People either love or hate Songkran

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There are two kinds of people in Pattaya: those who love Songkran and those who hate it. Well, that’s not exactly true. During a discussion of current topics at the Sunday, April 27, meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club, this Thai New Year’s holiday celebration elicited a range of views. Departing from its usual meeting format of having a guest speaker, the PCEC held an open discussion on current topics moderated by member Tony Heron.

In addition to views on Songkran, the discussion touched on the following topics: (a) highway traffic deaths during Songkran; (b) the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner; (c) the sinking of the South Korean ferry; (d) granting Iran a seat on the human rights committee at the UN; (e) how much of Pattaya Beach is reserved for swimming; (f) the light sentence handed down to a woman in Bangkok who caused an accident that had several fatalities; (g) the incident where several Cambodian workers died trying to dismantle a World War II bomb with a blow torch; and (h) the anniversary of the date when protestors took over Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

MC Richard Silverberg opens the April 27 Pattaya City Expats Club meeting by inviting new visitors to introduce themselves.MC Richard Silverberg opens the April 27 Pattaya City Expats Club meeting by inviting new visitors to introduce themselves.

Comments on Songkran ranged from: Enthusiastic (“It brings people together, it creates unity and it’s fun!”); Manageable (“Only go out in your car. Don’t park it on the street.”); Negative (“A whole week of people throwing buckets of water on you – even at night when you are on a motorcycle. Disgraceful!”); Comparable (“Is it any different from holidays in other countries that feature loud behaviour and a lot of beer consumption?”); Wistful (“My first Songkran in Pattaya was 45 years ago. It was so low key!”); Sarcastic (“Oh, it’s a delightful holiday! The people are so well-behaved.”); Despairing (“This is my fifth Songkran and I confess I am starting to get fed up.”); and Indifferent (“It’s no big deal. You do your stuff in the morning and you don’t go out at night.”).

One person said that how Songkran is experienced in other parts of Thailand can be quite different. She said she spent the 2014 Songkran in Ubon Ratchathani and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the ceremonial aspects. Another person pointed out to Songkran enthusiasts in the audience that there are still a few places in Thailand that have not yet celebrated Songkran this year.

Meeting participants advanced several theories concerning the Malaysian airliner, including: (a) that one or both pilots went amok; (b) that the electronics system completely failed; and (c) that there must have been something really important in the cargo section of the plane. For the latter, several conspiracy theories were offered based on the fact that to date, the type of cargo on board has not been disclosed.

On the Iran discussion, some people said that giving Iran a seat on the human rights committee is a black mark on an already discredited institution. However, other participants pointed out that the UN does a lot of good work in (for example) its peacekeeping missions and its disaster relief efforts. During the discussion on Tiananmen Square, one member mentioned that a Tiananmen Square museum has opened up in Hong Kong; another thorn for China’s nominal control of Hong Kong.

Departing from its usual meeting format of having a guest speaker, the PCEC held an open discussion on current topics, moderated by member Tony Heron.Departing from its usual meeting format of having a guest speaker, the PCEC held an open discussion on current topics, moderated by member Tony Heron.

During the discussion on the sentencing of the Bangkok woman, one participant said that in a similar case in the USA, the judge cited “affluenza” as the rationale for handing down a light sentence. Wikipedia notes that a psychologist hired as an expert by the defense, testified in court that the teen was a product of affluenza and was unable to link his bad behavior with consequences due to his parents teaching him that wealth buys privilege.

To finish off the open discussion, Tony Heron announced that officials in Beijing have ruled that public toilets in the Chinese capital can have no more than two flies in them at one time. This raises an important question: If a toilet with three flies is discovered, which fly will be prosecuted?

After the discussion which ranged from serious to humorous comment, 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.

Parting note: Member Victoria advised PCEC members that there is still space on the May 16 – 17 trip that Pat Koester has organized to Samut Songkram and Petchaburi provinces. Samut Songkram, a farming area sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the Orient,” is just southwest of Bangkok, about a three-hour ride from Pattaya.  The first day will include a klong (canal) boat tour, a visit to a Thai temple with exquisite Thai crafts (mother of pearl, wood carving, etc.), a visit to a palm sugar farm, and the Amphawa floating market. Victoria also told us of the formation of a Pattaya Film Group, an offshoot of Pattaya International Ladies Club, which will meet to watch and discuss interesting movies.

For more information on the many activities of the PCEC, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.

Member Victoria advises PCEC members that there is still space on the May 16 - 17 trip that Pat Koester has organized to Samut Songkram and Petchaburi provinces.Member Victoria advises PCEC members that there is still space on the May 16 – 17 trip that Pat Koester has organized to Samut Songkram and Petchaburi provinces.

Former PCEC Chairman Richard Smith talks of the English Language Teaching Volunteer Group, now recognised by the authorities, and of various wine tasting activities around Pattaya.Former PCEC Chairman Richard Smith talks of the English Language Teaching Volunteer Group, now recognised by the authorities, and of various wine tasting activities around Pattaya.