Rika Dila doesn’t look like the busy businesswoman and mother of two young sons she is. "I tell people I’m 28," jokes the half Filipino, half-Japanese representative of Sotheby’s in Thailand. "And after a while I start believing it!"
The white lie wouldn’t be difficult for anyone to believe. Rika wears no makeup, but there’s hardly a fine line on her face. Her hair is swept elegantly into a simple pony tail, and she looks relaxed in a crisp lemon shirt, long khaki shorts and flat tan sandals. She sips a ginger tea as she recalls the events in her life that have made her who she is today.
"My parents migrated here together, and I was born here, so I’m Thai," she explains. She attended an international school in Bangkok before heading off to college in the Philippines and then university in Japan, where she majored in economics.
She nearly became a professional golfer along the way, playing on the winning team in the national competition in Japan, and winning the all-Japan collegiate. "I then played one year with the pro tour, but as an amateur. I was really fit, and I was big!" she laughs. "I was 53 or 54 kilos. I’m 42 now. Can you imagine?"
The weight was actually muscle. "During that year, we played almost two rounds a day, and we had to carry out own bags – it’s only in Thailand you have caddies everywhere. I went to the gym at least three or four times a week for serious workouts."
Despite having played competition golf from the age of nine, Rika decided this wasn’t the life she wanted. "I didn’t enjoy it, so I quit when I graduated."
Next came a stint in a Bangkok bank and at a real estate company; then she started working for jewellery company Bulgari. "I opened and managed the shop. I was there for almost eight years," she says. She got married, and fell pregnant with her first child. "I quit a week before I gave birth."
When her second child was about a year old, she was approached to be the Sotheby’s representative in Thailand. "I worked out of my house until we became more known here. I loved it because I could just wear my jammies and come downstairs and work at my computer," she recalls. Now the prestigious auction house has an office at the Sukhothai Hotel. "And I wear proper clothes to work!"
Her days usually end in the early afternoon, when she goes to pick up her children. "But we get really busy four times a year when we look for goods going for auction. Then I work a full day, until 8 or 9pm, looking for clients or going to clients’ homes."
In between work and caring for her children, Rika maintains a fitness regime. "I used to do yoga, but it took a full two hours to go through the whole routine," she says, adding that eventually she couldn’t spare the time. "I tried to go to the gym, and alternated between running and lifting weights, but I found that just lifting weights was boring."
The solution arrived in the form of a personal trainer. "Now I do boxing and kicking. I’m not doing it for self-defense purposes, I just do it for exercise. I enjoy it a lot, and practise two to three times a week."
Rika says she’s usually a very happy-go-lucky person, but she does occasionally get stressed out when she comes across a problem she can’t solve. Writing can be a release for her. "I take the kids to the park and I try to write. Or I write when I have things to think about at night, or I can’t sleep but I don’t want to read. But lately when I’m really stressed out I notice that I’ve just been falling asleep!"
Otherwise to relax she listens to music, or reads. She confesses to keeping to books that entertain rather than educate. "I read junk! I love reading about serial killers and I love ghost stories. I’m reading Thai novels now."
When it comes to skincare, Rika’s dedicated. Her daily routine involves washing with a soap-free cleanser and applying lotion in the morning, and cleansing in the evening too. "On alternate days I use a soft sponge to sponge down my face."
She also goes for a vitamin A and C treatment about twice a month. "It feels good while they’re doing it – but I don’t really see any visible difference."
To maintain her body’s skin, she scrubs regularly. "I love to scrub! Once or twice a week I scrub." On top of that, she tries to get to a salon every fortnight for a scrub, sauna, milk bath and oil massage.
Rika’s makeup style is dependent on her mood. "Usually I skip foundation and just put on some blush – I use a lot of blush now. When I was younger I didn’t, but now I feel like my face doesn’t have enough colour."
She generally doesn’t bother with mascara, but adds some lip gloss or lipstick and a little eyeliner. "My lip colour really depends on my mood too. Now I’m in more of a pink mood, but usually I stick with brick reds and purplish reds."
"I spend more time and more money on products for my hair than my face," says Rika. She colours her own hair – "I have a lot of grey" – and gets occasional trims from her stylist.
At home she uses a weekly oil mask before washing. "I leave it on for three minutes, then I wash it and condition it. Sometimes I leave in the conditioner after I wash – I just wrap my hair up in a towel for twenty to thirty minutes, and put a mask on my face too."
Rika doesn’t smoke, but she does drink. "A lot!" she laughs, adding that she usually sticks to white spirits and the occasional red wine. "I went to the Regent the other day and tried vodka and cranberry juice. It’s my new drink now!"