Thailand has no shortage of bloggers. It's hard to sit in an Internet cafe in a farang area without seeing at least one person updating a blog or travel site about their latest amazing adventure. I call these blogs "superhero diaries". In the mind of the superhero blogger, they are on a fantastic adventure that's never been experienced before, at least not by their friends at work anyway. These blogs are great for "first impressions' and keeping in touch with friends but not in the way of real depth or insight into Thai culture or lifestyle.
However, the circle of bloggers who live in Thailand, blog in English, provide insights into Thai culture beyond beaches and bar girls and update on a semi-regular basis is far smaller. I've seen a few come and go, but I've now established a circle of blogs that I believe are worth reading on a regular basis and can offer something different.
This is not meant to be an extensive or comprehensive list. Just my own personal tastes:
The Lost Boy
Matt Crook is , quite possibly, the most popular blogger in Thailand. He's been in Thailand for less than two years, but in that time has made enough contacts to make himself a regular voice in various publications around the kingdom. Matt's early posts smacked of the "superhero" style mentioned above, but he's quickly settled in, developed his style and found some less indulgent topics to blog about. The Lost Boy is good place to get short, lively and often thought provoking topics on all things Thailand. Matt also happens to be a nice guy.
Primarily a site on politics, but invest some time into his posts and you'll find BP offers some astute insights into Thai culture simply through his extensive and informed political prose. I'm pretty sure BP must be retired, because of the sheer amount of time he clearly spends scrutinising each piece of media. He has some sympathetic leanings towards the corrupt and arrogant Thaksin but he welcomes debate on issues he raises. His skill at translation offers a unique perspective most bloggers can't offer and during the coup of '06 and the new year's eve bombings, Pundit provided far greater coverage than Thai TV. That's a seriously dedicated blogger.
As the name suggests, the site is actually a collection of Thai blogs with something to suit every taste. At the time of writing, Richard Barrow and Stephen Cleary seem to be the two best bloggers. Many of the blogs are geared towards 'photo blogging' though, and many of the blog debates have slightly arrogant or uninformed "I went to Thailand for a week and meet a girl so I know everything" style remarks. In fact it's only the lack of personality on the site that stops it from being my favourite.
Stickman is a famous blog amongst long term residents (especially teachers) for two main reasons. Firstly, he has been around from days long before blogging was really popular (in fact his site is a real site rather than a blog) and secondly, he writes about and accepts reader contributions concerning Thai bar girls and sex. What more do most visitors need? Actually he has a fair share of critics as well but either way his site is entertaining. Not as regularly updated as it used to be though.
Kitty: Look what the cat dragged in!
Actually, Kitty is Thai but qualifies for placement here because - by her own affirmation - she is western minded. The first thing you'll notice about Kitty's site is that is run by a young and beautiful woman but there's more. After all, this is the individual who stood up to Sittichai at the FCCT and told him to stop making sexist jokes. What's more, Kitty has a sharp sense of humour and provides a good perspective from a modern minded Thai.
That would be the five blogs I'd recommend to anyone. There are more worth mentioning: Thai crisis is a new blog that shows a lot of promise. Thailandjumpedtheshark is run by the very well informed and open to debate Fonzi, if only he didn't have such an obsession with attacking 'The Nation' newspaper.
Thai prison life is a fantastic blog that has been going for a while but I only recently began to give it the attention it deserves.
Vern runs a blog called Thaipulse! It's a bit salacious for my personal taste but it's not badly written at all.
Phil Roeland (who happens to be my boss) runs a good column at ajarn.com that provides some witty insights into the teaching side of life.
Last but hell no not least facthai.com - a group with which I am affiliated - run a fantastic blog that isn't really about lifestyle but about freedom of speech in Thailand. A crucial battle that cannot and should not be ignored by anyone who professes to love the place.
So that's my lot. Needless to say there are numerous piles of garbage on the web, too. You only have to look at a large portion of the ex-pat community to guess that. The two most recently bought to my attention are Iris the drama queen and Keith Summers, who clearly has 'issues'.
So that's all. Some of these people are friends, some are colleagues, some I've met once and some I wouldn't know if I walked into them.
I guess it wouldn't be fair for me to rate my own blog. Perhaps someone else would like to do it. Matt would be an ideal candidate, since I took an unduly harsh pop at him in his early blogging days and Matt was big enough to rise above it. Fancy your chance for some payback, Matt? :-)
All other blog recommendations are welcome here, too.