Celebrating his 75 year birthday, Peter Rehn is doing status over his busy and exciting life. He only regrets one single thing looking back.
“I should have found Thailand earlier,” he says.
The man behind Pattaya Country Club, Hua Hin Yacht Club and the biggest import of golf clubs to Thailand has been around and it is impossible to tell the story of Peter’s life in one article. That’s why he has just written and printed his own biography, called ‘I did it my way’. 388 pages tell the story of his long life full of adventures which has lead to where his home is now: Hua Hin in Thailand. Despite his age he is a busy man running numerous business, such as Hua Hin Yacht Club, the big, successful restaurant 3 Girls Hua Hin as well as a real estate agency.
I have wings
Peter’s story begins in Sweden in 1934 when he was born in Stockholm. He grew up in a good family and got a juristic education. He worked in an insurance company and quickly became their number one sales guy. They gave him his own fancy office but it wasn’t enough.
“I found it boring. As the only one in my family I was born with an adventure gen,” he remembers.
As a young man he hitch hiked to Africa but the real passion was not travelling on the road but on water.
“My parents owned a summer house outside Stockholm and my uncle had a sailboat and taught me how to sail. I got my first boat when I was 20 years old and now I’m on my number ten,” he says with a boyish smile.
The abrupt need for sailing has been with him all his life and has always determined his choices. It has brought him around the world but has also been haunting him.
“I’m born with wings and they have only grown stronger over the years. No one, including myself understands why I all of a sudden can skip a career, leave my wife and children and my home to get ocean breeze and freedom to sail around the world,” he says thoughtfully.
After a while he adds:
“But it gives me the absolute freedom which is very rare to have in your daily life. On the boat, you are the boss, you don’t need a passport and can go to Asia or Africa. You don’t even need any money if you can catch fish. All you need is a strong, good boat.”
Dated a princess
It was on his first, big adventure around the world for five years in the 70’s on his boat “Life V” that Peter first arrived to Thailand. He instantly liked the country and decided to settle in Pattaya. In Sweden he was still married to a beautiful, Swedish woman with whom he had children but the couple later divorced and although Peter had many women since he never got married again. Not even with the Princess of Kuwait with whom he had a love romance. She wanted to take him home, give him a new life and work for her extremely wealthy family. The pictures in his biography with him and the Princess prove the truth of the story.
“The thoughts kept running in my mind. But the Princess was not what I wanted for the rest of my life. Deep down inside I wanted to have freedom that only a yacht and the ocean can give me, so I had to turn her down in a long telegram,” he remembers.
Gold and lottery
When you take a look at the highlights of Peter’s business life there is no obvious red line. However, asking Peter they all share a main factor:
“I only do things I like and I have a feeling for success. I know instantly if a project will fail. Every time everyone says that I’m crazy I will prove them wrong. Money is not happiness. Happiness is to make money,” he says.
One big success was when Peter started the lottery ‘Svenska Lotteri AB’ which was a nationwide success. Another success was his gem stones which involved Thailand.
On his journey around the world he discovered that he could buy very cheap stones in Sri Lanka and bring them to Thailand. In Bangkok they had invented a technique to heat stones to more than 2000 degrees and slowly cool them down.
The result was deep blue sapphires that he sold to gemstone shops in Bangkok. He also started up the business Guldkontroll AB in Sweden. It was very controversial since Guldkontroll AB bought gold from the public, mainly broken things and teeth with gold fillings along with lots of old silver coins from Sweden. The gold prices increased and Peter earned a lot of money.
However, it couldn’t last, and once the gold prices dropped and the Swedish tax knocked on the door, Peter left the country immediately and went back to Thailand where he has now spent the past 28 years.
He moved to Bangkok and bought two houses on Sukhumvit soi Thonglor. He started up the Pattaya Yacht club with tourist trips from Pattaya to the undiscovered islands. It became a success but the mafia who ran the whole ocean did everything they could to stop his business. Very tragically, they ended up sinking Peter’s yacht, and killing his German captain and his girlfriend. Peter was in shock and gave up his Pattaya Yacht Club.
Instead Peter started importing golf clubs.
“I used to play golf in Sweden and it made me angry that golf clubs out here were so expensive,” Peter tells.
To solve the problem he found that the grips were made in a little town in the south of Taiwan. He flew there, got a deal to buy the grips for one dollar a piece and imported them to Thailand. He put the club together and sold them for 4500 baht a piece but no one wanted them. Only when he started selling them for 24.000 baht and up the sales boomed.
“They were suspicious of the quality when I sold them too cheap. It was a show off sport for the Thais and in the late 80’s to mid 90’s I became the biggest importer in the country,” says Peter who also began designing golf courses, among them the extremely successful Pattaya Country Club.
Seven years ago Peter moved to Hua Hin with his new Thai life-companion Tum.
“Hua Hin is the best. It’s quiet, it has golf courses, no sex business, the size of town is perfect and the beach is nice.”
He started Real Estate Hua Hin and was building hundreds of houses for Scandinavian customers. He also imported swimming pools and started up a restaurant called ‘3 Girls Hua Hin’, which is now the biggest in the area. Of course the urge for sailing kept knocking on Peter’s door, so Peter found his dream yacht in La Paz, Mexico and named it yacht Life X. However, only three days before take-off in April 2007 Peter became very sick. He had severe cancer and a heavy infection and they had to remove his prostate. After the hospitalization Peter insisted on going back to Mexico to sail the yacht back to Hua Hin even though the doctors and family warned him.
“No one has ever been able to stop me from sailing. No women, no job and no disease,” he says.
He flew to Mexico in November 07 to start the journey and was in a wheelchair on arrival. But after two days sailing he felt ten years younger and he continued his journey over the Pacific Ocean with great success. Along went a Swedish captain and Peter’s daughter and her husband.
“I’m sure the trip cured me. I could feel it instantly,” he says.
It was quite a journey and on May 08 Peter was back safe in Hua Hin. He converted the yacht into a luxury day charter boat which takes tourists on daytrips to small islands. Business is good and Peter’s boat is out every second day. Peter is still on steady ground – but not for long. Even though he definitely doesn’t need any more projects, he is already planning his next.
“I want to buy a new boat and sail her back. There is absolutely no need, I know, but I just can’t stop myself,” he says with the boyish smile.