Seabees provide aid to patients with
by JO2 Sharon M. Dewar
Pacific Navigator Staff
RAYONG, Thailand (NNS) They didnt know what to expect when
their plane touched down in Thailand. The unfamiliar territory itself was overwhelming,
but where they were headed, and what they would soon see, would perhaps change their lives
Photo: Father John and friends dig
into a well-deserved chow line.
Eighteen Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Three were on
their way to the Camillian Social Center in the city of Rayong. The group had been hand
picked to carryout a mission like none the Seabees had ever known. After being fully
briefed on the projects details, and given the option to back out without any
repercussion all 18 volunteered to fulfill it.
The mission: Living and working for a month and a half within an AIDS
The project was part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training
(CARAT) 98 exercise in Thailand. The center, which is home to approximately 38 HIV and
AIDS patients, needed a second story addition constructed on a building. The Seabees from
Guam "rogered up" to the project.
"At first I just kept thinking what did I get myself
into?" reminisced Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Cervantes.
Many of the Seabees undoubtedly felt the same unease and uncertainty
before actually starting the project and meeting the patients within the center.
"Father (Giovanni Contrarin) John, who runs the center, was
pushing us a little - wanting us to eat with the patients when we first got there. I was
scared out of my mind even the chef had AIDS," said Petty Officer 1st Class
Corey Heinrich, crew leader. "But after a couple weeks, I was more than willing to
eat with them."
Petty Officer 3rd Class Rick Markland, the teams cook agreed.
"I felt really indifferent about everything at first. I had never done anything like
that before," he said. "I didnt want to work in the kitchen with the
centers cook, but it didnt take long for my outlook to totally change."
Many attitudes changed for the Seabees, perhaps because the face of
AIDS is changing. "A lot of the patients were small, innocent children," said
Cervantes. "There was a mother with a two-month-old baby both of them had
Markland remembered a little boy who was inflicted with the disease
along with both his parents. The mother had already died. "One little girl named Oong
especially touched our hearts," said LT John White, officer-in-charge of the team.
"She was raped when she was 10 years old by her HIV infected father. She became
infected by the virus and is only expected to live a few more months."
The Camillian Social Center was opened in December 1995 to give people
like Oong a home and a community who accepts them. "Father John has set up the center
so it has a family atmosphere," said White. "Each individual finds a place in
this family and pulls their own weight."
When the community first opened its doors, it was home to only six
patients. Today there are 38 patients and a very long waiting list. "With the rapid
growth in the number of people with the virus, the center desperately needed expansion to
accommodate the increasing number of patients," explained White. "The second
story addition will allow Father John to accept 25 new patients."
"We did something that will benefit them for a very long
time," said Heinrich. What the Seabees did benefited the patients not only because of
the construction work, but also, according to some, their mere presence made a world of
"Most of the patients go to the clinic just to die - theyre
homeless and feel they have nothing to try to live for. But I think our presence had a big
impact on them," said Cervantes. "We were fun and full of life, and that is what
those patients needed."
"Father John even pointed that out to us," Markland agreed.
"The patients were more active and alive while we were there, and he said our high
spirits definitely helped them."
Heinrich said living and working in the community also had another
benefit it showed the community in Rayong that its okay to be around people
"I remember when we first got there we were walking from a nearby
store to the community center, and an old man who was watching us started yelling,
Dont go there! Theres AIDS in there!" said Heinrich.
"And thats pretty much the way the people reacted in Thailand. Theyre
afraid to go anywhere near the clinic. Looking back, I probably would have been just like
that man, but after meeting those people and working on the project, I see things very
When the project was complete, the clinic benefited from the construction work, the
patients benefited from the Seabees kindness, and the lives of many of those Seabees were
forever changed. "It was an eye-opening and life-changing experience," said
Amazing Family Travel
Thailand is an amazing destination with culture, food,
shopping and fun for the whole family. Travel throughout the Kingdom is comfortable and
easy. Whether you travel by air, rail, bus, car, tuk tuk or elephant, the journey is bound
to be filled with fascinating sights and sounds.
The fun begins with Bangkok where there is an endless supply of
entertainment, in the city and its suburbs.
Just outside the capital city and accessible by car or bus, are a
number of theme parks. Siam Water Park is a popular destination where families can go to
cool off on the slides and in the artificial surf. There is a man-made sea, with
whirlpools, fountains and waterfalls, and towering water slides amid carefully landscaped
gardens. Satellite attractions include childrens playgrounds, aviaries, an open zoo
and botanical gardens.
Another theme park is Safari World, covering 170 acres. This park is
divided into two parts. The first part is Safari Park with a variety of animals in their
natural habitat. Visitors can drive through in their own cars or in one of the parks
air conditioned buses. The second part of Safari World is the Marine Park, exhibiting
marine life and rare animals. Special performances can be seen of trained animals
including dolphins, birds, seals and monkeys. Safari World also has restaurants and game
shops as well as a tram service available for touring the park.
There are other parks, including Dream World, Magicland and others
which have rides, games and gardens with picnic areas.
Bangkok also has a number of museums displaying unique artifacts and
some interesting treasures. The National Museum provides visitors with a concise history
of the Thai people from their evolutionary beginnings through the reigns of
Thailand also has no less than 53 national parks located throughout the
country from the far north to the south. These parks are home to rare wildlife and
spectacular scenery. Most of the parks are best visited by car or boat, though tours to
the more accessible parks are available. Many of the national parks offer accommodation
for visitors, in the form of a simple lodge or bungalow. Bird-watchers and nature
enthusiasts will enjoy the parks natural beauty, with limestone peaks, waterfalls,
hilltribe groups and plenty of hiking trails.
Children will find the entire Kingdom is a virtual zoo, with animals
everywhere. Animals have always been an inseparable part of Thai life, at work, at play,
at home or in the wild. Thai literature is full of animal characters and animal sayings
are used in almost every conversation.
Some of the most popular animals that have long been part of every day
life, both in wartime and in peace. Elephants were used for their power in times of war
and in times of peace to help with brunt work, buffaloes to tend the fields and monkeys to
Some animals are regarded with superstition. Elephants, again, and
Siamese cats are thought to bring good fortune in their different ways. Lizards are also
good luck. Setting some animals free - birds, turtles and fish - is supposed to bring good
Besides the animals, children will enjoy some of Thailands
favorite sports. The number one sport, Muay Thai or Thai boxing is an age old art that
continues to captivate audiences today. The events involve a great deal of ancient rituals
Another Thai sport and martial art is Krabi Krabong, sword fighting.
This sport is now mainly performed at festivals and as part of ancient ritual
Watching a takraw match is as much fun as baseball. The small rattan
ball is passed around in circles with incredible displays of skill. People play in the
parks on weekends.
In fact, a walk through Bangkoks Lumpini Park is a great way to
see many of these popular sports in practice. When you get tired of walking around you can
rent a paddle boat and cruise around the pond with ducks and swans following your boat.
For those who prefer a beach holiday, or are accompanying their spouse on a business
trip, need not worry about bringing children along. Many of the hotels and resorts
throughout the kingdom now offer child care facilities and activities for children of all
The piano man and his friends
by Mirin MacCarthy
The cold war is over, Pestroika has produced a piano man for Pattaya.
Ramil Medyarov from Russia is now at the keyboards.
Ramil has joined forces with an American saxophonist and drummer Elder
Van Patrick and Filippina singer-guitarist Janette Oracion to form the "East Coast
Band" that now plays at Delaneys Irish Pub five nights a week. "East
Coast" because they all came from the East Coast of their home country!
Photo: (L to R) Ramil, Janette and
It is a long haul from Russia to Pattaya, even by plane! It is also a
long haul to become an accomplished professional musician. Ramil was an obviously gifted
child, playing the Bayan (button accordion) at age four, an age when most children can
hardly even lift it! His serious music studies commenced two years later. "I started
to study in Music School for Kids and after high school I went to the conservatory for
Ramil enrolled at the Ufa Conservatory of Arts, majoring in traditional
Russian instruments, still playing the Bayan accordion, keyboards, piano and guitar,
teaching music and conducting Russian folk orchestra. He spent the next two years playing
keyboards and conducting with the Kunashiry company, then his career really took off when
he started to play with the famous jazz band "Doostar."
Ramil and the Doostars joined in festivals and concert tours
worldwide from Russia, Georgia, Poland, Germany, America, Africa and Ethiopia. Together
they recorded 17 LPs.
Then five years ago Ramil was invited to come to Thailand. This was the
formation of the first Russian band in Pattaya.
Meanwhile, Elder had been around in Bangkok playing for five years and
thats where he and Ramil met up. They just jammed together one afternoon, liked the
sound and immediately started working. The duo were playing together for three years but
kicked this band off sixteen months ago when Janette started singing with them.
Janette left her East Coast of the Philippines ten years ago. Her
father was a good guitarist and she grew up listening to him playing all the old
standards. Music is in her soul. "I sing from the heart and I like what Im
doing." She also gives credit to Ramil and Elder. "I learn from these two guys,
they are genius musicians."
Genius or not, Elder left his school in Philadelphia at thirteen.
"To go on the road as soon as I could drive. I played with my cousins in Providence,
Chapter One." He later returned to school and studied saxophone with Dennis Sandolini
for eight years. "He was an Italian from 52nd Street days. Sandolini was a real
maestro, he knew everything from classical to honky tonk, James Moody, Tom MacIntosh,
Quincy Jones. He taught me a lot about people too. You dont have to give lip
service, just play your horn and the music will come out of it. If anyone asks what kind
of a musician you are just say you are a modern exponent of improvisation."
Ramil advises young musicians to, "Listen to more and more music,
originals not copies. Analyze the structure of the composition. People learn and study by
themselves, if they want to learn they will."
Elder says the same, "Listen, learn the scales and chords, get all
you can out of it. Dont follow one person, learn from everything from classical to
Janettes advice is: "Create your own style. Dont let
fame go to your head, just remember where you came from."
So what do our red hot jazz musicians listen to? Surprise, surprise,
Ramils favourite listening music is jazz. "I love jazz, Bee Bop Standards,
Funky, Yellow Jackets." Elder says, "My mainstay is what they call Jazz. I call
it People Music, creative music. Grover Washington Jr., Ronnie Laws, the Crusaders, John
Coltrane, Charlie Faulkner - those kind of players. I still say Coltrane because he never
stopped learning, never stopped searching his horn for new avenues, new ways to play,
always creating and recreating. They were influential to me, and also my Great-Great Uncle
Fats Waller. I traced him through the family tree. I even look like him, that happy jolly
guy he was. Top hat and all those vaudeville days."
But despite being through and through musos they also have made
music their business life too. As Ramil says, "Music is like a well, when you get one
level you must think about another level. Right now with Elder and Janette we are thinking
about making our new project a CD."
Elder adds, "This CD will be something people on holiday here can
take back to their own country and play it and remember us. At the same time it is an
entry into the big studios. Making music is about promotion and dollars and cents too, not
just about sound. There are many ways you can go with a CD. Maybe get signed to a major
company, do an original, which would put us on that other level we were talking
Ramil, Elder and Janette have certainly come from very different backgrounds and have
arrived here in Pattaya from very different routes. We are lucky to have such talented
people in our midst. Dont miss seeing them play! When you hear that big sound
booming out of Delaneys, you can bet the East Coast is sockin it to em!
Yeeh haah! Ride em cowboy!
The Rodeos in town! Well, at least the bucking
bronco is here, in a new fun restaurant on the Pattaya-Naklua Road. Called the Wild Bull
Rodeo Restaurant, it is the brain-child of Khun Luanprang and Hermann Stoehr.
K. Luanprang and Hermann attended a festival in Germany that featured
these mechanical monster bulls - 100 of them to be exact. Now there are only 99 because
they bought one and imported it to Thailand with the intentions of setting it up in a
restaurant somewhere. And where better than in fun city Pattaya?
The mechanical bucking bull has pride of place in the restaurant,
living in its own "corral" outside. At the opening last week, the first to ride
the bull was Khun Tanakorn, the attorney the family used to assist in setting up the
Photo: Khun Tanakorn rides the bull.
The rules for riding the bronco are simple. You can hold on with only
one hand and if you have to use two hands to steady yourself you are out. If you fall off
you are out even quicker.
The mechanical bull has 9 levels of "fury" and the Wild Bull
Rodeo Restaurant has made a magnificent offer. Stay on right the way through to the end of
level 9 and you win 2000 Baht. Now heres a restaurant where you could come home with
more money than you went with! If you are good enough, that is!
The restaurant serves German, Thai and American food with Carlsberg
beer on tap plus the usual range of bottled beverages. The Pattaya Mails Dining Out
Team will visit this new restaurant and you will be able to read their critique in a few
For those with an eye to statistics - the mechanical bull cost more than 500,000 Baht
and weighs more than 500 kg. If you want to try for the 2000 Baht prize, the wild bull is
Many years ago, in the wild and cold Highlands of
Scotland, a certain little boys favourite meal was a potato dish called
"stovies". This was made with bacon, onion and cheese and chopped potato, fried
on the griddle over the open fire in the hearth. It was a hearty and nutritious meal and
just so-o-o flavoursome.
That little boy was me and it has been probably 45 years since I had
some of Mums "stovies". Well, that was until last week when the Dining Out
Team went to the Deutsches Haus Restaurant on Beach Road. There, hidden in the menu, was
my "stovies"! Called "Bratkartoffeln" by the German speaking world,
but it was "stovies" just the same, all fried and flavoursome. It was worth it
for me to go to Deutsches Haus just for that dish on its own.
Deutsches Haus is, as its name implies, a German restaurant. It has
been a leading place for the German foodies in Pattaya for many years now but it has been
some time since the Dining Out Team paid a visit.
The décor is in line with owner Dieters other love - deep sea
fishing. Lining the walls are numerous fishing rods with the trophies they have caught
mounted above them. This includes some 300 kg of grouper. A rather large fish.
The menu is also large. Starting with soups and moving on to a sausage
selection between 70 - 120 Baht, it goes into a good selection of mains (90 - 190 Baht)
including giant pork knuckle and pork chops. Schnitzel and steaks range between 150 - 230
Baht, fish dishes generally between 120 - 160 Baht, a kids corner (40 - 80 Baht) with
dishes named after Disney characters followed by a selection of home made desserts and
We selected Erbensen Eintopf mit
Wurstchen (pea soup with sausage) to be followed by roast pork and champignons and Gulasch
Schussel (a thick goulash with boiled potatoes).
The pea soup was smooth and strongly flavoured, but the sausage
"log" floating in it seemed a little bizarre, but pleasant enough. Our mains
were large, hot and very nice. The boiled potatoes were done to perfection. Plenty of
gravy for the pork and I was almost replete - until out came the Bratkartoffeln. I could
hardly believe my eyes! "Stovies", just like mothers!
At this stage in the evening we usually try to make some room for the
desserts. Not this time. As a fine example of gluttony I ordered another plate of the
Bratkartoffeln. Forgive me Dieter, I couldnt help myself. 45 years is a long time
between servings of "stovies". At least I now no longer have to wait that long
For the lovers of European food, the Deutsches Haus should be on your list. Traditional
fare, good servings and not expensive. Well be back.
Copyright 1998 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: [email protected]info.co.th
Created by Andy Gombaz, assisted by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek.