I'm not good at writing a sentimental intro for a yearly review, especially if it has to be somehow holiday-themed. But many things have happened this year that are still stuck in my mind after all these months it is only appropriate to look back at it now. Without further ado, here a some thoughts of the year gone by: Of course the biggest event of 2010 were the anti-government red shirt protests earlier this year that went on longer than anyone has expected. Somehow I'm still amazed that over these nine weeks there was still a new angle worth writing about and still uncovered aspects of the protests, let alone the countless dramatic developments. I will now not recap each and every single thing that has happened (that's what the archive is for!), but looking in hindsight I sadly have to acknowledge that not much has happened that might improve the situation. Therefore, my rant back in May just right after the end still stands to this day - there is a lot to be done!
There were several stories this year that were incomprehensible or just mind-boggling for me. For example, there was the government's ludicrous response to Aung San Suu Kyi's remarks, only to be topped by an even more ridiculous suggestion of a senator that Myanmar's democracy icon might have been bought. Then there was Kasit's submissions for the 'foot in mouth'-award with not one, but two interviews to the foreign press where he displayed his 'knowledge' about European history. Other strange stories included an army spokesperson that became an overnight celebrity, a culinary culture war, the opposition in disarray and the antics of an Aussie in Bangkok - what was he thinking...?
Unfortunately, there were also other occurrences that made me genuinely angry and made me questioning the sanity of mankind (and I'm not talking about the website "People of Walmart"). In no particular order: the army's insistence to continue using the GT200 device, which is already proven to be bogus (and having no shame to openly show their incompetence in presenting it); Krispy Kreme mania and people still going gaga over it (seriously, are people that brand-fixated to call even what is originally blue collar baked goods in the US as high class?!), Thailand's inability to introduce the Kingdom to 3G technology (while almost every other country in the region having it already and about to move on to 4G); people calling other people 'uneducated' yet at the same time failing at grammar (and still having the nerves to claim intellectual superiority) and a 'managing editor' of a 'newspaper', who is more busy preaching the most insane tweets - ever saw a Buddhist extremist? I have this year...!
But enough with the ramblings. Since this my personal review, I'd like to look back to what I have actually achieved this year. Let me first go on record saying that when I started this blog back in February I had not the slightest idea where this would lead me to. I had no idea how the protests would play out. I think this was the trial by fire for me. Now, many will argue that with me being thousands of miles away from Bangkok, I wouldn't be able to accurately report on the situation. I'd like to disagree - I didn't try to give an up to the minute report on what was happening there right now (apart from the live-blogs when the situation seriously deteriorated day by day), I was rather trying to recap the events gone by during the day and since I wasn't on the frontline, I focussed more on giving a different overview and provide context to the reader, who are interested to know more about the backstory of what is ultimately a pivotal event in recent Thai history.
No doubt the biggest scoop for me was the story about Thaksin's visit at Nelson Mandela and the question if he was really there (spoiler alert: YES!). I'm still amazed by how it quickly I actually got an answer from the Mandela foundation the next morning, thinking they might have been bombarded with press inquires already overnight. What I've done was essentially the reporter's equivalent of going through the front door to the reception desk and kindly ask for information - basically that's journalism 101! But I was still first to ask, while the entire Thai media apparently was dancing around the issue and instead going straight to the source! The reward was over 3,000 clicks within three days after this story went online, countless retweets, some coverage on Thai media (ironically with no one actually contacting me), a column about me by Suranand Veijajiva and me imagining some long faces in a building at Bang-Na!
The other story that included a surprising twist was the protest of the red shirts in Hamburg last September, not only because it was a chance to incorporate some of my own photography into my article. Essentially the red shirts in Germany, as with the Germany-based Thai diaspora in general, are a particularly very homogenous bunch of old ladies. When the goal of this protest was to make the German passer-by aware of the political situation und injustice, then they have failed in my opinion, because nearly most of the time the speeches on the loudspeakers were in Thai and even the German contributions or the direct approaches left everybody unconvinced and ultimately uninterested. And atypical for a Thai-style protest there was no food and music! I was ready to call it a day until there was a call-in by Thaksin. So I took out my voice recorder and pressed 'record'. What he said wasn't particular earth-moving, but the fact that he called-in here in Hamburg and nowhere else at the numerous other protests around the world is kinda telling for me. What then happened was typical Thai though: after Thaksin rambled continuously for almost 11 minutes, he was suddenly cut off because the power generator ran out of fuel...
All in all, in hindsight, I still can't somehow realize what advancements I have made professionally. From an avid Twitter user and editorial assistant in 2009, starting a blog in February 2010 and then seeing the progress from that point on still leaves me in sheer amazement. I have never imagined to be a guest writer at Bangkok Pundit over the summer and this gig to be continued what is now Siam Voices - I have never imagined to be actually paid for what I do, even if it's not too much, and to make my passion eventually to a job! Also, I successfully hosted a panel discussion on the Thai political crisis at my university, the first one organized at a German university on this topic after the protests. I feel nothing but pride and gratitude for what I've achieved in 2010!
And finally - this has to be said: THANK YOU ALL! THANK YOU to all readers, followers, friends, colleagues and groupies (one can dream, ey?) for your support, feedback, criticism, retweets and links. Your appreciation and acknowledgment is what drives me to keep on writing - even if it's at times exhaustive and mentally draining. I wouldn't have been able to achieve all this without you and I hope you will continue to support me when I'm building my professional future. I hope to eventually finish with university and make the jump to Bangkok full time in order to start a journalistic career there! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
And now, I have a little Christmas present for you - straight from my personal video vault! Back in 2008, I worked for a short-lived revival of a student-run TV programme called UniTV.Hamburg, which is essentially like campus TV. It was the first time I got my hands-on working in TV production and since we were under-staffed (and unfortunately not by the most helpful ones), I got my hands on nearly everything: filming, editing, narrating, hosting, producing etc. I eventually hosted two shows with nearly all segments (both in-studio and recorded) done by me until I had enough of being an almost one-man-production. This segment was done in late 2008 and aired in January 2009 and portrays the extremely fun sport of Speed Badminton (with the help of the talented Christian Betzer and Juliane Bergmann). So, enjoy this video with me essentially jumping around like a fool for five minutes - you don't need subtitles for this!
[youtube=http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbHpmQ_h88U&w=600&h=360]"Speed Badminton - UniTV.Hamburg - Januar 2009", video by me
I wish all readers and friends a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best for an awesome, successful and Happy New Year 2011!