Two years ago, two good friends had a talk about what they could do for themselves and the other 2,000 Finns who stay two or more months a year in Hua Hin.
Pekka Heikkinen told Anssi Ollikkala that he would like to create a Finnish Library. Anssi was not against the library idea, but his first thought was: Why not go all the way and start a fully flexed Finnish Association right away. Then the library and other activities could be added later on?
Some weekends later, Hua Hin had its own Finnish Association, “Hua Hinin Seudun Suomalaiset” – The Finns in the Hua Hin area. Now, two years later, the Finnish Association has more than 300 members.
The founding meeting took place on the 11th of January 2009. Anssi became the President, and Pekka, with the romantic dream of a Finnish library on the other side of the globe, became Vice President.
“We can’t be sure, but it’s our estimate that there are around 50 permanent Finnish citizens in the greater Hua Hin area. Furthermore, we think that there are at least 2,000 Finns who stay more than two months in the Hua Hin area,” Anssi – the President – says.
From Spain and Portugal
“Many of our members sold their second home in Portugal or Spain because it became too expensive in the south of Europe. At the same time it became cheaper to fly to a destination like Bangkok,” says Anssi, who expects at least 100 new members per year until they reach 500 members.
In the beginning, the Finnish Association found a very basic location where they could stay. But in September 2010, they moved to new premises.
“Our first place was too simple. Too many rats. And when we rented that place we didn’t know how big the interest for our association would be. But when we exceeded 250 members, we were ready for better facilities,” says Anssi.
The new Finnish location is now at the Thai Boxing Centre attached to Grand Plaza. Here, the library also located, including a computer with Internet connection.
Just ask for the key
“We have our own location with a library and a sauna. The library is open five evenings a week. There’s staff there two hours per evening, but don’t worry if you need to use the library’s computer or borrow some books during the day,” says Pekka Heikkinen.
“People can go to the Thai Boxing Centre and just ask for the key. If you take any books away, please fill out the papers before you leave.”
The Finn has left more than 1,200 books back in Turku.
“Last time I was in Turku, I tried to find out how to get the books down here to Hua Hin where we need them. But I was told that only one cubic meter would cost 3,000 US dollar, so until a small wonder takes place, the books will stay where they are,” Pekka explains.
The Sauna where seats are selling like hot cakes is open only on Saturdays.
Internet makes it easy
Thanks to the Internet the Finnish Association’s meetings can take place with short notice.
“Mostly we follow at schedule, but sometimes we call a meeting the very next day. That’s one of the good things about the Internet and e-mail. It’s so easy to get in contact with our members,” says Anssi Ollikkala.
The annual Golf Match against fellow Finnish players in Pattaya is an event, the Finnish society in Hua Hin is looking forward to many months in advance.
“We managed to beat Pattaya last year. It was fantastic,” Anssi laughs.
He is, however, a bit sad that it is only a small part of the golf players that can take part in the annual match against the Finns in Pattaya. But then again, the annual golf competition is the only one where only a limited number of players can participate.
Petanque, bowling and hiking are some of the activities where everybody can get involved. The same goes for the Wednesday fish soup, the sauna, the trips to classical music concerts, and the occasional rock concert in Bangkok.