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Alasdair Forbes

Alasdair Forbes is the Executive Editor of Phuket News – the island’s newest weekly newspaper. Well known in the expatriate community, Alasdair has worked for 40 years as a journalist and editor for many publications in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Thailand.

September 2014

Where are you from?
I’m from North Wales in Britain, but close to the ‘border’ with England. My mother was English; my father was Scots, so I’m a bit of a mongrel.

When did you move to Phuket?
We first moved here in 1999 so that makes around 15 years on the island.

Had you been here before?
I first came here on holiday with my Thai wife Pen in 1980. We stayed in Patong. In those days it was altogether different as there were just four bars along the beach, one real hotel and Bangla Road was a dirt track with a few shops along the sides. Plus there was no road over Patong Hill! Mostly the terrain consisted of rice fields with sugar palms soaring over them. In a word, it was idyllic.

What made you decide to come and live here?
I was in Hong Kong when the Thai baht went through the floor in 1997, the day after Hong Kong reverted to Chinese ownership, and all the Asian economies followed. After two years I could see the magazine I was working for was going nowhere, so I looked around for another job in the region. It just so happened that there was a position going in Phuket. This was good for us because Pen is from Thailand so for her it was like coming home – though because she’s from Srisaket she had a lot of trouble understanding the ‘Pak Tai’ (southerrn Thai) regional accent at first.

What did you do before you came to Phuket?
I was six years as a reporter and then sub-editor on local papers in the UK. Then I went to the Middle East in 1978 where I spent two years in Saudi Arabia, followed by four in Bahrain, two in Cyprus and two in Dubai. I then spent 11 years in Hong Kong, always on the editorial side in magazines or newspapers, just the same as nowadays.

Where do you live in Phuket and what influenced your choice of location?
When we first moved here we were living on the edge of Phuket Town, renting, and had been on the lookout for a nice place to buy. To tell you the truth we weren’t too worried about where. We looked at many pieces of land and properties before eventually we found a small fruit farm, with a house on it, and we both said, “Oh yes, this is it.” We moved in almost 10 years ago, just before the tsunami in 2004.

What kind of car do you drive and why?
My wife drives a Honda Jazz which I use when convenient, but I also have an Isuzu pick-up truck. It’s nearly 15 years old now with about half a million kilometres on its clock, but it’s tough and keeps going forever like most diesels. We’ve done road trips all over Thailand apart from the south, which is on our list for next time we want to explore. Granted, it’s a beast and not that easy to park, but it’s a fine, reliable machine. Plus, repairs are cheap and just about anywhere in Thailand you can find someone to fix any problems when you’re driving a diesel.

What do you like most about living in Phuket?
I like the openness of the local Thai society. Almost everyone I've met here, from farmhands to Senators, has been welcoming. “Come inside! Have you eaten yet?” I count myself lucky to have so many good Thai friends

What’s the hardest/most frustrating thing about living here?
I find dealing with bureaucrats… in a word: stressful. Unnecessarily so – I don’t like the abiding attitude that they are somehow ‘superior’ to everyone, especially when my taxes and those of all honest citizens are paying their wages.

How old are you?
I’m 63 years old.

What do you think the future holds for you?
When you think about it there’s not a huge amount of it left, is there?
But I’m looking forward to slowing down a little. I’ve definitely been working too hard for too many years..

How do you evaluate success?
To me, success is not at all about possessions or money – though like most people I like having enough for us to be comfortable. It’s more about doing things right. My ‘God’, if anything… is ‘Quality’. I don’t like to take anything on unless I believe I can do it properly.

What do you do with your free time if you have any?
I enjoy painting water colours, going on road trips, exploring history. And reading; I love to read.

Are you involved in any local charities, clubs or associations?
I’m on the board of the Phuket Community Foundation – some people know us as the ‘Duck Race people’ – though I have to admit I don’t have enough time to do as much as I should, or would like to.

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