Albert Einstein once said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” This quote was mentioned during the program at the Sunday, December 1 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. In lieu of having a scheduled speaker, the planned program was to have an open discussion on current events around the world and in Thailand moderated by PCEC member Tony Heron.
The open discussion touched on the following topics: (1) Where were you on the day the twin towers in New York were hit (9/11)? (2) Is the art of conversation on the wane? (3) Was Michael Jackson’s doctor responsible for administering the fatal dose? (4) What was the true story concerning the 34 striking miners in South Africa killed by police? (5) What should we make of the latest protests in Bangkok? (6) Why are there differences in the way various countries handle pension payments for people living abroad? Some of these issues got more “air time” than others.
Pattaya City Expats Clubs’ December 1st meeting began with Treasurer Judith Edmonds reminding members of the Christmas collection for gifts for children of orphanages in the Pattaya area.
On the question of whether the art of conversation is on the wane, Tony cited a recent study that showed that seven out of 10 parents use social media to communicate with their children rather than conversing with them. He added that the use of social media is also changing the rules of spelling – for example, use of “u” instead of “you.” One member felt that this is simply a natural evolution of the English language.
Member Tony Herron MC’d the open discussion of various current topics of Thailand, & particularly items of concern to expats. Here Tony listens as a member on the floor expresses an opinion on the subject of pensions for expats, from their various home countries.
Another member added that the Oxford Dictionary’s “new word of the year” for 2013 also reflects the impact of social media. The word is “selfie.” The meaning being a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smart phone or webcam, and then uploaded to a social media website.” Another contributor mentioned that at a Thanksgiving dinner he attended, all the talk at his table was about a new Sony tablet with the evening consisting of taking pictures with it and using the media on the tablet; there was little other conversation.
Concerning the situation in Bangkok, one member said that if you want a “blow by blow” account, you can follow Richard Barrow on Twitter. Barrow is a professional blogger. When there are major events happening in Thailand, Barrow is usually there covering it. He sends out up to 15 or 20 tweets an hour. The member provided a summary of the latest events in Bangkok based on Barrow’s tweets.
In the discussion on government pensions, it emerged that some expats from the UK have inflation protection in their pensions while others do not (depending on where they live); a point of sore contention for those in Thailand as they do not receive increases in their UK pensions. The subject of Australian government pensions also came up; but there were differences of opinion expressed by the Australians in attendance regarding whether Australian expats can receive such pensions and how to apply for them.
Following the open discussion, member Pat Koester provided a report, with picture projected on screen, of the recent trip she organised for 24 club members and guests to Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and the King’s Palace at Bang Pa In. The trip coincided with the four-day Loy Krathong festival in Sukhothai. The festival is held in the historical park where ruins from the Sukhothai period are located. The park has several large ponds. The group enjoyed a sound and light show, a parade of large boats with lights on the ponds and, of course, the tradition of individuals floating their krathongs on the water.
Chairman Pat Koester presented Tony with a Certificate of Appreciation for his capable MC’ing of ‘Current Event Topics’.
The Ayutthaya leg of the trip featured a visit to the ruins and to several Buddhist temples, including one in nearby Bang Pa In that resembles a Christian church. Wat Nivet Thamaprawat was built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in the late nineteenth century. Likewise, the Royal Palace in Bang Pa In also consists of a series of structures, only one of which is in the Thai style. The others are all done in various styles, mostly European.
Pat reported on the recent Loy Krathong trip to Northern Thailand. Here are beautiful Krathongs floating at the ceremony at Sukhothai.
At the conclusion of the discussion and Pat’s report, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.
To learn more about the club and their many activities, visit www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.