, and maintained a close bond with his wife.
At the same time, Suntaranon had divorced her husband several months before and was still co-owner of an Italian restaurant in Bangkok along with her husband.
“When you enter a second relationship, you don’t work on the same pathways as you do the first time,” Katalan says. Catalan. “It was much easier for both of us to live in the moment and see where it led.”
Then, later that night, the couple enjoyed drinks in The Royalton Hotel in Midtown and then had a late-night evening meal with dinner at Blue Fin, a sleek Japanese restaurant inside W New York in Times Square.
“I remember sitting in a conversation over my day with Ziv and thinking about how clever he was. I was awed by his ability to talk about numbers. We had a lot of laughter and laughter.”
Then Katalan returned on the train towards Philadelphia, and Suntaranon returned to Thailand.
A relationship can take flight.
A month later, Katalan called Suntaranon to send her a happy New Year. Ultimately, she was due to travel back to New York in February, and they planned a second date.
Suntaranon was more hesitant this time – she was looking eager to spend some time with Katalan but worried that it was too early to be involved with anyone.
She made her reservations late evening and was ecstatic to discover more of the city.
Katalan invited her to visit one of his most favored eateries, Masa, a renowned Time Warner Center sushi restaurant at Central Park’s southwest corner.
“We enjoyed every bite. We discussed the restaurant culture that is New York, chefs like David Bouley,” she says. “I had traveled all over the globe, so I had a good idea of numerous excellent restaurants, but not one were in New York. We exchanged notes and shared a lot of fun on food and traveling.”
Her mother and daughter Kalaya living at home with Kalaya at home in Trang, Thailand.
The following morning, Katalan offered Suntaranon to take part in the trip of three weeks across Asia as well as the Pacific, including visits to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.
“I have told Ziv, “I’ve never been with anyone for so long. Three weeks is quite a long period,” Says Suntaranon.
“And I remember him saying, ‘Even for three hours, three days, three weeks or forever, I am happy to be with you.'”
Three weeks flew by quickly, A delight for two independent people.
“We spent so much time together, walking, talking and eating delicious food,” recalls Suntaranon.
“While driving along the Great Ocean Road There was no GPS just an old map. I tried the navigation… but unsuccessfully. However, Ziv was calm and collected. He was never angry – it was so enjoyable to be around.”
She also observed his loving side as Katalan took care of her injuries following a crash during a cycling accident in Nha Trang, Vietnam.
During this trip, Suntaranon realized that she found that he had everything she needed.
“He’s real, warm and extremely clear. He’s smart, gentle and very thoughtful, and sometimes, he’s an absolute pain,” she laughs.