‘Chickynet’ : Local social networking for women in Thailand

Chickynet is a social networking website for women in Thailand. What started as a facebook site in Phuket has now become a multi-sited social network with over 2400 members scattered across different parts of Thailand. Chickynet was founded in April 2009 by Berthe Mandaat to make some new friends when she moved to Phuket from the Netherlands. Since then the site has expanded from its stronghold in Phuket, where over 1000 members still reside, to other locations such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Koh Samui and Pattaya. Although the vast majority of members are ‘expats’ of different nationalities, Berthe estimates that around 10% of the membership is Thai, with the average age of members being 35 years old. The site is 100% member driven and an important source of information for both new arrivals in Thailand and established residents. Members offer advice and signposting to different services and amenities in their local area, such as where to find ‘good vegetarian restaurants in Phuket’, ‘yoga classes in Chiang Mai’, ‘hotels in Bangkok’ and ‘top quality sausage and bacon in Hua Hin’!

But Chickynet is more than just an online information portal, it is a local community of members that meet up and support each other offline in different places. As Berthe says ‘Chicky Net is sort of your own local neighborhood where you help each other out, the atmosphere is very friendly and positive…it’s a small and intimate network compared to other social media’. During my time in Hua Hin I was invited to two very welcoming (and fun!) Chickynet events where I met an international group of women who came to establish new friendships and re-connect with old ones (over a very civilised bottle of prosecco). As well as providing a social function for women to meet new people, Chickynet also acts as a support network in times of personal crisis, as Berthe says ‘Chickynet offers women an opportunity to find support that was not available before’.

Chickynet also showcases the experiences of women in Thailand through its blog roll, featuring interviews with expat women and showcasing women bloggers. British expat Teresa Shaw kindly agreed to share her Chickynet interview with us. She talks about her move to Thailand from Nottingham with her husband on a ‘gap year’ that never quite ended and her experiences as an English teacher in Hua Hin. Interestingly, she reveals that a key positive aspect about Thailand is the ‘lifestyle’. Read the full interview here.

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