New generation of Dotcom Thai-coons
City Life, Chiang Mai, Feb 2003 edition

Heck, what does it take to get famous in Thailand these days?

Well, web surfers seeking info on Thailand are sure to come across the incredible life story of one Nattawud ‘Gor’ Daoruang. At just 16 years old, he has fans all over the world, has dropped out of school (twice), makes more money than his mother (honestly) and been in and out of drug rehab more times than he’s crashed his motorbike. He also has an online book selling business, is planning to get married soon, boasts articulate English and even writes a column for the Bangkok Post. Some roll model this guy is: suddenly he is a delinquent, success story and a teenage celebrity simultaneously.

The trouble is, his site isn’t difficult to miss either-it’s one of the highest ranking Thailand sites in most search engines and receives thousands of hits daily. Over the past three years he has been interviewed by countless international newspapers, his tell-all online diary has featured in many more publications than there are expat mags in Chiang Mai, and even Fox TV tracked him down to his Samut Prakarn home for inclusion in a documentary.

In many ways our hero is a typical Thai teenage boy: romancing several girls simultaneously; street dragging his bike after midnight; obsessed with computer games and comics; succumbing to ya baa and more. His extensive site (www.thailandlife.com) is Thailand’s chief online window to the world. It features everything from learning Thai to detailed insights into Thai idiosyncrasies such as spirit houses, amulets and other customs. Whether you’re interested in gorgeous pics, how to wai, monk ordination, spicy food, life in a Thai school or just plain mundane routine things, this plucky teenage has it all covered, and more.

The tyke’s little goldmine started out as an English language project while he was still at Sriwittiyapaknam school. Three years of nurturing from the computer master, Richard Barrow, and he’s easily become the most successful of the 500-odd students who have created sites from this cyber-phile school. These days Gor usually nurses his pool-hall hangovers by helping Richard run an online bookshop selling Thai language tutorial books to overseas customers. ‘Thai for lovers’ - their best seller - is shipped off by the dozen to wife-hunters the world over. Gor now keeps busy updating pages with delicious pieces like ‘Pom rak khun, kit tung maak’ (I love you and miss you very much) and other guaranteed draw-cards.

“Lucky my mother doesn’t know English”, he comments, with a hint of irony. “She and my teachers mustn’t read about my life on the site”.

“I want to teach other kids not to be like me”, he advises, but is also quick to point out the brand spanking new motorbike he snapped up with his first half-yearly profit share.

“Many people visit my site to learn how to talk to their Thai girlfriend”, he explained to me. “There is everything you need to know about Thailand, but of course, some things I cannot put on.”

“People ask all the time for sex words, but this is a clean site, for people interested in Thailand and romance.”

It’s all a match made in heaven really. Gor’s site pulls in the visitors and Richard supervises the logistics. Role model or not, this is the sort of enterprising guy Dr. Thaksin would be proud of. And what’s more, he’s come this far without a hint of bribery, tax evasion, extortion, kidnapping, wife-slaying or gross misappropriation of funds. In fact he didn’t even have a chance to cheat in his exams. What a hero indeed!

By: Seymour Cumming (investigative-journalist-at-large)