Interview with Rob Cubbon from Thailand

I would like to introduce my friend Rob Cubbon who is a graphic designer, an author, an internet marketer and a website designer. He’s from London but is currently visiting Thailand and is posting some amazing pictures on Facebook. I had a set of questions about his travels to Thailand and he was kind enough to answer them.

Rob Cubbon during the Loi krathong celebrations
Rob Cubbon during the Loi krathong celebrations

Why did you decide to visit or relocate to Thailand?

I loved the idea of setting up online businesses that make money on autopilot so that you have freedom to travel the world and do what you want.

Several entrepreneurs, bloggers and not to forget Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Work-Week introduced me to the concepts of “location independence” and “digital nomadism”.

I had been running a web-based design business for years in London. More recently, I have been making passive income from info-products and so I could have done this many years ago. But, after my marriage had failed and all my friends had settled down and moved away, it didn’t make sense for me to stay in London. Why live in one of the world’s most expensive cities when you can live anywhere in the world?

How did you plan your trip from London?

The short answer is that I started working from cafés in London.

The long answer involves cloud storage, VPNs, outsourcing, laptops, unlocked smartphones, visas and a lot of unnecessary panicking. I went into more detail here in my article How I’ll Maintain My Online Business While Abroad.

The long and the short of it is: pack your bags and go!

Amazing hills and paddy fields in Chiang Dao
Amazing hills and paddy fields in Chiang Dao

Where did you buy your tickets and how did book your hotel?

I actually bought my ticket from a travel agent in London (very last century!) because it happened to be a good deal. I spent just less than $800 on the ticket. But, amazingly, I will have spent less money in three months, even if you factor in the plane ticket and all the other moving costs, than I would have spent if I’d stayed in London.

I didn’t book a hotel or anything in Thailand. I sorted all that out when I got here.

Have you completely relocated or will you be coming back to London?

That’s a good question. I’m planning to go back to London for Christmas and New Year and return to Thailand soon after for a few months. After that, I don’t know.

Another Buddhist temple in Chiang Dao
A Buddhist temple in Chiang Dao

Do you feel there is a language barrier? Do people speak English?

They speak English in the urban and tourist areas. After decades of tourism, the Thais have developed their own almost unique pigeon English. However there is and will always be a language barrier. The way to get round that is to learn the language.

I really want to speak Thai. The alphabet is a challenge – it has 44 consonants,15 vowels that combine into at least 28 vowel forms and four tonal accents. The Thai language and alphabet have their roots in India, Shalu. 😉

What is the food like in Thailand?

It’s no secret that food is one of many amazing things about Thailand. It doesn’t matter if you eat on the street for less that $0.50 or spend a few dollars more in a nice restaurant; it’s all great to eat.

Like most people here, I don’t cook. I just go out to my favorite restaurants near where I live and work my way through the menu.

Buddhist temple in Chiang Dao
Another Buddhist temple in Chiang Dao

What places have you visited so far?

I came here as a backpacker ten years ago and visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi and a few places in Laos.

This time it’s been more of a pleasure to be settled in Chiang Mai. There’s so much to see in this region that I won’t have the time to explore it fully.

Chiang Mai is a city of 300,000 people set in beautiful hills and mountains. I live about 10-15 minutes from the center in a semi-rural area. There are countless waterfalls and temples to visit just minutes from my apartment. I’m discovering them one-by-one every weekend.

I had to go to Bangkok for a conference last month and I really didn’t want to go. Chiang Mai became home really quickly.

What are the best places to visit where you are?

First of all there is Doi Suthep which is a beautiful old temple on a hill in a national park a short drive outside the city. The drive and the temple offer great views of the city and the surrounding area.

You can keep on that road further into the national park past a palace to Kun Chang Kian Mong Village – a hill tribe village. I haven’t been there yet but I really want to go.

North of the city is Chiang Dao with numerous temples, caves and waterfalls. There is Mae Taeng dam or Mae Ngat dam, a lake/reservoir you can swim in in Sri Lanna national park.

Some say that Doi Inthanon National Park, nicknamed “the roof of Thailand”, is the best national park and is south west of the city which includes the country’s highest mountain. (Apparently, it’s as cold as 5º Celsius there at the moment, so much for tropical temperatures!)

There are very interesting neighboring towns called Pai and Mae Hong Son, again, they are set in very nice scenery.

There are lots of famous “round trips” or bike rides you can do in a day or a few days. There are trekking opportunities and wildlife sanctuaries.

Honestly, I haven’t done it justice. I’ve only just got here so I don’t know about all the attractions. And, I forgot to mention, there are a lot of lively bars and restaurants in the city!

Hills and paddy fields in Chiang Dao
Hills and paddy fields in Chiang Dao

What do you think of the people?

I absolutely loved Thai people the last time I came here and this time my feelings have not changed. I don’t like to generalize about people from another country even when it’s a positive generalization but, to my eyes, Thais seem to be easy-going, fun loving, kind and friendly people.

You hardly ever see people get angry. They are incredibly honest and crime here is pretty low. I always leave my laptop out in cafes when I go to the rest room – it doesn’t matter where I leave it, it’ll always be there when I get back.

I could go on but one of the many pleasures of living in Thailand is the Thai people. Again, maybe they are more relaxed in this sleepy northern city and a bit different in other parts of Thailand.

What is the best mode of transport in Thailand?

There isn’t great public transport in Chiang Mai so a scooter or motorbike is the only option unless you live in the center of the city. I don’t always feel totally safe. A lot of people that have lived here for a while have had some sort of accident.

What are the things you miss from London?


Working in a cafe in Chiang Mai
Working in a cafe in Chiang Mai

Have you got plans to visit other countries in South East Asia?

Yes, next year I would like to stay longer in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and visit Bali, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Do you plan to visit India one day?

Yes, I’ve always wanted to go to India. I’ve started my Asian adventure in Thailand as it’s the “easy way”. India seems so huge and daunting in comparison. I would love to go, I just don’t know when.

About Rob Cubbon

Rob Cubbon on the balcony of his Chiang Mai appartment
Rob Cubbon on the balcony of his Chiang Mai appartment

Rob is an Amazon bestselling author, online teacher and graphic designer who wants freedom for you and success for your business. In 2006 he was wasting his life away on a string of mundane jobs. Since 2008 he’s been working from home getting paid to do what he loves and has recently relocated from London, UK, to south east Asia. Feel free to visit his website here.

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