Swedish Ulla Dohlon first visited Thailand in 1959 and has lived there since. At 91 years old she is Pattaya’s longest-stay foreign resident and perhaps the longest living Swedish lady in all of Thailand.
In a recent interview with Pattaya Mail, Ulla Dohlon speaks about how she ended up in the land of smiles and how Pattaya has changed over time.
Ulla Dohlon was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden and as a young woman, she worked for different companies in consultancy and administration before she met and married her husband Eric (Senior). Eric was a mechanical engineer of the first order based in India which is where the couple lived until Eric in 1959 was transferred to Thailand.
Eric’s job was based in Bangkok but not long after arriving in Thailand, the couple rented a beach house in Pattaya.
To Pattaya Mail, Ulla says, “Pattaya and Jomtien were so different then. You didn’t need to lock your front door if going out and the electricity was so spasmodic that you couldn’t use a refrigerator, but had to rely on a huge box crammed with ice which was refilled every day.”
Although there were no supermarkets or farang options in Pattaya until Spinney’s opened near Soi Post Office in the 1980s, Ulla and Eric lived a happy and busy life between Bangkok and Pattaya.
“Life in those days wasn’t based on restaurants and bars and you did your entertaining at home,” Ulla says. “We built up a large social network but nearly all of them have now passed away,” Ulla adds.
Ulla and Eric have two children, Eric and Inga who both have made successful Insurance businesses. Eric in Phuket and Inga in Pattaya. Over the years Eric (Senior) did some consular work for the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok whilst Ulla involved herself heavily in the international ladies club of those early days.
Ulla has been permanently based in Pattaya and Jomtien since Eric (Senior) passed away in 1991. With a permanent resident status in Thailand, she avoids visa renewals and has for the past 24 years been living in the same detached Jomtien house with her daughter Inga living next door.
As an excellent cook with a detailed knowledge of Indian and Swedish cuisine, Ulla has always enjoyed hosting. In addition, she has a love for playing bridge, a game she learned during her time in India and was for many years a regular attendee and member of the first bridge club in Pattaya which was established in 1994.
Although macular degeneration in recent years has put a restriction on Ulla’s gourmet evenings, she still hosts occasional bridge game nights at her house and from time to time she also plays at her Dutch friends’ house.
Like most long-termers, Ulla has her own perspective on Pattaya’s history and the city’s development.
To Pattaya Mail, she says, “The early years were idyllic, but the noise and the seediness began with the American servicemen in the late 1960s.”
“Yes I prefer to recall Pattaya as it used to be, but I’m lucky still to have a loving family and no trace of dementia,” Ulla says.