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.