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Category - Life of Finch

Why I’m Trading Thailand For London
Is A Blog Worth More Than A Degree?

Why I’m Trading Thailand For London

Last year I wrote what turned out to be one of my most popular blog posts when I announced why I was trading London for Thailand. It’s time for Part 2, the part where I explain why I’m heading back home in July.

Now, there are many reasons why I could be looking to leave Thailand, aren’t there? I know what you want me to say. The supply of ladyboys could never last forever. Shockingly enough, it goes deeper than that.

The last seven months have been a hugely fun and unforgettable learning experience for me. I’ve had to embrace a culture that I have about as much in common with as a fish out of water. For anybody who has dabbled with the idea of visiting Thailand, I say do it. It’s a friendly and vibrant country, with some of the best damn beaches you’re ever going to see in your lifetime.

One of the reasons I left London was to chase full value for my money. When you’ve spent your entire life in the Greater London suburbs, it’s not difficult to put a high price on a tropical climate and a diet of fresh coconuts. These were things that appealed to me immensely, and they still do. But in leaving London, I’m sure I underestimated all the comforts and relationships I’d be leaving behind.

When I ask myself whether I could spend six months holidaying in Thailand every year, the answer is a resounding “show me the booking form“. But it’s difficult to settle here, and it feels like a temporary home.

Traveling alone is much different to traveling as a couple. My girlfriend works in fashion and if you know anything about the fashion world, you’ll be aware that it revolves around the major cities of New York, London, Paris and Milan. Her work almost demands that she be in the thick of her industry, and as much as we both love Thailand, Bangkok Fashion Week left a little to be desired in the prestige stakes.

We also have two puppies. I’d like to point this out to anybody who gets suckered in to the cute fluffy pet markets of Bangkok. Do not buy pets unless you’ve researched the quarantine regulations in your country. I wouldn’t give up my dogs for the world, but getting stiffed with a quarantine import bill for £5000 ($8000) was a major shock when I made their travel arrangements back to England.

There’s a misconception that Thailand is cheap. I guess it is, for certain commodities. But you have to understand that the tourist economy is vastly different to the local economy. And unless you know more than Hello and Goodbye in Thai, you’re going to find it pretty difficult to escape the tourist traps. My outgoings in London were roughly £1000/month ($1600). After noting down my expenses last week, I worked out that I’m spending on average £4200/month ($6700) in Thailand.

Those costs are inflated by living on the cusp of Downtown Bangkok, in one of the city’s prime locations, with an expansive 4 bedroom apartment. It also hits the wallet when you have to renew your visa every 60 days. I’ve already ticked off trips to Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia with other adventures planned for my last two months here.

So in response to those who say Thailand is a cheap recluse for oddballs who can’t survive in the west, I would have to say try it for yourself. Going by the prices I’ve experienced on my travels, America is one of the cheapest places I’ve ever visited. And Singapore is definitely the most expensive, although luxurious from coast to coast.

It could be as luxurious as my balls, I’m still going to refuse to pay $5 for a small pack of Oreos.

The weather here is hot and humid all year round. I don’t recommend heading to Thailand in April or May, unless you’re prepared to get down and dirty in your own sweat. I would also advice you not to make the schoolboy error of venturing in to a Bangkok thunderstorm under the assumption of “Eh, fuck it, I’m used to London showers, what’s the worst that could happen?” The worst that could happen is a monsoon in your face.

I’m definitely going to miss having a wardrobe full of shorts and summer shirts when I head back to London. Yet there are changes I’m looking forward to that have made the move a necessity. Seeing friends and family is obviously uplifting. Just being able to communicate freely, in my own language, is something I’ve learnt to appreciate. I find it quite difficult to express myself in broken Thai, and expression is a fundamental quality in all of our lives.

Looking further ahead, I’ve definitely caught the travel bug. I could never be one of the single state gremlins who knows little about what’s outside his city, let alone what goes on in a different country. By the end of 2012, I aim to have visited every continent (including Antarctica!). Until then, I think I’m going to enjoy the sun for a little while longer.

Seven months in Thailand and I’ve almost turned a shade of “slightly brownish white”!

Recommended This Week:

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Is A Blog Worth More Than A Degree?

It’s easy to dismiss blogs as a colossal waste of time. They can be wild ego trips, or pointless attempts to feel more understood by your peers. Guilty as charged, that’s probably how it started for me. But when I say that blogging is the smartest career move I ever made, I’m not exaggerating.

I honestly believe that regardless of whether you’re trying to write for a living, make a few industry friends or simply spew your early morning drivel, blogging is one of the most powerful ways of adding value to your name. The value may not be immediately evident, but neither is a résumé until it’s delivered to the right mailbox.

I’ve been convinced for a long time that the blog is the new résumé. I don’t have a degree, or an academic background. I can’t rely on Masters honours to justify my ability to get a job done. To put it simply, there isn’t a single slip of paper in my filing cabinet that could pass as a certificate for my work. Christ, the only certificate I have at all is a swimming award from my primary school. And even that I somehow managed to fake.

One of the great appeals of working on the web has always been the level playing field. I love that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what your story is. You can be as relevant as you want to be in almost any field or industry, just by having the knowledge and putting it out there in the right way.

As we see on a daily basis in the “make money online” niche, it rarely even matters if you have the knowledge. Blogging is all about perception. It doesn’t matter how smart or dumb you are, just that your readers are buying in to the right image. But forget about the readers and the meaningless subscriber stats. Have you heard the saying, If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room?

How true is that for bloggers?

If you’re the smartest marketer in affiliate marketing, why the hell would you be blogging about it? Exactly, you wouldn’t. But by blogging about a topic you’re involved with, you instantly make yourself relevant to the field. And when you become relevant, you get leverage with people that simply wouldn’t be approachable to Average Joe with no web presence. I’ve never seen blogging as talking down to a crowd. It’s a two way relationship, and a great way to establish a reputation.

Since launching an affiliate marketing blog over at, I’ve pretty much guaranteed that if my business were to fold overnight, I’d only have to open my inbox to find work opportunities. That’s not to say I’ve done it well or achieved any more than the next blogger. It just comes with the territory of being relevant in my industry and establishing credibility through a web presence. In effect, my blog has become my résumé. Except I don’t have to read job listings or go combing for contacts on LinkedIn, because opportunity tends to present itself.

A couple of years ago, I saw friends leaving university with degrees and qualification to their names. But for many of them, it wasn’t enough to secure a job in the area they studied. How ridiculous is that? 16 years in education only to join the same rat race as the rest of us. Does that mean a successful blog has become more valuable than a degree?

Admittedly, it’s a lot easier to use a blog as a platform to a career in marketing than it is for, say, structural engineering. But if you have expertise, you should make every attempt to show it!

Blogs and portfolios are the way forward in 2011. The résumé deserves to die an ugly death for turning all of our individual qualities in to one uniformed template in Microsoft Word. If you have a special talent, or simply a career to fight for, you can often make it happen just by talking about it and becoming relevant.

A blog doesn’t have to be a profitable moneymaking machine. It can simply be a professional stamp of what you have to offer in your line of work. We all like to make fun of the stay-at-home-mum bloggers who write piles of sweet nothing to a circle of fans that eat it up anyway. But if you’re sitting on your degree and expecting qualifications to carry you up the ladder, I think it’s time for a reality check.

It’s not about the talent you have, but what you do with it that counts. Perception is everything to so many careers. And a successful blog can make you relevant in whatever industry you’re trying to crack.

Recommended This Week:

  • On the subject of putting value in yourself, I highly recommend Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. That man has a way with words that can light a candle up even the pluckiest of arseholes.
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