Hot Seat

Andy Hill

Andy H (or Aitch as he's better known) is the webmaster behind Mrroomfinder.com, one of Thailand's most popular apartment websites. What a lot of people don't know is that this extremely likable Cambridge lad was teaching in Bangkok as long ago as 1994. Since then, life has been something of a roller-coaster. Say what you like about Aitch, he's always got an interesting tale to tell.

Q

Aitch, you and I first met when we both taught for Berlitz in the early 90's. I can still remember some of those great stories you'd tell in the teacher's room about your travels around India and Nepal. So you were disillusioned with life in the UK, decided to travel a bit and then ended up in Thailand, where you 'fell' into teaching. Have I got that about right?

A

That’s about it Phil. Not that I was carrying any kind of resentment about life back home, in fact I love the place during the summer months, and I enjoyed getting out and about with mates at the weekend, but by crikey those dark British winters do drag on a bit, and I just felt that it was time to follow the sun around and experience a bit more daylight while I had the chance.

The original idea was NOT to teach here in Thailand, oh no, I had other plans which carried a bit more ambition and financial reward. I heard that Egypt had 6 TEFL courses running at various times throughout the year, and as they were about half the price of those conducted in the UK. I thought I’d study over there and suck in a bit of the local culture while I was at it. Once completed, I was to take a 10 day holiday in Thailand and then move onto Hong Kong. From HK I planned to live on tranquil Lamma island and commute into the city each day by ferry, where I hoped to rake in the $$$$$ giving private English lessons to the HK Chinese.

To cut a very long story short, I arrived in Cairo just as one course was ending and another beginning, and it was some months later before a new one was due to start. Why I was so opportunist about getting on a TEFL course simply by turning up I don’t know, and my timing couldn’t have been worse if I’d planned it.

Well, as I was already there, I took a 3 week trip up and down the Nile on an elegant Egyptian felucca, which is an ancient sailing boat powered simply by wind and oar. I could tell you about a couple of tricky situations I got into over there, but hey, that’s nothing for this interview right!

Anyway, after my Egyptian adventures, I still planned to do the Hong Kong thingy and simply lie or falsify my missing educational qualifications and background, but first I had to stop over in Thailand for my 10 day trip as planned. I think I landed at Don Muang airport around mid June 1994 amid a very heavy monsoon. There was a lot of flash flooding and I remember it took over 2 hours to reach downtown Bangkok.

After being here a few days, the Thai way of life must have really appealed to me because I ended up settling for about 3 and a half sodding years. I never did make it to Hong Kong, well not until a decade later, and then it was as a tourist, not a teacher!

Q

Apart from the punishing schedules (sometimes a 13-hour working day) what memories - good or bad - do you have about that first teaching gig on Sukhumvit Road?

A

Firstly, let me point out that my first teaching job in Thailand was my first teaching job ever, and to say that I was a little nervous leading up to the event is a gross understatement. I remember that Monday morning as I perched over a Thai style bog for what seemed like a lifetime. It felt like I was giving birth to a baby rhinoceros and I wondered if this newly acquired irritable bowel was going to make me late for my first day as a Berlitz English teacher! You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and I needed to be late on day 1 of my new career like a hole in the frigging head!

I’d never had to stand up in front a group of people before in an attempt to educate them, nor did I have any formal training to prepare me for such, but as it turned out I was worrying over nothing. I’d been pole vaulting over mouse poop and running all kinds of catastrophic role plays over in my head which proved to be totally unfounded.

That first ever class of 4 giggling office gals was a walk in the park, and I could barely wait for that next lesson to commence. And to think I’d wasted all those days previous worrying! It’s like my grandmother used to say; You die if you worry and you die if you don’t. So why worry? Hmm! Easier said than done granny!

Ok, so what were the really good memories? Indisputably the laughs we teachers had in those early days. There’s no question of doubt about that! Remember Triangle-head Phil? Ha ha lol! (private joke!). Oh and let’s not forget Elvis (one of the teachers), tucking and pouting as he strutted his psychedelic shirts and loud ties in full view of the tittering Thai students. The non-stop banter that went on in that windowless teacher’s room easily compensated for the poor pay and zero rights we had as English conversation tutors.

But all good things come to an end, and life at Berlitz was no exception. It was about 10 months later when I got fed up putting on that invisible clowns outfit and entertaining students who seemed more interested in my private life than they ever were with comprehending and developing their English language skills.

In addition to the above, there was the drudgery of the so called Berlitz teaching method which was based on the asking and answering of yes/no, or, and WH questions. And just to make sure you didn’t drift away from their ‘proven’ method, each classroom was bugged with a concealed microphone so that academic directors and head teachers (hi Dave) could listen in on your lessons at random to make sure you were adhering to the ‘technique’.

Picture this; you’re in a classroom with a tired middle aged Japanese businessman who doesn’t want to be there anymore than you do at 08:30 PM. However, he’s there because his employer expects him to improve his Basic English language skills. You’re both cooped up in a 12 ft square room with nothing but a small round table, 2 chairs, a concealed mic, and a deficient air-conditioning unit rattling irritably in the background.

Aitch: Hello Mr. Yamazaki. Is the pen on the floor?

Mr. Yamazaki. No it’s noto.

Aitch: Is the pen on the table?

Mr. Yamazaki. Yes it iso.

Aitch: Is the pen on the floor – OR – on the table?

Mr. Yamazaki. It’s on……………. the table-o!

Aitch: Where is the pen?

Mr. Yamazaki. It’s on the table-o

Aitch: Very good Mr. Yamazaki. Now ask me if the pen is on the floor!

And so it went on and on. Bloody hell, I get tight and tired just thinking about it!!!

So as you can imagine, this persistent boredom and misery soon transformed this once low paid happy camper into a disgruntled schoolteacher, and so it was time to move on to pastures new and get a little more academic stimulation and cash in the bank.

Q

You then moved on to ELS in the Hua Mark area (and I came as well) That was an altogether different type of teaching wasn't it?

A

ELS really was a breath of fresh air after Berlitz. To begin with, there was a lot of variety in what was being taught and the ways to teach it. Also, there were more working-class groups than spoilt rich kids, and most importantly, the majority of the students wanted to be there as opposed to being sent there against their will by pushy parents or local employers. It was still the 9 AM to 9 PM gig with a few staggered free periods in between, but that was all part and parcel of teaching at the high street schools.

Q

I don't want to dwell on this Aitch but you were let go from ELS in what I can honestly say was one of the worst miscarriages of teaching justice I've ever witnessed. Sorry if it still rankles but I think it's a story worth telling. What happened?

A

It’s not really much of a story Phil, or certainly not to those unfamiliar with the situation, but as it’s one of your questions, here it is to the best of my memory.

Up until this point, I’d never been sacked from any job (and I’ve had a few), and I’ve never been sacked since, but I was told by the then academic director of ELS in Bkk to clear my desk and leave immediately. I think I’d been there about a year at this point. Anyway, here’s what happened:

I had this evening class twice a week which was made up of mixed level students. I think there were 2 fellas and 3 young women. 4 of the group were Thai, and one lady was Taiwanese. The Taiwanese Ms, had decided that she didn’t like me at all or my teaching style. She apparently convinced the other students that I was less than adequate and bad value for money. None of this was obvious to me at the time and I thought the class was ticking along pretty nicely on all accounts.

In the teaching game, it’s just not possible for all students to like all teachers, no matter how popular they are generally, and personally I never had a problem with being disliked once in a while. If you’re an egomaniac who suffers with an inferiority complex, then teaching is definitively not a good career choice as you will from time to time get a bad rap from someone.

It’s not possible to click with all students all of the time, but both she (Ms Taiwan) and I seemed to get on reasonably well during each lesson. She even flirted with me on ocassion in front of the class, offering to cook up a nice Taiwanese meal for us one weekend, or take me to a classical music concert. But despite all the fake frolicking, she apparently had it in for me without my knowledge.

Anyway, on the day of the new term, this class arrived only to be told by the academic director that they had got me again for another stretch. I was told the Taiwanese woman protested strongly about this and she not only insisted on having a different teacher, but demanded I be fired from the job. Still to this day I have absolutely no idea what I did that upset her so much.

At the start of class, my group of 6 had just 1 student turn up who was a new starter. The rest of the old group reluctantly joined the period half way through accompanied by the director, who sat quietly at the back of the classroom as the others settled into their seats. There were no apologies or reasons given for their late arrival, and Monitor Man gave no warning to say he’d be observing the session. You could have cut the atmosphere with a bloody knife and I just had to ask them if there was a problem I should know about. The response I got was vacant stares and the silent treatment. I tell you, it was the longest hour of my teaching career and my voice was the only voice that spoke for the entire time.

At the end of class, Monitor Man pushed his way past me and without making eye contact muttered through the corner of his mouth that I was to report to his office at 9 o’ clock sharp the following morning. The students scurried out behind him without saying a word, and I went home none the wiser still wondering what the f*ck was going on. The new addition to the group, poor kid, must have left the premises wondering what kind of outfit she had just enrolled at!

The next day I knocked on the door of the academic director’s office and was met by him and a head teacher from one of their other schools, who I assume he’d invited over for support. So anyway, he explained to me that the students didn’t like me, and the Taiwanese lady in particular had demanded my resignation for wasting her time and money on the previous term.

He went on to say that the group requested a different teacher for the new period, but that he had decided to reject their appeal. He said that the school cannot not allow students to dictate who teaches them and who doesn’t. I replied by saying that surely if a class asks for a certain teacher, then what’s wrong with keeping them happy and obliging their request as paying customers? After all, we were all qualified to teach the same materials, and it was just the beginning of a new term, therefore there wouldn’t be any major disruption to any of the classes.

I also pointed out that it would be impossible for me to now go another term with this class after it has just been pointed out to me I was despised by everyone in the group. They didn’t want me, and so I didn’t want them back. I suggested we swap classes and teachers and stop making a major deal out of a minor issue. Well, he was having none of it and said that I had to go another full term with this class from hell and win them over, or, face the consequences.

I was a bit riled at this point and said something along the lines of; “After what you’ve just told me, you wouldn’t get me back into that class if you held a gun at my head.” As you can imagine, that didn’t go down well at all, and the AD stood up, vigorously wagged his finger about 4 inches from my face and told me to clear my desk and get off the premises within 30 minutes or he’d set security on me – as if they were some kind of wild merciless beasts!!!

I might have lost my job, but at least the class got to change their teacher! I remember thinking to myself that this highly strung AD will get his comeuppance one day as what goes around usually comes around. However, what eventually happened to him, I wouldn’t have wished for on my worst enemy.

He ended up not only losing his job, but losing his life too. Apparently, he was murdered some 2 or 3 years later in Bangkok by a young Thai guy. He died of multiple stab wounds, as the story goes. That’s about all I know about that, as I’d been back home in the UK for a couple of years when this news broke out….

Q

Yes, his death, or rather his murder, was a very nasty business indeed. When you walked out of ELS for the final time, you decided to go down the freelance route. You'll forgive me for saying so but it wasn't entirely successful if I remember right?

A

You’re right, it didn’t turn out to be the break I’d been yearning for, but that wasn’t because the work wasn’t out there because it was. I guess I was just too tired and too lazy to get re-motivated. I remember spending most of my days down at the pool of a nearby hotel or leisurely strolling around the shopping malls of greater Bangkok.

I carried on for a year or so after ELS, and got just enough work to keep me ticking over, but I’d definitely had enough of the teaching malarkey by now. The hours were crap, the pay was terrible, and I came to realise that I was not genuine teaching material, but I had to try it out to know this. Some people love it, others do it purely for the money but don’t really enjoy it, and the rest loath the profession altogether and steer well clear of it. I’d worked my way through all 3 categories in methodical order.

It wasn’t all bad though, and there were a lot of laughs along the way, plus I made some good friends in Bangkok, but I just knew that at 37 years old, it was right for this Ajarn to hang up his pantomime costume and not look back.

Q

Eventually you decided to return to the UK. How difficult was it to land employment seeing as you'd been away for so long?

A

Ha! Life begins at 40, or so they say! That’s a laugh! Begins what at 40? I was soon to find out when I hit British soil back in October 1997! There was so much technology being used in so many jobs. I remember an unemployed builder saying to me in at the local job agency “If you’re not young, dynamic, and educated for the modern workplace, then it’s shelf stacking or cleaning toilets for you my old coffin dodger!” It was a pretty negative statement to make, but unfortunately there was a fair bit of truth in what he’d just said.

I soon came to realise that today’s 40ish is the new 50ish. If you’re already in work, then it’s not such a problem, but find yourself looking for employment in late 30’s and above, then you’ll be knocking on a lot of doors before anyone let’s you in. This doesn’t apply if you’ve got some very unique skills to offer which are in high demand and short supply, but I guess that rules out a large segment of the UK working population.

After about 6 months of few opportunities, I decided to invest in myself and embark on a career change. I enrolled for a 12 month full-time course in Information Technology and User Support of IT. I did well and caught on quick. 1 year later and armed with my newly acquired credentials, I then went back out job seeking only to get more of the same. Although I was now qualified to apply for a lot of the IT support positions advertised, I was deemed too old for consideration, as I was competing with kids in their early to mid twenties fresh out of college.

Can you believe I ended up taking a job in a bloody call center! (the sweat shops of the 21st century), and my attained qualifications weren’t required or needed in my new position as a telesales slave.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though because in this huge converted warehouse I worked at, the slave drivers outsourced a lot of their IT support contracts to various companies from around Western Europe. It soon got known within the departments that I was able to fix many SW related problems on the network and advise the staff on how to operate numerous Windows based applications. An in-house Dutch company was keen to learn a bit more about my abilities and sent a head hunter over to see if I was interested in applying for a position in their organisation as an IT Support Engineer.

Q

You managed to buy a property and set yourself up quite nicely though?

A

I did. I got the above techie job after passing the second interview. Shortly after that came the house, a big new Superbike (born again biker!), cash in the bank, and all those little extras which low paid employment deprives menial workers from. I’d become quite comfortable. I enjoyed what I did and liked the team I was working with. Pay and conditions were pretty decent, and life was tickety-boo. After years of traveling around and drifting from one job to another, I’d found my niche and there were no plans to go anywhere. I was well sorted………….or so I thought!

Q

Was the thought of returning to Thailand always on your mind or were you resigned to settling down in the UK for good? You've always struck me as someone with insatiable wanderlust.

A

There were no plans to return to Thailand, or anywhere else come to that. I did sometimes fantasize about coming back here one day as an ex-pat with some big multinational, but it wasn’t really much more than a fleeting daydream. Over my working life I’d had jobs in various places around the UK doing all kinds of different things. I’d also taken employment in Holland, Germany, Australia, and Thailand. Then there was the directionless drifting around the world I did for 13 months with nothing but a backpack and no planned routes or adventures. So having reached the grand old age of 40, I decided that I’d had a great time overall, but now it was time to settle down into mainstream society……….Well that was the idea!

Q

So what prompted you to finally say 'enough - I'm heading back to Thailand'?

A

I hadn’t had enough, and I was content with my lot back home. I certainly hadn’t planned to come back here to live. How my return came about was like this: A buddy of mine in the UK had made his fortune in business and had a pretty good team working for him. This meant he’d reached a point in his life where he was able to take time out and enjoy the fruits of his labor. He never wanted to leave the UK and move out to Thailand permanently, but he was looking for justifiable reasons to come out here as often as he could. Setting up a business seemed to fit that bill perfectly.

He knew I had lived out here and he trusted me. After all we’d been best mates for near on 27 years by this time. He asked me if I would go out and set up a business in Bangkok (which will remain nameless for this piece) and then manage it indefinitely. Well, we’re all familiar with the business scams and cock-ups that so many foreigners succumb to in Thailand. Sometimes it’s through ignorance, stupidity, or just plain bad luck, but whatever the reasons, there’s no shortage of sob stories from the 'solopreneurs' who come out here hoping to strike it lucky.

So I wasn’t too keen on the idea to begin with, but my buddy just wouldn’t let up and kept selling the idea to me. After digging, delving and researching further, which included a 2 week trip out here to get a feel for the market, I made a bold decision and agreed to make this move into the virtual unknown.

I handed in my notice at the day job which really didn’t go down too well with my new employer. I had assured them upon taking the position that my traveling days were long behind me. After all, my CV did make for quite a geographical read, and they wanted to be sure that all the forthcoming training and resources spent on me were not going to waste. I’d burnt some serious bridges there I’m afraid, and as I’d let them down just 11 months after taking up the post, there was no chance of ever getting back into their favor.

Ok, let’s Fast-forward a tad >> My property got a tenant, the big motorbike was sold on, I’d said all my goodbyes, and before you can say Jack Robinson I was sitting alone in BA business class on my way over to Bangkok. I was now on a mission to build up a multi million Baht company from the ground up, and I couldn’t help but ask myself what the heck I thought I was doing! It all seemed to happen so fast it was surreal.

At the beginning of this venture things got off to a bit of a bumpy start. We initially got ripped-off with a few scams and swindles brought about by a semi-retired ex-pat, but once we were able to move on, the ball finally started to roll and everything was looking just great. I’d secured some rundown premises in a prime location of Bangkok which I had beautifully renovated by a local interior design company. Good lawyers, accountants, signed contracts, and suppliers were all in place in what seemed like a very well thought out operation. I was certainly pleased with what I’d achieved so far even though it took a lot longer than first planned.

So life was beginning to look real sweet. I was living alone in a huge 3-bedroom condo around mid-Sukhumvit which was big enough to accommodate 3 families. It really seemed like my decision to come out here and have a bash at something totally alien and exciting to me was perhaps the best move I’d ever made in my life. Oh how premature those thoughts turned out to be!

Fast forwarding now to the end of the episode >> Just 18 months later and the business went tits-up before it ever had the chance to break even. I somehow managed to surround myself with some of the nastiest nice people I have ever had the misfortune to come across. I’m talking about Bangkok Farangs here, not Thais. I tried to remove these people’s association with the business, but they warned the UK backer that if they were pushed out of the picture he could kiss goodbye to his invested millions overnight and my safety could not be guaranteed.

Well, he ran scared and kept saying he was like a rat in a corner and didn’t know what to do for the best. I advised him to ignore their threats and allow me fire them and find more suitable replacements. I pointed out that to give in to their bullyboy tactics and allow them to continue with their scamming and scheming would pose a real risk of them being able to steal the business from right under our noses.

Alas, he became afraid and influenced and consequently chose to listen to them over me. At this point, I had no choice but to reluctantly resign. This meant that total control of the business was handed over to these undesirables. Shortly after leaving I began to get a few anonymous phone calls threatening me with my life if I ever dared to return to the company I had worked so hard to setup. Although I didn’t take these macho style threats all that seriously at the time, it was still an unhappy and unsettling chapter in this whole messy episode.

I had worked tirelessly for the past year and a half, 7 days a week and between 12-16 hours a day, everyday, and for what! Now the company car was gone along with the keys to the office. I remember standing at the side of the road trying to flag down a taxi in the pouring rain wondering how on earth I’d ended up losing what I’d half killed myself building up. I was now an unemployed foreigner in Thailand. Not working, not on vacation, and certainly not retired. What a fu*king mess!

If I can pass on any advice to anyone reading here who is thinking of doing business in Thailand, it’s this; If a foreigner befriends you and impresses you with his or her ability to speak fluent Thai, and tries to convince you he can really help you cut through the bureaucratic red tape with his knowledge of the language and local contacts, ask him this simple question; what are you doing in Thailand right now?

If he replies by saying something like - a bit of this and a bit of that, or he’s in between consulting jobs etc, avoid him like the plague and go with your own flow of doing things. In fact, if you weren’t planning on employing an unknown foreign opportunist to begin with, then stick to your original plan and leave them out altogether.

The last I heard, the business was snatched from the investor as I predicted, and there was nothing he could legally do to stop it happening. I’m not sure if it’s even there anymore, and I can only guess what happened to the millions of Bahts worth of stock.

Q

It's a hell of a story this Aitch. You never wanted to go back into teaching though purely as a way to get you back on your feet?

A

Naar! I don’t believe in going backwards. Onwards and upwards is the only way forward. Teaching can be a lot of fun for those cut out for it, but my days as an English language tutor are long gone. Besides, apart from putting on that invisible clowns outfit before going into class, most Thais also want to see youth to walk through the doors as well, and preferably a good looking young man (or woman) at that. I know it shouldn’t be like this, but it is. I know of a handful of ‘older folks’ teaching in and around greater Bangkok, and let me tell you, they don’t get to cherry pick their jobs. Well not the guys I know of anyway.

Q

What did you really want from Thailand in return for your efforts?

A

To live life here as a successful entrepreneur! To run a business that ran like clockwork and made a decent buck without me having to kill myself in the process. The game I was involved in only needed to sell a few items a month to make a handsome profit, which is a much better model than selling volume to achieve the same results. I knew the first couple of years would be flat out, and I didn’t have a problem with that, but I didn’t anticipate or prepare for what actually happened.

Q

Out of the blue you got the idea to set up MrRoomfinder. What prompted you to explore that side of things?

A

Do you remember Phil, I came up with this idea about 3 and a half years ago and we met for lunch as I wanted to run it past you. As I’ve already written about the idea behind MrRoomfinder on my About Us page, I’ll just paste an extract from that piece here rather than rewrite it all out again.

About Us

Unless you're fortunate enough to have someone run around and do all the home hunting for you, then you will know that independently seeking a new place to live in Greater Bangkok can be nothing short of self inflicted torture!

The day came when I decided that enough was enough and it was time to develop a new system of finding Thailand real estate so as to lesson the frustration and discomfort that the heat, humidity, and choking pollution of this concrete jungle so cruelly inflicts on the lost pedestrian.

Prior to setting off into Bangkok’s overcrowded metropolis, I was desperate to narrow down my search and create a short list of potential homes, but I just wasn't able to find any helpful websites out there on the Internet. It was at this time that I began to question whether an online property portal which catered specifically for the independent home hunter would prove popular enough to assign to.

Over the weeks that followed, the idea was bounced around the expat community of Bkk and it soon became apparent that there was a definite call for an information service of this kind, so the challenge was on to set-up what has now become Mr. Roomfinder Dot Com.

About us in full

If you remember Phil, I was to focus on a tight niche here. I wanted the site to become a budget property portal and fill a gap which no one seemed to cater for. The idea was to only have properties on the site at 10,000 THB/Mo. and under.

Q

What have the difficulties been in running that kind of website?

A

In a nutshell, finding developers to code the database functions! As you know, I do all the web design myself, but I need to outsource the dynamic elements of the site. I’ve not found a good developer in the 2 plus years we’ve been online, and I’ve employed companies in Bangkok, and India (the IT capital of the world!). It’s a real pain in the ass. I’ve been working for the past 5 months on some exciting new features for the site, and almost $1000 later I have absolutely nothing to show for it. That’s nothing, zero, diddlysquat! Can you believe that? I’ve just got a new team on board, so let’s see how we get on over the next couple of weeks or so.

The other headache I’ve had is convincing private landlords and agencies that this really is a free-for-all property portal from where they can advertise as many vacancies as they like for $0.00. It’s really is hard work, especially with the owners of the cheaper places. Very little has changed in this regard over the past couple of years which is a shame, as the original idea was for the site to be dominated with budget priced accommodation.

There are currently over 1,170 apartment buildings and private condo ads online. Even though 454 of these properties are at 10,000 THB/Mo or less at the time of writing, (with 329 of that total being 5,000 or under), the trend is that it’s the more expensive places which are being uploaded the most nowadays. It’s great the site is becoming so active, but it’s still a shame we aren’t able to get more of the cheaper places onboard.

The other issue with the budget accommodation ads is that the owners don’t maintain or update them like those folks with the more pricy joints on offer, and this frustrates tenants when they call only to find that there’s since been a price hike, or the rooms advertised are perhaps not the rooms available when they inquire.

The National Roomfinder was a bold move and I thought this would really take off big time. There are certainly plenty of tenants hungry to find places in Pattaya, Phuket, and Chiang Mai specifically. I wrote personally to multiple agencies around Thailand offering them the opportunity to advertise for free, and 99% never responded and the 1% that did reply said they looked forward to utilising the site, but they never did!

When I first moved up to CM, I actually went door knocking introducing Roomfinder’s free service to local apartment buildings and a handful of agencies. Well, I kid you not, I was treated like some desperado encyclopedia salesman, and in a couple of cases I was gently escorted off the premises by the admin staff before I’d even had a chance to explain purpose the site.

Can you believe I even paid for a translation and got some flyers printed out which I handed over to the offices at apartment buildings. Guess what, I got the same treatment as I did trying to verbally explain the project! So my conclusion is that Roomfinder will continue to grow organically, but mainly for the greater Bangkok area. Up-country folk either mistrust the internet, or websites owned and operated by non-natives, or they’re simply not as comfortable interacting online as the Bangkokians are.

The long term goal is to open MrRoomfinder to South East Asia covering countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and so on, but based on what I now know, I shall focus mainly on the capitals of these places and leave the rural towns and cities to local agents.

Look out for MrRoomfinder’s new look and features coming very soon.

Q

You also decided to relocate from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Has that been a good decision?

A

I miss Bangkok but I like it up here too. It’s certainly a differently lifestyle in and around Chiang Mai. I do a fair bit of walking and mountain biking up in them there hills, something that wasn’t possible or practical around the capital. I’ve also got a little motorcycle to zip around town on. I live in a pretty decent sized condo overlooking Doi Suthep which is simply idyllic. It’s around half the price of the Bangkok condos I resided in but at 74 SQM it’s around the same size of my previous place in the capital. I may return to Bangkok at some point, but if I do I will probably keep a second place up here if finances permit as it’s become nice home for me too.

Q

Future plans?

A

Yes, to continue as I am doing. More of the same! I am no longer an employer nor an employee and I intend it to stay that way if I can. I have a total of 34 websites (only Roomfinder is Thailand related) all of which make me a little residual income. I want to continue to get up and go to bed when I’m ready and never have to see, let alone set, an alarm clock by my bedside ever again. Life is sweet today, and just keeps on getting better as time passes.

How’s that Phil, does that answer your 15 questions satisfactorily?

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The Hot Spot


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.