Stories about Dr. Einar Ammundsen were numerous and flowed from the start to end of the Einar Ammundsen Evening on 26 August 2012 at Admiral Pub and Restaurant, to which the Scandinavian Society Siam Sunday had invited the members, public and all who celebrated Ammundsen’s life.
Around 29 members had signed up for the event, many of whom had known Einar Ammundsen and his second wife, Aks, personally. Anders Norrman the Consul General, after 44 years in Bangkok, even knew Einar Ammundsen’s first wife Rita and their son Michael, who according to Anders Normann was a spitting image of Einar Ammundsen.
The event served guests with a variety of finger food and a whole lot of stories. Later, there was a screening of the film made for TV2 in 1996 which followed Einar and Aks Ammundsen in their last month in Thailand.
The film showed Ammundsen as a charity-worker in one of Thailand’s poorest provinces, Sakon Nakhon, in Northeast Thailand, attending to more than 40 patients in one afternoon alone. He was 80, yet still competent and efficient.
The film also showed some private recordings made by Ammundsen in the early fifties. It was a fascinating glimpse of Bangkok when Ammundsen arrived in 1947. Then, it was a small town of only 500, 000 inhabitants and with almost no traffic!
Being a Danish doctor who has lived in Bangkok for 50 years have created quite a number of interesting and heart-warming stories. Over time, Ammundsen and his second wife Aks became living legends.
One of the popular yet peculiar attributes he had was that he was the doctor who was never seen without a cigarette in those 50 years he worked at Bangkok Nursing Home. He had been friends with historical people such as Jim Thomson and Somerset Maugham.
Aks on the other hand, had been a pioneer in working with disabled children and was part of having founded the Sataban Saeng Sawang Foundation.
Einar Ammundsen could be a bit bold as a doctor. Jan Dam Pedersen, COO of Brenntag Asia Pacific, remembered as he once had to have a slight excrescence removed.
As Ammundsen tightened the string, Jan responded with a little gasp. And to this Ammundsen said,“Why are you whining? I have hardly touched you.”
He also sometimes tested new instrument on his patients and friends. Ole Madsen, Managing Director of ScanEast Co Ltd, was one of them.
“I got this new instrument from USA, Should we not try it?” Ammundsen asked. The instrument for internal examination proved to be very painful and it took Ole Madsen days to recover. “I’ll better not use it again,” Ammundsen compassionately reacted after the test.
Legendary are the stories about seamen and aircrew who were met with the greeting, “pants down,” as Ammundsen assumed the reason they came to him was a venereal disease, as it typically was. Being a doctor for the East Asian Company and SAS among many other companies through decades, he probably has had his share of waiting for patients, who were embarrassed, to admit the disease hence the peculiar greeting.
After the film, it was time for even more stories, particularly to do with golf. Ammundsen played golf every Wednesday or Saturday from 12:30 to 16:00 very seriously and without disturbance from even phone calls. He took that very seriously.
In 1971 he instituted the Ammundsen Cup Tournament.
As the sole sponsor, Ammundsen invited all the tournament participants for breakfast on the terrace of the Oriental Hotel. The tradition had become too expensive as the tournament grew that in 1991 he had to announce that he was no longer able to sponsor the tournament.
Other sponsors took over and the tournament went on until 1996 when Ammundsen went back to Denmark. Being a modest man, he did not want the tournament to be named after him when he no longer was a part of it.
After Ammundsen’s death in 1998, friends asked his widow, Aks, for permission to reinstall the tournament.
Not only did she give permission, she also came to the tournament and held a speech at the Bamboo Bar, where tradition requires that the tournament concludes with drinks.
Ending the evening with some words about the doctor, Anders Normann said in admiration, “Ammundsen was a small man in stature but big at heart.”