Allan Ottesen was six years old when he and his mother swapped Pad Thai and beaches for Danish meatballs and rain, while his father stayed in Thailand.
“My mum is a Thai living in Denmark, and my dad is a Dane living in Thailand,” Allan says.
He lived with his mother and stepfather in Brønshøj in the Northern part of Copenhagen and went to school in the centre of the capital as a child.
Later, he went to business college and spent half a year in Australia before he decided to study financing at Syddansk University in Copenhagen.
But after 20 years in Denmark, Allan’s father, Ib Ottesen, was ready to bring his son back to Thailand, so he could give a hand with his businesses. The Residence Garden near Pattaya City and Jomtien Boathouse. Furthermore, the plan was to extend the business with apartments in Jomtien.
“I basically got a flight ticket in the post, the day I completed my bachelor’s degree,” Allan says.
“Apparently my dad’s plan all along was that I should go to Thailand.”
And though moving to Thailand was not initially in Allan’s calendar, it did not take him long to pack his bags and head for Pattaya, the well-known destination he so often visited anyway.
“My studies were over, so I thought, let’s get going.”
As soon as Allan arrived, he discovered that working in Thailand is not comparable to the jobs he had in Denmark.
“I started asking about holiday pay, the union, five-day working weeks, overtime and all that kind of stuff. He (Ib Ottesen) just laughed at me, so we didn’t talk about that again.”
Instead, Ib Ottesen introduced him to his ambitious plans. On a napkin at Jomtien Boathouse.
He wanted to build apartments just a few streets from where the two were sitting.
“I was going to be the salesperson,” Allan recalls about the day some 12 years back.
Straight out of university, the 25-year-old was now part of his father’s business and today he is a co-owner along with his father and stepmother.
“It was a short-cut to an executive position,” Allan says but adds that it was not what he intended to do with his university degree.
He was hoping to get a job in the shipping business and get posted somewhere. And though he is his own boss part of the time, he is still part of the duty roster on term with the employees.
“I do everything. I’m a real estate agent, a waiter, you name it.”
Because even though Allan is the son of the boss, he is not favoured in any way according to himself. And it is not a given that he will inherit the business after his father.
But he enjoys his work and he is open for what the future brings.
Right now, he has no plans of staying and no plans of leaving.
Pros and cons of exotic ethnicity
When asked if he misses Denmark, Allan has to think about it.
“Not particularly. It’s a bit more fun here (in Pattaya) than back home (in Denmark).”
While he misses his mother and friends, he gets enough of Denmark after a week, he says. Besides, his address makes for a good excuse for his Danish friends to visit Thailand.
He also has Danish friends in Thailand, but to him it does not matter, that they are from Denmark. It is purely coincidence. He always felt at home in both cultures and countries.
Moving to Thailand was therefore no problem for Allan. And as soon as he made the move, he also got a Thai citizenship, because he was born in Thailand.
“It’s definitely an advantage being fluent in two languages and holding two passports.”
But while he is happy that he does not have to struggle with Thailand’s immigration laws, he has also received a bit of headwind due to his mixed genes. In Denmark, he looks full-blooded Thai to everyone, he explains.
“Sometimes I couldn’t get into clubs in Denmark, because I looked foreign. And in Thailand I sometimes can’t get in because I don’t look foreign,” Allan laughs.