But for Bjarne and Songkran heaven is right here on earth where they exchanged marital vows three decades ago.
Little Linnea Fagrell delivers a moving rendition of ‘My heart will go on’.
On Sunday May 8, many of the who’s who of the Pattaya expat community gathered at Cafe Kronborg in Soi Diana Inn to bring love and good wishes to Bjarne and Songkran Nielsen on the occasion of their 30th wedding anniversary.
Bjarne Nielsen of Cafe Kronborg is, like most Danes, larger than life with a beaming smile to match. Born and bred in Copenhagen he went to sea at age of fifteen like his father before him. He landed here when he was 18 and stayed. “I came here with the Danish Marine Union, I joined a Union school in Japan and they had a two-week course in Pattaya. That’s how I ended up here.”
In 1980 Bjarne, with two seamen friends, opened a bar called Nyhavn, Danish for ‘new port’. They decided that when they were not at sea, they spent so much time sitting around drinking they should spend the money in their own place. They ran this for ten years and it was a welcoming gathering place for friends. The partners then sub-leased the Sugar Inn for three years.
Songkran and Bjarne, so much in love.
In 1979 Bjarne and Songkran met when she was working at the Mermaid Restaurant in Bangkok. He soon persuaded her to transfer to Pattaya. “We have been together ever since.”
In 1992 they bought two bungalows beside his wife’s house and built the Cafe Kronborg, which has stood at the same spot in Soi Diana Inn ever since.
Songkran, who looks just as youthful and beautiful as she ever was said, “I don’t have much to say, except that I love my husband very much. During the 30 years of our marriage we’ve had our differences, but we have always overcome our difficulties and our love for each other is as strong as ever.”
Eldest son Egon said, “I feel great that I have such a loving family. I am so happy to see that my parents have been together for 30 years. My mom loves me very much and my dad has taught me a great deal about the good things in life. I can remember all of them. He was the one who taught me how to play golf and thanks to his love and guidance, I am now a card-carrying golf pro. I am away on tour quite a lot, so my sister Christina helps mom and dad look after the restaurant.”
Peter Malhotra (right) past president of PSC pays his respects to Dick Caggiano, respected mentor of the Pattaya Sports Club Association.
Christina, who has grown up to become a beautiful young woman, was beaming with pride throughout the evening. “I’m so proud of my parents. 30 years of marital bliss means a lot. They are the best.”
Youngest brother Avid, who works in Denmark at his father’s company, flew in to be with his family on the special occasion. He spoke in Danish, which this writer didn’t understand very much of, except for the lovely words he said at the end, “We are a very loving family and we are all very happy.”
The whole room broke out in a loud cheer as glasses were raised in a toast to the Nielsen family.
The happy Nielsens (L to R) Songkran, Avid, Christina, Bjarne and Egon.
You couldn’t get the ladies off the dance floor.
(L to R) Mio, Mae, Peter Malhotra and Jan Olav Aamlid arrive with love and best wishes for the loving couple.