Saturday, 6 June 2009

Curious about Thailand? Check out Thai blogs

My move to Thailand was relatively straight forward as The Missus is Thai, yet, being the inquisitive type, I searched the web for information about aspects the life I was likely to find in Thailand. My first point of call, courtesy of Google, was Thai Visa - probably the most popular Thai forum on the web.

Where to surf before you fly?

I'm not alone in doing so, anyone curious about life in a foreign land will hit the web, type in a few key words and let Google do the rest. When the country in question is Thailand, Thai Visa strong SEO position brings in a lot of traffic, and with it eyeballs intent of learning about life in the Land Of Smiles (LOS).

To the information seeker, Thai Visa appears to have it all. Years of content rich with information of life in LOS and a web board to prize advice and answers from foreigners already living the life in Thailand.

The perfect resource? Well actually, no.

Shortly after moving to Thailand and gaining my own insight into life here, I fully understood the dynamic of Thai Visa in more detail.

Undoubtedly it has its uses (notably advice for administrative processes, which can be complicated in a land where English is not the first language) but all too often the 'insight' from Thai-based expats is vitriolic and heavily biased. Posts which discuss topics such as Thai women, the immigration system, police, education paint a less than rosy picture and suggest Thailand may not be the type of life aspiring expats seek.

A land of temples awaits...

It saddens me to think that people are using Thai Visa to form opinions of Thailand, you can cut out the cynicism, arguing, half full glasses and bullshit but reading genuine accounts of Thai life in the blogosphere (where the blogs live).

First port of call should be FrogBlog Thaidings, an excellent blog from Peter Garwood, a Brit who divides his time between work in France and a fiancee and baby daughter in Chiang Mai.

Pete's just written a comprehensive post on the subject of expat life in Thailand focusing on, amongst many things, the population destinations foreigners move to. A great read for anyone contemplating a move.
Pete's post lists a number of other Thai blogs (see blogroll to left of page for mine) all of which link to other Thai blogs. From these links you can build a comprehensive list of blogs which collectively provide insight on just about any aspect of life as an expat in Thailand.

And if you're on Twitter, check out my list of recommended Thai-based users.

The information is out there, don't rely on Thai Visa to give it to you.

Update: all forums are not evil, a couple recommendations from a recent commenter (Peter Garwood again, who else?) are Teak Door and Expat Forum.

Other Thai blogs can be found at Expat Blog, under the Thailand category.


expatudon08 said...

i have to say i fully agree with you and your post blogs are the best way to truly find out what its like to live in Thailand without the b/s of some sites
you get informed in depth views which are motivated buy a real interest in Thailand ok we all gripe but get blogging everyone start one about your life in thailand our wherever its addictive but it wont shorten your life our get you into trouble well hopefully
johny keep up the good work
regards john

The FrogBlogger said...

Thanks Jon! But you're so right - budding expats should thinking twice about just how green that grass really is on the other side of the fence. The reality is a journey inside oneself as much as a trip to exotic foreign parts, and if you can't take the rough with the smooth, if you think Western culture is the apogee of civilisation, if you feel that people should accept you as you are without you making an effort to integrate - then perhaps Thailand is the wrong move. Or you could end up as the part of the embittered, intolerant, patronising crowd that so often hogs the threads on Thai Visa, spoiling it for others - and worse still, giving the Thais the impression that all Westerners are an arrogant nationalistic bunch completely lacking in respect for other cultures. And this impression is not easy to undo.

Martyn said...

Jon I have to say that you hit the nail so hard on the head you've driven it underground. The Frogblogger is an absolutely brilliant writer and his site is second to none, I have complete admiration for the man. Perhaps William should hand over the key to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Jon said...

Expatudon, glad to hear you are in agreement, it's so true that the minority's voice is most prevalent on TV. Blogging is the way to go, far more personal and balance the good and bad, as you say.

Pete, excellent point about integrating in Thailand. There's a post in that, although you've probably already done it.

Hey Martyn , high praise for Mr Frog Blogger. He's certainly worthy of the keys but I'm led to believe he'll not reside in England again so the doors will remain lockedd, or open perhaps?

Jungle Girl said...

Jon, Thanks for checking out my blog, I'm a total newbie so just feeling my way....
Re Thai Visa, it can be a great resource as you pointed out, but the very subtle nuances of life here are all too often steam-rollered over by the loud neg-pats who dominate the forums. Life here, expectations, and particularly cultural perceptions about money, work, sex, family are SO different to the west. For many expats a brush with these cultural differences puts them firmly on guard: they're in the right - Thailand/Thai people are wrong. But they're just different, not right or wrong, different. I think this is what so many expats struggle with, and if they don't have the openess to be flexible in their approach to other cultures' values then they very quickly become the cynical neg-pats, condemming the way Thai culture deals with the issue at hand and simultaneously giving Thailand a bad name.

Jon said...

Hey Natalie,

Thanks for returning comment and making some very astute points, particularly like the 'neg-pat' term - rings so very true, unfortunately.

It is incredible that people move over to this wonderful country and then insist that everything is done their way. These are, most likely, the same people who complain that immigration are moving to their home country and bringing their culture with them.

Sometimes you can never win, it's just a shame that foreigners have low stock with some locals, to the point that they are surprised we want to learn the language and respect the culture - this is how it should be for long-stayers.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a member of Thaivisa for several years. On first glance, it does seem like a good resource, and is probably the quickest way to get an answer. Thing is, it's a big forum, and with any big forum, there are forum politics. It also has to be supported by $$$, so it's not completely unbiased.
The reason I left was because a fairly new member had been appointed moderator. That alone wouldn't have been strange, but the fact is, in the short time he had joined, he had angered and antagonized many old members in many ways. Not only that, his grasp of English was shaky at best, highly suspicious for an English-language board. I suspect politics had something to do with it, or $$$, since he seemed to have many resources.
I took my leave of the board when his appointment was announced, asking for my account to be deleted. Instead, my harmless message was deleted (now no one would know what happened to me), and my account suspended until 2038 (how quaint). I suspect his hand in this.
There are other accounts of similar happenings at Thaivisa, but you won't actually find any of them posted there (of course).

Jon said...

Anon, thanks for posting your interesting story.

I'd like to hear more and would appreciate if you could drop me an email [jmarussell (at) gmail (dot) com].

I'll ensure your cloak of anonymity will remain in tact, if you prefer.

Anonymous said...

Thaivisa now exclusively ran by Junta's/Democrat Party's intelligences. Try posting critiques on the Democrat Party, Military and the PAD to see the results.