It feels like an eternity ago; it feels like yesterday. 2011. Bangkok’s first Ikea opened, the nation’s last elected leader won her first term in office, Maroon 5 played the capital, culture warriors were salty about Songkran boobs and a teen girl with a fancy last name sent nine people to their screaming deaths.
It was also the year Coconuts published its first story, and little did we know that it would grow into far-flung operation providing juicy info drops, hard news, thoughtful features and marvelous videos covering the eight cities from the Andaman to Philippine seas.
Coconuts Bangkok was where it all began with the first story on Sept. 15, 2001. Since that first story warning of crocodiles on the loose in Pattaya, our growing team of reporters and editors have been bringing all things weird and wondrous along with important matters that reflect our values and commitment to truth-based journalism. To celebrate, we want to revisit just a sliver of those stories, gorgeous features and bizarro moments which have become signature Coconuts flavor.
Consider this Coconuts Bangkok’s “Greatest Hits Vol I-X” of stories that made a mark on the internet.
What a long, strange trip it’s been with you all. Here’s to the next decade.
1. Bangkok’s ‘Mexican’ Gangsters (2014)
They knew little about the Latino gang culture they sought to emulate. Some were teachers, cops and bureaucrats. Yet they shared a love for that OG vato look and formed “gangs” with names like Balcony Pain, Fratez and D Sixty. Meet Thailand’s “Mexican gangsters.”
We strive to give readers what they want but – wow guys – we had no idea how much you wanted hot transgirls. This story still draws mad readers (Hello, Germany!) eight years later. Of course, few things capture the decade’s “how things started vs. how they’re going” than the four-year update’s rebranding as the 10 most beautiful transwomen in Thailand.
Unchanged in 10 years is our impulse to bring attention to exploitation of the powerless, animal or human alike. One of the most difficult sights living in Bangkok can be the children working the streets. Our two-part examination of the circumstances, including human trafficking, that got them there won distinction from the Society of Publishers in Asia, aka SOPA.
Before their team turned into the decade’s football fairy tale, some of the lads of Thai-owned team Leicester F.C. filmed themselves hurling racist abuse at Thai women in Bangkok with whom they were having a group sex sesh.
The offending players were sacked along with then-manager Nigel Pearson, a move some say cleared the way for the team’s improbable rise to the top a year later.
Back when Uighur concentration camps were just a glimmer in Xi Jinping’s eye, two men allegedly detonated a bomb in Bangkok’s busy Erawan Shrine, killing 20 people – mostly Chinese tourists – in the worst terror attack in the modern Thai state’s history. Analysts believe the attack was revenge for Thailand’s capitulation to Beijing in deporting scores of Uighurs back to possible torture, or worse. We say “allegedly” because after six years, the two prime suspects have been held in suspended animation – their trial forever stalled. Politics, much?
Coconuts is a shame-free space where sex should be a positive thing for everyone involved. But when it comes to talking about sex, Bangkok’s boys-club reputation shines through. There’s little discussion of what women are up to, and when there is – such as with our short-lived and little-mourned Jessica Rabbit tell-all series – everyone loses their minds. Like in this 2016 story of a London gal’s search for satisfaction mid-Sukhumvit. Spoiler: It got complicated.
Early on in the pandemic, when we were wondering how we got into this mess, we were reminded by this story: Humans can be terrible. Though we’ve published countless stories of wild and sometimes heart-breaking animal stories since 2011, a chimpanzee trained to bicycle around a dire zoo spraying disinfectant was one of those which went global for just being too surreal. Not only did the authorities tell the zoo to knock it off, so did enraged animal activists worldwide.
Years before Bad Genius became a global blockbuster, a university in Bangkok made headlines with a jaw-dropper dumb way to prevent students from cheating on their exams. No it wasn’t some software algorithm or monitoring AI, but paper helmets.
We’re not short of perspective, particularly when faced with infuriating injustice and impunity. When two young Britons were savagely murdered on Koh Tao, we gave voice to the widespread horror over how the subsequent investigation unfolded.
Possibly the high points of this year came in April, at least for one convenience store-obsessed reptile who decided he was king of the instant milk products shelf after being thwarted by closed doors to the drinks. Just watch the video, it does not disappoint: