Swedish community in Phuket celebrated Christmas: “Is absolutely incredible”

Irene and Hasse Franzén, Kent and Eva Tell and almost 200 other Swedes had Christmas dinner at Karlsson’s restaurant in Patong, Phuket.
Photo: Leo Pettersson

Some might wonder if it’s possible to get the Nordic Christmas atmosphere on a tropical island in Thailand? The answer is, according to about 200 Swedes, yes! 

True to tradition, the Swedish restaurant, Karlsson’s restaurant in Phuket hosted their annual Swedish Christmas on 24 December and despite the pandemic, the place was full, Expressen writes.

Kent Holmgren who runs the restaurant was very happy with the outcome. “It’s absolutely incredible. We have a full house. Something we didn’t expect just a few months ago when there were no tourists in Thailand,” he said to Expressen.

According to Kent, the event had about 200 participants with the vast majority being Swedes and some of them had traveled all the way to Thailand to meet up.

Good friends, Irene and Frasse Franzén and Kent and Eva Tell, were part of the participants and they have known each other for years although they always meet in Thailand and not back home in Sweden.

“It may be a bit ridiculous to go to Thailand and eat a Swedish Christmas dinner, but it is actually very charming to be here. You meet so many people over the years here. We have known each other for many years but we always meet here and not in Sweden,” Irene Franzén said.

To her, it is not difficult to get into the Christmas spirit on a tropical Thai island. “No, not a bit. It is never boring here,” she said. And there are also great benefits of celebrating Christmas in Phuket, she added. “It is not cold here but warm and nice. We can sunbathe and swim as much as we want.”

For Mikael Björklund, who has traveled to Thailand for the past 15 years, it’s a little harder to get into the true Swedish Christmas spirit. “Yes, you can safely say that. It’s a little too hot for a true Swedish Christmas,” he said. But the tropical climate is also what he enjoys most about Thailand. “The warmth and calmness. There are definitely not as many tourists here now,” he said. 

Although the pandemic has brought much fewer tourists to Phuket over the past two years, some things never change. According to Kent Tell, the pandemic has brought a great change in Phuket but the people are just as happy and friendly.

“And they need every penny we can contribute. We have also joined programs to support Thailand from home. Among other things, it is possible to donate food to people who do not have a job,” Frasse Fransén added. Moreover, Frasse Fransén feels safer in Thailand than in Sweden regarding the spread of covid-19.

“People really keep their distance, in almost every place you go you have to take the temperature, people wear masks and you know that most of those who are here are vaccinated,” he said. 

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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