Teaching English in Vietnam
Emcee Roger Fox opened the regular Sunday meeting of the
Pattaya City Expats Club at the Amari’s Henry J. Beans Restaurant on Sunday,
July 27 with the usual announcements. He then introduced our two speakers
for the morning’s program, Maggie Counihan and Rollo Dixon.
Mayor Ittiphol Khunplome advises PCEC members of the plans for Pattaya City,
under his administration.
Maggie and Rollo, two of our fellow Thailand expats, were previously Vietnam
expats - living and teaching English in Hanoi. Both qualified in Australia
to teach English as a Second Language prior to going to Vietnam in 2006.
Maggie started by saying that she previously had been in Vietnam in 2003. In
returning with Rollo in 2006, she noticed there had been some dramatic
changes. Whereas previously, it was customary to see an abundance of
Vietnamese ladies wearing the traditional Ao Dai dress, on return one
observed mostly blue jeans or other western dress. Also, bicycles had been
replaced with numerous motorbikes.
Maggie then gave a brief overview of living in Hanoi. She observed that one
of the things she missed most was Vietnamese flowers as they were
everywhere, especially at weddings and funerals, which seemed to be
occurring all the time. The flowers are grown in the mountains and sold in
Hanoi by numerous “flower ladies.”
Rollo and Maggie share with fellow PCEC members their very interesting
experiences as ESL teachers in Hanoi, and the places they visited.
She continued by saying that the Vietnamese were a hard working people.
However, during the Vietnamese New Year (Tet), which generally coincides
with the Chinese New Year, everyone takes a break. The celebration lasts
about one week. For the Vietnamese, it is the time to start the New Year
clean by paying all your bills and giving your house a thorough cleaning. It
is also a time to give presents. During this time, the Vietnamese put up
kumquat trees, which look somewhat like Christmas trees, but are covered in
Rollo then related his experience and observations by first giving an
overview of Hanoi weather - hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but
very nice in spring and fall. Although pollution causes the air in Hanoi to
be thick and limits visibility, a short journey outside Hanoi brings you
clean air and some very beautiful scenery with mountains and lakes. Also,
nearby is Halong Bay and just an overnight train ride away near Da Nang are
some beautiful beaches.
He also noted that a memorial in the Vietnamese language at Truc Bach Lake,
one of many in Hanoi, caught his curiosity. Upon later inquiry, he learned
it was a memorial to the rescue from the lake of a downed American flyer
during the American war, as that conflict is referred to by the North
Vietnamese. The flyer rescued was named John McCain. Yes, the senator that
is now seeking the Office of President of the US.
They mentioned that Vietnam was generally less costly to live than Pattaya
except for housing. Renting a house was much more expensive. Further, they
noted that the medical care facilities were not up to the standards of
Thailand. Currently, Maggie and Rollo plan to go back to Australia and New
Zealand for a visit and, upon return, plan to do some traveling around South
Following this presentation, Roger Fox announced that club members have an
opportunity to visit Hanoi in August. Narin Travel has come up with a 4-day
3-night package to visit Hanoi for less than 13,000 baht per person (double
occupancy). Air travel will be provided by Air Asia and departure is planned
for August 25.
The open forum with Bob L’Etoile and Sig Sigworth got off to its usual
humorous start. The club was pleased and honored with the arrival during the
open forum of Pattaya Mayor Ittiphol Khunplome, who had taken time from his
busy schedule to drop by. The mayor mentioned that he has been very busy
working on the city’s budget and attending budget meetings in Bangkok.
Thailand has two special Administrative Districts, which are entitled to
submit their budget requests direct to the Central Government’s Budget
Bureau. One is Bangkok and the other is Pattaya. Mayor Ittiphol noted that
to carry out many of the projects that are necessary to improve Pattaya,
there must be sufficient funds in the budget. In addition to what he can
negotiate from the Budge Bureau, Pattaya, other funds allocated for city
projects come from municipal fees and Pattaya’s portion of VAT. Also, for
projects that fall within the purview of various government ministries,
Pattaya can apply for funding from their respective budgets.
The Mayor handed out and explained to members and guests an organization
chart for Pattaya City Government. He went over the chart and noted one area
that shows five Advisory Groups he has formed to assist his administration.
Each group will advise on specific areas, which are: (1) infrastructure, (2)
hospitality/promotion/healthcare, (3) anti-drug activities, (4) cultural
activities, and (5) cooperation with other bureaucracies such as Banglamung
District and the Ministry of Labor. He also said that he was interested in
ideas and suggestions that the Expat community might have and hopes to meet
with the PCEC periodically to solicit this information. Mayor Ittiphol then
remained for the rest of the meeting and actively participated in the open
forum by answering several questions related to Pattaya City as well as
providing his views on other matters that came up during the Forum.
Pattaya Dragon and The Lofts
combine for green beach party
Actors and actresses, friends and
groupies take part in a party and tree-planting ceremony at Samae Beach on Koh
Pattaya Dragon on July 18 worked with The Lofts Southshore condominium
project to stage the VIP Green Party Stop Global Warming project, a party and
tree-planting ceremony at Samae Beach on Koh Larn.
More than 100 actors and actresses joined the guests, and there was a dance show
performed by the Pattaya Fashion Club.
Miss Ana Wongsingh, managing director of Pattaya Dragon, said that the real
estate business has a responsibility to ensure that Pattaya remains green, and
that the two companies had decided on a joint occasion to more effectively
promote the idea of conserving the environment.
The two organizations also felt that many people did not yet know Koh Larn, a
beautiful island with white sand beaches easily accessible from the mainland,
which is why the party was held on the island.
The party area added further to the conservation concept by using biodegradable
materials such as banana leaves, coconut shells and bamboo for the decor.
PILC donates to
Baan Pak Rak Puan
Further to the previous article regarding the donation of a washing
machine to Baan Pak Rak Puan from Fisher and Paykel - thanks to Adene Paykel of
the Pattaya International Ladies Club (PILC).
and Sandy share a smile with residents of the Baan Pak Rak Puan.
The PILC has contributed to the home in many ways. Apart from painting the front
verandah and forward facing doors and windows (wooden folding out type) and
providing paint for internal painting, we have recently donated many needed
items including 10 stand alone fans, 10 drawer sets (4 drawers), a set of
concrete table and bench seats, a bookshelf and two wardrobes.
For those readers who are not familiar with Baan Pak Rak Puan it is a charitably
run home for HIV/AIDS and TB patients who are not able to be cared for by their
They currently have about 15 residents and two staff.