The Good the Bad and the Ugly

These are my own experiences with house sitting, I do try to be positive about the whole thing but obviously, that is not always the case, however, I have always managed to resolve an issue or just accepted that life sometimes throws a wobbly at us.

50 sits completed, mostly THS, but a couple with Nomador and Mindmyhouse and word of mouth/recommendations.

First of all, the Good.

I can honestly say that I never looked after a bad pet. I am very much a dog person, so all of my sits, apart from 1, have had dogs. I have looked after several cats, rabbits, chickens and a sparrow, but there have also been dogs on those sits. And one cat only sit for a week in Singapore.

Almost all of the owners have been great, friendly, and communicative.

Almost all of the houses have been great. I have stayed in some amazing villas, condos, and apartments across SE Asia and Scotland.

The Bad.

On my very first sit in Bangkok in Thailand, the bed was like a board – mattress about 1cm thick, almost no point in it being there. The Owner was going away for a few days to a retreat with a friend flying in from the UK. A day before I was due to arrive, she contacted me to tell me her friend had cancelled, but she would still be going away, but only for a couple of days, and I was welcome to stay the full time even though she would be there – I had booked flights from Singapore so I went. And we got on really well. My next sit was back-to-back in Bangkok for 10 days, and after that, I had a month before I was due in Vietnam. My first owner decided to fly home to the UK for a month and asked me to return, so even with the hard bed, I ended up in Bangkok for about 6 weeks in total. I have since learned, or now understand, that a lot of people in SE Asia still sleep on boards, or on the floor, on just on raised platforms, so soft beds are very rare.

So actually, not that bad.

My next sit was in HCMC Vietnam. The owner had asked me to be there as early as possible in the morning to spend some time with them to go over the dog’s routine – Pyrenean Mountain dog in an apartment in Vietnam! I left the apartment in Bangkok at around 6 am to get the first flight to HCMC. The sit was 32 days, so I had to arrange an extended e-visa beforehand, and then at the arrival at the airport had to go through a longer process than normal, then the Taxi driver didn’t speak any English, and my phone card wasn’t active so no GPS/maps - so didn’t arrive at the home until about mid-day. The family’s plans had changed and the wife and son had already left for Canada, husband had to stay a week or so at work, but actually worked just across the border in Cambodia, and had to leave in 30 minutes. Oh, they forgot to tell me the dog was vegetarian, didn’t like the heat or other dogs so only walk it for 5 minutes several times a day. I had about 30 minutes to go over quite a large schedule. The dog was great fun, and the apartment was lovely.

So actually, not that bad.

Fast forward a few months and back in HCMC. Not a THS sit. 2 weeks with a 3-legged deaf puppy, 14 floors up a tower block. What they didn’t tell me was that this 2-week sit was during TET, the Vietnam celebration of winning the war, a 2-week holiday where families leave the city to go home or spend time with family in the city. Everything closes. Shops, restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. On my second day, I had to find food! Eventually, I managed to find a large supermarket, a few km away from the apartment. I have a picture on my phone of the last French breadstick in Vietnam, and I had to fight to get it! But the dog was great fun, and actually, because there was very little traffic, it was quiet.

So actually, not that bad.

I have been lucky to have done a few sits on Bali, my first was in April 2018. I was one of over 20 to apply and was confirmed for the sit without even speaking to the owner. Apply, confirmed within 12 hours. However, I waited until nearer the date before booking my flight from Singapore. There are a number of budget airlines in SE Asia so it is easy to get to Bali, and not expensive – can or could back then, be as little as $30 one way. A few days beforehand, I contacted the owner to finalize details and everything was ok, so I booked. A day later she changed her dates! Only by a day, but I was unable to change my flight or get a refund – so I booked a second flight. The sit was originally for 30 days, so I would get a 30-day visa on arrival. The change meant an extra day, so either I got an extension ($50) or some other plan. The owner arranged for her cleaner to look after the dogs for one night at the end of the sit. The dogs, villa, and location were all amazing.

So actually, not that bad.

On my 3rd return sit to Bali, I arrived at the villa, which is hidden behind a wall, beautiful pool, garden, older Balinese Joglo style building – to find a Deisel generator on the lawn. Thumping away. They had problems with the electricity supply and had not been able to get it fixed in time for their departure, so I spent the first 4 days with this generator thumping away until it got fixed. I could turn it off, but that meant no electricity, no internet, no air conditioning, no water – all water was pumped – shower, toilet, pool. Oh, and there was a rat in the ceiling, which chewed a hole through one night. I contacted the owner and she told me to ask the cleaner to get a hold of “Larry”. I thought Larry was a rat-catcher or something. Larry turned up with a bag of plaster and fixed the hole. But it was Bali, dogs were great etc.

So actually, not that bad.

On my 4th return sit to Bali about 6 months later I caught the rat.

Rats have appeared a few times in my travels. Bali and Thailand. But that is all part of travel.

The Ugly.

Briefly, on 7 week sit in Chaing Mai in Northern Thailand. Rats. Loads of them. For the first 2 weeks they were running about in the ceiling. The house was in a gated community but backed on to fields. Eventually, the rats chewed through the ceiling and accessed the house by chewing through the kitchen drain. When I woke up one night with one on my back that was the final straw. I asked the owner to arrange for a friend to collect the dogs asap, and I would leave. After a long discussion on the phone, I agreed to stay, for the dogs, and the rat-catchers came to the house twice a week for the next couple of weeks, eventually, I hope, getting them all. The dogs were amazing. One had brain damage, and spent all day just walking around the house and garden, loved her food and cuddles, but would not be walked or have a lead on – she screamed, it was like something from a horror movie. So, she spent all her time around the house. The other was a great wee dog, so friendly and playful.

So actually, pretty bad.

Other examples are available.

More recently I have returned to Bali on a 6-month visa, and have been lucky enough to secure sits covering most of that period. However, things have not been exactly perfect or gone to plan. Mostly due to ever-changing covid rules and regulations in Indonesia – quarantine, flights, PCR or antigen, and one owner was taken ill and couldn’t travel home, eventually, a 4-week sit lasted 8 weeks, another 4-week sit lasted 6 weeks, and a planned 2-week sit was reduced to 1 week, and as you may have read elsewhere, the dog was poisoned on the beach and passed away in my arms at the vet – that was bad.

I am writing this from a hotel room. My latest 6 week sit, not THS, was due to start last Wednesday but the owner is not well and has delayed her flight by a few days, so I am paying for a hotel until she is fit to travel.

Why I am writing this?

I just feel that there has been so much negativity recently about THS and house sitting on this forum.

If you are not able to adapt to something changing, or the unexpected happening, maybe this type of travel/life is not for you.
THS cannot be there for you 24 hours a day, worldwide, with a solution to every problem. You must be over 21 to join, so you are an adult.

Now I do expect a few replies to this post if it is allowed to be published, and some will be supportive and some will not. That is also life. We are all different and have different expectations. If you have got this far, thanks for reading.

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I quite like rats - but not that much :rofl:

What great adventures though. When you are a full-time sitter/traveller youre bound to experience Things Going Wrong once in awhile. And covid has added an additional layer of complexity of course - it’s great youve been able to carry on throughout.

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Thank you very much for sharing your experiences!
I completely agree that negativity should not take over here, because it’s the minority! The negative voices are always louder than the positive ones :wink:

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That sounds about our experience as well, minus the rats. There has been good in even our uncomfortable sits. The good is called DOGS.
Thank you for the insight of a tropical sitter. Even in paradise things are not all perfect.

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Thank you so much for this novella post. :wink: I’m someone who does almost all of my reading online, so often I have a short attention span for some articles and skip through content. However, I hung on every word, right to the end. :slightly_smiling_face:

Thank you for sharing your SE experiences. It’s not an area of the world that I’ve visited, or really been drawn to, but now I know for sure that it’s not on my radar. Sad in some respects, as most of us want new experiences, but there were some red flags there for me, and I’ll make sure not to ignore them. :slightly_smiling_face:

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But I have had some exceptional sits - Most Villas in Bali have pools, and cleaners every day.

$6m Dollar condo in Singapore with a private lift from the basement, with a massive balcony overlooking the ocean.

Beautiful House on an island just of the coast of Hongkong (Lamma) with no traffic, rooftop terrace

Beautiful country house in Scotland with extensive gardens - the owner is a professional garden designer.

I’m sure you would love some of them :heart_eyes:

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But that is the beauty of this lovely post!
There is something somewhere for everyone and good, bad and ugly things can and will happen.
Our most important role is to know our own likes, dislikes, what we are willing to do for what it is we desire or are looking to accomplish.

@Petermac has done that. He knows where he wants to be, he knows his ideal pet, he knows what the risks and benefits are. Most importantly he knows the rewards!
In that sense, many of us are alike.
You know what is and is not for you. That comes with experience, strength and courage.
Rarely will the person who understands themselves ever complain about their own choices.
Absolutely love this and I applaud all who have done this and is on this journey of self actualization.

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Thank you for sharing all these various experiences….as you say the good, the bad, and the ugly (a phrase I’ve used many times in my life). No matter what life throws at us, it’s how we handle each circumstance that’s makes us who we are. I’ve always been someone who sought out different experiences, reaching outside my comfort zone at times. Life is just too short for the mundane to be sufficient enough to feel we’ve lived to our fullest potential. Of one thing we can be certain….there will ALWAYS be bumps in the road….but who of us doesn’t enjoy being shaken up every now and then…just remember to fasten your seatbelt :wink:

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