At their meeting on Wednesday, December 2, the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) welcomed back Brad Walker as guest speaker. Brad had previously given a presentation to the PCEC in February 2015 telling some aspects of his interesting life, which he elaborated on at this meeting.
He also provided two additional presentations highlighting two humorous books he authored about living in Thailand. The first is an informative book entitled “Amazing Thailand: The Farang’s Guide for Good Living in the Land of Smiles” providing information on some of the lessons he learned. This was followed by “Welcome to Amazing Kedon Village – Who would be crazy enough?” about his experience in living in a small village in Thailand. Both books are available from Asia Books.
Brad began his presentation by noting this was his “71st trip around the Sun,” mentioning the two books he authored which he had copies available for sale (proceeds to help educate children from Kedon Village) as well as Hawaii style shirts which he had on display. This was followed by describing some events in his life including a serious illness treated here in Thailand during which he “flatlined.”
The first event he talked about took place in 1970 in Isla Vista California. This was during a period of student protests and riots against the Vietnam War. In February of that year, a student protest became a riot and the mob set the Bank of America building on fire. Brad said he didn’t participate but knew several that did.
He then related an escapade of his that involved making a fake bomb with a loud clicking clock attached. He and some friends placed it in a dumpster near where a protest was taking place. The resultant police, fire department, and bomb squad activity resulted in the protest dissolving, so no riot. However, Brad and friends were later arrested in his apartment and charged with planting a bomb, but with the assist of a very good lawyer, the charges were dismissed as the prosecution couldn’t prove it was a real bomb as they claimed.
Brad mentioned his sailing career when he sailed to Hawaii by himself without any navigating experience. Fortunately, he did arrive without mishap. Later, he was captaining a motorized boat from the USA to Hawaii even though their “mechanic” was unable to make the trip. Yes, there was a breakdown. The water pump used to cool the engine had failed and they couldn’t fix it. They had a deck pump which they then used for this purpose, but they needed to use all their fresh water. A dire situation Brad said, but they did have beer which they used to sustain themselves long enough to reach their destination a few days later.
He then talked about another event in his life. It was a surfing incident where he lost his board, was submerged, but managed to see a “light” as he was almost out of air and surfaced just in time for a few gulps of air before going under again, then resurfacing. He said this near-death experience is what caused him to quit surfing.
This event was followed by another involving his getting into the television business and the trials he encountered in taking a group on tour to Russia for his “Water in Hawaii” production. Although the movie was produced, Brad said he decided based on that experience that producing TV shows was not a career for him.
Brad described how he made a fortune when he obtained the rights to the Kamehameha name (Hawaii shirts). He spent $25 of his last $80 to register the name and was shortly thereafter offered $50,000 for the label. Brad said he declined as he felt Hawaii style shirts would become popular again. They did and his business went to $2 million in sales per year. He was offered $2 million and again refused; a big mistake as sales tanked and in the following year, 2001, when sales his annual sales dropped to only $50,000. No one it seemed wanted Hawaii style shirts. He closed the company and moved to Indonesia and later Thailand.
In 2005, Brad found a new life in Thailand where he met and married a Thai woman. They eventually moved to her village of Kedon in Esan. Although he and his wife separated, his mother in law liked him and told his wife that the house was his to live in.
Brad finished his presentation by describing a heart problem that landed him in the hospital in Korat and how it was necessary to wait for surgery because he had to provide his own blood. After his surgery and during his stay in the hospital, he contracted a strain of pneumonia that was supposed to be incurable and he was not expected to live. Although separated, his wife stayed with him at the hospital and told the doctors “no” when they wanted to take him off life support. She contacted a close friend of his in Pattaya who immediately went to see him in Korat. This was very fortunate, because his friend then put a message on Brad’s Facebook page about his condition. This resulted in another friend whose daughter was a nurse bringing her with him when he came to visit. This saved his life as the friend’s daughter knew of a drug that was effective against the pneumonia strain he had. This allowed him to resurrect his Hawaii shirt business as they had again become popular.
After the presentation, MC Les Edmonds brought everyone up to date on latest events followed by the Open Forum, where attendees can make comments or ask questions about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya. To view a video of the presentation, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgk7rNGJsvQ
For more information visit the PCEC’s website at www.pcec.club