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my Second Life in Thailand

my Second Life in Thailand

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Published by Ted Ollikkala
"What a long, strange trip it's been" (Grateful Dead, Truckin')

A mad spark of enthusiasm in 1993 took me to distant shores, away from homeland to new worlds ripe with the flavour of life. Drinking in these sights, sounds and permutations enriched the senses and filled the mind with fodder.
"What a long, strange trip it's been" (Grateful Dead, Truckin')

A mad spark of enthusiasm in 1993 took me to distant shores, away from homeland to new worlds ripe with the flavour of life. Drinking in these sights, sounds and permutations enriched the senses and filled the mind with fodder.

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Published by: Ted Ollikkala on Jan 13, 2010
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10/21/2010

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January 13th, 2010

my Second life in Thailand
Perhaps we will meet again and continue our dance. In the meantime, it's fun to look back and see how spiritually naïve we once were and how the hell life turned out to be so interesting. I have no regrets.

Published by: teducation

breath, heave and a sigh for a job well done. Measure not what he did but in which manner his sense of integrity embraced those who became entangled with his soul.

FOREWARD
"What a long, strange trip it's been" (Grateful Dead, Truckin') I've come a long way, baby. An incurable thirst for adventure coupled with altruistic concern for the plight and everyday existence of people un-American has catered to unimaginable fulfillment of exotic yet realistic fantasies. Who can say they are living their wildest dream… The unknown unfolding right in front of your very eyes… Dealing in circumstances alien yet human in nature, every single day. A mad spark of enthusiasm in 1993 took me to distant shores, away from homeland to new worlds ripe with the flavour of life. Drinking in these sights, sounds and permutations enriched the senses and filled the mind with useful fodder. A soul - seeking realization of manifestation in the multifaceted plane of human existence does not cease to wander in search of ignorance's abyss. Do not pity those left behind, for they are content in personal space and friendships. Seen over the brim of teacups peering back with unrelenting compassion, their compassion speaking not volumes but whispers. Looking back over the past twelve years I do not measure accomplishment or completion of tasks. Each is only a step along a journey which ends with a last

Ted Ollikkala (TEDUCATION.com) Singapore 12 January 2010 Cover collage and all photos: Ted Ollikkala © 2010

CONTENTS (1993 - 2000)
1. THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELER GETS MOTIVATED 2. THE RIGHT STUFF: MAKING AN ASIAN DREAM COME TRUE 3. CASH FOR YOUR TRIP 4. CHANGE YOUR JOB, CHANGE YOUR WIFE 5. ROAD FOOD – EAT MY WORDS 6. LOLITA CHRISTIANS – DRESSED IN DRAG

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January 13th, 2010

Published by: teducation

1. THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELER GETS MOTIVATED
Source: http://chopsticksforbreakfast.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/thearmchair-traveler-gets-motivated-part-1/

But I was also a spiritual wannabee. Yes, they always said that good gurus don’t advertise and that you should never leave home without Him, but I wasn’t getting what I needed. And the hard thing about that was that you just can’t put a finger on it, y’know, like the sound of one hand clapping. Enter Asia. Hell, I’m about as biologically anti-oriental as they come, what with these Finnish genes donated by the most introverted people in the world, who’d rather freeze than ask where the nearest sauna is.

Whatever you call it, it was calling me. And the ideas were beckoning from just beyond the Christiancrossed front door in either of the California or Massachusetts domiciles where I’d been hibernating for such a long time. It didn’t make any difference which state I was working in, for the wanderings of my mind were both stateless and timeless. Such is the mind-set of a melancholy mid-thirty-something year old baby-boomer cum engineer.

The Masters of Macrobiotics- Michio & Aveline Kushi, claim that one should stay within their own genetic habitat, which means no more bananas for you Eskimos, stick to the pies, guys!

I Heart Singapore Airlines My body, however contrary, began to crave a different type of grain, not wheat or corn, but rice. This was to mark the beginning of the end, for from now on I would be living out another of my endless Buddhist nine relives, or until I made it past St. Peter’s Gate, whichever comes first. I could hear the old Tibetan Lama in his Himalayan cave chanting out Ommannipadmehum just like in the Kate Bush song on her first album. Carlos Casteneda and Don Juan were there, too. and so were a whole bunch of people I hadn’t even met yet, for Chris-sakes. It was finally time to humbly put my foot in my mouth and pull myself up by my own boostraps. After all, don’t you remember that…Actions speak louder than words…Those who can, do… Those who don’t, teach. Roll over Fido, let’s learn some new tricks called street smarts and living by the seat of your pants. Oh yeah – and all that stuff about the laws of the universe and integrity, too. Part 2: A look at some important personal qualities, drives, and life experiences which can propel a person to function successfully overseas and cope with foreign cultures.

American Wanderlust in Vegas Well, I wouldn’t call this feeling exactly cabin fever, either. Countless bowls of popcorn had chased down the words of the travel writers. This courageous band of pioneers provided the brawn for my brain. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Let’s face it, I was a couch potato, or more politically correct, an armchair traveler. Armed with fantastic survival techniques and able to endure endless punishment and bureaucratic redtape, my body looked pale and soft as a baby’s bottom.

Travelling in Thailand Yes, thank you Paul Theroux for taking me on trains across most of the Asian sub-continent, and Pico Iyer for extolling the ironic virtues of India and the geisha communities of Japan. Movies were O.K., but books are even better, because you can insert mental advertisements anytime you want.
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January 13th, 2010

Published by: teducation

2. THE RIGHT STUFF: MAKING AN ASIAN DREAM COME TRUE
Source: http://chopsticksforbreakfast.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/theright-stuff-making-an-asian-dream-come-true-part-2/

• 37 Bonked on the head – Woke up! And now, with the irrepressible drive to be the first man on Asia, terra-naut training had begun. Swiftly calculated and well-timed moves spurred by sudden inspiration and seizing the moment would result in a concisely orchestrated set of circumstantial aerobics, also called synchronicity.

It was quite easy for me to relocate in those days (1987-1995) back and forth from coast-to-coast, more exactly; San Francisco and Boston. It seemed that my optimum limit of stress, which was also my burnout factor, was preciselyfour years per career and location. Once I had mastered a certain skill, such as Childcare Provider and taken it with all-out fervor to new personal heights, I would bid farewell and move on to the next challenge, which was usually a new career.

My class at Language Pacifica (Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Brazilian students) learning English In 1995 at the age of 37, I was scheming ways to escape to a foreign paradise. I knew I needed lots of money and a cheap beach to sleep on. Taking leave from these temporary jobs was no problem – I was very employable, I performed my work with such integrity that I was always welcome to be re-hired at any time. One other factor was in my favour. No ties. Not to any abode (home is where the heart is) or any person. All the females I came into contact with were always either pre-mated or soulless. Relationships for sex were as empty as the bullpen in the first inning of a baseball game. So Who’s on first?

Thanksgiving with El Salvadoreans (California) And so it went in a circular pattern. They say that you are doomed to repeat your mistakes until you break the wheel of fortune, but my cycles were upward spirals. I would take my ‘bag of tricks’, also known as ‘transferable skills’, and apply them to a related career field. Evidence this pre-Asian inventory of Work Skills: • AGE ACTIVITY

• 26-29 Day Care Teacher (San Francisco) • 29-30 Retired -Went fishing alot and studied landscaping and Macrobiotics (Boston) • 31 Nursing Assistant for the Elderly (Boston) • 31-33 Grocery Store Clerk (Boston) • 31-35 Building Contractor’s Helper (for my dad in Boston) • 32-35 Gemstone Jewelry and Cultural Artifacts Dealer (weekend flea markets in New Hampshire). • 34 Commodities trader (soybean & gold contracts, etc.) • 34 Housesat for free and worked as a Day Care Teacher (San Francisco) • 35-36 Full Time Day Care Teacher (San Francisco)
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First Christmas in Thailand Oh, I had relationships. My best friends were engineers, doctors, lawyers, and artists and jazz/reggae musicians in Silicon Valley. I became the extended member of quite a few upwardly mobile families, which was easy due to my non-attached state and the ability to nurture their children (remember that I had 8 years experience as a certified early childhood education caregiver).

January 13th, 2010

Published by: teducation

We’ll talk about how to live in the cracks of life and eek out meaningful, deliberate, and purposeful ways to make an overseas Asian dream come true.

3. CASH FOR YOUR TRIP
Source: http://chopsticksforbreakfast.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/cashfor-your-trip-part-3/

Morning Assembly at a Thai School (every morning) I was also a country mouse. On the other side of the USA in Massachusetts I was a gardener, landscaper, purveyor of oriental carpets, as well as an expert on the geological and metaphysical properties of various gemstones. I hung out with a crowd of cafe and microbrewery beatniks, shamen, UFOlogists, Wiccans, a poltergeist, surrealist artists, working college kids, and chatted with several hundred olde-fashioned Yankee country bumpkins every weekend at the flea market in New Hampshire. This was an important time in my life when I was the sole proprietor and founder of ‘EGO Enterprises’. I created the opportunity to sell and teach others about anything I wanted to learn about. The rocks & minerals business branched out into cultural artifacts, incense, ancient beads, peacock feathers, and metaphysical books. It was a great chance to share my dream with others. I taught myself how to buy wholesale and market my products, as well as designing my own from scratch. So you’ve decided to spend an extended period of time outside of your native country. Chances are, you won’t be satisfied with the two week package tour (5 countries in 14 days, breakfast buffet and airport transfer included) either. This is serious stuff. Let’s climb a mountain. (the Himalayas!) How will you support yourself while on the road? My original idea was to scrimp and save every penny I could until the magic amount was reached, and then to stay on the road until it simply ran out.

Visiting a Thai family This is tough for most of us to do. We’re talking about a nearly one-to-one exchange; 6 months of savings to buy 6 months of retirement/R&R time in a foreign country. There is a better way! You don’t need to be unemployed to enjoy yourself, although many do agree with this. Thai Songthaew Mind you that this was happening in the pre-dawn launch of the Internet as a household tool in the early 90’s. I was still shunning the technology that had previously earned me the income to purchase a house. Which brings me back to the main limiting factor in going abroad. CAPITAL. BUCKS. Our love won’t pay the rent. Financial Independence. How does one change his cash flow? There are two ways to save money: Either make more or spend less. Part 3: Helping out in the school kitchen! (Thailand) Work Your Way Around the World
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Consider this: Do what you love and the money will follow. Taking the escapist route won’t work unless either you’re rich or your ’significant other’ is. Thus, for long term travel, take my advice and give yourself a working vacation.

January 13th, 2010

Published by: teducation

Sounds great, but what talents or skills do you have to contribute, which would be useful to third-world nations? Answer: Just about anything! In my quest as an underpaid and sometimes unemployed middle-class American hippy wannabe, no stone was left unturned in the zen rock garden.

of money and see how happy he is (what, no juice and my energiser died?) Personal Inventory Take stock of yourself before you gamble a year or more of your life away. Know what you have to offer and how to maintain that deep contentment between you and your inner boss. Since I had already been a Professional qualified Caregiver of small children for many years in Palo Alto, California – it seemed only natural that I would turn once again to teaching to support myself on the road in my quest to become a Global citizen.

What Thai Teachers Do Best... (smile!) Peace Corp (for kids!) recruiting meetings, Missionary work, Habitat for Humanity, Work Abroad schemes, Overland Safari Expeditions, the JET programme, the Grateful Dead Eyebank (I’m serious!) in Nepal, the list went on and on and left me more confused than when I started. Some programmes wanted my brainpower, while others needed pure might. The good news is that any way you slice it, you still get a piece of the pie. Its just that the filling may be durian, rambutan, jackfruit, or banana (these are all Asian fruits. They are so weird, like those deep-sea creatures that you swear they were either invented yesterday or delivered by aliens).

Two American Teachers in Thailand Part 4: Career changes and a personal training programme

Shoes Off! (typical Thai classroom) Man doesn’t live by money alone, and ain’t no island either. Drop off Bill Gates by helicopter on a solo one-man Survival mission with his top 10 desert island CD’s and a suitcase full
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January 13th, 2010

Published by: teducation

4. CHANGE YOUR JOB, CHANGE YOUR WIFE
Source: http://chopsticksforbreakfast.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/changeyour-job-change-your-wife-part-4/

Let’s talk about re-training yourself to enter a new or related career field because that new job will open up a world of opportunity for exciting life experiences and the chance to share a bit of your unique self with others. This is probably not a short-term project. This is something that goes on under the surface while you are still doing your daily grind. Let’s face it, many of us are stuck in dead-end jobs.

My Thai neighbor was a fisherman You know what he said to me. You’ve heard it before. He said: “Don’t quit your day job, Ted” These were the words ringing in my ears as I set out from Boston for the sixth time on a 3000 mile automobile camping journey across the Continental Divide of the USA. I was already cooking up deals with my circle of Technoentrepreneur friends in Silicon Valley.

Working in Thailand It takes a lethal injection of PROACTIVENESS to jolt a person into the mode of ‘Actions speak louder than words’. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. In 1996 I was working in the field of early childhood education. My head was brimming with new ways of making a living on the road, as I fully intended to work in the Asian country of my choice. The only problem was: I WASN’T QUALIFIED… (yet). Language Pacifica, Palo Alto (1996) A small classified ad kept reappearing in my mind like a postit note stuck to the inside of a contact lens (the right eye). I had been summoned to become a volunteer English tutor at the neighborhood Adult School. A training workshop would be held shortly. RSVP Wow, I was actually going to be teaching grownups (read: Mexican and Russian immigrants of questionable legal status) in a state (California) whose second language is Spanish. I soon met neophytes from all walks of life who were into the community service gig and the whole thing just took off from there. The volunteer work in town was just to get the ball rolling, I was after bigger fish. The mother of all fish. Mind you that here was a shy, repressed bachelor with a noticeable genetic hearing disability who had always sat quietly in class and never asked any questions. I wore a hearing aid and faked my way through about 50% of the questions fronted to me by relying on body language. What kind of teacher qualifications are these? But I am willing to learn… stick my neck out…and risk getting decapitated in the process.
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Working in Childcare (California 1994) YETT is a four letter word. It represents a virtue of finite patience. My dear old dad calmly watched his 36 year old eldest son going through the throes of Dreaming the Possible Dream, the Lonely Planet Guide to Bali handbook carefully positioned next to his heart on a saffron thread like a powerful amulet.

January 13th, 2010

Published by: teducation

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. 5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly. 6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship. 7. When you realise you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it. 8. Spend some time alone every day. 9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values. 10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer. Elephant at your doorway (Thailand) Well, I do feel comfortable doing one-to-one or even very small group work, but the thought of standing up in front of a classroom of adult students terrifies me. This was something I had to overcome and I damn well knew it. That’s why immediately upon completing the tutor-training programme I signed up to be a Teacher’s Aid a couple of nights a week. NO pain NO gain. Heads will roll. Part 5: Words for the Wise – Rules for the Road 11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time. 12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life. 13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past. 14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality. 15. Be gentle with the earth. 16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before. 17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other. 18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it. 19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon. About the author: His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet (Tenzin Gyatso). Spiritual leader of all Tibetan Buddhists, he is believed to be the present incarnation in a long line of descendents. His words are truly soothing to the human soul Each of us are influenced by other people. Some people in history have made outstanding acheivements or contributions. As we break for the holiday season at the true dawn of the 21st century (you mean all that hoopla last year was just hype? – better check with Arthur C. Clarke on this one) I’d like to leave you with some great thoughts to share with your fellow travelers on the road and at family reunions. This is the stuff that refrigerator magnets and office partitions are made of, a.k.a. Ann Landers columns. Even though I didn’t come up with these ideas, I do try to embody them in my daily life as an undercover agent for the Love of the Universe. Please feel free to distribute this soul food to the needy! Experience some Asian Wisdom (the author is revealed at the end): 1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk. 2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson. 3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self Respect for others and Responsibility for all your actions. If we want to learn how to become a better person ourselves, then it makes sense to study famous people. I have attempted to present here a variety of such people who have made an big impact on the world (and myself). We should not try to copy or mimic what these people have done; rather we should study their motivating influences, underlying values, idea systems and know why they were able to accomplish what they did. They thought differently than ‘ordinary’ people. Part 6: Jump into Thailand – A Walk on the Wild Side

5. ROAD FOOD – EAT MY WORDS
Source: http://chopsticksforbreakfast.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/roadfood-eat-my-words-part-5/

December 2000

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January 13th, 2010

Published by: teducation

6. LOLITA CHRISTIANS – DRESSED IN DRAG
Source: http://chopsticksforbreakfast.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/lolitachristians-dressed-in-drag-part-6/

3. Attended a reunion of Thai high school students on Christmas Eve eating a smorgasbord of Thai delights out on a chilly ocean pier (I really pity seeing Thais shiver). 4. Served coffee to visiting Police dignitaries at the regional Law Enforcement Headquarters of Chonburi Province.

Well, I’m back from my eight day Christmas 2000 holiday in Thailand. Took SwissAir SR183 from Singapore to Bangkok. It was only a one hour and 45 minute flight. By the way, you should know that the lobster casserole in Business Class is superb (this is one of the benefits of flying standby. It was also one of the cheapest R-T tickets I’ve ever got, only $265 Singapore dollars – that’s US $155.88 for you Americans).

5. Dropped in for a family chat with old friends; the husband and wife dental team of ‘The Dentist House’ at their office and took photos with three of their confused dental assistants. I used to teach English to the two daughters in the back office. 6. Sang karaoke songs up on the stage in a Thai restaurant. 7. Danced in a new disco named ‘Sonic’ owned by the local mafia chief’s daughter. The music was so loud that the bass vibrations actually shook your clothes; thump thump thump. Closing time was 4 am and it was a Tuesday night. The place was packed with curious locals aged 16 to 25. There wasn’t a foreigner in sight, but the D.J. sure picked me out of the crowd in an instant and blew my cover of anonymity.

Anyways, I just want to share with you some of the highlights. You might find some of them rather intriguing. This is the kind of neato stuff you can do after you have some experience, know the culture, and have local friends. YES, YOU CAN DO THIS TOO! Just watch and learn now, boys and girls… What I did on my Winter Vacation in Thailand 1. Spoke to 200 female students in the Business programme at a Vocational School about overseas study opportunities.

8. Performed a choreographed dance routine dressed in drag with five 13-15 year old Thai girls at the only Christian church in town in front of the entire congregation of about 30 members, including a very zealous pair of evangelical boy/girl college kids. The entire show was videotaped and played back in church the next day.

2. Had a private meeting with the General Manager of the largest private language school in Thailand, ECC (more than 50 branches and 300,000+ students).
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January 13th, 2010

Published by: teducation

9. Bought and delivered a brand new bicycle to a 5 year old boy and watched him get his knee skinned in front of his admiring friends.

(master/owner) sold me bananas to feed to his pregnant elephant. 15. Rode the new BTS (Bangkok Transit System) elevated subway with a group of Thai schoolgirls who were trying out their English on a shy 8 year old Australian boy travelling with his slightly older sister on their way to International School. 16. Bought a new Nokia 3210 handphone for 8900 baht. (you figure it out: 1 US greenback = 38 baht) 17. Interviewed and ate lunch with the foreign teaching staff of the FLC (Foreign Language Centre) at Eastern College of Technology (E-Tech) in Chonburi. This is a tertiary institution providing 3 and 5 year diploma programmes to over 6000 students. 18. Got free R-T tickets to Bangkok courtesy of the bus station attendant who was rooming at the same house I was staying in. 19. Ate horseshoe crab eggs for the first time. What’s that you say? You didn’t know you could eat horseshoe crabs? Actually, you can only eat the females which have an underbelly sac full of a mass of eggs. 20. Bought beatiful Thai silk dress shirts and boxer shorts (how much more luxurious can your underwear get?) in a Bangkok basement bazzar for tourists. Glad I had a Thai friend who could bargain the price for me. 21. Rode in a motorcycle sidecar, a tuk-tuk taxi, quite a few motorcycle taxis, hired a private song-thaew (pickup truck taxi), got stuck in a traffic jam on the elevated tollway in a semi-gas powered Bangkok metered-taxi on the way to the airport.

10. Photographed the entire smiling shy Thai McDonald’s crew. One employee remembered me from the last time I’d eaten there, about a year and a half before.

11. Had an infected big toe treated every day with iodine and herbal balm. Visited a sweatshop where almost all the residents of the apartment block worked sewing automobile seatcovers overtime on Sunday for about a dollar an hour. 12. Played a new game of iron lawn ball behind the fire station on a warm December evening in a country city with the local experts who patiently taught me the ropes. It was a combination of croquet and shot-put where the objective was to toss your 3 metal balls in such a way as to knock out your opponent and stay closest to the target ball. 13. Offered prayers, flowers, and incence to the four-faced Buddhist icon in downtown Bangkok next to Zen Centre shopping mall (no pun intended) for good luck in business. 14. Ate ‘kow-pat’ (seafood fried rice) and ‘milo-yen’ (iced-Milo chocolate drink) listening to a blind man sing Isan romantic ballads in a sandy parking lot food vendor area while a Mahout

And on the eighth day, a human being was cloned and escaped back to Singapore.

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