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by Boonsiri Suansuk


Successfully Yours: Dai Coe

by Dr. Iain Corness

Dai Coe is a Welshman who loves music (a national characteristic) and one who even borrowed the lines from pop singer Lynard Skynard to describe himself as, “I’m a travellin’ man.”

Born in Milford Haven in S.W. Wales he was the eldest of three sons to an oil company maintenance man and his wife. He grew up in a typical British way, going to the Secondary Modern school, with no real expectations of a different lifestyle from a wife, a job and two kids.

In the traditional way, he was indentured as a welder and began his apprenticeship at the Technical College. However, after two years of this, his life changed. The company employing him went bankrupt, his indentures were cancelled and he was now totally without any future.

After 12 months of factory work, the young Dai realised he needed skills if he were to get on in this world and so he joined the British Army, being posted to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers where he was trained as a welder/fabricator.

He spent 10 years in the army, where, as well as skills, he was given the opportunity of travel, visiting such places as Belize in Central America, the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, the Falklands (just after the troubles), and Cyprus and Germany (long after their “troubles”).

His decision to leave a good career in the army was based on the fact that when de-mobbed, if he stayed the entire 22 years, he would be 45 years old, a difficult age to start a new career, and there was also the call of the oil and gas industry, where he knew that good money could be found. After all, his father and two uncles were all involved in that industry.

To heighten his chances in that field he returned to college to complete a course in Quality Control and Non-Destructive Testing. After that he was ready and took his first appointment with British Gas as a pipeline inspector, but after a few months the travel bug was there, taking him to Nigeria, where he stayed for 3 years with ELF, the French national petroleum firm.

After Nigeria and some “interesting” times there in the scam capital of the world Dai moved to Abu Dhabi to continue working in the oil and gas industry. He was actually offered work in Thailand at that time, but turned it down. However, a mate took the post and settled down in Pattaya, telling Dai about life here.

By this stage it was 1995 and more of his mates had experienced Thailand too, and so, after their encouragement, Dai decided to come over here and got a posting with the refinery in Maptaput.

Like so many before him, in his words, “I fell in love with the country, I fell in love with the people and I fell in love with a lady.” He stayed here for his contracted 12 months, but in the last week before he was due to finish his girlfriend was killed in a hit and run accident. Again this was an incident to change his life’s direction. “I decided I didn’t want to leave Thailand. I didn’t want to work. I wanted to take some time off and collect my thoughts.”

During this time of collection and recollection, and through a shared love of music, Dai and Kim Fletcher (now Shenanigans landlord) became friends. Kim arranged for Dai to become involved in the management of the well known TQ2 bar and the original 3 month job ended up as 14 months. Dai said this was not, as I had suggested, a form of escapism from the traumatic event in his life. “Death is part of life. If you don’t accept this you cannot live a full life,” he said philosophically.

However, he was by then ready for the mainstream and again accepted a position with British Gas, a corporation that had rung him annually for many years to check on his availability.

It did not take long, however, before Dai, the travellin’ man, was back to the Middle East to build pipelines and work as a general construction and maintenance contract foreman. With the work roster of 6 weeks on and 3 weeks off, this would give him more time to be in Thailand. For Dai, that represents 18 weeks holiday a year - 18 weeks that he spends here. For him, it is worth the privations of living in a porta-cabin in an environment that encompasses such diverse conditions as 5 degrees Celsius on winter nights and 50 degrees Celsius night and day in summer. “To work in desolate conditions you have to enjoy your own company. I watch TV and read a book and I am in bed by 8.30 to be up at 4.30 the next morning to start the whole process again.” The hardships do not faze Dai, but there is one form of employment that he is not ready for, “The thing that scares me more than anything else is a nine to five job in the UK!”

For someone like Dai Coe, success is “Achieving what you want to do.” For him, this has been achieved. “I’m very happy at the moment. I have found a very nice lady and a stepdaughter I adore. As long as I’m enjoying work and coming home to see my family, I’ll do this until I’m 60, and then I might call it a day.”

From this very different background, Dai’s advice for others is merely “Be true to yourself. You only have one life so do what you’re comfortable with.”

For Dai, that comfort includes his hobbies as reading, with the preferred subject material being history and philosophy, music and the Hash House Harriers. “I consider myself to be a very lucky man. I have family and friends and I just enjoy being at home for the 3 weeks.” The simple life of the successful “travellin’ man!”

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