Posts Tagged ‘canadian retired in thailand’

It was the 1980’s and it never occurred to us that we were on the vanguard of a new movement. The idea that we could suddenly do a very rudimentary form of communication and commerce over the latest invention, the ‘internet’ was an idea we picked up on instinctively. Trisha became active in a ‘cyber world’ called ‘Bulletin Boards’, originally reserved for scientists and military…a messaging system that predated email and the World Wide Web, communicating with like minded persons over painfully slow dial up modems that squawked and screeched for several minutes while chewing through the ancient bandwidth of crude telecommunications technology of the time before connecting. The term ‘digital nomad’ wouldn’t be invented for another twenty five years. People thought we were mad for even attempting what we’d embarked on.

‘Graphics’ at the time meant ‘graph’….not pictures. But, we instantly knew how the new medium would free us from our standing constraints….I could still conduct my business in the financial world and we could home school our child through British Columbia Canada’s excellent and still nascent ‘Distance Education System’. The minute we realized how quickly we could cut ties to work, mortgages and schooling….we were gone. Trish would continue to build her own ‘Franken-machines’ from remote locations.

Initially the hardware and wiring we had to carry was enough to fill several large bags and when we went through an airport it looked as if we were moving enough electronics to set up a satellite relay. Thank God for miniaturization. The industrial step down transformer we carried weighed at least forty pounds. For a time my son actually thought we were spies and we still joke about that.

That was the 80’s and the ‘internet’ as a interpersonal communications medium was only a few months old, personal computing was something only a small collection of ‘nerds’ had access to…and like my super nerdy wife, built their own machines from parts gleaned at Radio Shack and a secret coven of back alley electronics stores and mail order. The latest conversations over BBB system were about writing the latest DOS code, floppy disk space, Kilobytes and a mysterious new invention called ‘a motherboard’. The personal desk top computer was years away from being commercially available.

the original digital nomad

the original digital nomad

End of Part One

I just arrived back in Thailand and the season is already changing. I know what’s ahead when the Songkran Monsoon begins. I cringe at the thought of months of prickly heat powder and wet sheets soaked in copious perspiration at night.  Thai people celebrate the beginning of the rice planting season, but I know they’ll be as miserable as I over the coming months. Rainy season is also mosquito season…arrgghh!.

“It’s happening too fast”, I think. I’m writing with a towel on the desk, otherwise beading armpit sweat runs down and would likely flood my keyboard. I don’t remember Thailand being this hot so early in the year, but people tend to suppress bad memories instead of reminding themselves that it’s the same every year. I don’t look what temperature it is… it’s really freaking hot. A passing storm poured down overnight and cleared the air but the humidity is outrageous….like steam rising from a boiling kettle.

I have just received a permanent resident visa, good until I’m not welcome in the kingdom anymore. This is the fortieth anniversary of my first visit to Thailand and I’ve never been sure of my status….aside from being officially ‘farang’. Did I do the right thing? Will I be able to wear a shirt with sleeves and long pants anytime over the next eight months?

I passed a fellow on the BTS train platform this morning looking as if he’d showered in his suit. No one ever really acclimates to this heat…even the most demure of Thai’s sweat like dogs when they think you’re not looking.

“Take your jacket off fool”, I wanted to suggest, knowing by his actions that he was a newbie to the tropics and he’d either learn to adapt or die. My sweat glands will continue to gush like an artesian well for hours because I run on a treadmill every morning in an air conditioned fitness room overlooking a turquoise swimming pool I find too cold to use.

So many once famous people are dying on the front pages. I run as if I’m running away from a rampant pandemic affecting people my age. The society page obituary is now a daily occurrence, a rolling commentary of who used to be famous and influential. The media is discreet and respectful, saying these passing stars have died from ‘complications’. That diagnosis worries me…I’ve lived a very complicated life….am I next?

Personally I’ve never known anyone who’s died…aside from my parents whom I didn’t really know. They died within months of each other and it makes me glad that I married  a young woman who’s nervous energy keeps me young. Maybe it’s a good thing I’ve never made many casual friends. It’s saved me from attending any funerals. I’m OK with that. So what do I do? I move back to Thailand. Does that make any sense? I might have died of boredom if I’d stayed in Canada.

At 61 I had a choice to make, continue living the vagabond lifestyle of international travel and bird flipping irreverence or…lease a yellow Cadillac and take up golf…waiting for grandchildren to appear. My choice was the former, it could be the death of me, but I doubt it. I feel more alive here than anywhere I know. Thailand is a second home. Let’s see where this takes us…shall we. I have lot’s more to complain about. Thailand is my last resort.