Daily Archives: October 8, 2014

A Modern Day Tinker

Rickee Lee, The Tinker, Me after a delicious breakfast of dim sum in Hat Yai
Rickee Lee, The Tinker, Me after a delicious breakfast of dim sum in Hat Yai

For those who think Eric and I are crazy for taking this nomadic, loosely planned cycle tour with no set itinerary or end date, we are chump change compared to the cyclist we met today. Today’s cyclist friend who calls himself a “modern day tinker” with, as he says, “gypsy” in his blood. The tinker would be a great guest at a party with some interesting stories to tell.

But, I digress. When he said he had gypsy blood, I thought he was speaking metaphorically. But when I laughed, and he didn’t crack a smile, I realized he was serious. So, here’s his story.

The tinker started traveling 24 years ago after high school (or when he dropped out, I”m not clear about that). He worked various laborer jobs: landscape, carpentry, cook, nanny, etc. to save enough money to support himself cycling. He didn’t plan a trip around the world or anything. He just found jobs on different continents : Africa, India, Latin America, Asia, Europe, etc. and cycled in between.

The reason he calls himself a modern day tinker is that during the Depression in Europe (which happened to be at the same time as our depression and, to be honest, I never really thought about any other countries having a depression) his father was a vagabond and traveled around from village to village as a tinker. In those days, the “tinkers” and vagabonds lived near and mixed with the Roma, (gypsies). So, when he said he has gypsy blood, he is being serious.

Fast forward to today, the first thing I noticed is that he’s a bit unsure about settling down. He recently married. He and his wife are expecting their first child. But, he doesn’t have permanent residency status here in Thailand and said he probably won’t apply for it even though he could being married to a Thai woman. In the meantime, he is content to make visa runs (leaving the country and reentering to get a new 90 day visa stamp) to feed his 24 year plus gypsy spirit.

The plus for us was the guided tour through Hat Yai, the delicious dim sum at the “best place in town” and the interesting conversation about places and bikes. I hope this “modern day tinker” is able to find his place in Thailand.