From intimate interviews to deep dives on topics we were personally passionate about, here are the stories we were most proud of in 2018.
Each year we ask our staff writers to talk about their favorite stories of the year.
There seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding among some expats that Thais “invited” the Japanese army into their country and willingly joined hands with the Axis power during World War II. This narrative falls apart under the weight of historical evidence on the various acts of resistance against the occupiers, especially this hopeless battle at the little-remembered outset of the invasion in an unremarkable bay.
One dives to the ocean floor to look for centuries-old shipwrecks, another boils delectable gaeng bon curry. Whether it was the first Thai woman to become an underwater archaeologist or the fourth-grade graduate who earned a Michelin star, both Jo and Auntie Banyen – relatively unknown to the public – showed Thai women making waves in 2018. They stood out for me, as reporting them required consuming amazing food and throwing up in the Gulf of Thailand.
It took almost a decade for RuPaul’s Drag Race to pull into Bangkok and brighten the LGBT scene even more. It was my privilege to interview some of the queens, follow them for weeks to their performances and discover who they really are beneath the wigs, hip pads and corsets.
More or less I hope this article helped improve understanding of these entertainers who don’t just play the clown, but are full of charisma, uniqueness, talent and nerve.
Thais may finally get to vote on Feb. 24, but junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha will remain in power until the moment the newly elected parliament starts its first day of work. No one knows what may happen between now and then. It would be naive to say military coups will be a thing of the past. Thus the need to understand the rogue army generals and my reason for choosing this opinion piece as my favorite of 2018.
It won’t be outdated anytime soon, unfortunately.
Lobsang Dundup Sherpa Subirana
What initially seemed a standard event review uncovered a thriving Irish subculture in Thailand that unites the country’s diaspora through their national sport. Interviews with the players, organizers and supporters of Bangkok’s Gaelic football community revealed how much the sporting association means to the lives of the ever-traveling Irish outside Eire – not just in Thailand, but worldwide.
The medical community is secluded and clouded by its prestigious social stature, but behind it lie some dark matters rarely discussed in the open. News of doctors and medical students committing suicide are not uncommon, but less has been discussed of what could be done about it. One can speculate on the high pressure and out-of-reach, inhuman expectations placed upon their performance, which has led many into depression, but I hope this article painted a clearer picture of what they go through to be able to become doctors and satisfy that standard, from within their community and society as a whole.
Though less fun than chasing down Slav libertines claiming dirt on Trump or as gratifying as being on the cave rescue scene, unpacking a topic that haunts my days and nights – in handy listicle form, nonetheless – was most cathartic.