On the walls and shelves of Niels Colov’s huge office in the newly refurbished Pattaya People Building in South Pattaya you find all kinds of diplomas and plaquettes. Not diplomas of masters’ degrees or something like that. Most of them are given to him as an appreciation of donations made to charity in the Pattaya-region. But Niels Colov does not only donate to charity. He puts a lot of effort into getting others to do so.
“But in order to ask others to donate money for a course, you will have to contribute your self first, which I do not mind doing at all. On the contrary, I feel privileged to be able to help other people, who happen to be less fortunate,” Niels Colov says just before answering two phone calls.
Being managing director and editor-in-chief of the Pattaya People newspaper, radio and tv-station, one would think that would be enough work to take up Niels Colov’s time. Especially when he on top of that manages to run a business selling health products, co-owns a lawyer firm, a Thai boxing stadium and lots more. But still Niels Colov find time to be a member of roughly speaking almost every organisation in the Pattaya-area. He is member of Rotary, Lions Club, he is a scout leader in the Thai National Scout committee, he plays football, he is member of the local chamber of commerce, Pattaya Expats Club, the union of Pattaya Entrepreneurs and lots more, but time is not a problem for him.
“I am always asked how I manage to do so many things. It is quite simple. I just doing it bit by bit and doing charity work is extremely satisfying to me. It makes my life meaningful, and I spend a least half of my time doing charity work,” Niels Colov tells smilingly in the car on his way to receive another plaquette. During the 10 minute drive, he makes and answers four phone calls.
But according to Niels Colov it is not a question of being a Good Samaritan. He does charity out of interest.
“I simply like communicating with people. I like to connect with them. With real people. If you are only doing business, you become dumber, because all you talk about is business. And I see myself as a creative person rather than a business man,” he says.
Niels Colov is not just trying to change things by donating money to charity and encouraging others to do so. He uses his media company to promote his views of things that needs to be changed.
“In every issue of the newspaper I write an editorial expressing things that I would like to see change around here. It can be how we get some more positive tourism here or what to do with crime. In general things that need to be taken care of and quite often the people in power read my suggestions and realize them. I do not mind contacting the authorities directly to ask them to respond to a certain matter. But I never just criticize. I always propose a solution to the issue at hand,” Niels Colov emphasizes back in the car after having received his plaquette. This time on his way to do an interview for his TV channel. More phone calls are made.
Asking for change does not always make you friends. Niels Colov tells that he is often criticized for the stories in the newspapers and on TV. Stories that shows crimes and other controversial issues. But Niels Colov does not understand the criticism.
“If we want to change something, we need to expose it. To bring the public attention to the issue. Only by exposing a problem, we can do something about it and get rid of it,” he says.
Niels Colov was born and raised in Denmark north of Copenhagen. Having finished Secondary school, he did a supplementary course at the Copenhagen Open University, before graduating a chemical laboratory technician. Right after that he started studying chemical engineering at the Danish Engineering Academy in Copenhagen.
“I am not really sure why I wanted to be an engineer. It might have something to do with my grandfather. He wanted to be an engineer, but went into law school in stead and even though he had a very brilliant career in his field, he always wondered how it would have been to be an engineer. I was quite close to my grandfather and that might have influenced my choice of study,” 57 year old Niels Colov tells.
But Niels Colov never finished his studies. His girlfriend at the time thought that all that studying was getting him nowhere, so she made him start doing business in stead. Right after quitting the engineering academy Niels Colov had a few summer houses build. But in the late 70’s he started working in the film industry.
The father of one of Niels’ acquaintances asked whether he could be interested in buying films and promoting them. Niels Colov thought the film market was going to bloom, and for that reason he established the companies Filmselskabet Danmark and Video International that dealt with movies for cinemas and videos. Business was doing well, but one very early morning Niels Colov received a call that turned out to have great significance to his life.
“On Majorca I met a Spaniard, Gregory, who owned a restaurant. He became my friend, but we had not talked for a few years when out of the blue he called me. He had sold the restaurant, been travelling around the world and at 4.30 that morning he landed in Copenhagen and of course we would get together,” Niels Colov says with a smile.
However, Gregory was not too pleased with the cold Danish weather and he wanted to leave Denmark again straight away.
“Now I was awake, so I went to see him anyway, as I thought we should have a chat. He talked about his travels around the world. He was especially fond of a fish restaurant he had been to in Bangkok. Let us go there then, I said, called a friend at Spies Rejser and a few hours later we were on our way to Bangkok,” Niels Colov says with a grin on his face thinking of his first trip to Asia.
The plan was only to be there for a day, but plans can change.The guys met an American and they ended up having quite a few drinks so they had to stay there one more day. Not that Niels Colov really minded.
“I was overwhelmed when I first came to Thailand. The heat, all the smells and all the nice people. It was really fascinating, not at all like Spain,” he says.
Coping with their hangovers the guys wanted to go home the next day, but what to do in Bangkok till they could catch their plane? With a hangover like that the beach seemed to be the right place. A taxi driver would bring them there.
“He suggested a place called Pattaya. We asked whether it was far away. No, no, he said. We started driving, and we drove on and on for what seemed to be forever, but finally we got there. But we did not want to do any more business with that taxi driver,” Niels Colov laughs.
Pattaya really got in Niels Colov’s blood.
“It is this big melting pot. You have people from all parts of Thailand and from all over the world. I really enjoyed talking and being with real people that could speak about others things than business,” he says.
Niels Colov started coming to Pattaya quite often and he stayed there for longer and longer periods of time. First a month at a time, then half the year in Denmark and half the year in Pattaya, while still taking care of Filmselskabet Danmark till that went bankrupt.
“That left me with a choice. I could either start from scratch in Denmark or in Thailand. But to start over in Denmark would be to repeat my self and I found it more challenging to move to Thailand,” Niels Colov says.
For the last 20 years Niels Colov has been doing a lot of business in Pattaya. Starting off with owning half a guesthouse, moving on to co-owning the first computer store in Pattaya, which made him realize the potentials of computers and brought him in to publishing. His first publication was a Pattaya tourist pocket guide; with two partners he started The Pattaya Mail before starting the Pattaya People newspaper and TV channel.
As a Buddhist Niels Colov consider life to be a journey and a rather short one.
“I have tried a lot of things in my life and I have a good life. This is my home. I have my wife, my three sons are all born here and I really care about this city. The last station on the journey of my life? Pattaya!”