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  • Finnish-Singaporean study show Mindfulness works against stress

    Finnish-Singaporean study show Mindfulness works against stress

    Researchers from Singapore Management University (SMU), the Hanken School of Economics, Finland; and two American universities have carried out a study titled ‘Overworked and Under-Resourced: A Mindfulness Intervention for Middle Manager Well-Being’. The study set out to prove and did indeed find that Mindfulness training can help middle managers cope with the stress and emotional…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    Finnish-Singaporean study show Mindfulness works against stress

    Researchers from Singapore Management University (SMU), the Hanken School of Economics, Finland; and two American universities have carried out a study titled ‘Overworked and Under-Resourced: A Mindfulness Intervention for Middle Manager Well-Being’.

    The study set out to prove and did indeed find that Mindfulness training can help middle managers cope with the stress and emotional exhaustion commonly associated with their jobs.

    The researchers carried out a randomised intervention study with 130 middle managers across four large organisations in Finland. Participants were randomly assigned to either an adapted eight-week programme in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) – a widely used technique – or to a waitlisted control group.

    Compared to the waitlisted group, middle managers who completed the mindfulness training programme reported substantial reductions in their levels of stress and emotional exhaustion, which are precursors to burnout, the researchers found.

    Participants also reported increased levels of psychological detachment and being able to maintain a distance from challenging or upsetting work events.

    “Work detachment has been found to be an important facilitator of recovery, and recovery from work is important in avoiding chronic stress and burnout,” says Associate Professor Jochen Reb of SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business and director of the Mindfulness Initiative @ SMU, who co-authored the research. More in-depth studies, however, are required to confirm this.

    The researchers now intend to expand their study to other countries, and are also interested in exploring the impact of mindfulness interventions tailored to the workplace, such as Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training, on other qualities that are important in the workplace, such as decision making and leadership, says Professor Reb.

    Source: https://research.smu.edu.sg/news/2019/feb/19/mindfulness-can-help-middle-managers-avoid-burnout-study-says

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    16 September 16 2019
    Finland
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628389
  • Rooftop PV solar sector example of Nordic-Vietnam business success

    Rooftop PV solar sector example of Nordic-Vietnam business success

    Scandinavian investment taps into Vietnam’s booming solar power market Thomas Jakobsen, based in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) since 2005, is Managing Director of Indochina Energy Partners (IEP), an entity focused on renewable energy in Southeast Asia’s emerging countries. Singapore-registered IEP is currently focusing on rolling out rooftop solar projects in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    Rooftop PV solar sector example of Nordic-Vietnam business success

    Scandinavian investment taps into Vietnam’s booming solar power market

    Thomas Jakobsen, based in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) since 2005, is Managing Director of Indochina Energy Partners (IEP), an entity focused on renewable energy in Southeast Asia’s emerging countries.

    Thomas Jakobsen, Managing Director of Indochina Energy Partners (IEP). Photo: Joakim Persson

    Singapore-registered IEP is currently focusing on rolling out rooftop solar projects in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.

    In Vietnam, IEP is successful especially in the rooftop PV (photovoltaic system) solar sector, using Scandinavian investment money for their Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) solar rental/lease model.

    “Solar is, due to legislation, being implemented in the relevant countries that we’re looking at, and in fact that the cost for energy produced by solar has fallen so dramatically that while it didn’t make economic sense to look at it three years ago it makes very good economic sense today,” begins Thomas.

    When Thomas first arrived in Vietnam he worked for furniture company Tropicdane before continuing with infrastructure finance for a fund called Anfa capital.

    “In 2015 I was offered to join Saigon Asset Management – whom I knew from their history with Anfa Capital – specifically to do renewable energy originally in Myanmar, which was seen as the up-and-coming country at the time, and still is, in many ways.”

    Specifically for roof-top PV solar, IEP provides installation, maintenance and financing solutions for commercial and industrial factory owners.

    “There are many ways to get exposed to a market, in this case the solar; you could invest in developers; manufacturing of components, solar panels, mounting systems etc. What we have chosen to do is to invest in projects only. So we go out to owners of big rooftops and offer them to build and maintain a rooftop solar system for a number of years, free of charge to them, until they take it over. We sell them the power, at a fixed price that is lower than their current one for the period of the agreement, which typically lasts between 10 to 15 years – it depends on what segment you are in. This is all done with Scandinavian money behind us and with Northern-European technology, engineering and design.”

    “We also have some demands to potential counterparts: they must be of very high credit worthiness, because we’re not in the business of taking on very high credit risks. We’re ensuring that rooftop solar systems work technically for the project lifetime and thereby make savings for the rooftop owner and give us returns,” adds Thomas.

    Photo: Carl Attard

    Rooftop solar market essential

    According to Vietnam Investment Review, Vietnam’s energy demand is projected to increase by more than 10 per cent annually in the next five years and its required power capacity to double. The country is therefore moving to diversify its energy mix, staking on renewables, where he rooftop solar market then becomes an essential part.

    In June 2019, Việt Nam Electricity (EVN) group agreed to continue the current feed-in tariff (FiT) rate at 9.35 US cents per kWh for rooftop solar power projects nationwide until 2021. Another 121 projects will begin to generate electricity by 2020, while 211 are in the pipeline – a volume that has exceeded the targets.

    “Just a few years back, the cost of a kilowatt coming out of a solar installation was 15-20 US cents, meaning that it would make no sense from someone who could buy electricity from the government for about 6-7 cents to install at those prices. To do it as economically viable repeatable installations – where nearly only the sky is the limit when we talk volume – you need to have what we call grid parity. This means that the cost of electricity from an energy source – in this case rooftop solar – has to be at the same cost level as the electricity from the grid,” the Dane explains.

    “We see that the economics are so good in solar now that it’s possible that we will soon launch a second fund.”

    “We can offer it at slightly lower price and that in a country where the electricity prices are already on the lower end. But that’s part of the government’s very consistent policy to encourage investors to set up factories here. To do that becomes more attractive if electricity prices are kept low.”

    “And this is a way of just cutting the top off the growth of the electricity demand from the export industry by every new factory only demanding 80 per cent instead of 100 of grid electricity.”

    “We always go in with a price that is slightly lower, to have an incentive. And the economics make sense now; it depends a little bit on the characteristics of the rooftop.”

    Their market is focused on private buildings; old or new. A larger rooftop surface is preferred and IEP focuses on the southern half of Vietnam from a geographic and solar point of view.

    “I would not run out of work anytime soon, for sure, by segmenting the market like that,” he claims.

    The annual radiation measured in the Southern region and South Central provinces is approximately 1,600 kWh/m2, according to a World Bank report on the rooftop solar energy’s potential in Vietnam. The potential of solar energy in Ho Chi Minh City is about 6,300 MW.

    Meanwhile, Southern Vietnam is anticipated to face power shortages of up to 3.7 billion kWh in 2021, nearly 10 billion kWh in 2022 and approximately 12 billion kWh in 2023, according to Electricity of Vietnam (EVN)! Consequently there is a huge need for solar energy!

    Targeted solar power development in Vietnam is as follows: 2020: 850 MW, 2025: 4000 MW, and 2030: 12,000 MW.

    Rooftop solar. Photo: Bernd Sieker.

    Solar most scalable

    “We are obviously following all four renewable technologies constantly. The advantage we have in solar is that it’s nearly perfectly scalable so we can also choose to make very big projects – one hundred million dollar investments – and sell to the grid. That is one of reasons why we like to operate in this market.”

    “Doing wind projects you cannot scale a one hundred million dollar project down to a one million dollar project – it makes no sense. If we at a later stage or in a country come to the opinion that offering grid installations of 50 or 100 million dollars it is the best option, then that can easily be scaled up, it’s just a matter of doing the same thing many times,” he elaborates further.

    Asked to give his take also on the potential for biogas Thomas also shares his insights: “We spent a lot of time back in 2011-2013 looking at biogas systems. Biogas has some advantages; number one being that you probably solve a water pollution problem at the same time. That has value but it can be difficult to monetize that value and request payment also for that service.”

    “It is very much a cost issue; if the technology costs so much compared to the output of energy.”

    “Biogas also has some quite limited scalability where it works that you instead have to repeat the projects,” adds Thomas.

    Electricity generated from biogas also has a high CO2 value but after the European carbon emissions trading market collapsed the financing for biogas projects actually died, he explains.

    Nordcham/Eurcham a business gateway

    Thomas is also Vice Chairman in rejuvenated Nordcham (Nordic Chamber of Commerce) Vietnam, which also entitles each member company automatic Eurocham Vietnam membership.

    “We were helped into exclusive renewable energy technical exhibitions, with a very good setup. And we could thereby develop our database in a way we would not have been able to without Eurocham,” says Thomas.

    Eurocham also offers incubator services and Intellectual Property protection assistance.

    “In Eurocham a lot of the work goes on in the sector committees, where all advocacy work is coordinated and where the very close networking and business dealing gets done. There we’re down to where people are in very similar industries and get to know each other over a number of years.”

    While the Danish business community has always been relatively big in Vietnam compared to its size, much thanks to Denmark’s former massive development aid there, seeding a lot of companies to come, the presences from the remaining Nordic countries were up until recently very small.

    “There was not this undergrowth of SMEs from those countries – but we are now seeing that coming to a much higher extent from the other Nordics. Vietnam is now becoming an easier country to do business in. There is still a cost difference compared to doing business in China.”

    Thomas explains that the differential cost towards Asia is also turning more significant now for Eastern-European based production (with costs going up there) and when taking geopolitics into account.

    “If you are looking at moving to Asia, Vietnam has to be on anybody’s list. Whether you come to do export business here or to satisfy local demand I think it’s very difficult today getting away with saying in one’s headquarters that one has done all the research one needs on Southeast Asia but excluded Vietnam,” states Thomas.

    Better education for children

    When Thomas personally came to Asia for the first time at the age of 25 in the mid-1990s – sent to China by a Danish company – he fell in love with it. Much later he got a new chance to return to Asia

    “It was always at the back of my mind that somehow the career had to steer towards an Asian opportunity. Whether it was to be Vietnam, Thailand or Malaysia – there was no specific plan on that. The fact it became Vietnam was due to that the country had a high focus in Denmark, compared to other countries in Asean.

    On a short business trip, prior to moving there, he had seen the country and found it to be like in China back when it was just about to take off – which he found to be an attractive aspect.

    He also highlights another benefit of living in a city like Saigon in Southeast Asia: “If I were to go back to Denmark it would mean that my son would get significantly lower education than he can get out here, which is not something that people always think of: ‘Let’s move to Vietnam and let our children get the best education possible!’ But because there are capable and willing customers in this market [for high quality international schools] it means it is actually possible!”

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    15 September 15 2019
    Business news
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628106
  • Food, spirits and singing at Scandinavian Crayfish Party Bangkok: See photos

    Food, spirits and singing at Scandinavian Crayfish Party Bangkok: See photos

    The Scandinavian Society Siam’s annual Crayfish Party 2019 at the Landmark Hotel in Bangkok was not short on prices, snaps or crayfish when it was celebrated on Saturday 14 September. Already before the doors opened guests could enjoy a variety of drinks and miniature open sandwiches with fish, prawns and potato. It was also possible…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    Food, spirits and singing at Scandinavian Crayfish Party Bangkok: See photos

    crayfish party 2019 bangkok

    The Scandinavian Society Siam’s annual Crayfish Party 2019 at the Landmark Hotel in Bangkok was not short on prices, snaps or crayfish when it was celebrated on Saturday 14 September.

    Already before the doors opened guests could enjoy a variety of drinks and miniature open sandwiches with fish, prawns and potato. It was also possible to capture a memory of the evening with a photo in front of a special made ice sculpture with the Scandinavian Society’s logo.

    Once the guests were seated and dressed in apron and hat, people helped themselves and each other generously to mouth-watering crayfish and ice-cold, Norwegian Linie Aquavit.

    If wanting a break from cracking up a crayfish in order to eat there was a buffet with cheese, cakes and fruit as well.

    In the midst of eating, people could also purchase tickets for the lucky draw. The price on the tickets was 1000 baht for two arm measures regardless of arms length, so as one loud guest put it:

    “Size does matter!”

    When wine, dinners, hotel stays and the main price of a trip to Europe with Finnair were given to the lucky winners, most guests took to the dance floor before making their way home.

    The talented live band was performing anything from ABBA hits such as Dancing Queen to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance and even What Does The Fox Say? by the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis.

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    15 September 15 2019
    Community news
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628356
  • Having a drink at a Scandinavian bar in Pattaya: Where is everybody?

    Having a drink at a Scandinavian bar in Pattaya: Where is everybody?

    Pattaya is not as busy as it used to be. Or so I am told, as I sit down at the bar Bryghuset in Jomtien for a drink. Mind you, it is low season and the rain has been trickling down all day. However, the street, Soi White House, is usually packed with people in…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    Having a drink at a Scandinavian bar in Pattaya: Where is everybody?

    norwegian danish bar pattaya

    Soi Buakhao in Pattaya City also known as Nørrebrogade.

    Pattaya is not as busy as it used to be. Or so I am told, as I sit down at the bar Bryghuset in Jomtien for a drink. Mind you, it is low season and the rain has been trickling down all day.

    However, the street, Soi White House, is usually packed with people in search of a cold beer and good company regardless of the weather forecast, allegedly.

    But it’s 8pm and I only see a handful of people. Most of them are at Bryghuset and the neighbouring bar, Hønsehuset. Across the street at Mama’s Bar and Drop In Bar, Thai women sit outside on chairs and chat.

    When someone strolls by, the women yell compliments and try to attract them to the bar. Tonight, they are unsuccessful. They turn to each other to continue their conversation.

    Cheap beer but no buyers

    Looking up and down the street, colourful flags meet the eye. Mostly Danish, Norwegian and Thai flags. Red, white and dark blue.

    Among the locals I meet, the street is known as Soi Denmark due to an extensive amount of Danish-owned bars and restaurants. To top it all off Hotel Danmark marks the end of the street.

    To my left sits a man. I will call him Thomas*.

    Thomas arrived Thailand that same morning.

    He tells me that at 50 Baht, the beer is cheapest here at Bryghuset. I can only agree that the pleasant atmosphere is another plus.

    Thomas is from Denmark and fell in love with Pattaya many years ago, when he and his Danish girlfriend, at the time, came for a vacation. His current girlfriend is from Thailand and they met a year ago.

    Thomas visits her as often as possible, but he tells me that fewer people have been coming every year.

    Without me asking, he eagerly tells me about relationships between Thai women and Scandinavian men. People are too judgemental without having seen Pattaya for themselves, he says. Sure, you can find prostitutes, if you wish to, but it is just as easy to avoid them.

    I order an Irish Coffee. Thomas is drinking Rum and Coke.

    Don’t believe all you read

    Danish music is playing in the background. Dodo and the Dodos sing about insomnia caused by a heartbreak in Vågner om natten before Kim Larsen’s melancholic song about appreciating the short periods of happiness in a long lifetime in Papirsklip comes on.

    We are sitting on bar stools at a long table parallel to the street.

    A drunk Norwegian on the right side of me interrupts my conversation with Thomas. Unrelated to the ongoing conversation, Roland* wants to tell me that climate change is a hoax and that scientists have not been able to prove the occurrence of it.

    It is an issue that people bluntly believe what they read instead of being critical. Because Roland read, that global warming is a lie.

    I order another drink – this time I go for a beer.

    A possibly even more drunk Norwegian man shows up. Let’s call him Svend*. He has lived in Denmark and starts speaking a drunken mix between Norwegian, Danish and English. I can’t tell if it’s a result of good or bad language skills. Or maybe just of too much beer.

    Meanwhile, street vendors come and go, trying to sell cigarettes, grilled chicken, noodle soups, wrist watches and even clothes. It appears they outnumber the guests in Soi White House.

    Eventually, the two Norwegian men start arguing, in English, about education in Germany. I would like to report the context, but I’m not sure there ever was one. Thomas and his girlfriend leave, Svend bets Roland one million (currency unknown) that he is right, I lean back and enjoy the show.

    I doubt they will ever settle the bet. But most of all, I doubt that either of them will remember the argument in the morning.

    Flirt and fries

    Soi White House is just the tip of the ice berg of Scandinavian bars.

    Back in the city, in the other end of Pattaya at Cafe Kronborg, Danish owner Bjarne Nielsen tells me about Soi Buakhao or Nørrebrogade (which is a busy street running from central Copenhagen through the Northern part of the city) as he and his friends call it.

    Like the culturally diverse Nørrebrogade in Denmark, the Pattaya-version does not only have Danish bars. It is a busy street with many nationalities, bars and street food vendors.

    The vibrant vibe at Kåres Party Bar attracts me. I spot mostly middle-aged to older Norwegian men and Thai waitresses. One of them brings out a plate of french fries, and I ask to order some. But I am told to go inside, where I can get them myself. There is a cold buffet with cold fries and some salat.

    I meet Bjørn* from Norway. He is busy flirting with the Thai waitresses, but he manages to somewhat keep a conversation going with me about the weather in Thailand. I guess Scandinavian small talk does not change much, just because the climate does.

    The same story

    I leave Bjørn to the waitresses and make my way to the other end of the street. I pass by Hotel Dania, Smile Bar and Swiss Bar to name a few of the bars that have either the Danish or Norwegian flag decorating the front. And the Thai flag, always the Thai flag next to a Scandinavian flag.

    In this part of the street, there are barely any people even though it’s 1am on a Saturday.

    Outside, at Valhalla, I find a few Danish men, among them the Danish owner. A couple of the other guests look like they are ready for bed.

    I get the same story here: The streets and bars used to be full of people, but over the past 10 years the population and tourism has decreased.

    Several articles reveal, that many bars have had to close. I have heard people blame it on everything – from the strength of the Thai Baht to the immigration rules and Pattaya’s negative reputation in the international media. Most people blame all three factors.

    Common for all the people I have talked to – the owner of The Residence Garden and Jomtien Boathouse, the owner of Cafe Kronborg, the owner of Valhalla and various Scandinavians in bars and restaurants – they all remain positive and wait patiently or impatiently for better times.

    I have a soda water while I wait for my taxi home.

    Now, you may wonder why there are no direct quotes in the article. It’s not because I’m a bad listener, or I can’t remember what my bar companions said. The simple explanation is that while drunk people can be very fun to be around, they rarely say a whole lot, when they talk.

    *All names have been changed for the sake of keeping the more or less drunk gentlemen anonymous.

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    13 September 13 2019
    Community news
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628323
  • Allan Ottesen: My dad planned my future in Thailand

    Allan Ottesen: My dad planned my future in Thailand

    Allan Ottesen was six years old when he and his mother swapped Pad Thai and beaches for Danish meatballs and rain, while his father stayed in Thailand. “My mum is a Thai living in Denmark, and my dad is a Dane living in Thailand,” Allan says. He lived with his mother and stepfather in Brønshøj…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    Allan Ottesen: My dad planned my future in Thailand

    allan ottesen pattaya

    Allan Ottesen was six years old when he and his mother swapped Pad Thai and beaches for Danish meatballs and rain, while his father stayed in Thailand.

    “My mum is a Thai living in Denmark, and my dad is a Dane living in Thailand,” Allan says.

    He lived with his mother and stepfather in Brønshøj in the Northern part of Copenhagen and went to school in the centre of the capital as a child.

    Later, he went to business college and spent half a year in Australia before he decided to study financing at Syddansk University in Copenhagen.

    But after 20 years in Denmark, Allan’s father, Ib Ottesen, was ready to bring his son back to Thailand, so he could give a hand with his businesses. The Residence Garden near Pattaya City and Jomtien Boathouse. Furthermore, the plan was to extend the business with apartments in Jomtien.

    “I basically got a flight ticket in the post, the day I completed my bachelor’s degree,” Allan says.

    “Apparently my dad’s plan all along was that I should go to Thailand.”

    And though moving to Thailand was not initially in Allan’s calendar, it did not take him long to pack his bags and head for Pattaya, the well-known destination he so often visited anyway.

    “My studies were over, so I thought, let’s get going.”

    No favourism

    As soon as Allan arrived, he discovered that working in Thailand is not comparable to the jobs he had in Denmark.

    “I started asking about holiday pay, the union, five-day working weeks, overtime and all that kind of stuff. He (Ib Ottesen) just laughed at me, so we didn’t talk about that again.”

    Instead, Ib Ottesen introduced him to his ambitious plans. On a napkin at Jomtien Boathouse.

    He wanted to build apartments just a few streets from where the two were sitting.

    “I was going to be the salesperson,” Allan recalls about the day some 12 years back.

    Straight out of university, the 25-year-old was now part of his father’s business and today he is a co-owner along with his father and stepmother.

    “It was a short-cut to an executive position,” Allan says but adds that it was not what he intended to do with his university degree.

    He was hoping to get a job in the shipping business and get posted somewhere. And though he is his own boss part of the time, he is still part of the duty roster on term with the employees.

    “I do everything. I’m a real estate agent, a waiter, you name it.”

    Because even though Allan is the son of the boss, he is not favoured in any way according to himself. And it is not a given that he will inherit the business after his father.

    But he enjoys his work and he is open for what the future brings.

    Right now, he has no plans of staying and no plans of leaving.

    Pros and cons of exotic ethnicity

    When asked if he misses Denmark, Allan has to think about it.

    “Not particularly. It’s a bit more fun here (in Pattaya) than back home (in Denmark).”

    While he misses his mother and friends, he gets enough of Denmark after a week, he says. Besides, his address makes for a good excuse for his Danish friends to visit Thailand.

    He also has Danish friends in Thailand, but to him it does not matter, that they are from Denmark. It is purely coincidence. He always felt at home in both cultures and countries.

    Moving to Thailand was therefore no problem for Allan. And as soon as he made the move, he also got a Thai citizenship, because he was born in Thailand.

    “It’s definitely an advantage being fluent in two languages and holding two passports.”

    But while he is happy that he does not have to struggle with Thailand’s immigration laws, he has also received a bit of headwind due to his mixed genes. In Denmark, he looks full-blooded Thai to everyone, he explains.

    “Sometimes I couldn’t get into clubs in Denmark, because I looked foreign. And in Thailand I sometimes can’t get in because I don’t look foreign,” Allan laughs.

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    13 September 13 2019
    Community news
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628274
  • SWEA (Swedish Women Educational Association) goes Caribbean…

    SWEA (Swedish Women Educational Association) goes Caribbean…

    On Thursday the 12th September 2019, SWEA Bangkok had a Caribbean evening by the pool at SHIVA TOWER on Sukhumvit Soi 15. Almost 20 Swedish ladies gathered together for exotic drinks and food with a touch of the Caribbean islands. Lot’s of chatting and exchanging of ideas. SWEA Bangkok is a very active organization and…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    SWEA (Swedish Women Educational Association) goes Caribbean…


    On Thursday the 12th September 2019, SWEA Bangkok had a Caribbean evening by the pool at SHIVA TOWER on Sukhumvit Soi 15. Almost 20 Swedish ladies gathered together for exotic drinks and food with a touch of the Caribbean islands. Lot’s of chatting and exchanging of ideas.

    SWEA Bangkok is a very active organization and different events are organized by its program group every month. If you are Swedish and new to Bangkok, don’t hesitate to contact SWEA Bangkok and become a member.

    Follow SWEA on Facebook or have a look at our web-page. We are here for you, to make life easier and more pleasant in your new home country.


     

     

     

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    13 September 13 2019
    Lifestyle
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628301
  • Bjarne “Kronborg”: A piece of Denmark in Pattaya

    Bjarne “Kronborg”: A piece of Denmark in Pattaya

    Bjarne Nielsen also known as Bjarne Kronborg gets the best of Denmark in his bar and restaurant Cafe Kronborg in Pattaya. It is all he needs from his home country, which he visits approximately every second year. “I like being Danish but there isn’t really anything about Denmark I miss as such,” says Bjarne. Everywhere…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    Bjarne “Kronborg”: A piece of Denmark in Pattaya

    bjarne nielsen kronborg pattaya

    Bjarne ‘Kronborg’ Nielsen at his bar in Pattaya.

    Bjarne Nielsen also known as Bjarne Kronborg gets the best of Denmark in his bar and restaurant Cafe Kronborg in Pattaya. It is all he needs from his home country, which he visits approximately every second year.

    “I like being Danish but there isn’t really anything about Denmark I miss as such,” says Bjarne.

    Everywhere you look in Cafe Kronborg, there is stuff. The walls are full of pictures, stickers and balloons from a passed birthday party. There is also a shell from a sea turtle, a large buffalo head and antlers from some type of deer. There are flags from all over the world and Dannebrog (the Danish flag) is especially used for decorating.

    Outside, there is a hornbill bird, which gets as excited about wine gums as a Danish child. Unfortunately, Bjarne has no colourful sweets for the bird today, but he offers me salty liquorice instead.

    The article continues under the photo.

    Cafe Kronborg did not always look like this. When Bjarne opened the bar with a friend 27 years ago after having to shut down their bar, Nyhavn, further down the street, there was not much decoration to see. Slowly, the walls have been filled little by little until the place looks like a mix between someone’s private home and an antique shop.

    den tørstige mand tuborg reklame

    “Den tørstige mand” (The Thirsty Man). Photo: Erik Henningsen/Carlsberg A/S Arkivet/Den Store Danske

    The dining menu includes smørrebrød (Danish open sandwiches) with various cold cuts, Danish hot dogs, frikadeller (Danish meat balls) and biksemad (Scandinavian hash).

    Upon entering Cafe Kronborg, I forget for a moment that I am in Thailand. I could have been in any old, brown pub in Denmark.

    Above the table, where we are seated, there is even the mandatory Danish pub poster from 1900 advertising for Tuborg beer portraying an old man with a cane in a yellow frame, Den tørstige mand (The thirsty man).

    Bjarne has a San Miguel Light placed in front of him on the floral table cloth.

    Behind him a few men are watching one of the popular Danish comedian Anders ‘Anden’ Matthesen’s latest cartoons, Ternet Ninja.

    They are waiting for the clock to pass 2pm when the weekly Saturday lunch will start.

    A change of plans

    Bjarne does not know who will show up. The lunch is an open invitation for his friends.

    This Saturday, I get the honour of meeting Den norske hvalfanger (the Norwegian whale catcher), Den lille elefant (the small elephant), Bageren (the baker), Valhalla (owner of a bar in Pattaya by the same name) and Fiskeren (the fisher).

    “I baptise everyone,” Bjarne proudly exclaims referring to the nick names of his friends.

    His own nick name is Banana, which I am told has to do with Thai difficulties in pronouncing the name Bjarne.

    The article continues under the photo.

    From left to right: Den norske hvalfanger, Den lille elefant, Bageren, Bjarne Kronborg, Valhalla and Fiskeren.

    A few of the men have a necklace with a pendant. Kronborg Castle on one side and Holger Danske, the fabled Danish statue packed away in the basement of the castle ready to protect Denmark if ever attacked, on the other side.

    A necklace with Kronborg Castle, a few of the men proudly wear around their neck.

    They wear it with pride and Valhalla tells me that he also has one in gold. The one around his neck is silver.

    At the bar, Bjarne’s wife sits. He never imagined getting married, least of all when he was only in his early 20’s. But here they are, 40 years after meeting each other in Bangkok, only a couple of years after Bjarne moved to Thailand.

    Back then, in 1977 he had been sailing for three years earning himself the title of able seaman, when he decided to make the move.

    “I was young, and I had big ears. The tales of Thailand caught my curiosity. The Danish seamen on the Thai ships were closer to each other than on other ships.”

    The first time, Bjarne came to Pattaya was in 1978 when he attended school to become a union representative for the seamen’s union.

    Bjarne was happy at sea, and he never even planned to stay in Thailand or to open a bar.

    However, his plans changed when his wife got pregnant and he went ashore despite advice from his fellow seamen.

    “‘Don’t you think it it’s time to disappear?’ people asked. But you cannot just do that,” says Bjarne who later had two more children with his wife. All three children are in their 30’s now.

    Today, he cannot imagine not having the bar.

    Of all the lunch guests at the round table, Bjarne has been in Thailand the longest. Though not all of them live in Thailand for the entire year, they can all agree on one thing.

    “Once you come to Thailand, you stay in Thailand.”

    Inside jokes and tricks

    One tray of food after the other is carried out by a few waitresses whom also take drink orders. Beer and schnapps appear to be popular among the noisy but happy guests.

    In between bites of pickled herring, liver pate, eggs and roast beef with crispy onions and remoulade on rye bread as well as imported Canadian crayfish, the men cheer about every five minutes.

    “I am so happy that I’m not sad,” someone proclaims.

    The article continues under the photo.

    It is apparently a gentlemen’s lunch, which I as a woman am allowed to join exceptionally. But it appears to be more lunch than gentlemen.

    They are especially fond of picking on Bageren today after a few classified episodes the previous night, which are unfit for a written article.

    Valhalla, who sits next to me, constantly turns to me and apologises for the stories.

    But though the stories are below the belt, their behaviour is just as decent as the spirits are high and the cups are full.

    On my other side sits Fiskeren. He is less apologetic. Perhaps because of his first impression of me where an evil look told me that he is definitely not from Frederikshavn in Northern Denmark. They tricked me into asking him to much amusement for the remaining guests.

    I still do not get the joke. Perhaps you have to be from that part of Denmark or a regular at Cafe Kronborg to understand. But I will never forget, that Fiskeren is from Skagen – also in Northern Denmark.

    The second time the gentlemen tricked me, I ended up buying the table a round of drinks after opening an old pirate-looking chest letting out a loud scream – the chest, not me. It did not contain any gold, but I will let you visit Kronborg to see for yourself what is really inside of it. It will sure make the other guests happy.

    The article continues under the photo.

    “The Danish community is tight out here. We always help and support each other,” says Bjarne about his friends who laugh about the incident for a while after finishing their drinks.

    He says that they celebrate all the major festive seasons such as Christmas and Easter together.

    They even get together for beer on 1 May to celebrate Labour Day, where they “drink in protest” according to a laughing Bjarne.

    To Bjarne’s dismay, the community is getting smaller, though, and Cafe Kronborg is not as packed as it used to be. In its early days it was located outside of Pattaya, and people complained that it was too far away, but they would still come. Slowly Pattaya grew and today, it surrounds the bar which is now in the middle of the city.

    But the past 10 years there has been a steady decrease in visitors. Bjarne is not the only one to blame the decrease on the strength of the Thai Baht as well as immigration laws for the negative development.

    “You learn to tread water, if you cannot swim,” says Bjarne as he is trying to stay positive and hoping that times will get better.

    For now, he is thankful that he has his close friends and regulars. And for his Saturday lunches which are sure to put enough smiles on his face for the next week.

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    11 September 11 2019
    Community news
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628259
  • Climate change, gender equality: Nordic Film Festival in Bangkok has it all

    Climate change, gender equality: Nordic Film Festival in Bangkok has it all

    When the Nordic Film Festival gets going on the weekend from 27 to 29 September 2019 at Quatier CineArt in Bangkok, the focus will be on sustainability and climate change. “The Nordic countries aim to become carbon neutral and we want to send a strong message of commitment,” said Satu Suikkari-Kleven, the Finnish ambassador in…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    Climate change, gender equality: Nordic Film Festival in Bangkok has it all

    nordic film festival ambassadors

    Danish ambassador Uffe Wolffhechel, Finnish ambassador Satu Suikkari-Kleven, Norwegian ambassador Kjersti Rødsmoen and Swedish ambassador Staffan Herrström.

    When the Nordic Film Festival gets going on the weekend from 27 to 29 September 2019 at Quatier CineArt in Bangkok, the focus will be on sustainability and climate change.

    “The Nordic countries aim to become carbon neutral and we want to send a strong message of commitment,” said Satu Suikkari-Kleven, the Finnish ambassador in Thailand, at a press conference where also Danish ambassador Uffe Wolffhechel, Norwegian ambassador Kjersti Rødsmoen and Swedish ambassador Staffan Herrström were present.

    Already, at the kickstart of the festival, the topic is apparent, when attendees can enjoy the Finnish film ‘My Stuff’. It is a documentary about a man who locks up all of his stuff in a storage unit and is only allowed to bring back one item per day. This includes clothes as well, so one can imagine why the movie also classifies as a comedy.

    Prior to every screening viewers also get to watch the five-minute Norwegian short film called ‘A future you don’t want’. A thought provoking tribute to combatting climate change starring amongst other Thomas Hayes, who is known for his role as William Magnusson in the teen series Skam.

    Throughout the weekend, attendees can enjoy a wide variety of film genres from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

    There are films in the more serious genre such as the Danish film ‘Darling’ and Norwegian ‘What will people say’ as well as family friendly films here amongst Norwegian ‘The Liverpool Goalie’ and Swedish ‘Monky’ which also has ties to Thailand.

    “They are all for adults and some are for children,” said Satu Suikkari-Kleven.

    The ambassadors of the respective countries presented the films and the common topic of climate change which is apparent in some of the films.

    The Swedish ambassador further commented, that gender equality has played a role in choosing the films for the past three years of the Nordic Film Festival. All years, the embassy has exclusively chosen films directed by women.

    “It reflects the universe of film making. We want to send a signal of the importance of gender equality,” said Staffan Herrström at the press conference.

    The festival is organised by the Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish embassies in Thailand. The aim is to promote the Nordics by increasing the interest in the region as creative and innovative.

    There will be a total of eight films. Tickets are free and given by a first comes first serve basis, starting half an hour before each screening.

    The films will be shown according to the following timetable:

    Friday 27 September 2019

    18:00 – My Stuff, Finland

    20:00 – Darling, Denmark

    Saturday 28 September 2018

    15:00 – I am William, Denmark

    17:00 – Monky, Sweden

    19:00 – What will people say, Norway

    Sunday 29 September 2019

    15:00 – The Liverpool Goalie, Norway

    17:00 – One Last Deal, Finland

    19:30 – Becoming Astrid, Sweden

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    10 September 10 2019
    Community news
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628216
  • An afternoon with Nordic Ambassadors, film enthusiasts

    An afternoon with Nordic Ambassadors, film enthusiasts

    It will be two interesting days end of September (27th-29) with two movies from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden screened at The Quartier CineArt, 4th Floor at the Emquartier. All four Nordic countries will present two movies each. Friday the 27th 2019 at 6 pm Finland is screening “MY STUFF”, a documentary comedy which is…

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    An afternoon with Nordic Ambassadors, film enthusiasts

    It will be two interesting days end of September (27th-29) with two movies from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden screened at The Quartier CineArt, 4th Floor at the Emquartier.

    All four Nordic countries will present two movies each. Friday the 27th 2019 at 6 pm Finland is screening “MY STUFF”, a documentary comedy which is allowed for all ages.

    At 8 pm, the Danish movie “DARLING” will be screened. This film sounds very interesting to me. It’s all about a famous ballerina and how her world breaks down when she one day during a rehearsal collapses in pain. Prognosis: her hip is worn out and she will not be able to dance as Giselle, one dream role for female dancers. It’s a tragedy, but she decides to help a young ballerina to become Giselle.

    On Saturday 28th, you can watch “I AM WILLIAM” at 3 pm. This is a Danish production and the genre, Adventure. Suitable from age 7. At 5 pm, Sweden movie “MONKY” will be screened. It’s a fun story about an ape and that takes a family from Sweden to Thailand’s jungle.

    At 7.30 pm it’s the movie “WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY”‘s turn, a Norwegian drama production. This sounds also very interesting to me. A young Norwegian-Pakistani girl is living two different lives. With her friends she is an outgoing, normal Norwegian teenager, but with her family, she turns into a father’s daughter and Pakistani dads don’t appreciate Norwegian boyfriends. She is sent  to Pakistan to learn to accept her countries traditions and rules.

    Sunday the 29th at 3 pm, you can watch “THE LIVERPOOL GOALIE”, which is a Norwegian comedy for all ages.

    At 5 pm “ONE LAST DEAL”, a Finnish movie about an elder art dealer who sees an old painting at an auction and together with his grandson, they start investigate the painting.

    The last movie screened at 7.30 is “BECOMING ASTRID”. It’s a biography about the famous author Astrid Lindgren and in my opinion, a must to see.

    All these movies you can sign up for for free.

    Media, sponsors and VIP’s were very well greeted at H.E. Mrs. Satu Suikkari-Kleven’s residence. A tempting coffee table, with Swedish cinnamon buns and other delicatessen, was offered the guests.

    An interesting and very pleasant afternoon.

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    10 September 10 2019
    Community news
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628217
  • A seafood evening at Cajutan, Sukhumvit soi 18

    A seafood evening at Cajutan, Sukhumvit soi 18

    Saturday the 7th of September, restaurant Cajutan presented an evening with seafood. Many SWEOR and partners gathered together for an evening with those delicious small creatures, accompanied by Swedish Aquavit, white wine and the traditional snaps songs. Everybody was in high spirits.

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    A seafood evening at Cajutan, Sukhumvit soi 18

    Saturday the 7th of September, restaurant Cajutan presented an evening with seafood. Many SWEOR and partners gathered together for an evening with those delicious small creatures, accompanied by Swedish Aquavit, white wine and the traditional snaps songs. Everybody was in high spirits.

    ScandAsia - Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

    9 September 09 2019
    Community news
    https://scandasia.com/?p=1628190