Bangkok Post (2nd ed review)

How Very Thai gave rise to ‘Thai Thai’

 

Long-standing commentator on the Kingdom’s eccentricities discusses the second edition of his book.

By Brian Curtin

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 11.29.34 Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 11.29.24

Which cultural idiosyncrasies stick when you visit a foreign country? And what value do you accord them? Slightly amusing or perhaps just annoying? Indicative of some deep-rooted essence of that culture or merely a weird aberration? A challenge to your own vocabulary or a means of extending it? And why do some idiosyncrasies persist while others disappear or transform?

Thailand has an abundance of cultural idiosyncrasies and Philip Cornwel-Smith, a dedicated follower of local mores, has been exploring such questions for nearly two decades. Philip was the original editor of the defunct and much missed Metro magazine and of Time Out Bangkok, and his Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture is a must-read for anyone hoping to unpick such local phenomena as sniff-kissing and the pervasive influence of “hi-so” communities for Thai social hierarchies.

Originally published in 2005, the book has been expanded into a second edition with four extra chapters, and much of the rewritten material addresses how social upheaval has affected daily life here. Please describe how your new chapters relate to major cultural and/or political shifts in Thailand since the first edition.

The period between the editions has seen unprecedented challenges to the exotic Thai cliche. The world now questions those smiles. One reason I wrote the book was to celebrate the non-exotic things that also shape Thai character.

I look at how the internet has gained a Thai flavour. Modernity and the consumer lifestyle used to be synonymous with Bangkok, but increasingly they apply to the urbanising provincial middle class, too. One thread in the book is to view social evolution through the tastes of each class as it came to prominence.

Politics inevitably impacts many topics, though often indirectly. The chapter on day colours [wearing clothes of a specific colour on a certain day of the week] was an obscure curiosity for most readers _ then, overnight, the yellowshirts made it topical. Motorcycle taxis went from a lowly street fixture to an icon of a rising class now courted by election posters. Looking at everyday phenomena reveals how this political division is not just about parties, protests and personalities, but the latest of many shifts in the history of Thainess.

You have called one new chapter “Vernacular design”.

One trait of Thai street-life are those ad hoc solutions to practical problems with found materials like old planks and bits of plastic. Middle-class people associated that with slums, but the trauma of the Great Flood of 2011 turned that ingenuity into a meme on Facebook and an exhibition at the Thailand Creative & Design Centre. It became respectable once residents of housing estates suddenly had to live like canal-side squatters. Now it’s a style that is being called “vernacular design”.

Please comment on the readers Very Thai has attracted and what feedback you’ve received about it.

I wrote the book to explain what isn’t explained to expats. But its most enthusiastic fans are young, indie Thais who are hungry for fresh ideas. It’s become a required book in universities so I have to satisfy academics, too.

Last year’s exhibition of Very Thai photos outside Zen [CentralWorld] gained it a mainstream audience, who see it more sentimentally as a record of retro things that are slowly fading. In one new chapter I discuss how Very Thai became a kind of handbook for a zeitgeist wave that has made popular culture an accepted aspect of Thainess labelled “Thai Thai”. The design guru Pracha Suveeranont has written an afterword [for the second edition] about the impact of the book on creative Thais. Popular culture is low-status, edgy and even taboo, so they find the book lends a kind of legitimacy. Also they use it as a style reference for all kinds of stuff _ advertising, design, event organising. Independent of me, the book has been an exhibit in several art shows and the subject of film, mime and theatre performances.

Please discuss any criticisms you have heard about Very Thai.

Older readers complained about the font size. So we increased it. There has been less criticism than expected about giving street-life a platform as culture. That was partly to do with timing, because society was just starting to accept street culture as a legit form of Thainess. Some nationalists claim that foreigners can’t understand Thainess, yet Buddhism insists that detachment is necessary to see things clearly. There’s a concept called emic and etic _ insider and outsider views. Each is valid, and I try to integrate both in an insider/outsider approach.

The appearance of Very Thai is very different to that of other books about Thailand on the shelves. Was that a conscious decision?

Most illustrated books on Thailand strive to be beautiful and so the scene is often set up or “prettied” beforehand. That’s part of myth-making about Thainess, so it creates expectations. Yet the photos in Very Thai deliberately show normal things as-found. That impromptu aesthetic has emerged internationally _ and the public connects with this book precisely because it rings true to their experience. One reader gave the book to a friend who had moved away as an album of the photos she didn’t think to take while living here. It’s about looking at familiar things with a new eye.

The new edition kept a similar look, because the cover’s become a bit of a brand, but over a third of the pictures are new to keep up with how fast Thai tastes change.

How does Very Thai relate to other English-language literature about Thailand?

Ever more books tackle the chaotic street-life, often through fiction by the likes of John Burdett or Lawrence Osborne. But too much writing about Thai ways has veered to Orientalist extremes, whether sensationalism about infamous scandals or the fawning exoticism found in tourist, sponsored or Establishment books. Actually there is an older literary genre of objective accounts by Chinese, French, British, American traders and adventurers. Thai literature tended not to dwell on “low” topics, and murals just depict; they don’t describe.

So much of what we know about past popular culture comes from foreign observations of the kind reprinted by [local publisher] White Lotus Press. So I aspire to that legacy of insider-outsider commentaries. I’m trying to write contemporary history, but it’ll be up to future readers to judge whether I caught the tenor of the times.

 

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Tags: #features #interviews #newspaper #reviews #Thailand 

The Nation (2nd ed review)

The Bangkok We Never Lost

Protesters and developers demand more, but these guides to the city and Thai culture encourage us to venture out and enjoy what we have

by Paul Dorsey

Nation 2nd ed  rev DSC01360 crop

With anger further fouling the city air and the streets a din of roars and whistles, this might not be the best time to be exploring the unknown alleys of Bangkok. But two terrific books that have just come out will have you dodging the slings and arrows of our unfortunate era to track down the history already written – as opposed to the kind that’s being written as you read this.

Kenneth Barrett’s “22 Walks in Bangkok” ranks as one of the most thorough guides yet to the city’s historically important areas – and the newly refurbished “Very Thai” can be its ideal companion in your travelling pack. The updated and extended second edition of Philip Cornwel-Smith’s popular and influential 2004 original is just as much a must-have resource, thanks to his encyclopaedic knowledge and charming explanations about all the sights and experiences you encounter in Thailand. Again, it’s replete with hundreds of great photos by John Goss, Cornwel-Smith and others.

Of course the current political demonstrations – anti-government and pro – have never come close to blanketing the metropolis. Barrett touches the fringes of a couple of hot spots, and both books allude in passing to Thaksin Shinawatra and his legacy, but there are still plenty of places free of discontent where you can poke around for evidence of Teochew civilisation (see Barrett) and perhaps a plastic bag of refreshing flavoured sugar-water with shaved ice (see Cornwel-Smith).

In fact the first few of the 22 Walks ramble through Thonburi, remote and relatively peaceful on the other side of the big water.

Barrett’s journey begins when Thonburi was anything but peaceful. Following the downfall of Ayutthaya’s King Narai in 1688, Siamese cannonballs hurled across the river to demolish the French fort he had allowed to be built in the swamp that grew up to be Bangkok. A century later Thonburi was Siam’s capital.

Three more centuries further on, you can still spot homes there that have four wooden pillars in the doorway – which can only be removed from the inside. That’s how the original Chinese immigrants “locked the door”, explains Barrett, a veteran journalist.

And completely hidden behind the Klong San District Office is a remnant of Pong Patchamit Fort, one of five that King Rama IV built to shield his capital from invaders. Still standing is a mast on which flags were once hoisted to indicate which trading vessels were present – and later to report the weather.

Not far away, down Soi Lat Ya 17, Barrett found a seven-metre-long stone sculpture of a Chinese boat called a yannawa perched among old timbered houses. With a bodhi tree as a mast, this is an ancient shrine recalling the arrival in Thailand of Buddhist monks from Japan and China.

One of the most intriguing of Bangkok’s many intriguing areas is Bang Krachao, the vast “pig’s stomach” of land around which the Chao Phraya River swirls, which continues to be a great green lung (to mix anatomical metaphors) despite covetous commercial intentions.

Barrett sets out from the Presbyterian Samray Church, a 1910 replacement for the 1862 original, chronicling the missionaries’ story as he goes, and then has a look for what’s left of venerable Chinese rice mills. He glimpses a gilded Captain Hook and David Beckham among the artwork at Wat Pariwat next to the Montien Riverside Hotel.

Just as interesting is the Mon community that since the fall of Ayutthaya has dominated this district, further down the Phra Pradaeng Peninsula. The Mon, fierce fighters in combat, came to man the forts that King Rama I built there.

To any Bangkok resident who’s never been there, it’s impossible to imagine, somewhere in among all this concrete, “a huge area of green countryside in which quiet villages snooze down peaceful lanes”. Barrett explores “orchards, jungle, mangrove swamps and hidden temples” – and with amusement comes across the more recently inaugurated Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market, a nod to tourists, but mainly Thai tourists.

“There is no police station. You will look hard to find an ATM … The modern city is only a ferryboat ride away, but there is no hurry to travel back across the water.”

In urban Thailand and in rural Thailand, you couldn’t have a better “dictionary” than “Very Thai”, and it’s easy to imagine Cornwel-Smith strolling alongside Barrett, quizzing the locals about what they’re up to. “I try to be the open-minded ‘flaneur’ – the wandering seeker of raw experience,” writes the chronically curious former editor of Bangkok Metro magazine.

“Very Thai” explains a great deal about amulets and magic tattoos, taxi altars, luk thung, beauty pageants, katoey life, ubiquitous uniforms, edible insects and the lore of the motorcycle-taxi stand. For farang, it’s magical in its own way – although, as Pracha Suveeranont, “an expert on visual culture”, points out in an afterword, the first edition of the book became a hit with Thais too, an aid in celebrating their culture for fun and profit.

But clearly it was badly in need of updating, Cornwel-Smith writes. Since 2004, Thai pop has “gone inter” and Apichatpong Weerasethakul triumphed at Cannes. Asean is about to blossom. We’ve got those plastic kitschy but undeniably purposeful hand-clappers and foot-clappers now (the whistles will have to wait for the next edition).

And virtually everyone in Thailand has “gone virtual”, not least the fashion-plate hero of Facebook, Mae Baan Mee Nuad (Housewife with a Moustache), who’s also featured here. The social media are rampant in Thailand. In 2012 there were more snapshots posted on Instagram from Suvarnabhumi Airport and Siam Paragon than from New York’s Times Square. “Digital media actually suit the Thai character,” the author says. “Local websites collide multiple diversions as discombobulating as their predecessor, the temple fair.”

Then, digging deeper, he adds, “The difference this new medium makes is that we can now see through the former taboos.” Cornwel-Smith displays a keen if subtle passion for the country’s politics, at least in the way it affects popular culture. In addressing the difficulties of nailing down the nature of Thainess, he says, “The recent politicisation of Thais at all social levels has made discussion more open, direct and heated. As censorship grows futile, we all now know so much more how this country works. The official version has lost its monopoly.”

In another informative chapter, on the rise of “Thai Thai” – which he calls “vernacular Thainess [with] a hint of both essence and exaggeration” – Cornwel-Smith tackles the vexing issue of Thai exceptionalism with his exquisite sense of balance. He cites the frequently heard insistence that foreigners can never fully understand Thai ways, and then demonstrates how “the accusation fires both ways”.

These two books serve to reassure readers, both Thai and farang, that there is nothing to fear, scorn or being ashamed about, in either stoic tradition – or in Bangkok’s immediate future.

GUIDE BOOKS

Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture
By Philip Cornwel-Smith and John Goss
Published by River Books, Second Edition 2013
Available at Asia Books, Bt796

22 Walks in Bangkok: Exploring the City’s Historic Back Lanes and Byways
By Kenneth Barrett
Published by Tuttle / Periplus, 2013
Available at Asia Books, Bt396

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Tags: #Bangkok #newspaper #reviews #Thailand 

Where

Very Thai Second Edition Launched

Added by  on December 11, 2013

VT Where mag 2014-06-29http://wherethailand.com/thai-second-edition-launched/

Featuring fascinating explanations of various oddities from everyday Thai popular culture, from why the tissues on tables are pink to the apparent obsession with phallic objects on street stalls in Thailand, the first edition of Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith has proved a real hit since its release in December 2004. Building on that success, the second edition delves even deeper with revamped chapters, extra pages and over 200 new photographs. It also includes four new chapters covering more recent developments such as the internet, the impact of the recent political crisis, the increasing cosmopolitan chic, and the hidden political context to changes in taste. It makes a great read for travelers to Thailand who want to get more from their visit and gain a better understanding of local culture.

B995, available at Asia Books.

www.verythai.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Tags: #book #e-magazine #magazine #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

Angela Savage: Writers Ask Writers

Writers Ask Writers: Tools of the trade

Posted on 27/11/2013

By angelasavage

http://angelasavage.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/writers-ask-writers-tools-of-the-trade/

I’ve developed a passion for Western Australian fiction, this year reading Simone Lazaroo’s The Australian Fiancé, Julienne Van Loon’s Harmless, and the second novels in crime series by David Whish-Wilson and Felicity Young. On my TBR pile, I have Fractured by Dawn Barker and Elemental by Amanda Curtin. I’m also keen to get hold of Sara Foster’s Beneath the Shadows, described by one reviewer as showing ‘a quiet, non-violent mystery can pack a lot of punch’. Dawn, Amanda and Sara are part of a collective of writers in WA, together with Emma Chapman, Natasha Lester and Annabel Smith, who have a monthly discussion via their blogs on a question about the writing life.

I was inspired by their posts on being another author for a day to write my own version. This month, I’m delighted to be their guest blogger as their Writers Ask Writers series considers tools of the trade: What do you need to have around you in order to be able to write? Certain music? Special notebooks? Apps? Books? Pens?

Their questions made me realise that my writing tools are so basic, they’re almost quaint. I write my first draft using a notebook. Not a notebook computer, but a genuine, old school, tree-killing notebook. I write with a pen. Or pencil. Even a texta will do and, at a push, a lip liner. I’m not fussed.

My preferred notebook is the Marbig A5 ‘Colour Hide’, vertical spiral bound with a cardboard pocket at the front. I also love Chinese-made notebooks with nonsensical English phrases on the cover like ‘Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year’ and ‘I know that I’m too young to be in love, but I know that I like you much.’

But if I forget my notebook, I’ll scribble notes on whatever scraps of paper I can find—receipts, envelops, train tickets, business cards.

These simple tools suit my style. I’m not a planner. Writing for me involves a lot of what Marele Day calls ‘research in the imagination’ and Barry Maitland calls ‘mulling’; I think of it as percolating a story. An idea for a snatch of dialogue, a metaphor, a character’s distinguishing feature can come at any moment, and the less rigid my writing needs, the easier it is to capture inspiration when it strikes.

My Jayne Keeney PI crime fiction series are set in Thailand in the late-1990s. Among my essential reference materials are several books on Thai language, and Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith, a guide to everyday popular culture in Thailand. I rely on old travel guides to help me recreate the period, as well as journals I’ve kept of the years when I’ve lived in or travelled to Thailand.

Of course, I’m not so old school that I don’t do online research. I transfer my handwritten notes on to my Macbook Pro (aka ‘The Preciousss’) and use the internet to check facts, maps and geographic features.

But secondary sources only ever get you so far, and in my experience, to make a setting come alive, you need to do fieldwork. This leads me to my other important tool of the trade: my passport.

I’ve posted herehere and here about the value of scouting locations for my stories. That my commitment to fieldwork requires me to spend time in exotic tropical destinations is just one of many ways I suffer for my art.

Now read about what these other authors say about their tools of the trade:

‘One of the best things about writing is that it doesn’t require many tools,’ writes Dawn Barker, before making want to go out in search of the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus.
Emma Chapman‘s tools of the trade help her focus and include an intriguing ‘inspiration board’…
Amanda Curtin loves all forms of stationery, though not as much as her late cat Daisy, who ‘once famously ate all the post-it notes off the side of a manuscript.’
Sara Foster‘s writer’s toolbox turns out to be more extensive than she first imagined. I concur with her on the writer’s most precious tool of all.
Natasha Lester‘s enthusiasm for the writer’s software Scrivener borders on evangelical, though she also pines for a waterproof notebook for those ideas that come in the shower.
Annabel Smith shares my love of note taking. Using the kind of notebooks favoured by Hemingway makes her feel ‘part of a great and noble tradition’, though I wonder what Hemingway would make of her other tools like Evernote and Scrivener.

Collectively, these writers go through a hell of a lot of herbal tea and Lindt chocolate. What about you? Are there certain things you need to have around you in order to write — or to read for that matter? What are your tools of the trade?

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Tags: #blogs #book #culture #endorsements #international #reviews #Thailand 

‘The Thai Hybrid: How Thai culture makes imports its own’.

Chulalongkorn University, CommDe Department, Bangkok

A lecture to the Thai and international students doing the first foundation year of the CommDe degree programme.

Talk by Philip Cornwel-Smith

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LeCool Bangkok

LeInterview: Philip Cornwel-Smith – Writer, photographer and editor

by David Fernandez

LeCool intv 13-1029
www.lecool.com/Bangkok/en

I have been involved in some form of publishing since my schooldays. My life looks like a direct line towards where I am now, but it didn’t feel like that at the time. For two decades I have been covering popular culture here in Bangkok. First, it was editing Metro, Bangkok’s first city listings magazine, then writing and editing Time Out Bangkok, probably the first Bangkok guidebook to focus on engaging with the city more than just being a tourist.
Thai culture can be mystifying, and as a magazine editor I got asked about the everyday stuff that gets overlooked and never explained. So I wrote Very Thai as a compilation of answers that aims to describe ordinary Thai street culture. Eight years later I‘m launching an expanded 2nd edition. I felt obliged to rewrite it due to the constant social evolution of this country. (more…)

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Good Reads

Good Reads: Very Thai thread

 

www.goodreads.com/book/show/951616.Very_Thai

 

Michelle on Jul 26, 2011

rated it 4 of 5 stars

A far cry from most travel books’ “formal” culture debriefing, this book will show you what you will likely actually see and do in Thailand – through the pop and street culture. It had me ahh-ing in understanding at times and giggling madly at others (especially the section on those ridiculously flimsy tissue napkins that we Westerners seem to need 10 of to wipe the green curry off our faces…)

 

Kevin on Apr 23, 2013

rated it 5 of 5 stars

A friend marched me over to Asia Books after eating lunch one day at SUDA on Sukhumvit 14. He told me I must read it. More than that he said, I must buy it. I did. I am glad I did. I now know what a Garuda is, among other things. And just like that yellow sports car I once owned, I see them everywhere. Great pop culture education for anyone visiting or living in Thailand. Perfect for the coffee table as you will want to re-read it from time to time. Philip Cornwel-Smith should be listed as a Thai national treasure by the Thailand Ministry of Culture. Don’t look for that to happen anytime soon, but look for VERY THAI in your your local bookshop if, for some reason, you are living in Thailand or have an interest in Thailand and don’t own it already.

 

Somporn Karam on Oct 09, 2013

rated it 5 of 5 stars

It kind of Postmodern guide book that you should read before making your journey to Thailand! It’s about everyday Thai pop and streetlife stories with the fresh perspective. This book is now fully updated and expanded into a new 2nd Edition.

 

Sarah on Aug 01, 2009

rated it 5 of 5 stars

Quite simply the best book you’ll ever read about Thailand. It clears up the mystery surrounding almost every quirk of Thai contemporary culture – why are the napkins always pink, the water pipes blue and why yellow is always worn on Mondays. And explains the main complicated superstitions and beliefs from spirit houses to amulets. There’s also the quirks that ex-pats come to love – motorbike taxis and drinks in bags. All with lush brightly coloured photography. You can live in Thailand for years and never know the truth behind many of these oddities of daily life – especially as ask a Thai person and you’ll get a vague answer as it’s difficult for them to answer the question ‘Why?’

 

Alexis on Dec 13, 2011

rated it 5 of 5 stars

coffee table-ish book with informative stuff about Thai pop culture. I actually really liked this book and it made me sort of home-sick for Thailand.

 

Robert Oct 14, 2009

rated it 3 of 5 stars

A great post-trip read, this one explains a number of interesting cultural things we observed.

 

Johan De Herdt on Sep 09, 2010

rated it 5 of 5 stars

Read it during my first months in Bangkok. It clarified a lot.

 

Jason Sikora on Jun 04, 2008

rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone interested in Thailand

A fantastic and original look into the real and current culture of a wonderful country. This is not your average look at traditional Thai culture, but rather a series of top-notch articles looking at the many curious aspects of Thailand one notices while there. It really answers the questions many visitors have. It makes for a very enjoyable read.

 

Megan on May 29, 2011

rated it 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely amazing book about Thai street and pop culture. Worth every penny.

 

Sarah Hughes on Oct 17, 2009

rated it 5 of 5 stars

you absolutely must have this book if you’re ever planning to visit Thailand

 

rated it 5 of 5 stars
We are planning a trip to Thailand and this book seemed like a good way to learn some useful things before we go. It is usually the popular culture in non-Western countries that is most puzzling when you visit, and this book seems to cover most aspects of Thai everyday life and ways. It is too bulky to take with us, but has beautiful full-color pictures, and I have the feeling will be a good reference source and souvenir when we return.

 

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Tags: #book #international #reviews 

1st Southeast Asian Arts Fest, London

Wolfson & Tay bookshop, beside Tate Modern, London

Interntional launch of the 2nd Edition, as part of the 1st Southeast Asian Arts Fest. Included me giving a talk called ‘Very Thai: How Thainess Went Pop’

Things to do in London – Alternative London Listings [Sleep Magazine]VERY THAI– EVERYDAY POPULAR CULTURE Tuesday 29 November 2005, 6.30-8.30pm Talk
by Philip Cornwel-Smith followed by free Buffet of Thai Cuisine 
www.sleepmagazine.co.uk/alternativelondonlistings.html – 81k

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International Launch of 2nd Edition

1st Southeast Asian Arts Fest, London

Wolfson & Tay bookshop, beside Tate Modern, London

Tto mark the international launch the 2nd Edition of Very Thai, author Philip Cornwel-Smith gave a talk entitled‘Very Thai: How Thainess Went Pop’.

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‘Very Thai: How Thainess Went Pop’

1st Southeast Asian Arts Fest, London

Wolfson & Tay bookshop, beside Tate Modern, London

Talk by Philip Cornwel-Smith to mark the international launch the 2nd Edition of Very Thai.

Posted in: Events,

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Lomography

Very Thai in October

Lomography VT in October 2014-06-30 at 00.09.07

http://www.lomography.co.th/homes/deng/photos/11956847

 

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Tags: #blogs #photography #Thailand 

Very Thai Photo Exhibition

ZEN Department Store outdoor gallery, Ratchaprasong, Bangkok

Outdoor exhibition of 122 photographs on 2-metre long panels. Most by me, with invited work by Dow Wasiksiri, John Goss and Austin Bush.

12-1121 PCS at VTZen & Jim Thompson-_MG_4920 PCS RT VeryThai Key Visual sml

Literally millions of Bangkokians and visitors will have passed by and seen this exhibition, which was visible both at ground level on the plaza on Bangkok’s busiest corner, and also from passing vehicles and from the overhead walkway beneath the SkyTrain.

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Tags: #Bangkok #book #events #exhibitions #tourism 

Peaceful Societies

Cockfighting in Rural Thailand
http://www.peacefulsocieties.org/NAR13/130912thai.html

Last week, a young American posted on his travel blog numerous pictures, a video, and an interesting narrative describing a cockfight he attended in rural Thailand. Bradley, who describes himself as “a 25 year old dude from California,” lives and teaches English in the rural northeastern part of the country.
He explains that he was at first hesitant when he was invited by a couple of his colleagues to attend the cockfight with them. His narrative of the events at the fight gives his perceptions of cockfighting and the ways the Thai react to such violence. His description, photos, and video portray the scene quite effectively.
The facility, called “the farm,” consists of a large, metal-roofed structure housing a rink which is surrounded by four rows of concentric, stadiumstyle seats. Fluorescent lighting above the main pit adds to the clean, wholesome impression of the place. A restaurant is on the premises, and beer and alcoholic beverages are available. Bradley indicates that there are four smaller side pits on the periphery of the main arena.

(more…)

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Tags: #culture #features #international 

Amazon.co.uk

2nd edition reviews

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Very-Thai-Everyday-Popular-Culture/dp/6167339376/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385709898&sr=8-1&keywords=VERY+THAI

 

informative and pretty

By Doc B on 6 Aug 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It gave bite sized cultural insights that really enhanced my trip. I have advised many friends to get it for their trips as I don’t want to lend and lose my copy!

 

Very Thai Everyday Popular Culture… book

By mauza on 9 April 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars

Having been to Thailand a couple of times I saw this book when leaving Thai international Airport but didn’t purchase it at the time. It is the best honest factual book on Thai culture I have ever seen. Do recommend it for a memento or as a insight to travelling there…

 

1st edition review

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Very-Thai-Everyday-Popular-Culture/dp/9749863003/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1385722479&sr=8-4&keywords=VERY+THAI+hardcover

 

Amazing book full of photos with great written insights

By N. Reith on 30 Dec 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars

I’m a student of Thai Studies and language at Leeds University, and have lived in Thailand previously for over 4 years as an English teacher, backpacker and a student.

If you have ever been in Thailand for a length of time and fallen in love with the country, like myself, then this book is perfect for you. The authors have lived and worked in Thailand for very long periods of time and have great insights into the nuances of Thai culture, from ladyboys to folded napkins, sniff kisses to Buddha amulets, the authors have compiled beautiful pictures with insightful writings.

Great for learning about Thai culture and bringing back great memories. The only negative is the price, however it is hardback, with beautifully printed pages full of photos.

If you’ve never been to Thailand, and you are thinking of buying this book, it will give you a much broader knowledge of Thai culture than many guide books provide, thus setting you up for your trip to Thailand with a greater idea about how Thais live and act, and why.

 

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Thammasat Uni: ‘Phases of Bangkok’

‘Phases of Bangkok: Interpreting Thai urban popular culture since 1994’

Talk THAMMASAT 13-0716 title

The International Studies Department of Bangkok’s Thammasat University holds a talk at its Tha Phra Chan campus by Philip Cornwel-Smith. Addressing an audience of mainly American international students to familiarise them with how the Thai capital has developed, in the talk: ‘Phases of Bangkok: Interpreting Thai urban popular culture since 1994’.

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Bangkok Guide (ANZWG)

The 19th edition of the famous expatriate guide by the Australia-New Zealand Women’s Group

Getting Settled: Learn about Thai culture

20140626-ANZWG Bangkok 19 Guide a

“Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith is an excellent that helps to orientate the reader to everyday popular Thai culture; it is an insightful and intriguing read”

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Tags: #Bangkok #book #guidebooks #reviews 

Laurence Osborne

Bangkok Post: The Freedom of the City

Interview with Lawrence Osborne, author of ‘Bangkok Days’ and ‘the Wet & The Dry in Bangkok Post by Brian Curtin

VT BK Post intv LOsborne002 copy VT BK Post intv LOsborne001 copy

Q: Please discuss any writing on Bangkok that has been of particular interest to you.
‘Philip Cornwel-Smith is writing in a way that I like, with an electric eye for the streets. I liked the first novel of John Burdett’s series, Bangkok 8, which is filled with interesting observations. Christopher Moore is a good writer. I haven’t read most of the other noir guys. There is a wonderful aul Bowles story called ‘you have Left Your Lotus Pods on the Bus’, which I guess was written in the 1960s. He planned to live here, but never made it.’

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #endorsements #features #newspaper #reviews #Thailand 

Thai culture show title?

DATE??? April

Contemporary culture discussed on Thai cultural Heritage Day.

Thai PBS

Thai film and pop culture

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Songkran Festival Trailer

DATE??? April

Thai PBS

Interview with Philip Cornwel-Smith by ???name?? about Songkran for a video montage of quotes as part of a festival trailer broadcast ahead of and throughout that year’s Songran Thai New Year Festival.

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Twitter

Smiling Albino Tours

By smilingalbino

20 Feb 2013

Our favorite Thai book is #VeryThai by Philip Cornwel-Smith. Quirky facts and we can arrange for him to host you: http://www.verythai.com/

 

youyou

@feiziyou

By youyou

20 Nov 2012

Very Thai exhibition at #centralworld #bangkok #verythai instagr.am/p/SQivnkTgef/

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #reviews #website 

Lonely Planet Thorn Tree

Thorn Tree Forums

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?newPost=true&messageID=21135166&

 

Has anyone read the book Very Thai: Everyday Pop Culture?

DCAdventurer

Feb 11, 2013 9:22 AM Posts: 1

Hey all,

I’m organizing a group trip to Thailand May 18-29 for travelers from the Washington DC Area. I try to choose a book, fiction preferred, for all of our trips, so that we can pass the time while traveling and enjoy a book discussion during our trips.

I couldn’t find any novels written by Thais that are in English that seemed appropriate as a first-time introduction to read and discuss during a vacation in Thailand. I’m thinking of choosing the non-fiction Very Thai: Everyday Pop Culture since it has great reviews and explains lots of fun things you will see in Thailand.

Have any of you read this book and is it an appropriate/fun read during a trip to Thailand with a group book discussion?

Thanks,

Nejla Routsong

Organizer, DC Global Adventurers

 

PhiMeow

Feb 11, 2013 1:03 PM Posts: 3,560

Sorry I have not.

However, have a look at this thread. Although it’s about books to read in general, there are quite a few gems in there regarding fiction in/about/ Thailand and SE Asia.

The one I just finished is a steampunk short story set in a future Thailand called Windup Girl.

Happy reading!

 

Krest

Feb 11, 2013 3:26 PM Posts: 412

By some strange coincidence I met the author Philip Cornwel-Smith last Wednesday, and watched a presentation on the subject of his book.

He was interesting and engaging, its surprising just how much of Thai culture is imported from overseas. or is even a fairly recent invention. Thai things that were not invented till the mid 20th century include Pad Thai, using the greeting sawatdee and also the use of the wai as a greeting.

His book is about to be printed as an updated edition, the new version will be ready in approx one month and contains lots of updates. Worth getting, but also worth holding off for the new edition.

 

Mike_N

Feb 12, 2013 2:59 AM
Posts: 233

I’ve got the book, it is interesting and will explain the inevitable WTFs when you get to the country (like “oh, money does grow on trees, or why toilet paper is on the table and not where it belongs) but I don’t think it is the sort of book you discuss before getting here

 

homrsickalien

Feb 12, 2013 5:23 AM Posts: 63

it’s good for sure, I’d also definitely recommend Robert Cooper’s culture shock: Thailand and Alex Kerr’s Bangkok found

 

PleistoceneMegaFauna

Feb 12, 2013 5:29 PM Posts: 540

It’s one of the best books on Thailand. It may be the best book on popular culture that you would run into on a trip. Enjoyable and written with affection for the country.

 

deeral

Feb 12, 2013 6:40 PM Posts: 873

IMO If not the best book it is certainly one of the best books on modern Thai culture in the English language; well informed and well researched with some references and a bibliography.

There are a lot of those who post on TT who really could do with reading it before they post.

My only criticisms are that it is published in an annoyingly small typeface and that it hasn’t to my knowledge had an updated edition published.

 

Krest

Feb 12, 2013 6:43 PM Posts: 412

The author addressed this when I met him last week. he said the new version coming out in a month will have a larger typeface.

 

deeral

Feb 12, 2013 11:42 PM Posts: 873

He may well sell me another copy then!

 

I’m the author of Very Thai. Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you enjoy it.

The 2nd Edition of Very Thai is now out. I launched it at London’s 1st Southeast Asian Arts Festival in October.

It is 64 pages bigger, with four extra chapters (in a new section called Thaianess) and has over 200 new photos (out of nearly 600 pictures in total). I heavily rewrote it to cover the massive changes in Thailand in recent years.

This December you’ll start to see reviews and interviews coming out about the book. I’ll also be doing some talks, mainly in Bangkok. The next one will be at the National Museum, but it just got postponed due to the political rallies.

And yes, deeral, we increased the font size!

If you are interested in the subject, I’m about to relaunch the verythai.comwebsite, which will also have feeds from the #verythai hashtag threads on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And there is a Facebook page on the book at Facebook.com/VeryThaiBook. So you can interact about the book, post your own pictures and hear about upcoming events.

 

Yes-bought it last week, I’m reading the second edition right now – I noticed the font size – better,

I still believe it is the best book on vernacular Thai culture and a must for anyone visiting, living in or in any way interested in Thailand. As you say there have been massive changes in Thailand over the last decade – and I’m hoping your book has kept pace

Are you speaking anywhere near Chonburi? – please PM me if you are or would like a gig.

So done the Facebook, twitter etc….where’s my T-shirt???

 

Thai Culture books ?

by johna37

Lp’ers book recommendations for Thai culture plz…
I have some general knowledge and nit noi language skills..

What top FIVE social things have you learnt that are distinctly Thai ?

Lost in translation

1

the two most important:

  1. anything a thai wants you to do is part of thai culture
  2. anything a thai doesn’t want to do, is not part of thai culture

joking aside, the basic are well know, don’t violate the head or air space above it.

visiting a wat/house of worship, dress as you would visiting you own house of worship.

the rest is basic courtesy you were raised on, hopefully, i was. respect elders, don’t argue, talk back and basically treat people like you want to be treated.

rule to survive…………you are a guest, don’t attempt to change anything, it is their house/country.

2

2 years ago

Very Thai – Philip Cornwel-Smith and John Goss – 2005
ISBN 974 9863 00 3

Probably the standard for any EL commentary on Thai culture.
I would like to think there is a new edition on the way

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #culture #reviews #tourism 

‘Thai Pop Icons: Mysteries & Masterkeys’

Santa Fe Thailand Invitation

BNH Hospital, Bangkok

VT Talk BNH Thai Cliches 13-0205 title

Keynote talk by Philip Cornwel-Smith on ‘Thai Pop Icons: Mysteries & Masterkeys’ to an audience of new arrival expatriates in Bangkok. The event is hosted by BNH and Santa Fe and held in BNH Hospital.

Santa Fe talk DSC_4680 ed

 

 

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Pecha Kucha

‘Taking Pop’s Pulse: What Philip Cornwel-Smith does…’

Pecha Kutcha Taking Pop's Pulse title

Philip gave a talk at the Bangkok chapter of Pecha Kucha on 23 Jan 2013. The event was held at Neilson Hays Library in Bangkok. The format requires speakers to talk for 20 seconds each for 20 slides. His subject was ‘Taking Pop’s Pulse: What Philip Cornwel-Smith does’

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