Monday, May 16, 2005

Meeting report of May 14, 2005


A doctor who wanted us to understand the importance of our bone mass, a philosophic motorbike taxi driver who tried to explain Thai behaviour, a generous Club Sponsor offering a prize at the Lucky Draw because he understands that farangs need help when in trouble, and members who contributed to the Open Microphone; these were just a few ingredients of this week’s Saturday Meeting.

At the Grand Sole Hotel, MC Brian Maxey once more welcomed everyone that attended the Saturday Meeting of the Pattaya Expats Club. One of the new signed in members was from Luxemburg; yet another nationality to add to the long list of our International club.

Brian informed us of some upcoming events such as the festivities near Pratamnak Hill (May 19) in honour of an old Thai admiral, a fun run from that same hill to the pier and back on May 22, an important Buddhist celebration day (Visakha Puja) and, if you wake up early or stay out late, you can witness Pattaya’s earliest sunrise (05.49) on May 30.

Brian then announced that next week there will be a presentation detailing the discounts available to members at the Bangkok-Pattaya hospital and how to apply for these discounts.

Talking about the Bangkok-Pattaya hospital, every month a speaker from this world class, farang friendly medical centre is invited to enlighten us about a certain health topic. Today Doctor Suradej Loiduenxai (Orthopaedist) put the spotlights on osteoporosis, a bone disease that can lower the quality of your life significantly (60 % of the patients will never move normally again) or it can even lead to death (20%).

In very good English, with a lot of flair, wearing Edgar Davids glasses and using a Powerpoint presentation, he told us that this disease can hit us hard as we grow older (50 % are 80+). In fact nobody can escape it, as it hides in all of us. Women outnumber male patients 3 to 1. Back problems are most common, but most of the time people become aware of it when a minor accident happens. A simple slip in the shower or a fall out of bed, which causes a fracture, because the bone mass is too weak already.

When it’s only a wrist fracture you’re still lucky, but spinal fractures and hip fractures affect you in a very bad way. There is a way to detect the danger earlier; certain examinations can measure your T-score and determine if osteoporosis is a problem. Although there are treatments to fight the disease, or slow it down (nasal calcium spray, hormone injection), the best thing is to prevent becoming a victim and slow the process down as much as possible.

Health organizations and governments promote prevention, the latter mainly because of financial reasons. The doctor told us how prevention is possible and that it works the best if you start while still young. He mentioned to take enough calcium and vitamin D, loose weight, exercise or moderate the use of caffeine and alcohol, but most members tried hard to block out the last item. There were many questions for the doctor, which he answered competently. Respect and a big hand was his reward.

After that Club President Niels Colov took stage to announce that for the Charity Bingo family event on June 5 at 18.00 in the Grand Sole Hotel which the Pattaya Expats Club organizes, a 40,000 baht first prize has been donated by Barter Card. Called 40 days and 40 nights in Pattaya, this prize gives the winner of the last Bingo game many prizes including fine dining (several restaurants), visits to attractions, mini golfing, bungy jumping (I can hardly wait to try that!), sports activities or even language lessons plus much more. This upcoming big evening event will raise funds to buy a server computer for Pattaya Immigration Police.

Once more people were reminded of the charity party at Sammy’s Lounge & bar at Sunee Plaza on May 21, where money will be raised for Heartt 2000, helping Dr. Philippe Seur care for Aids victims.

Then Colin de Jong, Charity Committee Chairman and Board Member of the Pattaya Expats Club, asked for some help in transporting the 40 children of the Baan Jing Jay Orphanage, who will enjoy their annual mini golf day, supported by the Pattaya Expats Club.

To show the true international spirit of the club Niels then announced that on July 2, ‘Stars and Stripes’ will dominate the meeting as the USA celebrates Independence Day 2 days later. On May 17 a brainstorm meeting will take place in the Café New Orleans (Soi Pattayaland 2) to think of an all American programme and everyone is welcome to participate

The second guest speaker was Khun Sombat, nowadays a motorbike taxi driver, and in the club well known and beloved for his humorous and philosophic approach of Thai-farang misunderstandings. This time quite a few questions were asked about the Pattaya taxi business.

He is a master in creating an answer that includes some kind of a surprise or message, or should I say lesson. Today he revealed that the freedom of being a taxi driver is worth so much more than a good salary, but he also talked about the risks that come with it. He said he is willing to help the police to chase criminals, but when the perpetrator points a gun at him he normally chooses to keep taking care of his kids and family rather than risk becoming a dead hero. He warned us not to underestimate the danger, especially at night. The intensity of the applause proved his popularity and he will be back for sure.

Next Khun Ponthep Werachon, our in house lawyer for the Pattaya Expats Club, told us the reason why he published the legal handbook about foreign ownership and Thai marriage. He underlined the warning of Khun Sombat and added something to it: be at the right place, at the right time, and with the right partner. Khun Ponthep also writes a full page of useful legal advice in the Pattaya People Newspaper and his T-shirt told us that he is on line too at ( .

No flight to Madagascar this time for the members-only Weekly Free Lucky Draw but some other valuable prizes. Club Sponsor Farang Aid & Support Team (F.A.S.T.) offered a one year free subscription to their service, which is immediate and sometimes life saving help when you find yourself in hospital or jail.

The winner gets the Platinum-service, their highest level, worth 3.400 baht. Then there were 3 dinners for 2 up for grabs, roast carvery at Jameson’s - The Irish Pub near the Grand Sole Hotel, dinners of your choice at Haus Munchen in Naklua near Soi Wong Amat and meals at Infusion, a new restaurant with a lot of specialties, at Thappraya Road near the mini golf club.

The Open Microphone Forum, where expats help expats right away, was lively as always. This time motorbike insurance was a theme and some British men were more than disappointed about the fact that Prime Minister Blair doesn’t increase their pension any more, as long as they stay abroad. Note: If a British expat resides in a Country that has a reciprocal pension arrangement with the UK (such as the USA), the British pension does increase with the cost of living

In Pattaya, there is no Downing Street No.10, so Brian had to take all the punches, but firmly stood his ground. He had no time to tell us more about the upcoming National days of Norway (May 17) and Cuba (May 20) and with Niels thanking the sponsors, who are so important as they cover the costs of the meeting, the programme ended.

Members then went outside the room to hear from their spouses about what had happened during the get together of the ladies, to ask a question at the Immigration Helpdesk, to study the services of the sponsors or to buy a baseball cap or polo shirt at the Club Shop.

Peter Visser, PR Coordinator for Pattaya Expats Club


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