Kiwi journalism intern gets lost in Thailand

Fresh out of university, Anisha Satya found herself on the frontlines of journalism in Bangkok, Thailand. Armed with a third-hand camera and a can-do attitude, she covered stories ranging from an historical political court case to lovers among the flower markets, and got to try some of the world’s most delicious street food. She says her six-week Asia New Zealand Foundation internship at Thai PBS World helped her see the world through a new lens. Anisha has a Bachelors in Communications, majoring in journalism, from the University of Canterbury.

Follow a day in the life of Asia New Zealand Foundation grantee Anisha Satya and find out what life is like for an intern at a busy newsroom in Thailand.

The first thing I was warned about before leaving for Thailand was the Lèse-majesté law - criticising Thai royalty earns a minimum three year’s imprisonment. I promised myself I’d avoid any political reporting while in Bangkok.

A month later, I was in parliament, reporting on the Lèse-majesté law.

Thai PBS World is the English division of the Thai Public Broadcasting Service. Its job is to report on Thai news for foreigners, and that day the news was a highly anticipated court hearing. After shooting photos throughout the day, I produced my first photo story.

It was really exciting. There were so many cameras in the room I couldn’t count them, and the atmosphere was just intense. Some of the photos I managed to shoot surprised me!

I worked in every medium during the internship: photography, written articles, and videos for social media. From a photo story on Palat Klong Tat, the Bangkok flower market, to a feature on sanitary products in Thailand - it was a lot to juggle, but heaps of fun.

I work best under the pump and seem to come up with the cleanest stories when there’s a short deadline. I guess it’s the excitement of a challenge, which Thailand helped me to realise.

A montage of photos showing Anisha working and with colleagues in Thailand

Anisha: "The energy, the friends I made, and the memories from dancing are the memories I’ll treasure most from this trip."

Thailand experiences a lot of things that New Zealand doesn’t. Upon first arriving in the country, I was surprised by the prevalence of electric vehicles on the road. After talking to workmates, I learned of PM2.5 (pollution particulates) and understood.

I’d never even considered particulate pollution as a reason to buy electric vehicles, because we don’t have PM2.5 regulations in New Zealand. It’s not a pressing issue for us. Understanding it was the first time I fully realised how far from home I was.

When off-duty, I wandered around the nearby malls and Ratchayothin square. The abundance of street food and easy to use trains made getting around Bangkok a simple matter.

On occasion, I took to the streets with my camera - night life in the city, alleys in Ratchathewi, cats wandering through the markets.

Street photography in Bangkok is just next level. I’m still not great at it, but Thailand is a photographer’s dream.

I also picked up an old hobby: dancing. Not having entered a studio in three years, I decided to try a beginner’s class at a local studio. Unfortunately (for my wallet), one class was not enough.

I’d forgotten how it felt to dance, and I’m so glad I went to that studio and got out of the apartment that day. The energy, the friends I made, and the memories from dancing are the memories I’ll treasure most from this trip.

A photo of Anisha and a colleague striking poses in a city park

Anisha and fellow intern Tian (left) heading to dance class

Before coming to Thailand, I’d worry about getting lost, losing my passport or adventuring too far. As a first-time solo traveller, I was prepared for the worst.

But after making friends at work, trying street food, dancing a little and getting a few stories published, I learned to relax.

I did get lost a couple of times, but it was fun. If you get lost in some parts of New Zealand, you might be out of luck with food and transport. But in Bangkok, there’s always a taxi nearby, and always a street vendor around the corner.

I’d be happy to get lost in Thailand again.

The Foundation's media programme helps New Zealand journalists cover stories that shed light on Asia and on New Zealand’s ties to the region. We support journalists to build their knowledge of Asia by providing media travel grants, internships in Asian newsrooms and fellowships for senior journalists.

Our media internship programme supports New Zealand journalism graduates and working journalists to intern at news organisations in Asia.