Monday, May 02, 2005

Pattaya Expats Club Meeting of April 30, 2005

Still as witty as before his holiday Brian Maxey hosted the meeting of the Pattaya Expats Club in the Grand Sole hotel again. He explained the many attendants, some new ones, that the breakfast offers 2 choices (Thai or American style) but not 2 courses. He announced that a member wants to help to do Thai-English translations and you can approach board member William Hurndell for clothing with the club-logo on it. On every table copies of the Expats Information-bulletin were to be found.

The main guest speaker was Donna Pollard, the care management nurse of BUPA health insurance. She told us a little about the history of this non profit organization, with the roots in the UK, but now operating around the world (sometimes known as Blue Cross) and one of the best known health insurances in Thailand. The headquarter is in Bangkok, but offices are spread all over the Kingdom. The Pattaya office is on the Sukumvit-road. Far over 100.000 people are insured by the Thai branch of BUPA. She told that they always want to improve their service to make life easy for their clients: partial payment is possible (if you have a Thai credit card), they can make pre-arrangements, you can visit the hospital of your choice, even abroad (but must pay by yourself first) and policy transfers are made as smooth as possible if you move to another country. She also mentioned the family-discounts, the no claim bonus and the life insurance and travel insurance they provide. Then she made clear why it is important to have a good health insurance. First there are the risks of accidents. With a SOS-card of BUPA in your wallet you will most likely be treated carefully and professionally and end up in a high standard hospital. Secondly there are the high costs that can come with hospitalization. The insurance has different levels, of which the highest level offers a full coverage. To avoid problems the many questions on the application forms must be answered honestly. There are not many exclusions though. The interested crowd had a lot of questions about the premiums, the upgrading or downgrading of the level, medical tests that are required, the negative effects of age (65+) or high blood pressure and more. Donna, who got a big hand for her informative speech, stayed available after the meeting for more questions.

Club President Niels Colov took stage. He told us that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invites all members to compete in a crocodile egg eating contest at the Million Years Stone Park & Pattaya Crocodile Farm on May 1. The winner gets 30.000 baht. It was not told if hospitalization afterwards will be covered by BUPA.

Thanks to the revenues of the legal handbook about ownership and Thai marriage of house lawyer Khun Ponthep Werachon, a printer could be presented to Treasurer Michael Mayne. The Club will use it to produce the photos on the membership cards. Khun Ponthep told us that the Thai ladies, most of them now outside enjoying their own meeting, were less happy with this book, as their farang partners now understand Thai law a bit too well.

Can you imagine somebody wants to turn down a prize worth about 2.000 baht? In the weekly free lucky draw it happened! Winners simply didn’t raise their hand or refused to accept the gift. What’s wrong with a fine relaxing spa experience for you and your partner and a romantic candlelight dinner afterwards in top restaurant Café New Orleans in Soi Pattayaland 2? Well, it is the fear to become a star, because Pattaya People Television will make a before and after report of that day.
Just when it seemed there were no numbers left to draw, a brave Norwegian winner gladly accepted the offer. So, we’ll see more of him. The other prizes, 2 tickets (1.000 baht each) to the Alangkarn extravaganza show and a 1.200 baht dinner for 2 at Globetrotter restaurant off Soi 7 didn’t need a redraw and even the 189 baht Heineken 6-pack was collected immediately. Next week another prize-record might tumble, that of the most valuable one, as it is whispered that a roundtrip for 2 to Madagascar with Madagascar Air can be won. Members only! So join the club.

More information from Niels:
- the dinner with the police chief of Pattaya was a huge success. The Pattaya Expats Club is now the talk of the town and as he put it, not breaking but melting the ice between the foreign community and the local authorities. 162,875 baht could be presented to the police chief, who will use it to refurbish some of the police cars and on the cars the logo of the Pattaya Expats Club will be exposed.
- in a few months the office of the immigration police will move to Jomtien (Soi 5). Niels recommended a good architect and the building will be very customer (farang)-friendly. The building in Soi 8 will then be used as a detention place. The helpdesk outside the meeting room will of course remain.
- next week the club shop opens. There will be baseball caps and polo shirts with the Club logo for sale as well as other items.
- On May 4. 8.00 PM an exhibition of photos by Pete Wicker will be held at the White Night Restaurant on Soi VC. Revenues will go to charity.

With a short Thai Chi demonstration, James Lane, tried to interest people in this hidden martial art, a move and breathe walking meditation, good for your health and to shake off some stress. He is a Thai Chi teacher and wants to start a beginners group. He told us that quite a few people in some sort of emotional distress contact his What if- helpline (number 0-1398-7346 or e-mail: He underlined that he won’t help to solve any financial problems.

Before doing the Open Microphone Forum MC Brian showed that he is not only a master of information, but also a historian. On April 23 England celebrated St. George’s day and he taught us the how Great Britain and the United Kingdom were formed. On April 25 Australia and New Zealand celebrated Anzac-day and we learned that it is because of an important battle fought 106 years ago. Then he even knew how to pronounce the name of the current and former Dutch queens correctly as today Holland celebrates its main national holiday, “Koninginnedag” (Queen’s Day). He also made us aware of some upcoming events like coronation day (5-5), Miss Tiffany Universe 2005 (7-5), and the dinner in J. Restaurant on 3rd Road organized by the Vegetarian Club of Pattaya (10-5). Then experiences were exchanged and expats helped expats with all kind of matters, like where to meet western spouses, where to find a certain pub, how to export pets out of Thailand and an ink supplier who also repairs printers cheaply, was recommended.
Finally a member told us of a bad experience he had just last night. He was drugged, after somebody put a substance in his drink when he went to the toilet. He woke up in a park and his money was stolen. Two similar cases were mentioned by others. A warning to take seriously. Niels will discuss it with the authorities. When I went out that evening, I made sure to empty every bottle thoroughly before going for a pee.

Peter Visser


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