HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Life in Greenland - the battle between surviving and rising of an old culture

La Chaîne and “Splendid Creations by Spencer Kells”

Pattaya Russians celebrate 65th Victory Day

PCEC members given valuable information about club’s website

Guests experience white-out at Pullman Pattaya Aisawan

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 talk about:

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 travel.

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.

Political change

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
and Reinhard Murer enjoy a glass of pre dinner wine.

Dr. Iain Corness

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 Chandrasiri.

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 to come.

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 real-time situation.

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 gowns.

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 eaten warm.

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 sweet.

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 splendid!

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 good company.

The Sheraton kitchen brigade and service staff certainly earn the certificates
of appreciation they were presented for an excellent dinner.

Guests enjoy the general friendly ambiance of the gathering.

La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs events always draw a large crowd of discerning diners.

Pattaya Russians celebrate 65th Victory Day

(L to R) Grigory Nikitovich, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome,
 Grigori Alexeevich and Segal Yuri.

Elfi Seitz

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 Grigory Alexeevich.

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 Patriotic War.”

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 Village, Chaiyapreuk.

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 General Interest.

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 Delaloye
and three lovely foreign guests for a commemorative photo.

Paul Strachan

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 spaghetti carbonara.

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 evening.