Immigrating to another continent is a challenge for most people. Being deaf definitely doesn’t make it easier.
But Kristian Olsen is not afraid to take up a challenge, which most people in his position probably would decline right away. After 11 years in various companies in Thailand, the deaf Dane is now the manager of Thai Sunshine Developments, a real-estate-company close to the wide unspoiled beaches of Sichon.
A fatal car-ride
Kristian Olsen’s life took a drastic turn when he, aged 14, lost his hearing ability in a car crash.
“I had already tried to drive my parent’s car on the field behind our house, so I think I thought of myself as an excellent driver, but then I drove up on the road, where I lost the control of the car and ended in the ditch” he tells. The accident actually left him dead, but he was resuscitated at the hospital where he finally woke up six weeks later.
“It turned out I had a natural talent for lip-reading, when the doctor was talking to the nurse I actually thought, that I could hear what he said. That made it a bit easier for me to adjust the new circumstances of my life, that I still could have a conversation with my friends” Kristian Olsen explains. Despite his accident he considers himself lucky.
“I could hear the first 14 years of my life, so I had a good understanding of the language. In addition I could speak both English and German by that age, and that has really help me later – especially here in Thailand” he says.
Stair cleaning only
The main reason why Kristian Olsen left Denmark was the lack of job opportunities for disabled people.
“I have a university-degree in Computer Sciences but I could not get a job, I guess my hearing disability scares most employers. Like most other deaf people, the only jobs I could get was cleaning stairs and likewise” he says. These discouraging prospects made Kristian Olsen start searching for alternative opportunities of pursuing his dreams.
“Basically I had the choice between doing a job, that wasn’t at all related to my education or staying at home on an invalidity pension doing nothing, and none of them applied to me at all. I really don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I know that I had a lot of help and support from the system. But I think that Denmark is missing out on a great labour potential by rejecting the deaf” he ads.
Easy place to be deaf
A vacation to Thailand made the Dane completely fall in love with the country, so much that he in 1998 decided to settle there. In the beginning as a visa-agent and property broker in Pattaya and Phuket, but after a trip to the unspoiled coast of Sichon in the south-eastern part of Thailand, he knew that here was his home.
“I love Thailand, and actually it is much easier for me being deaf out here. Thais use much more gestures when they speak, so that makes it easier for me. I also feel like I get more respect out here than I do in Denmark. Back home I get the help I need but no respect, and I prefer being respected”, Kristian Olsen states, adding that the rather remote location in the south-western part of Thailand suites him well.
“Sichon is beautiful. It is much more quit and peaceful here, even though it’s only a short drive from lively cities such as Krabi” he says.
From visa to real-estate
Today he lives in a short distance to the white beach along with wife and business partner Kanidtha Sasen and 2-year old son Sami. Using most of his waken hours of their real-estate company, which recently became a part of the prestigious Bali-based company Exotiq Real Estate.
“Before I signed with Exotiq I asked the director if he had a problem with my disability, and his answer was simple, as long that I can close a deal, like I have done the latest years, it is not a problem. Moreover, the fact that a company of this size have chosen Sichon for the location of their newest office implies that there is a real estate boon on its way in the area ”, says Kristian Olsen. Even though he likes the new challengers and spending time with his hearing family and friends he have not forgot what its like being disabled.
“One of my dreams is to build a resort for disabled people here in Sichon, with a generous amount of helpers and a wheelchair-ramp down to the ocean, the disabled can have a taste of paradise too”, the ambitious Dane explains proving that his sense of business is still very much alive.
Read more on Kristians activities on www.thaisunshinedevelopments.com og www.sichon.info