Life in Greenland - the battle between surviving and rising of an old culture
Dr. Claus Rink
Geoscientist and Special correspondent for Pattaya Mail Media Group
Why surviving? There are different reasons we have to
First, the high suicide rate of Greenlandic teenagers is
at an amount of 100 per 100,000 people, whilst the average in Europe is 15
per 100,000. In Greenland it is the double amount of Japan, one of the worse
countries for suicide rates in the world. To compare with Thailand, the
suicide rate here is with 8 per 100,000 people, which is really low and
normally the teenagers here are not suicide victims, as older people make up
more of the numbers. If you know anything about Greenland, you know that it
is the world’s largest island. You know that it is the least densely
populated country on the planet. But Greenland is the country with the
world’s highest suicide rate.
Second, normal life is very hard. Subsistence foods are
shared between the participants of a certain hunt, and also traded and
distributed via outdoor markets and to local processing plants. Fish are
sold to the major processing plants. Forty-four percent of hunters and
fishermen eat their own products daily. For the Inuit population as a whole,
31 percent eat local products daily, 22 percent three to four times a week,
and 25 percent at least once or twice a week. According to another survey,
63 percent of the residents of villages eat Inuit food daily during the
summer, compared with 26 percent of the people in towns.
Also, temperatures in winter fall as low as minus 55
degree Celsius, but work has to go on.
If that statistic isn’t sobering enough, there’s also the
fact that the majority of Greenlanders who kill themselves are teenagers and
young adults. Young men here are especially prone to an early exit and
account for more than half of all suicides, although the girls hold their
own. In a 2008 survey, one in four young women in Greenland admitted to
trying to kill herself. Indeed, for the first half of the 20th century,
Greenlanders lived much as they had for the previous 4,000 years: They
hunted and fished, clustering in small, remote villages that hug the rocky
coastline. They also boasted a suicide rate among the world’s lowest. One
Danish analysis found that from 1900 to 1930, Greenland had an annual
suicide rate of just 0.3 people per 100,000.
The real survivors of Greenland: the dogs are still an important means of
One reason for Greenland’s recent high suicide rate is
that people are particularly proficient at the act, employing methods that
leave little chance for survival. Shootings and hangings account for 91
percent of male suicides and 70 percent of female suicides. In the 70s and
80s the Inuit lost their jobs as hunters, because in Europe and USA there
has been a very big campaign against killing of seals. But other jobs for
the Inuit have been only “survival jobs” due to this fact, they couldn’t
make money in companies because of their very bad education. But times are
changing in Greenland as well.
So today fishing is very important in Greenland and 10%
of the population, about 5000 are employed in fisheries. Some people hunt
for seals and whales, but because many people in the Western world don’t
like the idea of hunting for seals it has become difficult for the hunters
to sell the seal skins.
Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.
In the old days, Greenland was a pure hunting society,
where people followed the migration of the hunting animals, especially
seals, birds and fish. But now there are modern cities with industry,
schools, hospitals and everything that belongs to a modern society. More and
more people choose to live in the cities. The children learn English and
Danish as well as their own language, Greenlandic, at school. Greenlandic is
very different from English or Danish, but very much like the languages
spoken by other Inuit in the Arctic.
But unfortunately it’s true that the island’s Inuit, who
make up 88 percent of Greenland’s population, suffer from the same rampant
alcoholism that plagues many North American indigenous groups.
Almost 80 percent of Greenlanders live in towns, and the
remainder reside in smaller villages. The largest city and capital of
Greenland is Nuuk.
Commercial fishing and the fishing industry is the most
important business. The focus has been on shrimp, cod, and halibut, but in
recent years the catches of cod have been poor.
About 20 percent of the population is directly or
indirectly dependent on hunting activities. The most important resources are
ringed seal and harp seal, but a variety of species are taken. Whaling is
part of the hunting tradition and still very important in Greenlandic
society. The focus is on fin whale, minke whale, narwhal, and beluga.
Hunting and fishing practices differ from location to location, but most
hunters use modern equipment such as rifles. Traditional hunting methods are
rare outside of Avanersuaq, where kayak and harpoon are still used,
especially in connection with the narwhal hunt.
The hunting areas and the species vary by location and
season, and traveling far from the villages is not uncommon. For example,
caribou are usually hunted in August and September in deep fjords far from
the villages. Walrus, minke whales, and fin whales may only be available at
sea or in the mouths of fjords, whereas certain seals, fish, and birds can
be hunted much closer to home.
Greenland, which holds 10 percent of the world’s
freshwater reserves, is one of the areas most under threat from global
warming, which in turn will affect its lucrative fishing industry.
Denmark granted Greenland limited sovereignty when its
parliament approved home rule in 1979. Most of the major political parties
in Greenland supported more autonomy for its population of 54,000, except
the opposition Democrats, who were worried that Greenland might not be able
to financially support itself under greater autonomy.
With the support of the Danish parliament, Greenland
looks to have a relatively smooth transition towards greater autonomy.
Another planet, 03.50 h rising moon between the icebergs.
But frankly, at times it is not the worst situation for
Greenland to be under the umbrella of Denmark. Danish subsidy of about $588
million, which accounts for two-thirds of the island’s income, is still
essential for the country’s survival.
However, the self-rule status, agreed after years of
negotiations, gives the island of 57,000 inhabitants more control over its
gas, gold and diamonds.
Under the new self-government agreement, Greenland will
get half of any proceeds from oil or minerals. The other half will go to
Denmark, to be deducted from the grant that it gives Greenland each year.
The hope is that eventually the subsidy can cease altogether and Greenland
will be ready for independence.
The move, which allows Greenland to gradually take
responsibility over areas like criminal justice and oil exploration, follows
a referendum in 2009 in which 76 percent of voters said they wanted
self-rule. Many of the changes are symbolic. Kalaallisut, a traditional
Inuit dialect, is now the country’s official language, and Greenlanders are
now recognized under international law as a separate people from Danes.
Greenland is one of the most beautiful countries of the
world, with a long 8000 year old culture, but you have to power up the wall
to learn something about the beautiful nature and the Inuit. But it is worth
doing, because I guess it is one of God’s own countries.
(All photos by Dr. Claus Rink)
La Chaîne and
“Splendid Creations by Spencer Kells”
(L to R) Dieter Precourt, Martin van Bree, Richard Smith
Murer enjoy a glass of pre dinner wine.
The Chaîne des
Rôtisseurs, the oldest gourmet group in the world, dating back to 1248 AD,
has around 200 branches dotted around Mother Earth. One of those is in
Pattaya, and is under the guidance of its “Bailli” (President) Ranjith
Bailli Ranjith Chandrasiri addresses the gathering,
wishing everyone “Bon Appetite”.
The Chaîne members
come from all walks of life, but are held together through a mutual
enjoyment of fine wines and food.
This month, a Chaîne
dinner was held at the Sheraton Pattaya Resort, with the menu under the
careful eye of the Sheraton’s executive chef, resulting in a dinner called
the “Splendid Creations by Spencer Kells”.
The evening began with
canapés and the Marchese Antinori Extra Brut from Tuscany, but all that was
merely to stimulate the member’s appetite for some very interesting dishes
In a Chaîne dinner,
the chefs try to show innovative cuisine, and as part of Chef Spencer’s
“creations”, the guests were met with a magnificent array of choices in the
breads, with even the grissini sticks flavored with curry and saffron.
However, it did not stop there as four butter balls were presented, being
garlic, wasabi, shallot and Balsamic vinegar. And the garlic certainly was!
The first course
featured pan-fried scallops with caviar and fava beans. The sauce was very
rich, but still allowed the flavor of the scallops to come through. The
wine with this was a 2008 Diamond Label Chardonnay from the Rosemount Estate
in Australia. This was a clean and refreshing wine, needing to stand up to
the fullness of the scallops and their sauce.
The second course was
a seared yellow fin tuna with a pepper crust, asparagus and an interesting
Japanese kabayaki dressing and white truffle oil. The sweetness of the
kabayaki is offset by the spiciness of the pepper crust. A great
combination. We changed wines at that point to the 2006 Georges Duboeuf
Pouilly Fuisse from Burgundy. It was interesting to compare the previous
Rosemount Estate with this wine. The new world versus the old world in a
The third course was a
three way duck, with a duck leg confit, a duck consommé and a duck liver
foie gras en brioche with a pear chutney. It was recommended to begin with
the foie gras, move on to the consommé and finally the confit. This then
took the diners from the most delicate of flavors through to the strong
confit. The wine to go with this was the Michel Lynch 2008 Bordeaux rose.
This was not a sweet wine (unlike Mateus Rose from Portugal, which by the
way was the favorite wine of Saddam Hussein).
Chitra Chandrasiri and Janet Smith look lovely in their beautiful evening
A short breather was
called at that point with a lychee and mint granita with raspberry jelly, a
semi-frozen palate cleanser.
The main course, was
of course, a roast, as demanded by the society of goose roasters, known as
La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. This was an Asian flavored roasted lamb rack with
a sweet potato puree and the star anise port wine sauce. To go with this
strongly flavored dish, a good strong wine was needed, and for this the
Chaîne returned to Australia for the 2006 Jacob’s Creek Shiraz “Reserve”.
This wine had two bronze medals and three silvers, and was a typical
full-bodied Australian new world red.
The Jacob’s Creek wine
continued on to the penultimate course, which for me turned out to be the
surprise of the night. I had expressed my misgivings as to just how a
Camembert cheese could withstand the Australian shiraz, but it can when
presented the way chef Spencer had done it. Really lovely and filling when
The finale was a
wondrous dessert of coconut milk infused tapioca, passion fruit marmalade,
lemon sorbet and mango vanilla cream, which was enjoyed with a New Zealand
Selaks 2007 Ice Wine, a dessert wine with a long finish, and again not too
After coffee and petit
fours the Sheraton kitchen brigade and the service staff were presented with
certificates of appreciation for an excellent dinner which was very much
enjoyed by the members and guests. Spencer’s creations were indeed very
There are a few places
left in the Pattaya group, and expressions of interest should be directed to
Ranjith Chandrasiri ([email protected]).
Guests prepare for an evening of good food, good wine, and
The Sheraton kitchen brigade and service staff certainly
earn the certificates
of appreciation they were presented for an excellent
Guests enjoy the general friendly ambiance of the
La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs events always draw a large crowd of discerning
Pattaya Russians celebrate 65th Victory Day
(L to R) Grigory Nikitovich, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome,
and Segal Yuri.
Former soldiers and Pattaya officials joined area
Russians in celebrating the 65th anniversary of Victory Day, the May 9, 1945
capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Patriarch Oleg Cherepanin (center) talks with Grigory Nikitovich and
The Pattaya Russian Society marked the occasion with a
party at the Long Beach Garden Resort organized by 1 RU Television’s Segal
Yuri and his wife Anna Troyan.
Guests included patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church
Oleg Cherepanin from Bangkok, Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and Tourism
Authority of Thailand Pattaya Director Niti Kongkrut.
Also attending were two special guests: World War II
Capt. Grigory Nikitovich in full uniform and friend Grigory Alexeevich, who
came from Russia for the occasion.
Pretty Anna Troyan (left) with her daughter.
Troyan said she and her husband were pleased not only to
organize the event that featured Russian singers and fireworks, but that
relations between Russia and Germany have improved so much since the “Great
Cherepanin shared the same sentiments, adding that while
he hoped everyone could live in peace, it was not always possible, as the
current situation in Thailand shows.
He also defended the reputation of Thailand’s Russian
visitors, which has been tarnished by numerous incidents of public lewdness
and other incidents. “Every nation has good people and bad people. But I
strongly believe that there are more good people in our country than bad.”
Nikitovich, who was only 18 when he went to war as a
private, retired a captain. He recalled the relief he felt when he heard the
war was over and that the Allies had won.
Itthiphol congratulated the Russian guests and expressed
his hope that many more Russian tourists will come to Pattaya. Yuri
presented him with a gift after the speech.
PCEC members given valuable
information about club’s website
Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg welcomed everyone
to the Pattaya City Expats Club regular Sunday meeting on May 9. After the
usual announcements, he called on fellow member Darrel Vaught to update
everyone on the Club’s website and to demonstrate “Where to Find It” when
visiting the website.
MC Richard Silverberg introduces Darrel Vaught (a man who needs no
introduction) to tell us the latest in the saga of the Pattaya City Expats
Clubs’ new website.
Darrel started by pointing out that sometimes during the
Open Forum questions were still being asked that could have been answered if
the person had visited the Club’s website beforehand. He said the Club’s
website contains a wealth of information. For this reason, he wanted to
demonstrate for everyone the layout of the Club’s website and show where you
can find the answer for many questions you might have.
Darrel said that in developing the website, consideration
had to be given to the Club’s motto of “Expats Helping Expats.” Thus, two
groups needed to be served. One group would be those having recently moved
to Pattaya to live or those that were contemplating such a move. Thus, the
website contains a lot of information that would be beneficial to that
group, but may not be needed by those that have lived in Thailand for a
while. This latter group however, will find the website useful when they are
looking for specific information that they may have forgotten or just want
to refresh their memory. Additionally, being the Club’s website, it contains
information on the Club itself, its many activities, and the benefits
received for being a member.
Darrel illustrated his talk by ‘walking us through’ the
new website - and impressive it is. Here Darrel shares one of the lighter
moments of the months spent upgrading the site. Members gave Darrel a loud
round of applause on completion of his presentation.
Darrel started by displaying the website’s home page. He
pointed out that it has three main sections in the center and several
“topic” buttons down the left side. One of the sections is a brief
introduction to the Club and what is available on the website. The next
section is updated weekly and shows the Club’s meeting location, next
meeting date, the program speaker, and the topic. The final section
highlights announcements and upcoming events with a link to another page
that provides more detail. This last section is also updated weekly and
usually on line by Tuesday of each week. This is also where member Bob
Sutterfield’s “Expat Classified Ads” can be found.
Al Serrato advises members to check that their membership
is up to date to ensure discounts at many restaurants, etc. Al also
mentioned the members dinner this week at the Levantini Restaurant in The
A recent item added to this particular page should be
very useful to most of the Club’s members and fellow expats. It is a
“checklist” that can be used when applying for or renewing an extension of
stay at Thai Immigration for the purpose of retirement, commonly called the
“retirement visa.” It lists all the documents currently required by the
Chonburi (Pattaya) Immigration Office.
Darrel then demonstrated the use of the “topic” buttons
on the left side of the Home Page. The various topics are: Newsletter, Club
Information, Activities and Benefits, Living in Thailand, Visiting Thailand,
Visa and Immigration, Emergency and Useful Numbers, Photo Galleries, and
He went through each topic and highlighted the
information available. For example, the “Club Information” topic shows
membership information, lists the current and former Governing Boards, and
has the current and past Constitution and By-Laws.
Roger calls for volunteers - new guests who might like to
introduce themselves - at the start of the open forum.
The topic “Activities and Benefits” provides information
about the Club’s Special Interest Group that meets weekly, monthly, or
periodically. It also gives information on the restaurants and businesses
that offer discounts to Club members.
But, he said that probably the most important topic for
Expats is “Living in Thailand” which provides a lot of information for
anyone living in or planning to live in Pattaya. Darrel then highlighted the
information available in this section of the website. For example, the
Banking pages provide information on opening a Thai bank account, ways to
obtain/transfer funds into Thailand from other countries, links to most Thai
banks websites including their current currency exchange rates. A list of
the major bank’s SWIFT codes are also shown; often necessary when wiring
funds to a Thai bank from abroad.
Another area highlighted was the Vehicles pages. They
show how to obtain a Thai driving license, the documents needed, and the
process at the Banglamung Land Transport Office. There is also a map and
directions to the Land Transport Office.
The pages on property describe many aspects and
requirements for obtaining property in Thailand. It also has an English
translation of the current Condominium Act.
Another topic of interest to most expats as well as
visitors is “Visa and Immigration.” These pages provide information about
what is needed for entering and extending ones stay in Thailand. It also
explains the address reporting and re-entry permit requirements. Further,
this section has sample and blank copies of various Immigration forms. It
also has an English translation of the Thai Immigration Police Order that
lists the various categories for which an Immigration Office may allow an
extension of stay.
After Darrel answered several questions from the
audience, Richard then updated everyone on upcoming events and called on
Roger Fox to conduct the always informative and sometimes humorous Open
Forum where questions are asked and answered about living in Thailand and
Pattaya in particular.
Guests experience white-out at Pullman Pattaya Aisawan
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome (center) poses with Philippe
and three lovely foreign guests for a commemorative photo.
The Pullman Pattaya Aisawan is fast becoming the place to
chill out in the evenings for expats.
Building on the success on their Tuesday night KoRT event
they have recently launched the ‘White Session’ which takes place on the
first Saturday of every month.
(L to R) General Manager Philippe Delaloye, Pattaya Mail
MD Peter Malhotra and PMTV presenter, Paul Strachan share a laugh at the
beginning of the evening.
Diners can eat either in the air-con beachside restaurant
or on the adjoining terrace enjoying the gentle breeze from the sea.
‘White Session’ is essentially a vast seafood buffet,
including sashimi, crab, oysters, salmon, prawns, and crayfish, as well as
cuts of cured hams and that’s even before you get to the main course which
features piping hot dishes such as sea bass, salmon steaks and even
On the night we visited, this was followed by a selection
of desserts such as pineapple cake, chocolate brownies, a chocolate fountain
and a variety of cheeses.
At just 800 baht (or 900 including a bottle of wine) and
knowing that your table is yours for the night, many guests were going back
time and again to savor the succulent dishes on offer. During all this, they
were entertained by some beautiful dancers adorned in white.
General Manager Philippe Delaloye spoke to Pattaya
Mail Television, saying that the Pullman Pattaya Aisawan also wants to
cater for the locals who have made Pattaya their home. He aspires to give
them the same 5 star treatment that his residents are able to enjoy, and he
wants to make it affordable.
With drinks priced at just 100 baht, guests can afford a
few pre-dinner sundowners on the beach before sitting down to an evening of
food, wine and music.
Also, anyone brave enough to wear a white bikini would
get three drinks for free.
In attendance at this event were members of the local
media including Les and Raine from Capital TV, Peter Malhotra, MD of
Pattaya Mail Media Group, the Chonburi Director of the Tourism Authority
of Thailand, Niti Kongkrut, and Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome, all of
whom entered into the spirit of things by wearing white.
At this time of a slow economy it’s great to see
establishments pulling out all the stops to come up with something
innovative at a price that suits everybody’s pocket.
Go to the Special Offers page on the Pullmans website
www.pullmanpattayaaisawan .com for more information.
Guests enjoy the beautifully laid out dessert buffet
during the White Session.
Tourist frolic in the hotel pool at the Pullman Pattaya
Aisawan as the sun begins to set over Pattaya Bay.
Lovely ladies dressed in white get into the spirit of the