Unusual Friendship in Hua Hin

Two years ago, the newly founded Svenskforeningen in Hua Hin was put to its first serious test: The Immigration Bureau Head Quarters in Bangkok wanted to move the immigration office from Hua Hin to Prachuab Khirikhan, the capital of the province.

The Chairman of The Swedish Association, Gert Andersson recalls the situation exclusively for Scandasia.com.

“The Immigration Bureau’s management and staff in Hua Hin regretted the decision. They told me that they had nothing to do with it,” Gert Anderssons explains.
“We don’t want to move to Prachuab Khirikhan. It is 140 km away. But what can we do? It is a decision from Bangkok,” the immigration people here told us.

The planned move became the hottest issue at the next member meeting in February 2008.

“Our members were angry and I would say rightly so. We are around 5000 Swedes in the Greater Hua Hin area. All together maybe up to 15.000 foreigners live more or less permanently in Hua Hin,” Gert Andersson recalls.

“The provincial capital has not even one percent of that figure. Prachuab Khirikhan has less than 50 expats.”

The board and the members of the only four month old association decided that the move of the Immigration Office should not take place with out a fight. Neither the expats nor the immigration staff living happily in Hua Hin should be forced to drive 140 km each way.

Swedish are calm and polite people. But if a fight is needed – so be it!

“I spent lots of hours on the case because it was so important for our members and thereby for our new organization,” Gert Anderson says.
Meeting after meeting was held with the immigration office in Hua Hin and several alternatives were in the air at the same time.

“I managed to arrange a meeting with some of the “big bosses” from both Bangkok and Prachuab Khirikhan. My message was clear. Many Swedes in Hua Hin could not travel 140 km. each way every 3 months for a stamp. The plan was simply not realistic,” Gert Andersson says.

Little by little, the faces of the “big bosses” began to soften. A new office was found, but it was far too small. And there was no air-conditioning.

Then the immigration officers saw a possibility for a way out.

“Can the Swedish Associations help us with aircon,” they asked Gert Andersson.

The former International businessman started to cultivate his connections.

The first Swede who answered his call was the owner of Black Mountain Golf Course, Stig Notlöv.

“No problem! We have some airconditioners in stock. It can be done as long the immigration does not move away from Hua Hin,” was Stig Notlöv’s reply.

And the solution got even better. The Hua Hin Immigration Bureau took up an offer from one of the board members of the Swedish Association to move into the same building as the Restaurant 3 Girls, where most meetings in the Swedish Association are also held. Here, Peter Refn, the Swedish restaurateur was pleased to provide the Hua Hin Immigration Bureau with new facilities, including air-conditioning, free of charge for 5 years.

“Hopefully we are now saved for a long time,” smiles Gert Andersson.

But no – the story doesn’t end there.

“The next year when my wife and I went to the Immigration office to apply for a new one year visa, the immigration officer asked us to wait for a while, they had something for me,” Gert Andersson tells.

“We have a special gift for you as a ‘thank you’ for what you did for us last year,” the officer said.

Surprised and deeply moved, Gert Andersson then received a very nice diploma mounted in a lovely gold frame.

The immigration officer pointed at the bottom of the diploma and laughed:

“As you can see, the diploma it is even signed by a “big boss” in Bangkok”.

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