Finding Bangkok’s Creative Edge

A Very Thai live event in Bangkok’s ‘new’ old town.
by Philip Cornwel-Smith

Finding Bangkok’s Creative Edge

Bangkok experienced a new kind of festival over the middle weekend of February – an “ideas festival”. BangkokEdge combined diverse threads into an unusual mix: literary talks, city forums, lifestyle workshops, outdoor films, food trucks and big-name Thai singers. In this downcast period, thousands of Bangkokians relished the intelligent entertainment and cultural sophistication in a scene dominated by lowbrow commercial pop. It was such a success that BangkokEdge 2 is being planned for next year.

The festival’s name reflects its progressive tone. The talks had real substance, with edge. Hyeonseo Lee relived her escape from North Korea. Jung Chang spoke about the bans on her memoir Wild Swans and biography of Mao. Duangrit Bunnag’s provocative vision for a creative city, Bangkok Manifesto, drew cheers from a hall packed with young Thais. Panels discussed the threats to rivers and communities, the geo-poltitics of the new Asia, changes in Burma, and whether Bangkok really is a gay paradise or not.

Bangkok Manifesto

Duangrit Bunnag announcing his ‘Bangkok Manifesto’ at Bangkok Edge

There was a focus on contemporary culture too. Edge is located is in the historic old city, on a riverside that is reviving into a creative district. The bands (headlined by Hugo, Palmy, Ornaree, Lek Greasy Cafe) were indy. We got to hear Kevin Kwan discuss his hi-so hit Crazy Rich Asians; thriller novelists John Burdett and Christopher Moore debate the rise of Bangkok Noir; and Veraporn Nitiprapha dissect her SEAWrite-winning novel ‘Blind Earthworm in a Labyrinth’.

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SEAWrite Award-winning author Veeraporn Nitiprapha, and Jung Chang, bestselling author of ‘Wild Swans’

A panel called ‘Bangkok’s Leading Edge’ explored Thai subcultures with three leading Thai creatives [disclosure: I was moderator]. Graffiti artist Alex Face spoke on street art, director Kongdej Jaturanrasmee on indie films, and nightlife impresario Pongsuang ‘Note’ Kunprasop on the rise of Thai fashion sense as seen from the DJ booth at his Dudesweet party nights.

Bangkok Leading Edge_1

Alex Face describing his graffiti with film director Kongdej Jaturanrasmee and Dudesweet party organiser Pongsuang ‘Note’ Kunprasop, moderated by Philip Cornwel-Smith

The festival founder, Mom Ratchawang Narisa Chakrabongse, comes from a literary background, as the publisher of River Books. She wanted to launch a writers festival in Bangkok, but the format hasn’t taken off here, despite a couple of low-key attempts like two WordPlay festivals at the Neilson Hays Library. The secret to BangkokEdge is that she conceived it not as “literary” but as an “ideas festival”.

Ideas do matter in Thai society, but it has traditionally been an oral culture, less focused on the written word. Even in the modern era that remains largely true. Historically, Thai books tended to be manuals: how-to guides in ritual, medical, farming, or some other practical need. Manuals still rule Bangkok bookshelves today, whether business, education, language, cookery, decor or guidebooks. The other historical format was graphic. The murals, banners and illustrated folding books of scripture and epic poems were essentially panel cartoons – and illustration still flourishes in comics, travelogues, cute indy pocketbooks and social media.

The festival format was also styled to appeal to Thai ways. “We staged Bangkok Edge as a ‘contemporary temple fair’,” says Narisa. “Many things are going on at the same time, so people can browse around and choose what appeals to them. Some may go for the talk, others for the music, or the films, or for the food. We have lots of things to nourish different interests.”

HugoPalmy

Pop stars Hugo and Palmy headlined at Bangkok Edge

Veterans of film, arts and literary festivals are familiar with the fact that you can’t see all the talks, workshops, and other events. This was frustrating to some, but is unavoidable if a festival is to have diversity and buzz. Most of the Thai language programs were strung in a series at one venue. In the end, several sessions ended up bilingual. No matter: the talks and concerts have been uploaded to YouTube.

Among workshops on book design with Xavier Comas and crowdfunding with Jay Montonn, were cooking demonstrations. Chef Bo of Bo.lan and Err explained the essentials of Thai curry paste, while Robert Carmack and Morrison Polkinghorne, authors of ‘The Burma Cookbook’, demonstrated piquant recipes from Myanmar.

Burma Cookbook

Morrison Polkinghorne and Robert Carmack of Globetrotting Gourmet food tours demonstrated recipes from ‘The Burma Cookbook’

In between talks and workshops, festival-goers could mill around the site and grab lunch, drinks or snacks from the many food trucks and vendor carts set up along Maharat Road and in the MuseumSiam grounds. There were also stalls selling books, clothing, design items and ecological products in the vein of Bangkok’s pop-up market phenomenon.

A “chill pass” (B500 for the weekend) gave access to relax in the riverside grounds and beer garden of Chakrabongse Palace, with tours to the house being a hot ticket. To mark the fact that Saturday was Valentines Day, a live chat session on the music stage covered stories about how couples met, hosted by Hana Tassanawalai, wife of Hugo Chakrabongse.

The organisers had expected a few thousand visitors, figuring it was an untested concept, located in the old town, and would appeal to niche groups. The response was astonishing. The first day 17,000 people turned up, plus 12,000 on the Sunday. Evidently Bangkok relished having such an event.

“I just love that there’s a festival specially about my own city,” said Somporn, 27, who attended sessions on gentrification and about the river. Many gave feedback that they were especially pleased to have a festival about their city, where they could hear independent experts talk about issues that matter to them, and have the chance to question the speakers.

This runaway success encouraged the organisers to plan BangkokEdge2 on 4-5 February 2017. It will be held at the same venues, and with even more attractions planned for the weekend. Like its logo bridging Bangkok’s old and new skylines, the festival straddled the tensions between traditional and contemporary. Now with its own dedicated annual festival, Bangkok has another way to keep its edge.

This article was first posted in Bangkok 101 magazine’s website.

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #culture #e-magazine #events #exhibitions #music #popularculture 

Liquid Bangkok

Very Thai author joins up with Smiling Albino to research a Very Thai-style river adventure with boutique travel agency Smiling Albino called Liquid Bangkok.

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Tags: #Bangkok #talks #Thailand #tourism #video 

Pop Culture talk at Bangkok Edge Festival

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Thailand’s first ‘Ideas Festival’, Bangkok Edge, will feature talks, workshops, music, film, tours and an exhibition, along with food and other entertainment on Feb 13-14, 2016.

On Feb 14 at 1-2pm, Very Thai author Philip Cornwel-Smith will host one of the panel discussions, ‘Where is Bangkok’s Leading Edge‘, with three Thai figures who are moving the culture forward. the talk will be at the Rachini School venue in the Tha Tien festival enclave.

Philip will look at how Thai trends emerge, become hip and then get accepted into the mainstream.

Pongsuang ‘Note’ Kunprasop the founder of Dudesweet nightlife theme party phenomenon will discuss changing fashion in the context of music.

Kongdej Jaturanrassmee, the film director of Tang Wong and Snap, among other acclaimed films, will look at the situation of art film in Thailand.

Alex Face, one of Thailand’s most prominent graffiti artists, gives his take on creating artistic space in public view.

 

http://www.bangkokedge.com

https://www.facebook.com/bangkokedge/?fref=ts

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #academic #art #Bangkok #culture #events #fashion #film #graffiti #music #nightlife #talks 

Bangkok Edge festival schedule

Here is the full schedule of Bangkok Edge, Thailand’s first Ideas Festival.

Among all the talks and events, look out for Very Thai author Philip Cornwel-Smith, who will head a panel on the ‘leading edge’ of Bangkok’s popular culture on Sunday Feb 14 at 1-pm.

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For details see:

http://www.bangkokedge.com

https://www.facebook.com/bangkokedge/?fref=ts

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #academic #Bangkok #culture #events #festivals #international #music #talks #Thailand 

Exhibiting the Overlooked

 

Embracing Thai Popular Culture as Heritage

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National Museum Volunteers Lecture series talk by Philip Cornwel-Smith about how popular culture artefacts have eventually come to be displayed, exhibited and treated as a serious aspect of Thai culture.

At the National Museum on Thursday morning of Nov 26, 2016, following a talk by Steve Van Beek on Thailand’s water culture.

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Tags: #academic #culture #events #musuems #popularculture #talks #Thailand 

Podcast about Very Thai by TalkTravelAsia

 

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‘Very Thai’ continues to spark media coverage. The latest is a podcast on TalkTravelAsia. The podcast is an interview with author Philip Cornwel-Smith by journalist Trevor Ranges and Scott Coates, who was co-founder of the bespoke travel agency Smiling Albino.

The podcast is available through the following channels:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/talktravelasia/talk-travel-asia-episode-28-very-thai-with-philip-cornwel-smith

iTunes: https://soundcloud.com/talktravelasia/talk-travel-asia-episode-28-very-thai-with-philip-cornwel-smith

TalkTravelAsia website: http://talktravelasia.com/2015/07/15/episode-28-very-thailand-with-philip-cornwel-smith/

Twitter: @TalkTravelAsia

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Posted in: about the book, Blog, Events, Media,

Tags: #Bangkok #culture #interviews #podcast #Thailand #website 

TCDC: Very Thai Cultural Filters

How Hybrids Preserve and Project a Sense of Thainess

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https://youtu.be/Kfp32Km69xU

My talk on the cultural filters involved in Thai design is now viewable online at You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfp32Km69xU&feature=youtu.be

As part of the TCDC exhibition ‘hello World’, Philip Cornwel-Smith gives a talk today at TCDC on 8 March 2014. Called ’Very Thai Cultural Filters: How Hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess’, the talk goes into the ways that Thais are selective about what they import and adapt into hybrids.

Various Thai values, tastes and taboos act as filters to let in only part of the import while screening out aspects that don’t suit. This leads the talk to consider what cultural filters are needed in order to create designs, products and services that can appeal to the outside world while projecting a sense of Thainess. This means looking at what aspects of Thainess appeal (or not) to outsiders and how Thais might go about the tricky task of filtering their own cultural traits so that everyone benefits.

 

 

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Tags: #culture #design #events #tcdc #Thailand #video 

TBEX Asia Preview Talk: Shrines of Ratchaprasong

Talk about Thai beliefs in Hindu gods and the spirit world at Gaysorn, in a preview of the TBEX Asia Travel Bloggers Conference.

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An advance party of travel bloggers from the US did a preview trip to Bangkok on Feb 22, 2015. The city will host the first Asian edition of the world’s biggest travel blogging conference, TBEX Asia on October 15-18, 2015. Philip gave a talk to the bloggers about the famous Hindu shrines located around the Ratchaprasong Intersection where Gaysorn is located. The bloggers later visited the shrines, now with some background knowledge to understand the dynamics of the shrines, which are an internationally-famous draw for tourists, especially Asians.

Philip will give further talks as part of the TBEX Asia conference.

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Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #blogs #culture #streetlife #Thailand #tourism #tradition 

Talk to IDEA Group

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Philip Cornwel-Smith gave a talk to the IDEA Group, an informal gathering of expatriates who regularly meet to discuss topics about Thailand with a guest speaker. Philip spoke on the topic ‘Very Thai, Very Volatile: 20 years of change in Popular Culture’.

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Tags: #academic #culture #popularculture #talks #Thailand 

Will Bangkok’s cable nests get untangled and buried?

Oh no, I’ll have to rewrite the chapter on tangled wire installation art in Thailand if this ever actually happens…

http://bangkok.coconuts.co/2015/01/20/tangled-cable-nightmare-nests-all-disappear-bangkok

wires to be buried 2015-01-21 at 12.57.56 PM

Posted in: Blog,

Tags: #Bangkok #popularculture #streetlife 

Bangkok creativity profile for Culture 360°

A roundup of Bangkok’s art and creative scene, with one of the quotes from yours truly. Thanks for doing this David Fernández, we need more coverage for Bangkok’s arts to flourish. The article’s done for the Asia Europe Foundation, which could explain why the title sounds like bureaucratic filing system category: ‘By people / In cities: Bangkok | city profile’. File Bangkok under ‘Creative’.

http://culture360.asef.org/category/magazine/profiles/

By people : In cities | Bangkok | city profile | culture360.asef.org | culture360.asef.org

Culture 360 Creative Bkk slide

 

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Tags: #academic #art #BACC #Bangkok #culture #design #e-magazine #exhibitions #features #interviews #tcdc #website 

The Diplomat

Very Thai: Street, Style and Society in the Kingdom

How a book by a Bangkok-based British author came to embody a shift in Thai cultural consciousness.

By Jonathan DeHart

Thailand has faced a public relations crisis in recent months. The May 22 coup and the recent murder of two British tourists has cast a shadow over the sunny “Land of Smiles“ image of golden temples, graceful dances and saffron robed monks carrying alms bowls.

But neither political turmoil nor idealized cultural traditions reflect the reality of daily life as it is lived by ordinary Thai citizens. Discovering what really makes the nation tick was precisely the goal of veteran Bangkok-based British journalist Philip Cornwel-Smith when he set out to write his enlightening, encyclopedic and entertaining book, Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture, now in its second edition.

Drawing on a wealth of insight from experts on history, anthropology, sociology and design; and generously illustrated with colorful photographs taken by Cornwel-Smith and American photographer John Goss, the book examines everything from aesthetics to folk arts.

Most significantly, it does so without succumbing to clichés or dwelling on the seedier side of life in Thailand, as exaggerated by media and bar-girl fiction. “The aim of my book was specifically to avoid those sensationalist things and to focus on topics that didn’t get looked at seriously,” Cornwel-Smith told The Diplomat. “I wanted to give a refreshing look at Thailand, to explain ‘low status’ or ‘realistic’ aspects of Thai culture. Not wholly modern, not wholly traditional – these are the criteria for things in the book.”

While a book that shuns hackneyed ideas about the kingdom’s beguiling culture would unsurprisingly be of interest to foreigners, Very Thai struck a chord with the Thai public as well. In the years following the release of its first edition in 2004, the book came to symbolize a shift in Thai society, which was on the cusp of a cultural awakening.

“The book came out at a time when the popular culture just started to become legitimized within the broader culture,” Cornwel-Smith says. “It wasn’t counted as ‘culture’ until that point. Ideas of ‘righteousness’ and ‘prestige’ were part of the official culture. Street life didn’t really fit into that. But it’s unambiguously a form of culture.”

Indeed, street food stalls, motorcycle taxi drivers in multi-hued jackets, cats nibbling on fruit offerings at a shrine, a dog panting in the shade next to a pile of coconut shells, a jumble of power lines sagging above a man dozing on a concrete bench just a few feet from the road where hot pink taxis and tuk-tuks (auto-rickshaws) zip by – these are the common street vignettes that Very Thai accounts for, in impressive detail.

And while the book begins on the street, it goes on to explore all facets of life in Thailand. It is divided into five sections: Street, Personal, Ritual, Sanuk (“fun” in Thai), and Thainess. (It is notable that an entire section is devoted to fun.) The eclectic approach was a natural choice for Cornwel-Smith who says, “I had already been looking at the culture in a pixelated way…doing a city listings magazine and putting together Time Out Bangkok guide.”

Through this “pixelated” view, the book manages to explore the cultural soul of the nation by examining the minutia of daily life: food on sticks, taxi altars, temple fairs, ghost stories, soap operas, beauty pageants, energy drinks.

Other mysteries of the mundane that are explored include quirkily groomed “poodle bushes,” garishly decorated tuk-tuks and trucks, fairy lights, Greco-Roman building facades, the tiny pink napkins found on restaurant tables nationwide, and meticulously coiffed “hi-society” socialites who “actively seek face, invent face, even leverage borrowed face (by borrowing gems),” Cornwel-Smith writes. The book also offers insights on beliefs close to the heart of the nation, from ever-present royal family portraits and the astrological importance of colors to magic tattoos and fortune telling.

Some folk beliefs explored in the book – certain aspects of amulet culture, mediumship and shamanic practices to name a few – still carry a whiff of taboo. But attitudes around these topics are softening, at an alarming speed in some cases.

“The transition of popular culture being accepted within Thailand happened very quickly,” Cornwel-Smith says. An example can be seen in the way tattoos have achieved a higher degree of acceptance in society within a short period. “The social context around tattoos has really changed since the first edition of the book (launched in 2004),” Cornwel-Smith says. “Tattoos are now much more acceptable, partially due to Angelina Jolie getting one.”

Thanks to its diversity of topics, street cred, and striking design, Very Thai has “gone beyond its creators,” Cornwel- Smith says. “It became a source book for those working in design, products, events, theater, among other kinds of work.”

Yet, the book’s reach does not end with the creative class. “They at the cutting edge put it out into culture, which has gradually made it mainstream.”

In a testament to the explosion in soi culture’s popularity, it now forms the basis of a popular theme park, Ploen Wan, which opened in a resort town in recent years. Geared towards Thai visitors, Ploen Wan “includes things like local transportation, old barbershops, general stores, pharmacies…        ‘retro’ stuff,” Cornwel-Smith explains. This form of “retro heritage” even carries a widely known slang epithet now – “Thai Thai” – coined by Suveeranont, who points to Very Thai as an emblem of this sensibility.

Ploen Wan is a physical manifestation of the Thai Thai boom, but a wider following has formed around the book online, where fans are exploring its themes further. “The Internet is a major part of the national discussion around culture taking place in Thailand now,” Cornwel-Smith says.

The Very Thai website serves as a portal on the topic. It features a blog and streams social media postings that use the #verythai hashtag in Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. “These are posted not just by me but by fans of the book’s subject and aesthetic. These hashtags were actually started by fans of the book.”

In some cases, the book itself has been used as a cultural artifact, having appeared in several art exhibitions in Bangkok, Chiang mai, Brussels and Barcelona. It has also been turned into a video installation, formed the basis of a mime production and has even been physically performed with as a puppet on stage, Cornwel-Smith explains. “There are so many ways in which Very Thai has become a cultural phenomenon in its own right.”

How could a book exploring such simple aspects of a culture have such a far-reaching impact in such a short time? Suveeranont sums it up best He wrote in the afterword to the second edition of the book: “The reason is that it reflects a mood, appearing at a time when Thai society began to debate the nature of ‘Thainess’… Cornwel-Smith’s book thus operates at the much wider level of a phi meuang, or Zeitgeist – the ‘spirit of the age’… This book enabled Thais to appreciate that ‘very Thai’ things, which were seen as low-brow, had been part of Thainess all along.”

Very Thai — The Diplomat

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Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #book #e-magazine #features #interviews #popularculture #reviews #Thailand #website 

Thrilled to BITS

 

Staying true to type. BITS MMXIV – Bangkok International Typographic Symposium is happening on November 15 & 16 at BACC, plus a workshop day on the 14th. Speakers from local and international foundries tackle letterform issues from glyphs and the digital landscape to femininity in printing and typography as social activism.

Get inside the loop – go along.

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BITS MMXIV International Conference
15 – 16 November 2014
BACC

—————

15 November 2014

Wee Viraporn
10.00 -11.30 am.

“Reflecting myself, according to others, through type”

To compare my relationship with type to a person, it is like having a very good friend. He’s been around me since before I became an art student. Even though we haven’t become best friends or business partners, he has always been there for me whenever I need help or need someone to play with.

In this experimental project, I will ask this friend to help me with expressing myself, according to how other friends see me.

—–

Catherine Dixon
11.30 -12.30 am.

“Hands-on: typography as social activism”

With more and more of modern daily life now managed for us digitally, so a converse fascination with the analogue in typography and lettering practice has grown, especially in relation to letterpress printing. So great is current designerly enthusiasm for such hands-on approaches that many educational institutions are now seeking to reinstate letterpress technologies alongside their digital contemporaries. This talk explores the social potential of engaging with typography in this hands-on way, from both a UK educational perspective and beyond – featured projects including a workshop in a Brazilian slum where an old press is helping to build community, and the vibrant political activism evident in design studios in Buenos Aires and Barcelona.

—–

Julius Hon-Man Hui
2.00 – 3.00 pm.

“In between the East & West: Dalton Maag’s Chinese type design”

Those are challenging years to people at Dalton Maag – they have been worked out giant size font projects that cover almost all the scripts in the world, notably the Nokia Pure, HP Simplified and Intel Sans.

Chinese is one of the most challenging scrips for DaMa people – huge character set, complex structure, loose system, a completely different aesthetic to western type, and lot of different industrial standard to fulfil.

Font developer and Chinese script project lead Julius Hui will share DaMa’s experience in tackling Chinese script’s design problems, including many the many perspective of Latin-Chinese matching, which should be the very first time to most BITS audience.

—–

Danh Hong
3.00 – 4.00 pm.

“Khmer UI font for Small Device”

UI font is designed to reduce the overall body height of text, and allow Khmer to have descender and ascender-lines closer to other scripts. It also allows their use in UI components where vertical space is a premium.

—–

Bruno Maag
4.00 – 5.00 pm.

“Type in a digital landscape”

The presentation explores how the tone of voice of a typeface can be expressed in a medium that has broad parameters, asks how technology hinders or assists the reproduction of fonts, and asks if fonts can be responsive.

The discussion topics are set against a background of Bruno Maag’s experience creating fonts for digital usage as far back as 1995, and Dalton Maag’s more recent experience working on projects with Ubuntu, Nokia, Intel and HP.

—————

16 November 2014

Roger Black
10.30 – 11.30 am.

“Your type is your brand”

Business people still think tat their products and services are their brands. A little industrial design, a little packaging, and the brand emerges. But in the new information economy, services are digital, and products are displayed on flat screens, with type. Customer experience becomes user experience. Content is king. So that makes design . . . queen?

Considering the amount of interaction with customers that involves fonts, it’s a wonder that more enterprises have not invested in unique typefaces. Custom fonts. Most still make do with the great number of typefaces available in the analog world. It’s possible to create an individual look in print, on products, in stores and advertising, but only a fraction of the the fonts are available as web fonts. So we see a lot of Georgia and Verdana . . . and Arial.

Roger Black talks about some of the history of type branding. He recounts case studies in publication design, where a particular voice and personality has been achieved through a typeface or typographical style. He shows examples of custom fonts used for an entire brand—from the logotype to the digital UI. And finally he takes up the issue of Unicode type branding, where the design has to combine glyphs for Latin, CKJ, Hindic, Arabic and the so-called minority scripts.

A brand, it’s been said, is what people think of you when you are not there. Black shows how type branding can endure.

—–

Thanarat Vachiruckul
11.30 -12.30 am.

“From user to producer”

Although, trial and error experience is an old story that have been told many times over in type design field. This version will be slightly different in his own right. From choosing and applying fonts to the layout to designing and publishing his own fonts worldwide; the story of a Thai type designer who utilizes research and knowledge in creating fonts and turning them into a full-time business as a partner of Katatrad Foundry. The stuffs along the way are always more interesting than the outcome.

—–

Georg Seifert
2.00 – 3.00 pm.

“Why does Glyphs support Thai?”

The story why I started making Glyphs, why it was easy to support Asian languages and what I learned on the way.

—–

Piyaluk Benjadol
3.00 – 4.00 pm.

“The Story of Yaw Ying (ญ): How Learning Alphabet relates to Thai Femininity Discourses?” แกะรอย ญ หญิง: การเรียนรู้ตัวอักษรสัมพันธ์กับวาทกรรมความเป็นเพศหญิงของไทยอย่างไร?

This design research explores 114-year history of one letter out of 44 Thai alphabets, Yaw Ying (ญ), in pre-school alphabet primers as the main visual resources. As a language learning tool before we can read, write, or speak, we become familiar with each letter by memorizing its shape, the sound of its pronunciation, its accompanying word, and the image illustrating the meaning of the word. Occasionally, the rhyming words are attached in order to make them easy to be learned by rote. The relations between texts and images, as verbal and non-verbal codes, in these Yaw Ying (ญ) learning tools lead us to understand how these design artifacts construct the meaning of women through their visual representations. The in-depth investigations of Yaw Ying (ญ) primer pages along with other graphic design works, such as posters, book covers, and advertisements, reveal patterns of paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations of visual languages representing social discourses about Thai women. Considering this design research as a case study, its process of visual deconstruction can be used as a model for designers, design curators, or design educators to understand how other design artifacts contextually related to cultural and social issues.

—–

David Carson
4.00 – 5.00 pm.

“Trusting Your Own Intuition”

How to be truly original and deliver your best work while having fun doing it. Where to find an inspiration and how to convert it into your work. This lecture is a fly over tour through out personal archive of his own work. David will share his experience on how to push yourself to the limit and still make the work enjoyable. He will unveil the work process that delivers the visual sensation that we all know. The audience will get to hear the in depth explanation on why things look the they way they are.

 

 

Posted in: Blog,

Tags: #academic #BACC #book #culture #design #events #international #Thailand 

Thaipography

“To loop or not to loop? That is the question typographers face when making a new Thai font. It’s a design decision, but one that twangs a tension in Thai identity.”

My article in the November issue of TheMagazine by the Bangkok Post covers the surprisingly controversial topic of typography in Thailand. On newsstands now.

Thaipography image by Anuthin

here&now-issue11-adjusted layout

Posted in: Blog,

Tags: #culture #design #magazine #Thailand #tradition 

The Beauty of Banality

What an inspiring presentation. Thais, often from outside Bangkok, are increasingly turning to inspiration from the everyday popular culture around them. Pitupong ‘Jack’ Chaowakul, the founder of Supermachine Studio, gives this TEDx Chiang Mai talk about his firm’s solutions in architecture, events and civic design from Thailand’s vernacular culture.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD3f94q_uO0

 

Posted in: Blog,

Tags: #Bangkok #design #popularculture #streetlife #Thailand 

Morlam goes Mainstream?

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Isaan’s pop-folk music has broken the barriers of class, language and ethnicity to become a staple of Bangkok arty parties and a ‘discovery’ on the international World Music scene.

I cover the cultural shift of morlam in Very Thai. Meanwhile, this infectiously rhythmic regional music has become the subject of a major new exhibition at the Jim Thompson Art Centre in Bangkok.

Here’s a major article about the exhibition in the Bangkok Post:
Morlam’s Mass Movement

http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/music/441917/molam-mass-movement

 

 

 

Posted in: Blog,

Tags: #Bangkok #culture #exhibitions #Isaan #jimthompson #music #newspaper #Thailand 

Thai Indy: Statement or Style?

Talk at Bangkok University’s International College on 5 Nov 2014, 12.30-2pm

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Thailand’s ‘indy’ subculture now spans two decades. Its impact on film, music, fashion, media and the arts have been tracked throughout by writer/editor Philip Cornwel-Smith, in Bangkok Metro Magazine, Time Out Bangkok guidebook and his book Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture. The ‘From T-Pop to Indy’ chapter from Very Thai was reproduced in a book by MTV about Cool Asia; the chapter’s revision in Very Thai’s 2nd edition shows how indy has changed over time. In this talk, Philip addresses the status of Thai indy as a cultural movement, and questions whether it has declined or matured.

The talk is in Lecture Theatre 762, Top floor of building 7 above BUG (Bkk Uni Gallery), reached by the entrance off the intersection of Kluaynamthai with Rama IV Road.

It’s open to the public but within a fixed student time slot, so it’ll start promptly. See you indie fans there!

BU_CREATIVE

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #academic #art #Bangkok #events #indy #talks #Thailand 

Creative Bangkok 2014

Creative Bangkok logo

Very Thai Thai: How Pop Became Heritage

Philip Cornwel-Smith will speak at the Creative Bangkok international symposium on October 15.

His talk will look at how streetlife, everyday pop and even some cultural taboos have gone mainstream and even become regarded as heritage. The Creative Bangkok event runs Oct 12-17 with 50 talks, 10 workshops, 6 creative team challenges, and related events. Philip will  speak on Oct 15, the day focusing on Creativity in Tourism and Heritage. So the talk will be held at MuseumSiam in the old town at 1.30pm.

Other speakers are from Google, Nasa, Walt Disney, Le Cordon Bleu, duPont, Cirque du Soleil and dozens of other Thai and international companies and organisations.

http://creativebangkok.org

Creative Bangkok Speakers

 

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Tags: #Bangkok #culture #design #international #talks 

Very Thai, Very Volatile

20 Years of Change in Popular Culture

Illustrated talk by Philip Cornwel-Smith,
author of Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture

at Bar Luna, below Casa Luna, Jalan Raya Ubud, Ubud, Bali +62-361-971 605

29 September, 7.30pm-9pm, free entry

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Bangkok-based British writer Philip Cornwel-Smith will give an illustrated talk about the dramatic transformations in Thailand he has witnessed as author/editor of Bangkok Metro magazine, Time Out Bangkok guidebook, and the influential bestselling book Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture (www.verythai.com). Instead of the sensational oriental clichés, he views Thai ways through the lens of its hybrid pop, social tensions and quirky urban culture. There’ll be time at the end to discuss how Thailand’s transformation compares to Bali.

Recent upheavals in Thailand have brought world attention to new stories as ordinary people express themselves and as Bangkok went chic and became the most visited city on the planet. The tropical rural idyll has urbanized and globalised, and taboo things gone mainstream, from yaa dong tonic whisky to magical tattoos. Yet everyday life in Thailand continues to beguile with its wacky hybrids, sense of fun, and unexpected quirks.

A resident of 20-years, Philip Cornwel-Smith has had an insider vantage point to see these changes. His book Very Thai, now in an updated and expanded 2nd edition, has become to the go-to reference and style guide on Thai popular culture.

Very Thai is published by River Books. Copies will be on sale, which Philip can sign.

verythai.com has full details and streams social media by followers of the book using #verythai on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.

Philip can be contacted via verythai.com , phone +62-821-4444 2022

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Posted in: Blog, Events, Uncategorized,

Tags: #events #Indonesia #international #talks #Thailand 

Very Thai talk in Bali

Philip Cornwel-Smith to speak in fringe event around Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2014

Ubud writer fest 2014

The author of Very Thai will talk about the book and the current situation of Thai popular culture in Bar Luna at Casa Luna, Jalan Raya Ubud, in the cultural centre of Ubud on the Indonesian island of Bali. The talk will be on September 29 at 7.30pm and copies of Very Thai will be available for sale and signature. The talk is behind held by the organisers of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, which starts a few days later on Oct 1-5.

For festival details see http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #book #events #Indonesia #international #talks 

Very Thai given by TCDC to speakers at Creativities Unfold 2014 symposium

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Nine top design gurus receive the book as a welcome gift by TCDC (Thailand Creative & Design Centre) at the 2014 edition of its Annual Symposium Creativities Unfold on 30-31 August 2014. The speakers were:

Patricia Moore (Moore Design Associates),
Koichiro Tanaka (Uniqlo’s global digital campaign creative),
Jan Chipchase (Studio Radio Durans),
Jinhyun Jeon (senses design expert),
Daan Roosegaarde (Studio Roosegaarde),
Edward Barber (Barber Ogersby, designers of 2012 Olympic torch),
Koert van Mensvoort (Next Nature Network),
Krating Poonpol (Disrupt University),
Patrick Waterhouse (editor, Colors magazine)

“Out of all the conferences I’ve been to over 15 years this is the best, most useful welcome gift I’ve received,” remarked Jan Chipchase, who endorsed the book as “A must-read for any trend or research agency that wants their team to better understand Thailand.”

Very Thai has also been presented by TCDC to speakers at some earlier Creativities Unfolds symposiums.

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #design #endorsements #events #international 

verythai.com Website Goes Live

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 19.23.21The interactive website verythai.com goes live, with full information about the book Very Thai and its many related events, talks, exhibitions, reviews, features, videos and documentary coverage.

Very Thai has had unprecedented involvement and loyalty by its readers for a book on Thailand. To repay that fanbase, now the author offers ways for the public to engage with the book online. You can interact with the VeryThai world in various ways, with live streaming from social media onto the ‘Social’ page of the website. You can post through the Very Thai fanpage on Facebook, tweet using the #verythai hashtag, and post pictures on Instagram using the #verythai tag. All these will stream live through verythai.com. Readers can also post reviews of Very Thai that will appear under Reader Reviews in the Reviews page of the website. You can also send in updates to the author, and suggest topics for future versions of Very Thai and related new books.

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #events #launch #Thailand 

20 Years of ThaiThai

Phases in Thai Popular Culture 1994-2014

20 Years of Thai Thai talk title

Philip Cornwel-Smith will give a talk on July 1 at Thammasat University to the students of its to the International Programme. Very Thai is one of their set texts. The talk will be a variation on the phases of Thai popular culture that Philip has witnessed during the past two decades in Bangkok.

 

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Tags: #academic #Bangkok #book #culture #international #talks 

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Fah Thai

Bangkok’s Evolving Pop Culture

Fah Thai is the inflight magazine of the boutique carrier Bangkok Airways. This feature appeared in its section called The guide: Thailand in the May/June 2014 issue.

FahThai_May_June_2014

A twenty-year veteran of Thailand, Philip Cornwel-Smith recently released the second edition of Very Thai, a celebration of Thai pop, retro, street and folk culture. The re-release covers the many cultural changes that have swept through Thailand since the first book hit store shelves to considerable success nearly a decade ago.

Through vivid photographs, sharply rendered illustrations and insightful observations, the author pinpoints some of the biggest changes he’s witnessed over the years. One of the most dramatic changes, Cornwel-Smith notes, is the way politics has come to infuse daily life in Thailand, from fashion to soap operas.

The new edition features more than 200 striking images and four original chapters, including a fascinating exploration of the rise and global popularity of the retro ‘Thai Thai’ culture. “Magical tattoos, herbal whisky, Morlam folk music and street food have evolved from low-status taboo into mainstream trends with export appeal,” the author says. What’s more, Cornwel-Smith notes, is that Thai pop culture itself, long dismissed by traditionalists as urban trivia, has acquired social legitimacy and is regularly celebrated int eh media, at museums and at galleries in Thailand and elsewhere.

Most intriguing is his in-depth exploration and explication of quirky Thai icons, historical events and traditions, including the Japanese motor-rickshaw’s transformation into the tuk-tuk, rock’s morphing into festive farm music, the colour-coding of weekdays, floral truck bolts, taxi altars and drinks in bags.

And yet it’s the youth of Thailand that continues to astound the author: “Thais have become the world’s leading users of social media, intensifying their culture of personal networks and relishing online freedom.”

 

Fah Thai is the Bangkok Airways inflight magazine

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #book #culture #design #features #international #magazine #tourism 

Thai blog on TCDC talk goes viral

The talk ‘Very Thai Cultural Filters: How Hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess’ by Philip Cornwel-Smith at TCDC on March 8 2014 sparked the Thai blogger GeekJuggler to write a post that then went viral.

Geek Juggler was animated by the idea that it is socially easier for non-Thais to do Thai-style design than for Thai designers, whose creativity is constrained by social pressures and taboos about secular use of forms related to Thai beliefs. He and most of the chat thread responders seemed to regard this as probably true and a sad situation in which it is hard to reconcile tradition and modernity. Many in the chat thread reposted the review to other blogs.

Geek Juggler “วิถีแบบไทยๆ” กับคำตอบว่าทำไมความคิดใหม่ๆ ถึงเกิดขึ้นได้ยากบนแผ่นดินนี้

GeekJuggler: Deconstruction is desecration?

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reposted to Pornjeds blog

reposted to Kaebmoo blog

reposted to Zero The Zero blog

reposted to High Lizard blog

reposted to Fukaze blog

reposted to Rand’s Random Blog

reposted to Supawit Wannapila blog

reposted to Nattster blog

reposted to Futurizing blog

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #blogs #culture #design #events #reviews #talks 

20 Bangkok Years Celebrated in Space

Philip Cornwel-Smith holds anniversary party in [Space] Bangkok

Philip (right) with Pepsi, Steven Pettifor and Craig Knowles in Silom Soi 4 in 1994
Philip (right) with Pepsi, Steven Pettifor and Craig Knowles in Silom Soi 4 in 1994

On 21 March 1994, Philip started a new job, with a new visa and a new home – and a new life. Exactly 2 decades after his first day as founding editor of Bangkok Metro magazine, he marked the occasion with a reunion party of friends. And colleagues from throughout the Intervening years.

He chose Space as the venue because the journalist-run volunteer event space has the kind of impromptu bohemian bars for which Bangkok was famous back in the 1990s. It overlooks the river from the floor above a 7/11 in Khlongsan Market. What could be more Thai Thai?  Among the Space volunteers, Nym, Yvan and Scott helped manage the party, while Craig Knowles acted as a cheeky MC by delivering messages from absent friends, which ran to many pages and with plenty of rubbing and roasting of Philip.

Along the walls the party-goers spotted familiar faces (often their younger selves) in prints of party spreads from Metro magazine parties and the launch of Very Thai. Philip said a few words to thank all those present, and the many friends and colleagues who couldn’t be there. By the end of the night all were feeling the effects of the free yaa dong herbal whisky – or was it the shock of two decades of nostalgia?

Philip being roasted by Jennifer Gampell
Philip being roasted by Jennifer Gampell

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Tags: #Bangkok #metromagazine #parties 

Geek Juggler

Review of TCDC talk ‘Very Thai Cultural Filters’

“วิถีแบบไทยๆ” กับคำตอบว่าทำไมความคิดใหม่ๆ ถึงเกิดขึ้นได้ยากบนแผ่นดินนี้ – %22GeekJuggler%22 ‘s Hiding Place

The blogger Geek Juggler gave a positive response in his Thai-language blog to my talk ‘Very Thai: Cultural Filters’ at TCDC (Thailand Creative & Design Centre) in Bangkok on 8 March 2014. The 80-seat venue was booked out . The blogger took up aspects of the talk to expand upon with his own views, focusing on the cultural factors that make it socially difficult for Thai designers to filter out aspects of their culture that won’t appeal to outsiders, while foreign designers of Thai-style things have more social freedom to deconstruct and reinterpret Thai traits for contemporary designs.

https://geekjuggler.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/deconstruct-is-descrete/

NZZ docu PCS Basil Norn Len DSC05399 copy

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Tags: #blogs #culture #design #events #talks #website 

TCDC talk: What are Thai Cultural Filters?

‘Very Thai Cultural Filters: How Hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess’

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As part of the TCDC exhibition ‘hello World’, Philip Cornwel-Smith gives a talk today at TCDC on March 8 2014. Called ‘Very Thai Cultural Filters: How Hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess’, the talk goes into the ways that Thais are selective about what they import and adapt into hybrids.

Various Thai values, tastes and taboos act as filters to let in only part of the import while screening out aspects that don’t suit. This leads the talk to consider what cultural filters are needed in order to create designs, products and services that can appeal to the outside world while projecting a sense of Thainess. This means looking at what aspects of Thainess appeal (or not) to outsiders and how Thais might go about the tricky task of filtering their own cultural traits so that everyone benefits.

http://www.tcdc.or.th/calendar/detail.php?ID=17826&lang=en

See the talk here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfp32Km69xU&feature=youtu.be

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Tags: #culture #design #talks #tcdc #tradition 

Phakinee ภคินี ดอกไม้งาม

Thainess Made of Other Things

By 

http://www.phakinee.com/thainess-made-of-other-things/

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Bangkok. Philip Cornwel-Smith is giving a talk about “Very Thai Cultural Filters: How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” this Saturday, 8 March, at Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC) at the Emporium.  I am sorry to miss it since I am going abroad tomorrow. Cornwel-Smith is the author of Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture which I have recommended ever in Bangkok von innen since I came across it for the first time.

In his now famous book, Cornwel-Smith tries, among great other reading material, to explain the way how very ordinary things can acquire and produce a common sense of “Thainess” in Thailand. You might get answers to the question how everyday goods and services can be imbued with a marketable “Thai” character during his talk on Saturday,

Quoted from the advance notice:

Thai culture has for centuries been highly porous to outside influence, yet Philip shows how Thais have maintained their culture by localising imports in distinct ways. This can be done through applying traditional materials, techniques and decoration, or by keeping the import’s form whilst replacing its original philosophy with one that resonates to Thais. Instead of direct copying, inventions from elsewhere have been riffed into hybrids that involve a shift in meaning. Thais have even turned Thai-foreign hybrids into icons of Thainess to be reprojected abroad as symbols of the country.Cultural filters that make Thai consumption of imports selective draw from instinctive cultural values. Now that Thailand faces increased global competition, the challenge is to create cultural filters that select aspects of Thainess appropriate to outside consumers.

In short, this talk is going to be about international mainstream and how to impose a Thai identity on it.

I offer a personal view on this subject or perhaps, as I probably should put it more accurately, a comment.

During history, people in Siam at times quickly lost their heads, if they were not mainstream. Still today, some may spend 18 years or more in prison and may loose everything they have including their social recognition), if they are not mainstream.

It is only my personal feeling as a foreigner, that this fact might add to various forms of  “typical” Thai behaviour (with strong foreign elements in it), that most of us would regard as outdated? Or, in some cases, even regard as undignified?

For instance, I do not believe that, 68 years after Nazi-Germany has been buried in the abyss of history, any of us youngsters under the age of 60 is capable to imagine, how a person feels while being forced by strong social constraints to stand to attention twice a day in public while listening to the national anthem which everybody is forced to hear on every public place in the country. A practice, which has been introduced in a time, when European fascist leaders’ personality cult was widely seen as a great role model für Siam.

Possibly apart from devout Christians, most Europeans also can hardly imagine how it feels to seriously “wai” a spirit house in which a strong spirit is known to stay. And very few of us can imagine to cringe in front of persons which are not more human than we are. Finally, how does it feel sharing a great love with all my friends and family for cheaply-produced plastic items that everybody simply “has to have” just to be socially recognized? Do you know? I don’t.

All these “typical” Thai habits have a very strong froreign taste, they are no typical Thai specialties or inventions, despite the fact that some people like to think so.

As for me, for instance, I simply cannot imagine how it feels to stand to attention in public places like a pillar of salt, having to listen to some extremely old-fashioned sounds, which do not really represent my favourite music style and, above all, looking statesmanlike while doing so. This is just because I never did so and I will probably never do.

However, recently at the beginning of my fourth decade of Thailand-experience, I actually started to ask myself once, how I could actually love my own country without having to stand to attention twice a day and moreover, sadly, not even having a king anymore in my country who would be like a father to me? The answer was: I love my country, for instance, precisely for the fact that I am not being urged to stand to attention at any place or to crawl in front of anyone or listening to any music that other people want to put on me.

What I can imagine, however, is this: How a schoolboy would feel if he is the only one in his class without an amulet (or any other fetish) around his neck, or a yellow (or any other) bracelet around his wrist with some magic or special formula printed on it. A magic or a formula which at the same time would be propagated in school, on TV, on public places, just everywhere.

I can imagine the feelings of such a schoolboy, because I might have been this boy myself if I had been born in Thailand. Simply because, as a matter of fact, I am medically allergic to many things, like raw hazelnuts (fortunately I can eat them after they are once heated up for cakes and chocolate…), jackfruit, cantaloupes, latex, and some pollen.

Moreover, I have been also socially allergic to things that “everybody has to do” since I was a lttle boy.

In my fifth class in school, there was a teacher who even wrote this into my school report, of course without any serious consequences except some raised eyebrows in the family. But what would have happened in a mainstream Thai school? Can we rule out that they would not have tried to beat out such a socially unacceptable behavior from me at an early time?

Enough. Please do not miss Philip Cornwel-Smith on Saturday, 8 March at the TCDC, 6th Floor The Emporium Shopping Complex, 622 Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok 10110. If his talks on Saturday are only half as interesting as his writings, it has to be a great lecture.

The talk “Very Thai Cultural Filters: How hybrids preserve and project a sense of Thainess” starts at 2 p.m. Admission is free, but it is recommended to register for a seat at the Online Reservation System or at TCDC Information Counter, phone (02) 664 84 48, ext. 213, 214.

 

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #culture #design #German #reviews #talks #tcdc 

‘Bangkok: Megalopolis between Order and Chaos’

Swiss NZZ TV documentary on Bangkok features Very Thai in German

NZZ Bangkok between order & chaos websiteVery Thai‘s author is interviewed in a new documentary, ‘Bangkok: Megalopolis between Order and Chaos’, which premières on 27 March 2014 on the Swiss TV channel NZZ Format, which is run by the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Presenter/producer Basil Gelpke interviewed Philip Cornwel-Smith about the state of Bangkok and its popular culture during the height of the ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ protests. The crew filmed at his house and then in the Samsen area, including the Wat In community and the hotel Phra Nakorn Norn Len, which has a very Thai-style decor theme resembling an old market.

The show will air in German speaking countries several times over 2014 and 2015. It is also viewable online at:

http://www.nzzformat.ch/108+M521944f5b87.html

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #documentaries #German #interviews #TV #video 

Filming Swiss documentary on Bangkok

Author Philip Cornwel-Smith to be dubbed into German

NZZ docu PCS Basil Norn Len DSC05399 copy

A Swiss TV crew from NZZ Format led by presenter/producer Basil Gelpke are in town to film a documentary about contemporary Bangkok. Among the people from different walks of life featured in the show, Gelpke and his Malaysian and Croatian crew interviewed Philip Cornwel-Smith on 1 February 2014, at his home, and in the Samsen area of old Bangkok.

Philip’s nephew Jake Moores helped with the documenting the documentary, including these photographs. While working in Bangalore in late 2013, Jake Moores  co-directed a short film entered into a competition for the Mumbai Film Festival, and which was given a theatre screening in Mumbai. He will soon intern in Kyoto, Japan, as assistant to the prominent Asian cultural expert Alex Kerr.

NZZ docu PCS Basil house DSC05307 edit

NZZ docu PCS Basil Jake DSC05416 copy

 

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Tags: #Bangkok #documentaries #German #interviews #TV #video 

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

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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

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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?

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

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.

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #book #international #reviews 

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

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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.

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

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.

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #book #international #reviews #website 

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 

Here I Like

“VERY THAI” นิทรรศการภาพถ่ายแบบ Thailand Only

VTZ HERE I LIKE 2014-06-29 at 23.26.29

 

http://hereilike.com/siam/home/detailnewarticle.aspx?newsId=156

นิทรรศการภาพถ่าย “ VERY THAI ” ที่ได้แรงบันดาลใจจากหนังสือขายดี “ VERY THAI:Everyday Popular Culture ” เป็นหนังสือสำหรับนักท่องเที่ยวสายพันธ์ใหม่ในสายตาของผู้เขียนฟิลิปส์ คอร์นเวลล์-สมิธ และช่างภาพ จอห์น กอสส์ ชาวต่างชาติสองคนที่เข้ามาใข้ชีวิตอยู่ในเมืองไทยมากว่าสิบปีแล้ว  เพราะฉะนั้นภาพวิถีชีวิตที่พบเห็นตามตรอกซอย ตึกแถว และสวนจตุจักร มอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้าง ถุงพลาสติกใส่น้ำดื่ม ลูกกรงเหล็กดัด และปลัดขิกต่างหากที่เค้ารู้สึกว่ามีเอกลักษณ์หรือความโดดเด่นไม่ซ้ำแบบบ้านเมืองอื่น 

งานนี้ “VERY THAI” คือ การจัดแสดงภาพถ่ายอะไรก็ได้ที่ Popular ในหมู่คนไทย และของไทยๆ เหล่านี้มีอยู่ดาษดื่นเสียจนคนไทยมักจะมองข้าม แต่สำหรับชาวต่างชาติแล้ว ของดาษดื่นนี่แหละที่กระทบตากระทบใจยิ่งกว่า ด้วยเห็นว่ามีความโดดเด่นและไม่ซ้ำแบบชาติใดๆ ในโลกจัดแสดงภาพสวยๆ สะท้อนวิถีชีวิตในสังคมไทยแบบ Thailand Only แท้ๆ ผ่านเลนส์ของช่างภาพชื่อดัง

ใครพลาดไปมาดามขอบอกว่าวันนี้เป็นโอกาสสุดท้าย! เพราะเค้าจัดถึงวันที่ 6 ธ.ค. เท่านั้น ที่ ZEN Outdoor Arena ศูนย์การค้า CentralWorld งานนี้เข้าชมฟรีค่า

เรื่อง : M.Pineapple

ที่มา : portfolios.net

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #exhibitions #Thai language 

Bangkok 101 (2nd Ed review)

The Return of Very Thai

It’s over seven years since Very Thai, an encyclopedic guide to everyday culture, reshaped the way outsiders look at Thailand’s colourful brand of the mundane.

Bangkok 101 Return of VT 2014-06-29 at 23.54.46 Bangkok 101 Return of VT 2014-06-29 at 23.55.09

http://www.bangkok101.com/the-return-of-very-thai-river-books/

From whisky drinking etiquette to the truth about pink tissues and the inspiration for Thai truck bolts (the flower petal), this was the book that revealed the hidden logic and structure in Thailand’s freewheeling street life. That became the go-to gift for expats looking to enlighten visiting loved ones. That turned long stints in the toilet into a crash course in Thai pop academia. That, above all, captured that elusive Very Thai-ness that even those of us who live here struggle to put our fingers on.

Now, hot on the heels of the spin-off exhibition, which runs until early December in front of Zen Department store, a new edition of the candy-hued best-seller is on its way. What can we expect? Sixty four more pages, for starters, says its author, long-time resident and cultural historian Philip Cornwel-Smith. “We wanted to increase the type font and the size, which was always a bit small,” he says speaking to us at Bangkok 101 HQ. “The book is also being translated into other languages, and German is a much longer language than English, so we’ve given most chapters an extra page.”

However, the new edition is not just more spacious and easier on the eye. Rather, it’s a top-to-bottom overhaul that, as well as featuring lots of new photographs, brings Very Thai kicking and screaming into the here and now, where it belongs. “This is a genuinely new edition,” he says, “I’ve not just added in little bits and pieces. In some cases I’ve had to completely rework the chapters or rewrite large chunks of them.”

Unmistakable in the original book was the sense that this is a society in rapid transition. “In one dizzying spasm,” he wrote, “Thailand is experiencing the forces that took a century to transform the West.” During our conversation, he cites the rise of digital media, a movement towards authentic tourism and a more intrusive tabloid media as just a few examples of the cultural shifts that have taken place since its release. “Also, some of the more folky adaptations of tradition are giving way to just plain modern things,” he says.

The new edition reflects these changes but not at the expense of the old case studies. “A lot of the research for the original was done at the turn of the millennium,” he says. “So that’s over a decade of change – of extraordinary change. I wanted to reflect that transformation in the book, not just simply change the data.”

He’s also opted not to lop out topics that are fading away or nearing obsolescence. Why? Because even they, Cornwel-Smith explains, have their usefulness, offer us a conduit, a prism through which modernisation and social change can be viewed.

For example, the chapter on pleng phua chiwit (Songs for Life), a socially-consciousfolk-music movement that now seems littlemore than a quaint reminder of the deeplypoliticised and bloody seventies, has beenkept in. “Now it’s a vehicle for talking aboutpolitical changes over the past seven years,”he says, “as like much of the country themovement got split between the red and theyellow shirts.”

For other topics, the only thing that has really changed is their social context. “Thai tattoos, for example, used to be something that was looked down on and a bit improper,” he says. “But it’s been ungraded in the public perception… nowadays every second celebrity has a haa taew tattoo on her shoulder and the pronouncements are about foreigners who don’t understand traditional Thai heritage getting them.”

Changes in public perceptions of the motorcycle taxi driver are another phenomenon he singles out (“they have become a bit like the tuk-tuk – cultural emblems, safe for public consumption”). So, too, is Thailand’s beach culture, which has changed so radically that he now sees the chapter on it as a “barometer of social change”.

As well as tracing all these and many other cultural shifts, the new edition also includes an afterword by Thai visual culture pundit Pracha Suweeranont. “In the first edition we didn’t have one because there wasn’t really a question to be answered. But having looked at it over a long time, I can see certain traits and trends.” In it, Suweeranont apparently explains how Very Thai helped him, a native, look at vernacular culture in a fresh way.

During our meeting, Cornwel-Smith touches on many subjects: over-reaction to moral panics by the Ministry of Culture (“I think there is a legitimate concern that some things might be swept away in a rush to modernity”); the flattening effect of digital technology; the explosion of interest in street food. But one theme overarches them all: change.

This begs a question: has Thailand’s breakneck development washed away any of the grittiness, the allure that first led him to start writing about the place? “Short answer: yes,” he says. But he, a trained historian, also calls for long-range perspective. “I’m sure people would have given the same answer when all this western stuff was brought in by the aristocracy a hundred years ago: those awful, mutton-sleeved blouses, etc.”

“When I first released the book back in 2005, somebody said “You do realise that all this stuff will disappear? However, we shouldn’t forget that a lot of the things that we take as being traditional Thai are actually imports from other countries in the past – that Thailand has a way of making modern things its own.” In other words, the topics may transform, but the Kingdom’s ability to assimilate foreign influence in a unique and curious way – that elusive Very Thai-ness – is here to stay.

The new edition of Very Thai will be published in early December by River Books. Meanwhile, the exhibition continues in front of Zen Department Store until December 6.

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Books about Thailand

http://books-about-thailand.blogspot.com/2008/11/very-thai-by-philip-cornwel-smith.html

Dec 2012

An interesting book for Thailand-lovers that shows and explains the small day-to-day things that make Thailand unique. The four sections Street, Personal, Ritual and Sanuk (‘fun’) each describe in colourful detail why for example those little pink tissues are pink, the Thai love for uniforms, the little altars in taxi’s and the popularity of yaa dong. Illustrated with a lot of photos. A good browse. [coffee table book]

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #reviews 

Culture Ministry: Office of Contemporary Art

นิทรรศการภาพถ่าย “VERY THAI”

 

VTZ CULTURE MINISTRY 2014-06-29 at 23.48.55

http://www.ocac.go.th/calendar-detail-471.html

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #art #Bangkok #blogs #culture #exhibitions #photography #Thai language 

ArtBangkok

VERY THAI : Everyday Popular Culture

by  on OCTOBER 15, 2012

http://www.artbangkok.com/?p=8320

ArtBangkok 2014-06-29 at 21.30.54

นิทรรศการภาพถ่าย “VERY THAI” ที่ได้แรงบันดาลใจจากหนังสือขายดี “VERY THAI: Everyday Popular Culture” จัดแสดงภาพสวยๆ สะท้อนวิถีชีวิตในสังคมไทย ผ่านเลนส์ของช่างภาพชื่อดัง

 

นิทรรศการภาพถ่าย “VERY THAI” จัดแสดงตั้งแต่วันนี้-6 ธ.ค.นี้ ที่ ZEN Outdoor Arena ศูนย์การค้า CentralWorld ชมฟรี

จัดโดยสำนักพิมพ์ River Books, Serindia Gallery และ ZEN

รายละเอียดเพิ่มเติมเว็บไซต์ : http://www.facebook.com/ZENMegaStore

 

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #art #Bangkok #blogs #book #culture #exhibitions #Thai language 

A Woman Learning Thai… and some men too ;-)

Very Thai Photo Exhibition: Bangkok

By  • October 1, 2012

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 19.53.37 Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 19.53.49 Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 19.54.03 Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 19.54.24 Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 19.54.46 Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 19.55.01

 

as PDF: A Woman Learning Thai… and some men too ;-)Very Thai Photo Exhibition: Bangkok | Women Learn Thai

http://womenlearnthai.com/index.php/very-thai-photo-exhibition-bangkok/#ixzz362CEpoTn

Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture…

As a tourist to Thailand I enjoyed experiencing a country so very different from where I was living at the time, Brunei Darussalam. Being able to buy booze without leaving the country was also an attraction.

But when I finally moved to Thailand I switched from a carefree tourist mindset to expat mode. The country around me, previously a kaleidyscope of sounds, smells, and clashing colours, started to come into focus.

Along with the focus came questions. Like, why do Thai taxis have those dangly bits hanging from their mirrors? And why do beggars crawl face first along the sidewalk? And why are Thai police uniforms so darn tight?

When I asked other expats their answer was always the illuminating (not) “I dunno”. Being me, I needed more, so I started my own search into the why’s of Thailand. Hit and miss, the answers to a few Thai quirks are discussed in posts on WLT.

Then I found Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture, by Philip Cornwel-Smith. Very Thai answered many of my “why” questions, and some I hadn’t thought of yet. And now I hear there’s a Very Bangkok in the works. Excellent!

These days, when a new expat breezes into Thailand, I don’t arrive at their housewarming party with the obligatory bottle of wine and chocolates. I gift them with a copy of Very Thai instead.

Very Thai Photo Exhibition…

On Sunday I jumped into a taxi to view the Very Thai Exhibition in front of ZEN in Bangkok.

You really can’t miss it as the presentation is well placed.

It’s a small exhibition with larger than life-sized photos from Very Thai.

I wasn’t the only one curious, a stream of viewers kept popping in front of my camera.

Many found it easy to walk along the exhibition slowly, savoring the eyecandy as they went.

This photo was my favourite eyecandy of all.

While there it came to me that the photos from the exhibition would be the perfect backdrop for smartphone snappers in Thailand. Because, except for in grocery stores (where it’s off-limits to take photos of veggies) you’ll find people posing in front of just about anything. And I still don’t know why that is.

To get all the lastest news about Very Bangkok and Very Thai, follow Philip on Facebook at VeryThaiBook or on twitter @verybangkok, or bookmark his website: Very Thai.

Sidenote: the editor of Very Thai is Alex Kerr. You might remember the review I wrote of Alex’s excellent Bangkok Found awhile back. And seriously, if you want to know more about Thailand, you couldn’t go wrong with both Very Thai and Bangkok Found on your bookshelf.

 

10 Responses to “ Very Thai Photo Exhibition: Bangkok ”

  1. Disclaimer: The last photo has been doctored. The lovely Thai lass generously posed in front of a different set of photos but I felt driven to move her back a bit (all the way to the beginning of the exhibition).

  2. Danyelle Franciosa Oct 2nd, 2012 at 6:29 am

    That was extremely beautiful and great photo exhibition in Bangkok. The place are great and good for relaxation. Thanks a lot for sharing this!

  3. Thanks for stopping by Danyelle 🙂 The exhibitions is so colourful and fun, I’m expecting to see photos on FB with different people posing in front of the posters.

  4. Love that exhibition! I have not yet read the book, though I really REALLY would love to get my hands on a copy. I plan to buy one when we visit again.
    Another book with great photos is Bangkok Inside Out by Daniel Ziv and Guy Sharett, but I think it is out of print. It caused a stir with Thailand’s Ministry of Culture with the photos of some of the sex workers in the red-light district.
    Amy recently posted…Modifying food choices even furtherMy Profile

  5. Hi Amy. It if you enjoyed Bangkok Inside Out, you are going to be blown away by Very Thai. Philip has a passion for hunting down the tiny details of the popular culture and history of Thailand and it shows in the book. You can get Very Thai on amazon.com but if that’s what’ll take you to get back here, even for a visit, then I’m all for it 🙂
    Catherine recently posted…Thai Navy Dances Gangnam Style: Youtube SensationsMy Profile

  6. Catherine – Thailand has many strange ways and many unanswered questions including the one shown in your bottom photo. Why do Thai women make the Thai two finger salute when posing for photos and what does it mean? I tried to answer that one myself a couple of years back and came to the conclusion it dated back to Siam’s war with Burma in 1767 and their(Siam’s) soldiers index and middle fingers used to draw a bow. If taken prisoner the Burmese would cut them off. However, right or wrong there’s still many answers to Thais strange quirks I’d like to know.

    Nice post.
    Martyn recently posted…The Sea Side 2 Restaurant in Udon ThaniMy Profile

  7. Thanks Martyn. I remember when you wrote the article about the two fingered salute. When I went to Burma early this year I took a photo of a Burmese girl who gave the same. As soon as I pointed my camera at her, just like the gal in the photo above, she whipped out those two fingers. So perhaps it’s doesn’t have anything to do with Burma vrs Thailand? Or… it could be that she knows nothing of the history behind the finger salute. An unsolved mystery.

  8. Catherine – Perhaps the Burmese archers made the same sign back to the Siamese. Here’s the link to the post;

    http://www.thaisabai.org/2009/09/the-thai-two-finger-salute/
    Martyn recently posted…The Sea Side 2 Restaurant in Udon ThaniMy Profile

  9. Martyn, that could be it. Back then armies fought mostly close together (unlike now). So both sides taunting each other makes sense. I need to reread Very Thai to see if there was a mention anywhere (it’s been years).
    Catherine Wentworth recently posted…Review: Language Learning LogMy Profile

  10. I bought this book as a present for my parents on my first stay in Thailand. Disappointingly, they never gave it more than a cursory look. Such a shame as I think it still holds up as one of the best insights into Thai culture available in printed form. Your idea of using it as a housewarming gift, Cat, is a magnificent one too. Here’s hoping Very Bangkok is out by the time I make my next trip!

    Also if anyone’s still reading this thread, Alex Kerr is the author of a couple of excellent books on Japanese culture (Lost Japan is one, the other slips my mind just now (maybe it’s called Dogs and Demons… not sure). Highly recommended if Japanese culture interests you.

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #blogs #book #events #exhibitions #international #reviews #Thailand 

Richard Barrow: Thai Travel Blogs

Very Thai Exhibition in front of ZEN in Bangkok

by   on September 29, 2012

VTZ Thai Travel Blogs 2014-06-30 at 00.27.01 VTZ Thai Travel Blogs 2014-06-30 at 00.27.14
One of the best books about Thai culture and life, Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith, now has a photo exhibition in front of ZEN in Bangkok. The exhibition runs from now until 6th December 2012. ZEN is part of the CentralWorld complex and has easy access from BTS Chidlom. The free exhibition is outside so check the weather report first. For more information, check out the Facebook page for Very Thai.

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #exhibitions #Thailand #tourism 

Richard Barrow: Paknam Web Forums

Thread: Very Thai Photographic Exhibition in front of ZEN in Bangkok

VTZ Paknam 2014-06-29 at 21.59.55 VTZ Paknam 2014-06-29 at 22.00.06

http://www.thailandqa.com/forum/showthread.php?42816-Very-Thai-Photographic-Exhibition-in-front-of-ZEN-in-Bangkok

One of the best books about Thai culture and life, Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith, now has a photo exhibition in front of ZEN in Bangkok. The exhibition runs from now until 6th December 2012. ZEN is part of the CentralWorld complex and has easy access from BTS Chidlom. The free exhibition is outside so check the weather report first. For more information, check out the Facebook page for Very Thai.

Mahindrasarath's Avatar

Mahindrasarath at 06-10-12, 02:59 PM
That’s the beauty cover of the book! Good perception.

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #blogs #book #events #exhibitions #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

Pramool

SK. หนังสือ “ Very Thai ( ภาษาอังกฤษ ) ”

Pramool 2014-06-29 at 23.06.28 Pramool 2014-06-29 at 23.06.41

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Tags: #blogs #book #reviews #Thai language #website 

Globetrotting Gourmet

Review by Robert Carmack

http://globetrottinggourmet.com/books/all.htm

This is an insightful look into one of our favorite destinations. Brand new and profusely illustrated, its written by Philip Cornwel-Smith, an English expat with many years’ residence in this Kingdom of Smiles. Indeed, Very Thai is so good, it’s already heading into translation. Highly recommended.

– Robert Carmack, Globetrotting Gourmet, author of Thai Cooking & The Burma Cookbook

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Tags: #blogs #international #reviews #tourism 

Tingtongbear’s Blog

ความเป็นไทย Very Thai

POSTED BY  ⋅ 
http://tingtongbear.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/ความเป็นไทย-very-thai/
PDF: Tingtongbear’s Blog
Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 20.01.35

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Tags: #blogs #photography #Thai language 

Siam Voices, Asian Correspondent

Thai Culture Ministry to crack down on religious tattoos on foreign skin

By Saksith Saiyasombut

http://asiancorrespondent.com/56307/thailands-culture-ministry-to-crackdown-on-religious-tattoos-on-foreign-skin/
Tattoos have a very special place in Thailand. They’re more than just permanent fashion statements, not unlike amulets they are regarded as spiritual guardians. Tattoos with religious or spiritual motives, called Yantra tattoos, are yet another sign that Thais take their beliefs skin-deep. Philip Cornwel-Smith dedicated a whole chapter in his excellent book Very Thai.

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Tags: #blogs #features #reviews 

Thailand Footprint

Featured Footprint:
Artist Chris Coles – Bringing it to the Bangkok Night

http://peoplethingsliterature.com/tag/chris-coles-thailand/

2011

“Meetings with Chris are always memorable. There was a mid-day meal at SUDA restaurant years ago where Chris informed me at our lunch table, “You need to buy, Very Thai.” A book written by Philip Cornwel-Smith and now in its second edition, with additional photographs by John Goss. After we finished eating we walked to the Time Square Building on Sukumvit 12 and went up the escalator to Asia Books on the second floor. That Asia Books store is now gone. But I still own Very Thai thanks to Chris Coles. It is a great book about everyday popular culture in Thailand.”

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Tags: #Bangkok #blogs #book #reviews 

Planet Asia Podcast Series

Thai Culture & Quirks: Phillip Cornwell-Smith, author of Very Thai

<iframe src=”http://www.podbean.com/media/player/audio/postId/1694329/url/http%253A%252F%252Fsmilingalbino.podbean.com%252Fe%252Fthai-culture-quirks-phillip-cornwell-smith-author-of-very-thai%252F/initByJs/1/auto/1″ width=”100%” height=”100″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>

http://smilingalbino.podbean.com/e/thai-culture-quirks-phillip-cornwell-smith-author-of-very-thai/

Planet Asia podcast 2014-06-29

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Engaging Thailand Tips

Recommended Books

By Trevor Bide on January 7, 2011

There are some things that are very Thai and knowing about them will greatly help your understanding of Thai ways and popular Thai culture. What is Hi-So? The love affair with red bull and energy drinks, ghost stories, amulet collectors and fortune tellers. Thai Massage, What is a sniff kiss? These are just a few of the things you will read about in the excellent 256 page book with fantastic photographs called “Very Thai“.

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Tags: #blogs #book #reviews #Thailand 

Bangkok Design Festival

Very Thai

This week i’ve got the illustration assignment called ” VERY THAI” project.I have to answer the given questions into loog-toong (ลูกทุ่ง) style of illustration 🙂 Which one do you like or dislike just let me khow!I’d appreciate your comments! 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 00.21.41 Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 00.21.59 Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 00.22.07

 

 

http://happygraff.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/very-thai/

 

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Tags: #art #blogs #endorsements #Thailand 

Flickr Groups

Very Thai

One picture/day. Inspired by Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture by Philip Cornwel-Smith & John Goss

https://www.flickr.com/groups/verythai/

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Tags: #book #culture #international #photography #reviews 

Mundo Exchange

Books and Readings for Mundo’s Thailand Interns, Friends, Visitors and Travelers

Books and Information on All Things Thai

 

http://mundoexchange.org/2010/10/books-readings-for-thailand-volunteers-and-travelers/

Mundo Exchange volunteers and interns in Thailand have created a list of books and reading about Thailand and Thai culture. Some of the works included are fiction, others are about history, the arts, and the cultural ways of this Thai society. Travelers, tourists and armchair anthropologists may enjoy some of these writings. Our goal is to include more, so if you want to recommend other Thai related readings let us know at info@mundoexchange.org. Enjoy they reads! (*Other books and readings, not listed here, will be available for Mundo Exchange volunteers during your cross-cultural training and orientation.)

Thai Culture:

Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith, 2005

An endlessly entertaining book full of photo essays explaining the simple yet fascinating quirks of modern Thai culture: from toilet paper napkins to ghost stories, and from drinks in a plastic bag to temple carnivals, this book brilliantly sheds light on the everyday popular culture in Thailand that is so mystifying to its visitors.

 

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Tags: #academic #blogs #book #culture #international #reviews #website 

Chiang Mai University

Very Thai เวรี่ไทย

 

http://photoartcmu.com/sites/default/files/medifoto.pdf

I don’t have a date of this exhibition and posting. If you know, please contact me. Thanks.

CMU VT show 2014-06-30 at 00.13.50 CMU VT show 2014-06-30 at 00.13.56
CMU VT show 2014-06-30 at 00.14.02 CMU VT show 2014-06-30 at 00.14.09

การวิพากษ์ถึงความล้มเหลวและความผิดพลาดของคนอื่นคงเป็นเรื่องสนุกสําหรับปถุชนคน ทั่วไป คล้ายกับคนในอดีตชอบดูถูกคนอื่นถูกลงโทษ ถูกตัดคอประหารชีวิตในที่สาธารณะ ณ จัตุรัส กลางเมือง ถือเป็นความบันเทิงของคนในยุคนั้น

ผู้ที่มีสิทธิ์วิพากษ์คนอื่นได้ น่าจะเป็นคนที่มีความประพฤติและจิตใจอยู่เหนือกว่าคนที่เขา วิพากษ์ เช่น ไม่เคยทําผิดเลย ไม่เคยล้มเหลว ไม่เคยโกหกตอแหล หรือเคยน้อยที่สุด ผลงานชิ้นนี้ต้องการนําเสนอให้ความผิดพลาดเป็นครู เพราะ ขึ้นชื่อว่า “คน” คนเรามันพลาดกันได้ ตัว ข้าพเจ้าเองก็เคยพลาดตั้งหลายอย่าง “กิ้งกือยังสะดุดเท้าตัวเอง”

ภาพบรรยากาศภายในนิทรรศการ

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Tags: #academic #art #book #culture #exhibitions #Thai language #Thailand 

Books Are Me

Fascinating But A Little Dense

This insight into contemporary Thai culture delves beyond the traditional Thai icons to reveal the casual, everyday expressions of what it is to be Thai that so delight and puzzle outsiders. Never colonised, Thai culture retains ancient meaning in the most mundane things – over 200 colour images.

My Personal Review:

I finally finished Very Thai and I enjoyed it very much. If you have been to Thailand a time or two it certainly helps explain a lot of things you wondered about.

The book is basically organized like a series of magazine articles on all sorts of topics. The tiny font takes some getting used to. Of course some articles are more interesting than others and there is a bit of repetition between and among some of the articles. The book is well-organized, thoroughly sourced, and lavishly illustrated with tons of photos.

I see there are some copies available now that are quite reasonably priced. I paid a ton more for this book, but I certainly don’t regret. If you love Thailand and wished you could better understand the Thais and the things they do this book is essential.

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #reviews 

Thai Food & Travel Blog

Thai Napkins

by Michael Babcock, June 5th, 2010

http://thaifoodandtravel.com/blog/thai-napkins/

One of the more common Thai napkin is a flimsy, pink sheet. The one I measured was 14 cm (or 5-1/2 inches) square and about the consistency of flimsy, 1-ply toilet paper. I often wondered about these and was able to find out a bit about them in one of my favorite books about Thailand: Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture by Philip Cornwel-Smith, with photographs by John Goss. The pink napkins are made from recycled paper and are less expensive; they are died pink to cover up blemishes from recycling. The dye is made from extracts of tomato and cinnabar.

 

caption: Napkins at My Choice restaurant in Bangkok

 

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Tags: #book #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

ArchmaniaC :: BLESS ME, I’m in CRISIS!

posted on 06 May 2010 14:48 by archmania  in What-a-Life

http://archmania.exteen.com/20100506/the-very-thai-1

 

Archmania 2014-06-29 at 23.16.15 Archmania 2014-06-29 at 23.16.26 Archmania 2014-06-29 at 23.16.35 Archmania 2014-06-29 at 23.16.47 Archmania 2014-06-29 at 23.16.58

โอ้ยยยย

โมโหวววว์ โกรธาาาาาาาา

อยากจะปี๊ดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดด!

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เฮ้อ…

เมื่อไหร่จะมีฟังก์ชั่นกดแล้วมีเสียงกรี๊ด -*-

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ช่างเถอะ…คงได้แต่บ่นกระปอดกระแปดไปอย่างนั้นแหละ

เหนื่อยใจ… แต่เดี๋ยวก็จะผ่านไป

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เคยเห็นเพื่่อนถือ Text book ของฝรั่งชื่อ “The Very Thai” เป็นรวมภาพถ่ายองค์ประกอบต่างๆ ที่เค้าเห็นว่า เนี่ย…ไท๊ยไทย…ไม่มีที่อื่นแล้ว เช่น รถตุ๊กๆ  ไรงี้….

ไม่เคยอ่านหรอก แต่จริงๆ แล้วมันยังมีมิติอื่นๆ นอกจากที่จะเห็นได้ด้วยเลนส์กล้องอีกเยอะที่เป็น Very Thai..ในสายตาคน “ไทยแท้ๆ”อย่างเราๆ ท่านๆ

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1. สติกเกอร์กู้ภัย อุ้มหญิง แก้ผ้า

พยายามหารูปในเน็ตแต่ไม่ยักกะมี ทั้งที่เราเห็นออกจะง่ายตามท้ายรถกระบะ รถตู้ และรถกู้ภัย!

ที่เห็น บ่อยๆ แบบนี้

เอ่อ……

ผู้หญิงที่อุ้มน่ะ..ตายไปแล้วป่ะ …มาสลบคออ่อนแบบนี้

แล้วมันจะอุ้มได้เหรอคะเธอ ท่านี้อ่ะ -..-‘

มัน very Thai ตรงที่คงดูเท่มากนะ แมนสุดๆ …..อุ้มหญิงสาวหมดสติ ช่วยชีวิต

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แล้ว หลังจากนั้นล่ะ?

 

อัน นี้ก็เห็นบ่อย

ผู้หญิงโป้เปลือยถอดน้ำเจี็ยกคาขาขวา…  เห็นหน่มน้มอูมๆ จากด้านหลัง

-..-‘ ที่ช่วยตามรูปบน นี่มันหวังผลที่รูปล่างชิมิ?

แสดงว่าชายไทย…. ชอบแบบวับแวม…(จะฮัดช่าอ่ะ แต่เห็นเต็มๆ แล้วไม่ตื่นเต้น….แต่ยังยืนยันนะว่าต้องฮัดช่า!)

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นี่ลงทุน วาดเองเลยนะ…คงนึกกันออก ไอ้สติกเกอร์ 2 รูปนี้..

ตามมาติดๆ คงไม่พ้นสติกเกอร์รูกระสุน …

ไม่รู้ว่าฝรั่ง ญี่ปุ่น ชาติอื่นๆ ฮิตติดลมบนอย่างเราหรือเปล่า

VERY THAI

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2. แก้ปัญหายากด้วยวิธีง่าย!

เทพเนอะ…พี่ไทย… ทำเรื่องยากให้เป็นเรื่องง่าย! ถือว่าต้องใช้ควยามฉลาดเฉพาะตัวในการเลือกวิธีแก้ปัญหา

แล้วมัน Very Thai ตรงไหน? ที่ไหนๆ เค้าก็คิดอย่างงี้

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คือเง๊…. บ้านเราอ่ะ แก้ปัญหาโลกแตกด้วยการปอกกล้วย!

เช่น… หวยใต้ดิน…(การพนันเป็นสิ่งผิด) .. มันผิดชิมิ…แก้ปัญหาก็ไม่ได้ ยังไงก็ยังเล่นหวยอยู่ดี…งั้นงัดเอาขึ้นมาไว้บนดินซะ…นี่งายยยยย….. ประเทศชาติไทยก็จะมีแต่เรื่องที่ถูกต้องงงงงงง

เช่น… บุหรี่ เป็นอันตรายต่อสุขภาพและส่งผลต่อชีวิตผู้อื่น….ก็ใส่รูปฟันเหลือง ปอดแตกซะ……

เช่น… ห้ามดื่มเกินวันละสองขวด และโปรดอ่านสลากก่อนดื่มทุกครั้ง…..พูดจบใน 0.03 วินาที -..-‘

เช่น… ยุบสภา.. ตามใจคนประท้วง..เพราะกลัวคนดีเดือดร้อน -..-‘…อ่า….เรื่องนี้ ผ่านไปละกัน -..-‘

VERY THAI

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3. สื่อสารกันด้วยป้าย

ให้ตาย……. อ่านไม่ออกไม่นับเข้าพวกนะคะคู๊ณณณณ

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รถคันนี้สีชมพูดอกบาน เย็นปลูกที่เชียงใหม่

บ้านนี้ไม่มีคนชื่อ ส ห ล ว ฮ ฏ ไปหาที่อื่นเถอะค่ะพี่ผีแม่หม้าย

ที่หมาเยี่ยว คนห้ามเยี่ยว

สงบ สันติ อหิงสา ยุบสภา (ตู้มมมมมมม! สงบกันมากกกก)

VERY THAI

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4. หยวนๆ

ไม่ใช่สกุลเงินจีนนะคะคู๊ณณณณ  หมายถึง หยวนๆ อ่ะๆ ยังไงก้ได้

จะประนีประณอมกันไปไหน? บางทีอะไรมันก็ต้องชัดบ้าง เช่น ภาระงาน

มีที่ไหนวะ…ปฏิคม…มานั่ง ทำโปสเตอร์ มานั่งตัดตัวหนังสือโฟมติดเวที -..-‘  (ส่วนตัวและอันนี้)

คือ… งานมันชิ้นใหญ่แบ่งเป็นหลายส่วน หมายความว่า จะมารวมหัวกันทำไม่ได้ เดี่ยวจะไม่เสร็จ

แต่เพราะแบ่งกันไม่ชัด แล้วทุกคน ก็เลยต้องทำทุกงาน แล้วงานก็เลยซ้ำซ้อน แล้วคนก็เหนื่อยหลายที แล้วสุดท้ายก็ไม่มีอะไรเป็นระบบ

น่าเบื่อมากกกก…..

VERY THAI

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พยายามมากที่จะจัดให้ได้ 5 ข้อ

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5. นิสัยขั้นกว่า

แบบนี้ไง…

“การดำรงบทบาทเป็นผู้นำที่ต้อง ตัดสินใจนั้นน่าหนักใจ แต่การดำรงบทบาทเป็นผู้ตามของผู้นำที่ไม่ตัดสินใจนั้นน่าหนักใจกว่า”

“การ ทำตัวให้เป็นคนดีน่ารักนั้นดี แต่การทำตัวให้เป็นคนดีน่ารักโดยไม่เด่นนั้นดีกว่า”

“ข้าราชการที่ ซื่อสัตย์สุจริตนั้นเป็นที่พึงประสงค์ของผู้ใหญ่ แต่ข้าราชการที่ซื่อสัตย์เฉพาะกับผู้ใหญ่นั้นน่าพึงประสงค์กว่า”

“การ เรียนในมหาวิทยาลัยที่ใดก็มาตรฐานเดียวกันทั้งนั้น…แต่ถ้ามหาวิทยาลัยของ รัฐก็จะได้งานทำง่ายกว่า” (อ้าว)…

VERY THAI

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จบ และ….

ซื่อๆ ….

เบื่อๆ เลยเขียนเล่นซะเลย

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หงุด หงิดๆ

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #culture #Thai language #Thailand 

Bangkok University: Contemporary Issues in Communication Design

Bangkok University 2/2010 ทุกวันอังคาร เวลา 8.40-11.10 น. ห้อง 722.

2010 CD371 Contemporary Issues in Communication Design

วันอังคารที่ 22 กุมภาพันธ์ พ.ศ. 2554

Very Thai > วิถีความเป็นไทยที่แฝงอยู่ในชีวิตประจำวัน

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 20.09.22Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 20.09.04Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 20.09.12

2010 CD371 Contemporary Issues in Communication Design: Very Thai > วิถีความเป็นไทยที่แฝงอยู่ในชีวิตประจำวัน

 

ลองพิจารณาถึงการแบ่งหมวดหมู่ความเป็นไทยในด้านวิิถีชีวิต ความเป็นอยู่ประจำวัน วัฒนธรรมต่างๆ ทีึ่อยู่รายรอบตัวเรา

  • ไทยเดิม – Thai Classical – Thai Traditional = High Arts

เช่น วัดพระศรีรัตนศาสดาราม งานจิตรกรรม ปฏิมากรรม ช่างสิบหมู่ งานศิลปาชีพ ดนตรีไทยเดิม หนังเรื่อง ตำนานสมเด็จพระนเรศวร สุริโยไท ฯลฯ

  • ไทยท้องถิ่น – ชนบท – ต่างจังหวัด – Thai local

สามารถแบ่งแยกย่อยออกเป็น อดีต – แผลเก่า, ลูกอีสาน / ปัจจุบัน – แหยม, วงศ์คำเหลา ฯ

  • ไทยเมือง – Thai Metropolis – Thai Urban

สามารถแบ่งแยกย่อยออกเป็น อดีต – บ้านทรายทอง, เก๋าๆ / ปัจจุบัน – รถไฟฟ้ามาหานะเธอ, พลอย,​ เป็นต่อ, บางรักซอย 9

  • ไทยร่วมสมัย – Contemporary Thai

เกาหลีร่วมสมัย, Cosplay, พารากอน, ฯลฯ

เขียนโดย ที่ 

 

http://2010cd371.blogspot.com/2011/02/very-thai.html

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #academic #Bangkok #blogs #reviews 

The Independent (feature)

Bangkok: Real Thai tranquillity

Escape the heat and noise of Bangkok with a trip around the city’s green hideaways, says Andrew Spooner

 

It’s early on a bright tropical Thai Sunday morning and I‘m standing at what many Thais consider to be the centre of Bangkok: Victory Monument. It is here – where a dramatic single-pronged monument rises out of the swirling cacophony of buses, tuk-tuks, mini-vans, noodle stalls and thousands of rushing Thais – that Bangkok reaches its fierce crescendo.

Even during the so-called winter season – which runs from now until March, with temperatures averaging 26C – Bangkok’s sensory overload of noise, rush and heat can be unbearable. Burning concrete, brain-melting humidity and the constant fumes of traffic coagulate into one long exhausting throb. So what do visitors do when the Thai capital overwhelms? Most take the easy way out, get back to their hotel rooms and switch on the air conditioning. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #features #international #interviews 

New Mandala

A classic popular culture blog

By Andrew Walker – 23 October 2009

‘…the fabulous book, Very Thai, by Phillip Cornwel-Smith which explains all those wonderful and wacky details that make Thai pop culture so interesting and so much fun.’

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Shiryu

Very Thai วิถีความเป็นไทยที่แฝงอยู่ในชีวิตประจำวัน

http://visut2005.blogspot.com/2009/11/very-thai.html

Shiryu 2014-06-29 at 23.29.03
Print Print

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #culture #design #reviews #Thai language 

Life in Phana

Very Thai

11 June 2009

http://phanathailife.typepad.com/thai-life-phana/2009/06/a-book-which-gives-me-particular-pleasure-especially-when-i-am-far-from—thailand-as-now-is-very-thai-by-philip-cor.html

 Life in Phana 2014-06-29 at 21.41.03 Life in Phana 2014-06-29 at 21.41.13 Life in Phana 2014-06-29 at 21.41.21 Life in Phana 2014-06-29 at 21.41.33

    A book which gives me particular pleasure, especially when I am far from Thailand as now, is Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith. I have a hardback copy here and a paperback version in Phana. I have actually bought about five copies altogether, but envious friends and relations have taken the others. On the whole I am pleased to let them have a book which I enjoy so much.

 

    Very Thai is one of those books you can dip into anywhere and always find something interesting. The topics are all familiar to anyone who has been in Thailand even for a fairly short time with their eyes open, but Cornwel-Smith always has an informed take on every subject and he makes good use of knowledgeable Thai experts who add native authenticity and depth to his own observations. For example, we all notice the gaudy decorations on trucks, tuk-tuks and songthaews, but Cornwel-Smith reveals the traditional and even mythical origins of the designs. He points out that “Looking beautiful may be important but meaning matters as much. With spirits underwriting any accident, drivers pay extra premiums for divine protection through décor. Chassis metalwork plays shrine, cabins act as altar, talisman-shaped bolts physically hold the trailer together.”

    Cornwel-Smith reports what he sees and digs down beneath the surface to cast new light on everyday objects and customs. He touches on some topics that come up on the Bangkok Post letters page (Soi Animals, Street Vendors, Motorcy Taxis, Hanging Wires) but he observes without whingeing. His mission is to explain and not to criticise or make cross-cultural comparisons. He certainly touches on things which are not normally regarded (especially by Thai officialdom ie Thai Tourist Authority) as ‘culture’. So we have the McDonalds clown wai-ing, the sniff kiss, the beckoning lady, whisky mixer tables, and so on. What this wonderful book does above all else is to celebrate what makes Thailand so unique, what makes it such a joy to live in, what makes it so different despite the seeming universality of shopping malls, expressways, and high-rise buildings.

    And the photographs are a delight. The only thing I have against them is that I didn’t take them myself. I wish I had. Maybe if I had, I would have included these next four pictures, which illustrate a couple of things which give me and many people in Isan a lot of pleasure.

Very Thai

Everyday Popular Culture

Philip Cornwel-Smith

Photographs: John Goss

River Books

Bangkok 2005

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #culture #reviews #Thailand 

UsedTravelBooks

Book Review: Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture

Apr 2009

By Shawn Gowans

http://www.usedtravelbooks.com.au/book-review-very-thai-everyday-popular-culture-by-philip-cornwel-smith.html

As a professional bookseller I have had around 15,000 books pass through my hands over the last few years. Out of all those books there are just a couple that I found too precious to part with. The one book I will never ever sell is “Very Thai” a lovely hardcover book explaining all the unexplainable facets of Thai popular culture from men dressed as ladies to tuk tuk art to the ingenious use of plastic blue pipes to those tiny tiny pink tissues they give you at streetside food stalls. It is a celebration of everything that makes Thailand wonderful. And more importantly, it is a detailed snapshop of Thai culture at 2005. For instance that ‘legal services’ shopfront shown in the first photo below is no longer there.

There are more glamorous subjects but my favourite chapter is the one covering Blue PVC pipes and Hanging Electrical Wires…

Uniting the Thai architecture, roads and vistas, two things snag they eye: hanging wires and the blue PVC pipe. You can’t miss these contributions to probably the world’s most cluttered streestcape. Wires old, new and redundant tangle our surroundings in brutal, slashing lines or whimsical knots, severed ends swinging like electic eels at head-height. Defying the logic and memory as to what connects what, cables tangle into garlands several dozen thick. Blue pipes meander over teak house, temple and waterfall. The eye may bypass them to dwell on beautiful details behind, but the camera doesn’t lie. Taking a wire-free photograph defies all but the deftest lensman. the most photographed sight in Thailand is the hanging wire.

Published 2005 by River Books Thailand. 256 pages. Alas we don’t have a copy to spare but last time I looked there are revised 2009 paperback editions in stock at Asia Books

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Baan Jochim Phuket

Ya Dom: The Thai Nasal Inhaler

By Mark Jochim, Jan 2009

http://baanjochim.com/?p=1342

Visitors to Thailand are sometimes taken aback by seeing so many people constantly sniffing from small plastic canisters. Occasionally, one even sees Thais walking along with two of these inhalers stuck in their nostrils at the same time. This isn’t a case of the entire population suffering from nasal congestion, nor are people participating in some strange kind of a mass drug high. What you are seeing is a popular form of samun phrai (สมุนพราย), or traditional herbal medicine, known as yaa dom (ยาดม), which literally means medicinal inhaler. The most common of all Thai accessories, one can find these for sale next to cash registers in pharmacies and convenience stores throughout the Kingdom. Millions of Thais sniff yaa dom inhalers to clear congestion from pollution, mask odors, and make their nose feel cool. The little white nozzle plugs into both the nose and the national psyche.

The inhalers come in various shapes and sizes, from more commercial brands, such as Poy Sian, to more traditional versions featuring actual herbs. The latter were once more prominent in the provinces, but are now becoming increasingly popular in Bangkok. The roots of yaa dom, along with other traditional Thai medicine, can be traced back 2,500 years to the time of Gautama Buddha and Shivago Komaraphat, the physician for the original Buddhist order of monks and knows and known as the “father” doctor of Thai medicine.

According to writer Philip Cornwel-Smith, in his book Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture, “Fashion, tradition and hypochondria may play a part, but a breathing problem exists. They way the Thai now live traumatizes the nasal passages, causes constant chills and dulls the immune system. Constant ducking in and out of ice-cold air-conditioning isn’t the sole culprit; millions wake up wind-dried from sleeping through the gusts of a fan. Then throughout the day, stress-induced over-breathing gets the chairbound urbanite panting through his mouth. Respiratory illness is gagging Thailand. The capital’s fumes and cement dust permeate the Central Plains, while smoke from burning forest and fields choke Northern valleys throughout the hot season.”

It’s also important to remember how important scent is in the Thai subconcious. “Perfume powers the culture, from tangy shrimp paste and aromatic jasmine rice to the floral water tincture nam yaa uthai. Scent’s ability to transport the mind has religious uses, as with incense, garlands and nam ob, a pungent, powdery liquid used in rites as well as grooming. Constant bathing and clothes washing ensures one’s personal bouquet makes the ‘sniff kiss‘ a mutual pleasure. ‘If you do smell, you have the chance of having it pointed out to you,” Kat’s column in The Nation points out. But there is a popular remedy: “Mentholated” powders leave your body feeling like one gigantic breath mint for hours.’

According to Wit Sukhsamran, a practitioner of traditional Thai medicine there aren’t any addictive ingredients in the inhalers, although there are some specific physiological effects which could lead to addiction. “The combination of camphor and menthol can have an effervescent effect, which can lead to an addiction among some users. Since the membrane between the nasal passage and brain is thin, it allows for quick absorption and nourishment of the brain. So, it’s a more immediate effect. It is also this phenomenon that results in [unwholesome] acts, such as sniffing glue, becoming so addictive among users.” Yaa dom works by stimulating nerve endings, which allows improved blood flow, which subsequently counters conditions of fatigue, nasal congestion, nausea, and vertigo.

Royal Thai mandated yaa dom inhalant mixtures are taught at the temple of Wat Pho in Bangkok, while literally thousands of other forms, in addition to commercial brands, can be found throughout the country. There are probably as many versions as there are practitioners of herbal medicine and healers. Broadly speaking, there are chemical-based or herbal forms of commercial yaa dom available on the market. The Poy Sian brand is a popular form of chemical-based yaa dom, featuring a mix of the oils of broneol, camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol.

Of the commercial herbal inhalers, Jarungjit is a popular brand, featuring pommelo and several other herbs, which are ground together. The most popular ingredients in homemade mixtures or those produced in rural areas, are various chopped herbs. A common form includes a base of black pepper, camphor oil, citrus peel/pommelo, cloves, and mace. These are commonly packaged in a small jar or glass bottle.

So while at first glance it could easily be assumed that the widespread use of yaa dom is a kind of society-wide addiction, it might be more accurate to conclude that its popularity is due to a combination of factors: a long-held cultural tradition (traditional Thai medicine); a counter to rapid industrialization (its use for countering foul urban smells, such as those generated by pollution); along with a fashionable consumer-driven trend towards “health consciousness”.

To learn more about Thai herbal medicine, a fabulous resource is the website for Tao Mountain.

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #culture #reviews 

National Geographic Traveller

Places of a Lifetime

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/places-of-a-lifetime/bangkok-books.html

A must-have for anyone interested in scratching beneath the surface of modern Thai culture and its origins. For almost every question about modern Bangkok, the answer is here.

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #book #international #magazine #reviews #tourism 

Virtual Tourist

Thai literature or literature about Thailand

http://forum.virtualtourist.com/Bangkok-1445238-6-3476604/Thai-literature-or-literature-about-Thailand.html

 

By schmechi Jun 8, 2009 at 7:04 AM

I’ll stay in Bangkok and Phuket next turn of the year and I wonder wether you can recommend me some Thai literature (or literature about Thailand) to get into the mood for my holidays…

Btw I’m talking about prose literature, not travel books… For example I’d recommend everybody visiting Vienna to read Stefan Zweig’s “World of Yesterday”…

 

Re: Thai literature or literature about Thailand

By Tina-Perth Jun 9, 2009 at 2:57 AM

Hi, there is a book which I really like called “Very Thai” – Everyday popular culture, written by Philip Cornwel-Smith. It explains a lot of things you may wonder about when you get to Thailand.

 Take a look here; http://www.verythai.com/

 Enjoy your trip!

 

Re: Thai literature or literature about Thailand

By aberacadabra Jun 10, 2009 at 1:24 AM

Bangkok Inside Out by Daniel Ziv.
 Very Thai by Cornwel-Smith is excellent.

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Travel Happy

Thailand Writers:
Phil Cornwel-Smith, author of Very Thai

BY  on 28 April 2008

TRAVEL HAPPY INTV 2014-06-29 at 23.59.42 TRAVEL HAPPY INTV 2014-06-29 at 23.59.52 TRAVEL HAPPY INTV 2014-06-30 at 00.00.07

http://travelhappy.info/thailand/thailand-writers-phil-cornwel-smith-author-of-very-thai-everyday-popular-culture/

In the first of Travelhappy’s Thailand Writers series, Philip Cornwel-Smith, author of the bestselling Very Thai, a guide to understanding everyday street life in Thailand, describes why he loves the Land of Smiles

 

Name
Philip Cornwel-Smith

Age
42

Nationality
British

Time in Thailand
14 years

What brought you here?
A backpacker bored with touring, I studied meditation and massage before staying in Bangkok with an ex-Time Out pal. Within four days, I was hired as founding editor of Bangkok’s first city magazine, Metro. A typical Thai tale of reinvention.

What do you most love about the place?
Unpredictability. Flexibility. Vibrant streetlife. General pleasantness. Tolerant acceptance of human nature.

Where do you live in Thailand? Why did you choose to live there?
At a house opposite where I first stayed, in a close-knit central soi dubbed Sesame Street, though it can evoke Melrose Place.


Phil Cornwel-Smith

What irks you?
Obstacles to people flourishing: impunity, censorship, monopolies, philistinism, the education system.

Thailand is the Land of Smiles. Discuss.
The plural doesn’t mean uniform happiness; there are different smiles for every emotion and motive. To learn Italian you begin with gestures; here you must learn how to smile.

Cultural recommendations (ie getting over culture shock)
Learn how to smile.

Explain the passion and idea behind your latest book in 100 words
Exoticised presentations of Thai culture ill-prepare visitors for reality. Thai streetlife fascinates, but goes mostly unexplained. In ‘Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture’ I identified patterns amid the chaos, investigating things like grooming and ghosts, blind bands and truck art, which intrigue outsiders, and which Thais often overlook as familiar or déclassé. Happily I hit a zeitgeist. Thais increasingly find inspiration from street culture as they develop a new pop aesthetic in movies, advertising, design. ‘Very Thai’ captures a transitional phase when traditions still affect how Thais express modernity. My next book spotlights the emergent creative culture.
Buy from Amazon
Very Thai – Philip Cornwel-Smith

Buy from Amazon.co.uk Buy from Amazon.com

See all books by Philip Cornwel-Smith at
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com


Favourite hangout
A circuit of places depending on people, event or scene.

Favourite bar
Any indy bar with mis-matched furniture.

Favourite restaurant
Many. Frequent standby: Greyhound Café.

Favourite Thai getaway
Koh Samet, and festivals in Isan or Lanna.

Favourite Thai meal
Spiced herbal soups like tom yum or tom khlong, crab fried rice, stir-fried bitter gourd vines, grilled squid with seafood sauce, char-grilled pork dipped in jaew, and any laab with aromatic leaves.

Hidden gem
Community events unpublicised in English. Serendipity or sleuthing required.

Books published
Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture (2005).
Time Out Bangkok guidebook (3 edns).

Travel Happy is a travel website

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #book #culture #e-magazine #international #interviews #Thailand #tourism 

Bloggang

Design+Culture

http://www.bloggang.com/viewdiary.php?id=a-wild-sheep-chase&month=04-2008&date=16&group=1&gblog=120

– – – ดีไซน์ +คัลเจอร์ ความหมายและเบื้องลึกของงานออกแบบ – – – 

ดีไซน์+คัลเจอร์ ประชา สุวีรานนท์ เขียน
สำนักพิมพ์ฟ้าเดียวกัน พิมพ์ ( 2551 ราคา 300 บาท)

เป็นหนังสือที่พออ่านถึงบทสุดท้ายแล้ว ต้องร้องว่า เฮ้ย อย่าเพิ่งจบ ยังอยากอ่านอีก
( คาดว่าคงมีเล่ม 2 เพราะคุณประชา สุวีรานนท์ยังเขียนคอลัมน์ชื่อเดียวกับหนังสืออยู่ในมติชนสุดสัปดาห์)

หนังสือเล่มนี้คือ ” การสามารถย้อนกลับมาอ่านให้แตกว่า งานดีไซน์หนึ่งๆ มีรากที่มาอย่างไร ถูกหยิบใช้เละส่งผลสะเทือนอย่างไร จึงไม่ใช่อะไรนอกจากการอ่านประวัติศาสตร์ที่ถูกบันทึกไว้อย่างลุ่มลึก แยบคาย ทว่าอาจตรงไปตรงมา และปราศจากการครอบงำเสียยิ่งกว่าการอ่านตำราประวัติศาสตร์วัฒนธรรมฉบับทางการก็ได้” ( จากย่อหน้าสุดท้ายของคำนำสำนักพิมพ์)

ถึงแม้นชื่อหนังสือจะมีคำว่าดีไซน์ แต่มันไม่ใช่หนังสือที่จะทำให้คุณดีไซน์เก่งๆ หรือข้อมูลทางโปรแกรมคอมพิวเตอร์ แต่มันคือสิ่งที่อยู่ลึกลงไปในงานดีไซน์ บางที่สิ่งที่อยู่รอบๆ ตัวเรา ( ซึ่งล้วนแล้วแต่เป็นผลผลิตของงานออกแบบ) มันบอกว่า เราเป็นใคร หรือเรารสนิยมแบบไหน ตัวอย่างง่ายๆ เช่นหลายคนคงเลือกตัดสินใจซื้อข้าวของเครื่องใช้ต่างๆ เพราะการออกแบบอันแสนเก๋ไก๋ของมัน บางบทในหนังสือเล่มนี้มันอธิบายว่าการดีไซน์มันเข้าไปอยู่ในระดับจิตสำนึกได้อย่างไร แต่หนังสือเล่มนี้ก็ยังไม่หยุดอยู่แค่นั้น ตัวอย่างเช่นในบทที่ว่าด้วยเก้าอี้ ชื่อตอนความสบายกับความ(โม)เดิร์น คุณประชานำเสนอว่ามีงานวิจัยของอาจารย์ทางสถาปัตยกรรมแห่งมหาวิทยาลัย ยู.ซี.เบิร์กลีย์ ชิ้นหนึ่งบอกว่าการนั่งเก้าอี้เป็นผลผลิตของตะวันตก และยังเป็นเครื่องหมายทางชนชั้น เช่นเก้าอี้แบ่งแยกความแตกต่างระหว่างเจ้ากับสามัญชนหรือแบ่งแยกเจ้านายกับลูกน้อง และการนั่งเก้าอี้แบบมีพนักพิงที่เรานั่งกันมาจนทุกวันนี้ เป็นความผิดพลาดอันมหันต์ในเชิงสรีรศาสตร์ของวัฒนธรรมตะวันตกด้วย เพื่อความถูกต้องทางสุขภาพ เราควรยกเลิการนั่งเก้าอี้แบบตะวันตกหันมาสนใจการนั่งกับพื้น และผ่อนคลายกล้ามเนื้อหลังด้วยเก้าอี้นอนแทน ( โอ นี่มันตะวันออกชัดๆ การนั่งกับพื้น แต่อ่านถึงบทนี้แล้วก็สะท้อนใจเราต้องรอให้ฝรั่งมาบอกว่าที่คุณทำน่ะมันเป็นผลผลิตที่ผิดพลาดของวัฒนธรรมบ้านชั้นนะ)


บทที่ตัวเองชอบมากที่สุด น่าจะเป็น สำนึก มุมมอง และอุดมการณ์ของแผนที่ ที่คนเขียนร่ายยาวตั้งแต่งานดีไซน์แผนที่ชิ้นคลาสสิกของลอนดอนอันเดอร์กราวด์ มาจนถึงงานศิลปะของ
วิชญ์ พิมพ์กาญจนพงศ์ If there is No corruption ที่ใช้แผนผังระบบเครือข่ายรถไฟฟ้าของกรุงเทพมหานครมาเทียบเคียงกับงานศิลปะของตัวเอง และบท ภูมิศาสตร์ของความรู้สึก ทั้งสองบทนี้พูดถึงวาทกรรมเชิงพื้นที่ที่ปรากฏอยู่ในแผนที่อย่างหฤหรรษ์ เพราะแผนที่ทั้งหมดที่ถูกยกมาอ้างถึงในบทแรก ไม่ได้เป็นแผนที่ที่ช่วยหาพิกัดถูกต้อง แต่มันคำนึงถึงความสวยงามอย่างมากด้วย ตัวอย่างเช่นเส้นบางเส้นในแผนที่ของลอนดอนอันเดอร์กราวด์ แทนที่จะเป็นเส้นโค้งตามความเป็นจริงแต่เพื่อความสวยงามมันถูกทำให้กลายเป็นเส้นตรง หรือร่นระยะทางบางเส้นเพื่อให้สวยงามมากยิ่งขึ้น ซึ่งคนลอนดอน“รับได้” กับความไม่ถูกต้องตรงนี้ แต่พอนำหลักการนี้มาใช้กับแผนที่นิวยอร์กซี้ตี้ ซับเวย์กลับล้มเหลวอย่างสิ้นเชิง คนนิวยอร์กประท้วงแผนที่ฉบับนี้อย่างฉับพลันทันใด อะไรที่ทำให้คนลอนดอนรับได้ และอะไรที่ทำให้คนนิวยอร์กรับไม่ได้ คุณประชาให้ภาพไว้อย่างสนุกสนาน

ส่วนบทภูมิศาสตร์ของความรู้สึกนั้น มันคือการบอกว่าการเขียนแผนที่ ต้องมีอุดมการณ์การสร้างชาติมารองรับด้วย บทนี้คุณประชาใช้แผนที่อุปมามาแสดงตัวอย่าง ( คือแผนที่ที่มีการตกแต่ง ดัดแปลง หรือบิดเบือนรูปทรงจนกระทั่งกลายเป็นคน สัตว์ สิ่งของ) อุปมาที่ใกล้ตัวที่สุดคือ “ขวานทอง” เป็นอุปมาที่ที่ช่วยสร้างภาพของประเทศซึ่งเป็นพื้นที่มีขอบเขต เขตแดนขึ้นในใจเราทำให้กลายเป็น“รูปร่างหน้าตาของชาติ” ในสำนึกของชาวไทยมาเนิ่นนาน นั่นคือแผนที่กลายเป็นอุดมการณ์การสร้างชาติที่เป็นรูปธรรมนั่นเอง (อันนี้แค่การเริ่มต้นบทนะคะ ยังสนุกขนาดนี้)

อีกบทที่ชอบมากคือบทที่พูดถึงหนังสือ Very Thai ซึ่งเป็นหนังสือที่เขียนโดย ฟิลิป คอร์นเวล สมิท และถ่ายภาพโดย จอห์น กอสส์ ฝรั่งสองคนที่มาใช้ชีวิตในเมืองไทยมากว่าสิบปีแล้ว หนังสือเล่มนี้บอกว่า มอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้าง ถุงพลาสติกใส่น้ำดื่ม ลูกกรง เหล็กดัดและปลักขิก ฯลฯ ต่างหากที่เป็นเอกลักษณ์ของคนไทย วิถีชีวิตที่อยู่ตามตรอก ซอก ซอย ตึกแถวและสวนจตุจักร อาจจะ Very Thai มากกว่าสิ่งที่อยู่ในวัดวาอาราม หรือพระราชวัง Very Thai ไม่ยึดติดที่มาหรือรากเหง้า ไม่สนใจว่าสิ่งกำเนิดจะเป็นภูมิปัญญาหรือความมักง่าย ลอกเลียนหรือสร้างใหม่ อิมพอร์ตหรือไพเรต มันอาจจะเป็นประดิษฐกรรมของคนไทยที่ใช้ประกาศฐานันดรใหม่และปลีกตัวออกห่างจากประเพณี อาจจะเกิดจากการหยิบฉวยอะไรก็ได้ไม่ว่าจะเป็นแฟชั่น เพลงป๊อป ลัทธิบูชาผู้คน ฯลฯ หรือคุณประชาใช้ประโยคภาษาอังกฤษ อธิบาย Very Thai ว่า essence lies not in invention but transformation ทำให้คิดถึงสิ่งที่เคยได้คุยกับวิชญ์ พิมพ์กาญจนพงศ์ วิชญ์อธิบายความเป็นคนไทยว่า ถ้ามีการตัดถนนแล้วไปเจออุโมงค์ คนญี่ปุ่นหรือฝรั่งอาจจะขุดอุโมงค์ใต้ดิน ทำทางเจาะทะลุผ่านอุโมงค์ไปจนได้ แต่คนไทยจะไม่ทำอย่างนั้น คนไทยจะเดินอ้อม แล้วหันกลับมาบอกเพื่อนๆ ว่าไม่ต้องขุด อ้อมไปทางนี้ก็ได้ ซึ่งพออ้อมไปแล้วอาจไปชนกำแพงก็ได้นะ แต่คนไทยก็ขออ้อมไว้ก่อน -อันนี้เป็นความสนุกของวิธีคิดของคนไทยแบบหนึ่ง

 ดีไซน์+คัลเจอร์ พยายามจะบอกเราว่าในการทำงานสร้างสรรค์นั้น วิธีคิด วิธีมองโลกที่อยู่เบื้องหลังย่อมมีความสำคัญอย่างยิ่งยวด สำคัญเสียยิ่งกว่าการรู้เทคนิควิธีการที่ดี หรือการเข้าถึงเทคโนโลยีที่พร้อมสรรพเพียงใด” (จากหลังปกของหนังสือ)

จริงๆ แล้วหนังสือเล่มนี้มันสนุกทุกบทเลย มันทำให้เรารู้สึกว่าทุกอย่างล้วนถูก Construct ขึ้น เพราะฉะนั้นถ้าเราจะมองหาความหมายของสิ่งเหล่านั้นเราควรจะ Deconstruct มันเสียก่อน

และมันทำให้เราสำนึกว่า แผนที่ รูปภาพ ไอคอนต่างๆ เสื้อยืด กราฟิก
โลโก เก้าอี้ แปรงสีฟัน รถถัง บลา บลา บลา มีคัลเจอร์ของคนทำและอุดมการณ์ของคนในประเทศที่ใช้สิ่งของเหล่านั้น ซุกซ่อนอยู่เสมอๆ

Comment No.1
พี่เข้ามาทักทายจ้า
โดย: อินทรีทองคำ  วันที่: 16 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:10:58:05 น.
Comment No.2
โอ๊ะ พี่อินทรีฯ หายไปนานเลย
กลับมาแล้ว ดีใจๆ
โดย: grappa IP: 58.9.204.214 วันที่: 16 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:12:11:59 น.
Comment No.3
เมื่อวันที่ไปดูแสงศตวรรษ
เจอบล็อกเกอร์คนนึงถือหนังสือเล่มนี้มาด้วย
และคนข้างๆ บล็อกเกอร์คนนั้นก็บอกว่า
พี่แอมอ่านเล่มนี้สิๆ
ก็เลยบอกไปว่า อ่านอยู่ในมติชนสุดสัปดาห์จ้ะ
^^
โดย: I am just fine^^  วันที่: 16 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:15:53:29 น.
Comment No.4
อ่านรีวิวแล้วอยากอ่านโดยฉับพลันค่ะ หุๆๆ

สงกรานต์ไปไหนมาหรือเปล่าคะพี่? 

โดย: สาวไกด์ใจซื่อ  วันที่: 16 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:18:08:47 น.
Comment No.5
อ่านแล้วนึกถึงอาจารย์แสงอรุณเลยค่ะ

Happy belated Songkran’s Dayนะคะ

โดย: haiku  วันที่: 16 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:18:16:59 น.
Comment No.6
 น่าอ่านๆๆๆ
โดย: แพนด้ามหาภัย  วันที่: 16 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:19:29:10 น.
Comment No.7
เป็นหนังสือที่พออ่านถึงบทสุดท้ายแล้ว ต้องร้องว่า เฮ้ย อย่าเพิ่งจบ ยังอยากอ่านอีก

^
^

เด็ดนักล่ะคะประโยคนี้ อ่านหนังสือแล้วอยากให้มี
ความรู้สึกอย่างนี้บ่อยๆ เพราะถ้ามีเมื่อไหร่
หมายถึงว่าอ่านหนังสือเรื่องนี้ได้อินสุดๆ เลยนะคะ 

โดย: JewNid   วันที่: 16 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:22:59:28 น.
Comment No.8
อ่านจบแล้วเช่นกันครับ

ชอบมากๆๆๆ

เอาไปขึ้นหิ้งคู่กับหนังสือ แล่เนื้อเถือหนัง มาสเตอร์พีซของคุณประชาอีกเล่มนึงได้เลย

โดย: ฟ้าดิน  วันที่: 17 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:3:51:52 น.
Comment No.9
อ่านอย่างช้าๆ คืบคลานไปทีละบท
โดย: visuallyyours IP: 58.8.101.203 วันที่: 17 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:6:57:15 น.
Comment No.10
ง่า พี่แป็ดต้องชอบจริงๆนะเนี่ย

อยากที่เขียนในบล๊อกแหละค่ะ ว่าชื่นชมข้อมูลและเรื่องราวที่มาร้อยเรียงกัน แต่ว่าพอรวมๆแล้วว่ามันขาดเสน่ห์ไปนิด ซึ่งมันอาจจะเป็นเพราะว่าเรื่องที่คุณประชาเขียนมันเป็นเรื่องที่ส่วนตัวพอมีข้อมูลอยู่แล้วไม่รู้ เลยพยายามจะหาส่วนอื่นมากกว่าในงานเขียนที่เกี่ยวกับดีไซน์

แต่ดีใจอ่ะพี่ที่หนังสือขายดี(ไปอ่านในเวบสนพ.มา)

โดย: DropAtearInMyWineGlass  วันที่: 17 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:7:30:24 น.
Comment No.11
อ่า จะมีตามร้านเช่ามั้ยครับเนี่ย
(อยากอ่าน แต่ขี้เกียจซื้อ ฮา)
สงสัยต้องขอยืมจากอายซะแล้ว 
โดย: getterTu  วันที่: 17 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:7:49:52 น.
Comment No.12
– DropAtearInMyWineGlass

ข้อมูลเกี่ยวกับงานดีไซน์ พี่เฉยๆ นะ มันหาอ่านที่ไหนก็ได้
แต่จะตื่นเต้นตรงที่แกใช้ทฤษฎีมาวิเคราะห์ ราวกับว่าไม่มีทฤษฏี คือแกใช้ทฤษฎีได้เนียนมากน่ะ

โดย: grappa IP: 58.9.186.229 วันที่: 17 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:8:41:40 น.
Comment No.13
มาแอบอ่านรีวิว
โดย: Untrue  วันที่: 17 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:13:00:47 น.
Comment No.14
ขี้เกียจอัพบล็อกด้วยแหละครับ กลับมาก็เหนื่อย
โดย: pick IP: 202.41.167.246 วันที่: 17 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:20:38:12 น.
Comment No.15
ฟ้าเมืองไทย ผมหยิบๆวางๆมาอยู่หลายฉบับแล้วครับ ชอบแอบคิดว่า

“มันจะหนักไปสำหรับเราไหมนิ .”

โดย: เด็กผู้ชายที่ไม่เตะบอลตอนกลางวัน (kanapo ) วันที่: 18 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:0:20:06 น.
Comment No.16
สำนักพิมพ์ชื่อ “ฟ้าเดียวกัน” จ้า
โดย: grappa IP: 58.9.189.64 วันที่: 18 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:7:10:47 น.
Comment No.17
แวะมาทักทาย…
โดย: kiimujii  วันที่: 19 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:10:58:52 น.
Comment No.18
ผมก็ชอบเล่มนี้มากๆ
เหมือนกันครับพี่
ได้มาปุ๊บอ่านรวดเดียวจบเลย

โดย: จี้ IP: 125.25.40.111 วันที่: 19 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:18:56:25 น.
Comment No.19
– จี้
เมื่อไหร่จะอัพบล็อก คิดถึงบล็อกจี้มากๆ เลยนะ 
โดย: grappa IP: 58.9.197.238 วันที่: 19 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:21:57:58 น.
Comment No.20
หนังสือน่าสนใจอีกแล้ว 

แต่เดี๋ยวนี้ขี้เกียจอ่านหนังสือจริงๆ รู้สึกหมดพลังงาน

ปล. ไปแล้วชอบไหมคะ อยากมีห้องสมุดแบบนั้นมั่งอ่ะ

โดย: rebel IP: 203.155.129.130 วันที่: 21 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:8:19:44 น.
Comment No.21
อ่านที่เขียนแล้วน่าอ่านค่ะ ชอบที่เค้าบอกว่า “มอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้าง ถุงพลาสติกใส่น้ำดื่ม ลูกกรง เหล็กดัดและปลักขิก ฯลฯ ต่างหากที่เป็นเอกลักษณ์ของคนไทย”

จริงๆน่ะคิดถึงชาดำเย็นในถุงพลาสติกทุกวันนี้ใช้ zip bag ใส่กับข้าวยังคิดเลยกลับบ้านคราวหน้าจะพกเอาถุงพลาสติกใส่แกงกลับมา

โดย: Special Ed.  วันที่: 22 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:0:01:19 น.
Comment No.22
รูปบนหัวบล็อกท่านได้แต่ใดมา น่ารักแต๊ๆ

อ่า..ร้านอยู่จ.สุโขทัยค่ะพี่ แหะๆ

ข้าวเกรียบปากหม้ออร่อยสุดๆ ค่ะ เชียร์ๆ 

โดย: สาวไกด์ใจซื่อ  วันที่: 22 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:10:57:01 น.
Comment No.23
เป็นภาพจากงาน แฟต เฟสติวัลที่เชียงใหม่เจ้า
โดย: grappa  วันที่: 22 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:13:36:30 น.
Comment No.24
รูปหัวบล็อกแนวมาก 
โดย: merveillesxx  วันที่: 22 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:17:32:29 น.
Comment No.25
อ่าน ” สำนึก มุมมอง และอุดมการณ์ของแผนที่ ” ในมติชนสุดฯ ชอบเหมือนกันค่ะ

ส่วนคอลัมน์เดียวกันในเล่มอื่นๆ ได้แต่เปิดผ่านๆ แหะๆ 

โดย: Mutation  วันที่: 22 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:22:25:21 น.
Comment No.26
อยากอ่านนิยายไทย พี่พล็อตทันสมัย ไม่ได้ดูเป็นละครหลังข่าวเท่าไหร่
^
^
นิยายพล็อตทันสมัยมากเล่มล่าสุดที่อ่าน คือ “เรียลลิตี้โชว์ ไฮโซปลอดสารพิษ” ของคุณชาครียา สนพ. พิมพ์คำค่ะ

ถ้าแนวรักอ่านแล้วสบายใจ ก็ต้อง “ฝากฟ้าเคียงดิน” ของคุณ yayoi ค่ายแจ่มใส (มีอีกเรื่องที่น่าจะชวนยิ้มพอกัน แต่ยังไม่ได้อ่าน เลยไม่กล้าแนะนำ)

แต่เอาแบบเขียนดีและไม่น้ำเน่าชัวร์
เล่มล่าสุดของคุณดวงตะวัน “ณ ที่ดาวพราวพร่างรัก” ก็น่าสนนะพี่


แนะนำคนอื่นดิบดี แต่ตัวเองหันกลับไปอ่านนิยายป้าวลัย 

โดย: ยาคูลท์   วันที่: 23 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:10:07:49 น.
Comment No.27
ไว้จะไปหามาอ่านมั่งครับ น่าอ่านจัง

ที่บ้านมีแล่เนื้อเถือหนังทั้งเล่ม 1 และ 2
เล่ม 1 อ่านตั้งแต่ตอนเด็กๆ ย่อยยากแต่อ่านสนุกมาก ตื่นตาตื่นใจมากสมัยนั้น

โดย: เอกเช้า IP: 124.122.152.136 วันที่: 23 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:22:21:09 น.
Comment No.28
แวะมาเยี่ยมเยีนยน ครับพี่
โดย: Travis IP: 125.24.223.67 วันที่: 24 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:2:14:52 น.
Comment No.29
หนังสือน่าอ่านดีจังครับ
ชอบหนังสือแนวนี้แต่หาอ่านยากจัง

ว่าแต่ที่ไหนมีขายบ้างครับเนี่ย

แวะมาทักทายนะครับ

โดย: experimental  วันที่: 28 เมษายน 2551 เวลา:9:10:33 น.
Comment No.30
แพงไปหน่อย บ้านจนอ่ะ 200 ก็พอแย้ววววววววววววววววว
โดย: ชอบน่ะ IP: 125.25.40.80 วันที่: 4 พฤษภาคม 2551 เวลา:14:41:18 น.

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #culture #design #reviews #Thai language 

Vagabonding

The Trouble With ‘Smile When You’re Lying’

thread post by Caron Dann

16 Jan 2008

To find out about Thai popular culture, read Very Thai by long-time expatriate Bangkok resident Philip Cornwel-Smith.

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #international #reviews #tourism 

Sorry 061

Very Thai

 

SORRY 061 2014-06-30 at 00.31.39 SORRY 061 2014-06-30 at 00.31.50

 

http://sorry061.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/very-thai/

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #design #Thai language #Thailand 

Nujai

 Very Thai by Jai

ธันวาคม 24, 2007 โดย nujai

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 19.59.46 Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 20.00.00

http://nujai.wordpress.com/2007/12/24/very-thai-by-jai/

PDF: Very Thai by Jai | Nujai’s Weblog

เคยเปิดดูหนังสือเรื่อง Very Thai : everyday popular culture
ผลงานการเขียนของ Philip Cornwel-Smith  และผลงานการถ่ายภาพโดย John Goss

ความยาวของหนังสือ 256 หน้า พิมพ์ด้วยกระดาษอาร์ตมัน 4 สีทั้งหมด
จริงๆ ใจอยากได้มาครอบครองเหมือนกัน
แต่ราคาเหยียบพัน ทำให้เอาได้แค่แอบเปิดของคนอื่น และยืนอ่านที่ร้าน B2S

หากใครมีโอกาสไปร้านหนังสือก็อยากให้ลองไปดูหนังสือเล่มนี้
ภาพก็สวยดี ไม่ถึงสวยเวอร์ แต่ก็สวยระดับช่างภาพ
และแม้จะเป็นภาษาอังกฤษทั้งหมด ตั้งแต่ชื่อเรื่องจนกระทั่งคำลงท้าย
แต่ก็เป็นภาษาอังกฤษที่ไม่ยากจนเกินไป
ใครไม่ถนัดยืนอ่าน แบบว่ากลัวคนขายเพ่นกบาล
ก็ให้แอบเปิดดูภาพ ก็พอจะเดาได้ว่าเขาต้องการจะสื่อถึงอะไร

ฝรั่งมาเมืองไทย แล้วเขาเจออะไรบ้าง…ใจคิดว่าเขาอยากจะบอกแบบนี้
เมื่อเขาเห็นเขาก็คิดว่านี่แหละ โคตรไทยเลย หรือ very thai แต๊ๆ น้อ

ใคร ๆ ก็มักจะพูดว่า เราจะชินกับสิ่งที่เราเห็นและเป็นอยู่
แต่คนที่เขาไม่เคยเห็นและเคยเป็น เขาจะไม่ชินและไม่เป็นในสิ่งที่ไม่เคยเป็นมาก่อน
ฝรั่งก็เหมือนกัน มาบ้านเราเขาเห็นอะไรที่ไม่เคยเห็น
เขาก็งง นี่อะไร และทำไมเป็นเช่นนั้น
หยิบเก็บเป็นเรื่องราว เอาไปขายเป็นหนังสือเป็นเล่มหน้าปึ้ก ขายดีเสียด้วย

Philip Cornwel-Smith มาเจอวินมอเตอร์ไซด์บ้านเราใส่เสื้อกั๊กสีส้ม สีเขียวสะท้อนแสง
ด้านหลังใส่เบอร์ ใส่ชื่อร้านผู้สนับสนุน หรือแม้แต่ชื่อสส. สว. เขาก็เก็บเอาไปเขียน และถ่ายภาพประกอบ

เมืองไทยยังมีมีรูปลิเก มีมวยไทย มีทิชชูสีชมพูที่หาดูที่ไหนไม่ได้
(หนก่อนใจไปเห็นที่กัมพูชา แต่ว่าเป็นสีชมพูแบบม้วนอยู่ในส้วมเฉยเลย แต่ยังไม่เคยแบบเป็นแผ่น)
เหยือกพลาสติกใส่น้ำหวาน เขียนแปะชื่อบอกว่า ชาเขียว ชานมเย็น นมเย็น กาแฟเย็น
เขาก็ไม่เคยเห็นที่ไหน นอกจากประเทศไทย
ศาลพระภูมิ ตุ๊กๆ แท็กซี่ติดอะไรไม่รู้ในรถสารพัด จำพวกพระ ยันต์ และลายอักขระที่บอกว่าขลัง…
รถเข็นขายของปากซอย ห้อยกระทะ หม้อ ข้างผนังและกำแพง … เพียบ …
เนี่ยแหละ ของแบบไทยๆ ที่คนไทยเอง เห็นเป็นเรื่องเคยชิน

วันนี้ใจไปเห็นของไทยๆ เหมือนกัน มันชินตา แต่ฝรั่งมาเห็นก็คงว่าแปลกดี
ใจไปซื้อส้มตำร้านป้าในซอยแล้วพบว่าแกบูชาเจ้าที่ บูชาสิ่งศักดิ์สิทธิ์ อะไรก็ตามแต่

โดยปกติเรามักเห็น จานพลาสติกสีชมพู มีข้าวใส่ถ้วยเล็ก กับข้าว ของหวาน
อาจจะมีผลไม้ และน้ำแดงใส่หลอดปักไว้ให้เจ้าใช่ไหมละ

โอ้…มีธูปด้วย 3 ดอกด้วยลืมไป ประมาณว่าจุดบอก มาทานอาหารด้วยนะเจ้า

ร้านป้าแกมาแปลก ไม่ยักกะเป็นแบบที่ใครๆ เขาทำกัน
ป้าแกเอาธูปปักบนมะลอกอลูกเบ้อเร่อ
ข้างๆ มีขวดยาคูลท์อยู่ด้วย แล้วก็เอาทั้งหมดวางบนหลังตู้ใส่มะละกอสับของแก

ใจเห็น ใจก็สงสัย เป็นคนไทยนี่แหละ แต่งง … ทำไมถึงเป็นมะละกอกับยาคูลท์
หรือว่าเจ้าแทนนี้ชอบแบบนี้…เอามือถือขึ้นมาถ่ายรูปก่อน แล้วก็ถามป้าแกซะเลย
แกหันมายิ้มแล้วก็ไม่บอกอะไร เงียบ ใจเลยเงียบ ไม่รู้จะทำยังไงต่อ
ทำเอาใจงงๆ … ไม่บอกใจจะรู้ไหมเนี่ย…
พอไม่รู้ก็เลยสงสัย แกก็ไม่ตอบ แต่ใจคิดว่าแกคงตอบไม่ได้…
ให้เดาก็คงประมาณว่า มีอะไรก็บูชาเจ้าไปแบบนั้น…เป็นไงละ very thai ไหม?

ว่าแต่…ถามแล้วเอาแต่ยิ้ม นี่ very thai ไหมนะ???

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #culture #reviews #Thai language #Thailand 

Live Arts Bangkok

Wayang Buku

Performance by Fahmi Fadzil using Very Thai as one of his book puppets.

Held at MR Kukrit Pramoj House, Bangkok. Curated by Tang Fu Kuen.

Fahmi Fadzil performs Wayang Buku at LIB

Fahmi Fadzil performs Wayang Buku at LIB

07-0818-Live arts Bkk DSC02912

 

Azmyl Yunor and Fahmi Fadzil developed Wayang Buku in 2006 as a means to investigate the performance and performativity of books.

Each book represents a character in a version of traditional Malay puppet theatre, in a performance that works on multiple levels. Each static book cover represents one of the static images of a shadow puppet character from a classical epic like the Ramayana or Mahabharata. Then the interaction of the covers-as-characters provides another layer of interpretation onto the traditional story. Like a traditional dalang puppet-master, Fahmi both narrates the story and voices the characters as he manipulates the books so that their covers resemble the moving shadow puppets. The book covers are not shown in shadow, but visible to the audience in the same way as shadow puppets are often performed in front of a screen so that their coloured decoration is visible to the audience.

Fahmi chose Very Thai to represent the Tree of Life character, what the Thais call Kalapapruek, due to the multiple images in its cover design.

The production was staged by the curator/dramaturg Tang Fu Kuen in the sala pavilion built by the late author, performer and statesman MR Kukrit Pramoj in his home for the staging of khon masked dance of the Ramayana epic – a suitable location of this reinterpretation of traditional Southeast Asian performance.

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #events #international #Malaysia #Performance #tradition 

Schvoong

**** (four stars)

7 Jul 2007

http://www.shvoong.com/books/1630580-Very Thai

So you think the term “Thai logic” is an oxymoron? Perplexed by the tiny PINK tissues at local eateries? Can’t think of any reasons why older Thai women (“khun naai”) just loooove to wear retina-searing Thai silk outfits and shellack their hair into unmoving, frightening tower of ‘do?

You can stop scratching your head. Read “Very Thai” by Philip Cornwel-Smith. A longtime expat of Thailand, he has written an exhaustive record (and explanations) of Thai idiosyncracies that make the people charming, lovable and yes, sometimes frustrating and illogical.

Why do Thais “sniff kiss”? For those who don’t know what this is, a “sniff kiss” isn’t really a kiss per se. Instead of planting a wet one on their beloved’s cheek or lips, the Thais basically just come close enough to sniff your cheek. This is a deep sign of affection that foreigners find “weird”.

It’s actually not weird at all, and here Cornwel-Smith displayed his genius of observation and understanding of the culture. Thais value cleanliness very much, so if someone dares to come close enough to actually take in your scent into his/her nostrils, that means you are very hygienic and thus truly desirable~!!

That is just a small sample of what amazing tidbits of pricelss information Cornwel-Smith has in his book. Beautiful colored photographs (by John Goss) help to illustrate the points and make this book a must-have for any foreigner (either just visiting or a longtime expat) who gets confused by “Thai ways”.

Review is also available at Street Smart Sukhumvit at http://streetsmartsukhumvit.multiply.com/reviews/item/6

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Street Smart Sukhumvit

**** (four stars)

7 Jul 2007

http://streetsmartsukhumvit.multiply.com/reviews/item/6

So you think the term “Thai logic” is an oxymoron? Perplexed by the tiny PINK tissues at local eateries? Can’t think of any reasons why older Thai women (“khun naai”) just loooove to wear retina-searing Thai silk outfits and shellack their hair into unmoving, frightening tower of ‘do?

You can stop scratching your head. Read “Very Thai” by Philip Cornwel-Smith. A longtime expat of Thailand, he has written an exhaustive record (and explanations) of Thai idiosyncracies that make the people charming, lovable and yes, sometimes frustrating and illogical.

Why do Thais “sniff kiss”? For those who don’t know what this is, a “sniff kiss” isn’t really a kiss per se. Instead of planting a wet one on their beloved’s cheek or lips, the Thais basically just come close enough to sniff your cheek. This is a deep sign of affection that foreigners find “weird”.

It’s actually not weird at all, and here Cornwel-Smith displayed his genius of observation and understanding of the culture. Thais value cleanliness very much, so if someone dares to come close enough to actually take in your scent into his/her nostrils, that means you are very hygienic and thus truly desirable~!!

That is just a small sample of what amazing tidbits of pricelss information Cornwel-Smith has in his book. Beautiful colored photographs (by John Goss) help to illustrate the points and make this book a must-have for any foreigner (either just visiting or a longtime expat) who gets confused by “Thai ways”.

Review is also available at schvoong.com at http://www.shvoong.com/books/1630580-Very Thai

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Thai360

any other good thai books?

 

http://t2.thai360.com/index.php?/topic/33515-any-other-good-thai-books/

 

Fidel 3094 posts

Posted 28 October 2006

Very Thai” is the book about Thailand I’m most glad I bought.

500 or so great photos of daily Thailand life: katoeys, truck art, motorycle taxi drivers’ vests, phallic symbols, the tiny pink tissues on all the tables and on and on, with excellent written explanations! A great coffeebook table to remind you of Thailand and shed light on Thai culture. A steal at under 1000 baht!

A review from the net:

For newcomers or old hands Thailand poses a plethora of questions: Why the gaudy paintings on the sides of buses? What are those strange tattoos supposed to do? How about the national obsessions with soap operas, fortune-tellers, and comedy cafes? And what’s up with those blind street musicians anyway?

In the book Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture (River Books, 2005), writer Philip Cornwel-Smith and photographer John Goss attempt to answer many of these puzzling questions that usually go unasked in books about traditional Thai culture and most travel guides.

The book is divided into four different sections â?? “Street”; “Personal”; “Ritual”; and “Sanuk,” â?? which examine everything from security guards to beauty queens and the philosophy behind all those ornate gates.

At first glance some of the essays such as “Dinner on a Stick” might seem like their regurgitating the banal: Bangkok has thousands of restaurants and stalls serving up sustenance-on-wheels. But one of Philâ??s primary strengths as a writer is his meticulous research. Even some younger Thais might be surprised to learn that the real restaurant boom in the capital began in the 1960s when, after getting a taste of Western restaurateur capitalism, “wealthy Thai wives in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit district converted buildings fronting their compounds into outlets for their cooks”.

So it goes with many of the essays. Quite a few readers will know that the mythical Garuda (an almighty hybrid of bird and human) is a symbol of Siamese Royalty, but may not realise that King Rama V once “had a man-sized Narai riding a man-sized Garuda’s shoulders on the bonnet of a motorcar.”

This is the kind of book that makes for a great companion in the streets, or on the road, often times literally, as it veers off on detours through the history of the tuk-tuk (originally a Japanese invention, but given a Thai spin), explains the Buddha images and yantras in taxis, and looks at some of the splashes of inspirations, like northern-style umbrellas and Japanese manga, that animate the bright murals on public buses.

Philip also offers up plenty of original insights. In trying to explain the sometimes erratic driving styles of Thais, he looks back into history’s rearview mirror to the Kingdom’s waterborne culture: “Weaving between lanes, Thai cars slip through gaps as if they were a canoe that would glance not crash. Touting taxis and tuk-tuk hover freely rather than stop at reserved ranks. Cars park up to three metres deep, rather like tethered boats.”

The book’s overriding theme, how past and present, East and West, are on a collision course in the Thailand of today is captured by photographer John Goss in a number of eye-riveting juxtapositions: like a 7-11 behind a spirit house and a temple dwarfed by a Western-style high-rise, or a sign that reads “Nice Palace” next to an ad-hoc, sidewalk kitchen.

But Very Thai is also a very versatile read and photo collection. For the real or couch-bound traveler, the creators whisk you off to the racy Phi Ta Khon, or Ghost Mask Festival in Loei; and there are stopovers at a wild tattoo festival on the grounds of Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Chaisri, as well as the “Illuminated Boat Procession” in Nakhon Phanom province.

They also take you behind the scenes of high-society parties, where, surprisingly enough, gatecrashers are not barred. Says one lady from the upper echelon, “Door policies will never happen in Thailand, believe me. If you’re not invited, they’ll let you in anyway, but maybe talk behind your back.” With all the business deals being sealed at these glitzy functions, Phil believes “hi-so is the new golf.”

Popular entertainment is also spotlighted, and the fickleness of fame is mocked by Thais as maya (the Sanskrit word often used in Buddhist terminology for the illusory nature of life.) But the author also sings the praises of the “Songs for Life” genre of Thai folk music, Modern Dog (the indie heroes who put the bite into Thai alternative music), and local rapper Da Jim.

Another fault-line running through Very Thai is that, in a book which purports to be about everyday culture, very few ordinary Thais are quoted. Most of the quotations are taken from Thai academics. In places this gives the book a scholarly tone that clashes with the subject matter. It should be an easy enough flaw to fix in what will most likely be a series, and John Goss’s images manage to bring some of the Ivory Tower asides back down to street level.

One of the most overused travel writer’s clichés about Bangkok and the country’s markets and festivals is “chaotic”. What may seem shambolic on the surface, however, reveals depths of order moored in ancient traditions. Such is the case with the essay entitled “Day Themes: a colour-coded guide to surviving the eight-day week.” Seemingly random and merely aesthetic to the Westernized eye, the brilliantly hued sashes wrapped around sacred trees, chedis, and spirit houses are actually auspicious colours associated with different days. Another photograph reveals that even 7-11 has used these colours for an advertisement.

Not one to make light of the country’s dark side – as is the case with so many Western writers – the essays on “Fortune Tellers,” “Ghost Stories,” and “Lucky Number 9” reveal that Thailand may have some of the fashions and facades of the West and Japan, but has retained its very Thai spirit.

All in all, this groundbreaking work strikes me as one of the few books written in English to come out of the country in recent years that will still be of interest to readers, students, and pop culture historians in a century from now.

 

#3

Pailin on 10 July 2008

Re: Very Thai

I have this book and enjoy it. It has great snippets into Thai life.

 

#4

guava on 10 July 2008

ไอแอมฝาหรั่ง

Re: Very Thai

I too can recommend this book, it was first published in 2005. I have just pulled out my copy and forgot how good it was!

 

#5

yeows on 10 July 2008

Re: Very Thai

I can’t wait to get my hands on the other 2 books.

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Flickr

Hartfried Schmid

Very Thai cover photographed

Taken on September 7, 2006

VT Hartfired Schmid on Flickr 2014-06-28

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hschmid/280477758/

A real cool book about Thailand. The single best book about Thailand. By far.

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #German #international #photography #reviews #website 

Uniglobe Red Carpet Travel

Thailand Resources: Interesting Books: Culture

 

http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:aBKp3FNTqtwJ:www.unigloberedcarpettravel.com/site/viewhome.asp%3Fsit%3D21%26vty%3DWTG%26sect%3DResources%26a%3DThailand%26c%3D1%26sessionid%3D+%27very+thai%27+cornwel-smith&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=50&client=safari

Very Thai: Everyday Thai Culture By Philip Cornwel-Smith

A fun, informative book with eye-catching photographs by John Goss. Makes a great souvenir.

 

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Tags: #blogs #book #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

i am saved by the buoyancy of citrus

literary thievery

http://iwillreachforalime.blogspot.com/2006/07/literary-theivery.html

by Raych, 19 July 2006

I wish I could take credit for this paragraph but I can’t. I stole it out of a book on Thai culture… but it’s just so APT. Read, and know that it’s all true.

‘Powered by technology, the habits of slower times turned lethal… in the past, the limits of human strength prevented a boat or rickshaw from speeding, and the watery highway meant collisions harmlessly glanced, with no lanes determining their course. Taxis behave as if nothing’s changed. They tailgate and overtake at high speed with inches to spare; they blithely straddle white lines without indicating, or cut across three lanes and screech to a halt at the merest hint of a hand politely beckoning palm down. With driving lessons an affront to face and licenses easily bought, many Thais intuitively steer their cars as if on water.’

Thanks, Philip Cornwel-Smith.

 

1 comment:

Nater said…

Ok, so from what I have been told about boating on the river (is there only one?) in Thailand: Long canoe like boat with a Toyota Corolla engine mounted on the back with a super long shaft leading to a propeller that is lifted out of the water to stop. Stats say that there is one casualty per week on these flying umbrellas. Can you verify?
8:01 AM

 

 

 

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Tags: #blogs #book #international #reviews 

Jeffrey Miller

Books on Thailand — Very Thai

By Jeffrey Miller on July 16, 2006

http://jeffreymillerwrites.com/books-on-thailand-very-thai/

Having traveled to Thailand many times since 1992 when I first visited “the Land of Smiles” I have always been intrigued and fascinated with Thai culture on many levels. While I have been impressed with Thailand’s trove of cultural attractions from the magnificent Wat Phra Kaeo and ancient cities like Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, as well as the country’s breathtaking natural beauty, I have been equally fascinated with more everyday expressions of Thai culture.

Exploring and understanding these “everyday expressions of Thai culture” is at the heart of Very Thai, Everyday Popular Culture. More than a guidebook, this book is a window on Thai culture which “delves beyond traditional icons to reveal the everyday expressions of Thainess that so delight and puzzle.” To be sure, the book explores some of Thailand’s “alternative sights” from tuk-tuks and taxi altars to Thai magical tattoos and drinks in a bag.

Even if you have lived in Thailand for any length of time or have traveled there for holiday or business, this book offers fresh insights into Thai popular culture, customs, and traditions. Likewise, if you are planning to travel to Thailand in the near future, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. One thing is for certain, after reading this book, you will never look at Thailand the same way again.

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

Unique Trails

Biking in Thailand: Further Reading

http://www.uniquetrails.com/country.php?Country=Thailand&InfoType=Further%20Reading

Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture, by Philip Cornwel-Smith and John Goss.

A very fun book that covers pretty much every quirky area of Thai culture and society – great pictures too.

 

Posted in: Blog,

Tags: #blogs #book #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

Mark Joachim

A Book Recommendation

13 Jan 2006

http://markjochim.blogspot.com/2006_01_01_archive.html

Of the stack of books I purchased in Thailand earlier this month, the best so far is Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture by Philip Cornwel-Smith, photographs by John Goss. This is a collection of essays with accompanying photos of all sorts of things that the Thai people take for granted but the farangs (foreigners) often ponder about. I just began reading the book a couple of nights ago and have already learned why virtually every drink served in the Land Of Smiles contains salt (it’s to rehydrate the body in the hot climate) and I’ve read about the drinks served at the food stalls in plastic bags (I had a Coke like this one day), about the unique Thai deserts (I had a tray of “mystery” deserts at the Baiyoke one night — I just knew many had sticky rice and bean paste in them and now I know I was right), and about the tiny tissues that pass for napkins at virtually every food stall or restaurant in Thailand. The next chapter is about those insect “snacks” that Tim and her friends so enjoyed and which so grossed me out during our last night partying in Patong.

 The book is so good that I’m thinking about purchasing a few extra copies for a couple of friends and family members as it seems to sum-up all I find fascinating about the country and it’s people. Amazon.com does carry the book, for around $21, which is more than I paid for it at Asia Books on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok (their website has it for $25.51, however, so who knows?). At any rate, it would make a great birthday or Christmas gift — it’s attractive hardcover makes it a good coffee table book and the format allows for browsing rather than reading it from cover to cover (although I’m reading it all the way through).

 If you’re interested, here are some (better) reviews of this remarkable bookRiver Books (publisher of Very Thai), Circle Of AsiaThe Irrawaddy News Magazine (May 2005)

 

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

Natalie Bennett: Philobiblon

Book Review: Very Thai – Everyday Popular Culture by Philip Cornwel-Smith

 By Natalie Bennett (now leader of the UK Green Party)

 

VT Natalie Bennett Philobiblon a VT Natalie Bennett Philobiblon b

View as PDF: http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/12/11/135518.php

New arrivals in Bangkok are easy to spot; after a day or two in the city they’ve got a dazed, bemused look, and move slowly, hesitantly. This Bangkokitis is an extreme form of the culture shock that many tourists experience in foreign lands.

There are two factors that make it particularly acute in the Thai capital. First, so much of the environment seems familiar – glass-and-steel office blocks, modern cars, familiar fast food restaurants. Yet it is also so foreign. Underneath the office blog might stand a baby elephant, its owner begging for funds. Amidst the modern cars zip scores of death-defying motorcycle taxis, their riders’ bright jackets clashing with the mini-skirts of the high-heel-shod women perched precariously side-saddle behind them. Then they’ll be the shrine on the corner thronged with fortune-tellers.

Bangkok is where east meets west, modern meets traditional, the past meets the future. And while often they’ll stand in stark opposition, they’ll also blend to produce astonishing new hybrids.

The visitor who seeks easy answers might turn to a guidebook, and for some of the more obvious sights get a sentence of two of explanation. Or they might turn to a scholarly historical study, explaining temples and sculptures. But Philip Cornwel-Smith’s Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture is the first book that I know of to try to explain Thailand as it is today.

This is a prodigiously illustrated (by the photographer John Goss) text, accessible, but informative enough that even people who’ve lived in Thailand for decades will find plenty they didn’t know.
Of course I was aware, having lived in Thailand for almost five years, that trucks were usually heavily decorated, particularly in their upper parts. But I didn’t know that these works were designed to placate the journey spirit, Mae Yanang, or that each cab represented the sacred Mount Meru. The frequent inclusion of Western film stars in these images in no way interferes with this.

But it might take the first-time visitor a while to notice these, being too distracted by more disconcerting sights, such as the kathoeys (lady-boys) who can be seen at work and play around the capital without the locals batting an eyelid. (I used to live in the African rag-trade district of Bangkok, Pratunam. A kathoey was an otherwise entirely ordinary staff member on one of the stalls. When Africa met Asia at work, there was frequently some cultural confusion.)

Cornwel-Smith explains the understanding of gender and sexuality – so different from the West’s – that underlies the phenomenon:

Thais make a distinction between gender – a public identity to be kept riab roi (proper) – and sexuality, which remains undiscussed, unrestrained. Thai society tends to regard sexual urges – at least for males – as natural and requiring plentiful, but private outlets. Hence polygamy, once banned, resurfaced through minor wives and the fancifully themed playgrounds of the sex industry. With women’s virginity still a commodity to be guarded, kathoey have offered a non-disruptive outlet for single males.”

This acceptance has helped to encourage Thailand as a destination for medical tourism of a specific king – gender-reassignment surgery. Up to 1,000 operations are thought to have been done on foreigners each year. And many kathoeys have taken up the practice.

Yet after centuries of a place in Thai society, new conflicts have emerged. Following the recent morality crackdown by the Shinawatra government, the rights of kathoeys have become a political issue, Cornwel-Smith reports, quoting Thanyaporn Anyasri, 2002 “Miss Queen of the Universe”, who said: “I want to be the world’s first transexual prime minister so I can legislate laws that promote homosexual people’s equality.” He then quotes a representative of a Buddhist foundation saying that since every person has gone through innumerable reincarnations they are likely to be kathoeys at some point in the future, so should think about equality now.

After contemplating all of that, the first-time visitor might need a drink and a nice meal. If they’re very brave, that might include the “prawns of the air” (grasshoppers), deep-fried whole and sold from street stalls, and some Red Bull – one of the few Thai traditions to really make it big inter (internationally). Cornwel-Smith will explain too why there might be tiny pink tissues on table, and for afters a pudding so sweet it will set your teeth on edge.

Many more aspects of Bangkok, from the skin-tight police uniforms (the government was keeping up with Western fashion in the Sixties, but then got left behind) to the numbers of dogs roaming the streets. There are also sections on Thai music, festivals, decor, gardens and much more.

If you’re the sort of visitor to Thailand who just wants to swan down Khao San Road and then lie on the beaches, you won’t need to buy Very Thai. But if you want some great stories to tell about the country – not just accounts of what you’ve seen but explanations for the curiosities and complexities – then this is an essential book.

Declaration of interest: The author used to commission writing from me when he was editor of Metro (then Thailand’s answer to Time Out) and I was a writer there. Online from that time I have an article about Khunying Supatra Masdit (billed by some as most-likely to be Thailand’s first female prime minister) and a piece about the Maldives. They’re not the paradise you think.

 

This review was also published at Blogcriticshttp://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/12/11/135518.php

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Tags: #blogs #culture #gay #international #reviews 

Noodles Forever

By Mike, 17 Nov 2005

http://noodlesforever.blogspot.com/2005/11/book-review-very-thai-everyday-thai.html

Hardbound and tastefully organized with lotsa cool photos, this book’s got all the vital data on street-level Thailand. All questions regarding bagged coffee, Red Bull-swilling motorcycle taxi drivers, and other curious aspects of the Bangkok streetscape are answered within its pages. A must read for anyone who’s ever visited Thailand and thought twice about urban elephants and phallic key chains.

Basically, these dudes stole my thunder. This is freestyle anthro-journalism at its flaneuring best.

 

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Tags:

Thai Oasis

The Expat Experience

http//:www.Thaioasis.Com

Perhaps the finest book we’ve yet seen on popular Thai culture is viewed from an expat perspective by writer Philip Cornwel-Smith and photographer John Goss in the fascinating Very Thai (2005, ISBN 974-9863-00-3). Here, the authors take a madcap romp through everything from spirit houses to soi animals, explaining in detail the behind-the scenes stories behind many of the icons you’ll see on the streets and back-sois of Thailand. The book is extremely well researched, and a fun read.

 

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Tags: #Bangkok #blogs #book #reviews #Thailand 

Street Corner Siam at Siam Society

Street Corner Siam: Exploring Thai Popular Culture

A  talk at Siam Society on 15 September 2005 by Philip Cornwel-Smith

The author will give an insight into the value of everyday contemporary things in building a more inclusive, up-to-date picture of Thai culture, society and history. Exploring his passion for all things Thai, Philip Cornwel-Smith  traces the origins of what you find in the street, the home, the shop and the bar and on TV.

Admission B150, or free to Siam Society Members.

VT Nation SiamSoc talk 05-0828

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Tags: #academic #Bangkok #culture #events #SiamSociety #talks 

Fodors

Fodors Forums: Very Thai

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=27&tid=34669559

By tanuki

29 Aug 2005

A wonderful book is “Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture,” by Philip Cornwel-Smith and with 500 photographs by John Goss. I picked up a copy in the gift shop of the National Museum in Bangkok, but it is available on Amazon.com. The pictures are incredibly evocative, and there are essays on everything from vendors to transportation to soi animals to alphabet tables to fortune tellers to monk baskets to soap operas to temple fairs. Rough Guide says “Answers and insights aplenty in this erudite, sumptuously photographed guide to contemporary Thai culture.” The book is a manageable size.

 

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Tags: #blogs #guidebooks #international #reviews #tourism 

The Nation (preview)

Something Very Thai

Preview of a talk at Siam Society on 15 September 2005 by Philip Cornwel-Smith on ‘Street Corner Siam: Exploring Thai Popular Culture’

VT Nation SiamSoc talk 05-0828

 

 

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Tags: #academic #Bangkok #culture #events #newspaper #talks 

‘Bangkok, Bangkok: A Documentation’

About Photography Bar Gallery, Bangkok

A documentation of art exhibitions by Bangkok based artists in Barcelona and Brussels.

25 June – 28 August 2005

Installation by Prapon Kumjim, with montage including images from Very Thai. A copy of Very Thai was also displayed as an exhibit on the table in the exhibition.

 

VT Bkk Bkk exhib001 copyVT Bkk Bkk exhib002 copy

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Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #art #Bangkok #culture #international #Thailand 

Dulwich Diary

Dulwich College magazine, Thailand

By Miss Diane, 13 May 2005

Focusing more on the “What Is” rather than the “How To” of life in Thailand, “Very Thai” is a celebration of the amazing Thai life, mind and heart.

Philip Cornwel-Smith has written a very refreshing book about Thailand, so true and so well illustrated with photos that have captured real life in chaotic Bangkok. One cannot suppress a smile on seeing a photo of entangled electric cables on a street corner.

From a McDonald’s plastic mannequin doing the traditional “Wai” to the white skin obsession, all is said and shown to give the reader a real grasp about what is Thailand in 2005. Among the 17 small photos on the cover of “Very Thai” are contemporary interpretations of traditional folk customs like Buddha images (in plastic), wooden bracelets (with painted Hello Kitty faces) and monk basket offerings (miniaturized). They hint at the scope of this book, which, as author Philip Cornwel-Smith explains in his introduction, “celebrates the miscellany of Thai life, whether folk or formal, pop or ethnic, homegrown or imported.” Longtime Bangkok resident Mr. Cornwel-Smith covers as much as 65 topics. “I wanted to get to the root of things rather than just write observations and anecdotes,” explains the British-born author, who from 1994 to 2002 edited the capital’s first listings magazine Bangkok Metro before moving on to edit Time Out’s hugely successful Bangkok city guide.

Very Thai” rewards the conscientious reader with astonishing details on subjects like pink napkins, soap operas, ghost stories, truck & bus art, recycling tyres into chairs and garbage bins, and more, and more… Each chapter is its own mini-course on Thai history, sociology, anthropology and politics.

The book has plenty of interviews and quotes from a variety of sources plus 500 colorful photos taken by Mr. Cornwel- Smith and John Goss, another longtime resident.

Very Thai” is a must for visitors, longtime residents and anyone anywhere interested in what makes Thailand “Very Thai

**Available in the library

 

 

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Tags: #academic #blogs #reviews 

‘Bangkok, Bangkok’ (Brussels)

Kunsten Festival des Arts, De Markten, Brussels

6-28 May 2005

Installation by Prapon Kumjim, with montage including images from Very Thai. A copy of Very Thai was also displayed as an exhibit on the table in the exhibition.

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05-0506 Kunsten Fest catalogue BkBk 01 05-0506 Kunsten Fest catalogue BkBk 2 05-0506 Kunsten Fest catalogue BkBk 3 05-0506 Kunsten Fest catalogue BkBk 4 05-0506 Kunsten Fest catalogue BkBk 5

FROM ASIAN ART ARCHIVE:

Bangkok Bangkok: De Markten, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts in Brussel | Asia Art Archive

‘Bangkok, Bangkok’ is an exhibition which sketches out the contours of an incomplete and imperfect city. The Asian metropolis is known as a gateway or transit zone for travellers in South East Asia, but Bangkok is rarely their end destination. Eight Thai artists brought together in Brussels are using cinema, photography and video either live or online to evoke the decline and renaissance of this international city, with humour and sarcasm. The artists will each be giving their personal vision of the many changes that have disfigured Bangkok but celebrating its chaotic charm at the same time.

Thailand began to suffer from economical turbulence since the mid 1990s. Its urban landscape changed drastically due to economic breakdown. Urban ghosts emerged and remained as incurable scars of the city. A “self-organized” city dreamed up by William Lim, a Singaporean architect, as a post-modem city, Bangkok takes its charm from its chaotic disorganisation, its accessibility to both local and overseas visitors. Rarely a destination in itself for visitors, Bangkok enjoys its status as a gateway, and a transit zone for those who want to mooch around the Southeast Asian Countries. The city lacks of completeness and perfection. We all have something to complain about, from the sewer system and the streets, to the sky train and the authority that runs it.

‘Bangkok, Bangkok’ is an attempt to introduce contemporary art by Bangkok-based artists whose work deals with this city, people, lifestyle, mentality, from various approaches. As citizens of this city, and witnesses to its fast paced growth, collapse, and revival, young artists portray their point of view towards such changes. They investigate the urban condition and lifestyles in the city and its surrounding area through photography, video and film imbued with humour, satire and critique. They also seek proximity and interaction with Brussels audiences by working with local people.

The exhibition consists of two parts: urban landscape and cultural landscape. In the section on urban landscape, images of Bangkok from the economic crisis to the present day will be represented by photography in Manit Sriwanichpoom’s Dream Interruptus and in his publication, Bangkok in Black and White. Manit, who began his career as a photojournalist, has always been interested in social and political issues at both local and international level. This series is one of his most important if obscure works, though it is overshadowed by his famous Pink Man photographic series. For its part, Vanchit Jibby Yunibandhu’s video work shows us images of the city from different viewpoints. About Bangkok that I think I know deals with her personal experience with the city whilst also embodying an attempt to re-orientate herself after the rapid changes of the last ten years. In stark contrast to Vanchits work, in ‘If there is no corruption’ Wit Pimkanchanapong creates a pseudo-Bangkok Metropolitan subway system to pour critique and satire on the existing system and its mass transport infrastructure in this megacity, as well as its urban planning, and administration. Kamol Phaosavasdi, on the other hand, explores Bangkok urban situation differently. He juxtaposes rush hour of Bangkok by using video installation with other real time ambient of his exhibition in Bangkok, ‘Here and Now’, with the recreated fluxes of unknown scripts. In his ‘techno temple’, Kamol juxtaposed the time based video of three images, turning Bangkok chaotic atmosphere into a temple.

Kornkrit Jianpinidnan, a young fashion photographer, will present a wide range of portraits of Bangkok’s younger generation, both Bangkokian and expatriates, in their most intimate moments. Kornkrit asked them to call him up when they were ready to be photographed. The idea was to capture the point of transition between the public and the private, as decided by each individual, and to highlight the sense of alienation. Prapon Kumjim will work with Brussels audiences to complete their projects, which they began in Bangkok. Prapon Kumjim is a lens-based artist who explores his nomadic experience and our media-centred society in an attempt to blur the divide between art and film. As part of his cultural interaction project, he will ask people from Brussels to take pictures of their everyday activities. Prapon will finally re-photograph and edit these as in a storyboard format. Thasnai, on the other hand, approaches the community in a different way. As an artist actively taking part in a social, anthropological and research-based project, his works explore cultural misinterpretation and its idiosyncrasy, creating an interesting dialogue between the different cities in the world and their perception of Thailand. The project in Brussels will address the idea of cultural translation and their perception of each nation/ narration from multi-cultural background.

To sum up with both part of the show, Vasan Sittikhet, a social oriented artist, and performance artist, will perform the puppet show parodying the political situation in Thailand. This project will be an interesting metaphor for audience, to rethink about what’s really going on behind the land of smiles.

 

Curator: Grithiya Gaweewong

Artists: Manit SRIWANICHPOOM(มานิต ศรีวานิชภูมิ)Wit PIMKANCHANAPONG(วิชญ์ พิมพ์กาญจนพงศ์)Jibby YUNIBANDHU,Kornkrit JIANPINIDNAN(กรกฤช เจียรพินิจนันท์)Prapon KUMJIM(ประพล คำจิ่ม)Thasnai SETHASEREEGridthiya GAWEEWONG(กฤติยา กาวีวงศ์)

 

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Tags: #art #Bangkok #culture #events #exhibitions #international 

Metro Blogging Bangkok

Very Thai = very insightful

By Paul, April 08, 2005

http://bangkok.metblogs.com/archives/2005/04/very_thai_very.phtml

A few weeks ago, I happened across an intriguing article in Time Magazine about Very Thai, a new book of photos and essays about Thailand and its culture. The next time I passed through the Emporium on personal business, I made it a point to stop by the Kinokuniya Bookstore to pick up a copy.

Unlike your standard coffee table fare that shows many postcard-pretty photos touting lush tourist destinations, Very Thai delves into the mundane: the day-to-day sights, smells, rituals, and idiosyncracies that define exactly what it means to be Thai. The book is divided into major sections such as street life and entertainment, which each section containing numerous essays on individual topics as varied as food on a stick to tuk-tuks to hi-so hair-dos. Each essay is accompanied by a rich array of photographs, many of them candid, spur-of-the-moment, man-on-the-street snapshots.

Written by an expatriate and longtime resident of Thailand, the book is a detailed, meticulously-research reference into the little nuances of Thai behavior and philosophy, and explores how Thai culture has evolved into its present-day incarnations as it is assaulted and influenced by both modern and foreign influences. For me, it has proven to be a fascinating explanation for all the local quirks whose logic has puzzled and eluded me; for my wife, it has been an eye-opening introduction to how outsiders perceive Thailand, and the things that puzzle them. We would highly recommend this book to anyone who has visited and loves Thailand, including its own citizens. It don’t come cheap though: mine cost me almost a thousand Baht.

Below is a transcript of the article that appeared in Time magazine about the book:

 

The Thais That Bind

A new, encyclopedic book relishes Thailand’s embrace of all things un-Thai

By Andrew RC Marshall (Pullitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of The Trouser People)

The publication of Very Thai, a unique guide to Thai pop and folk culture, coincides with the country’s biggest debate about national identity in more than half a century. In the World War II era, the military Phibunsongkhram regime rallied under the slogan “Thailand for the Thais.” Today, the country seems mesmerized again by nationalism. Schools and colleges have been ordered by the Ministry of Education to display the flag more prominently and play the national anthem at a higher volume.

“Thai-ness” is once again a useful political concept: in early February, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s populist nationalism lifted his party — Thai Rak Thai, or Thais Love Thais — to a landslide election victory, and made criticism of his policies seem unpatriotic.

Yet as Philip Cornwel-Smith argues, one defining quality of Thais is their embrace of all things un-Thai. The country is a cultural fusion of East and West, old and new, all effortlessly assimilated. The Thai horoscope, for example, is a baffling hybrid of Chinese, Indian and Western systems. Thai beauty queens still scoop their hair into a style called a faaraa, as in Farrah Fawcett. One of the most beloved singers of Thai country music is a Swede called Jonas. This ability to digest foreign influences is sometimes literal: villagers plagued by Bombay locusts 10 years ago solved the problem by frying and eating them.

This adopt-or-perish attitude helps explain how Thais have survived three decades of breakneck development. “In one dizzying spasm,” writes Cornwel-Smith, “Thailand is experiencing the forces that took a century to transform the West.” How does a nation modernize this fast without eroding the traditions that define it? In Thailand, “traditional” is now often a pejorative term, meaning low-class or old-fashioned. Many of the temple’s social functions have been replaced by the mall, where, the author notes, “the principal rite is the right to shop.” What matters most is looking dern. Yes, that’s Thai for “modern.”

But looking dern and being it are entirely different things. Clues to Thailand’s recent rural past are everywhere — witness motorcycle-taxi drivers in Bangkok sewing fishing nets as they wait for their next fare. This is still very much a society in transition, a place where the National Buddhism Office in 2003 felt obliged to warn monks not to use mobile phones in public. Very Thai is a compendium of fast-disappearing folklore: fortune-tellers who divine omens from rat-bitten clothes; apothecaries who make herbal aphrodisiacs so strong that they “could make a monk leap over the temple wall in search of romance”; fetus worshipping, spirit channeling, and other not-in-front-of-the-tourists activities.

With the country this year hoping to attract a staggering 15 million visitors — one for every four Thais — one definition of “Thai-ness” is simply “whatever tourists want.” Cornwel-Smith rightly condemns plans to demolish old Bangkok neighborhoods to create “Paris-style open vistas” to accommodate both tourists and convenience-store chains. Very Thai? Hardly. But however tourist-oriented Thailand has become, Cornwel-Smith’s exhaustive research suggests that perhaps foreigners don’t know the country as well as they assume. Despite its freewheeling reputation, Thailand surpasses even Japan in its adherence to stifling social hierarchies — note the national obsession with uniforms. It is also, considering Bangkok’s sexual notoriety, a surprisingly prudish place. Soap operas are so straitlaced that they cannot broach the topic of “minor wives,” as mistresses are euphemistically known. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture (a Thaksin-era invention) pesters young women who wear skimpy clothes during the annual Songkran water-splashing festival, even though “traditional” Thai women wore even less. This public puritanism explains the enduring popularity of the demure “sniff kiss,” which Cornwel-Smith terms “the Thai way to reach first base.”

A longtime Bangkok resident myself, I find the author too charitable at times. Is the city’s Chatpetch Tower really a “post-modernist pastiche” of the ubiquitous Greco-Roman style? Or is it just rubbish, like so much urban Thai architecture? Sometimes, too, the urge to be exhaustive is just plain exhausting, although future social historians will thank Cornwel-Smith for recording how you toughen up a Siamese fighting fish before a bout. (Rather meanly, you “just stir the water.”) Encyclopedic in scope, Very Thai is an unapologetic celebration of both the exotic and the everyday, and an affectionate reminder in these flag-waving times that perhaps Thais care less for state-mandated notions of national identity than their politicians think. They’re much too busy being themselves.

Andrew RC Marshall is a Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist for for Reuters, previously wrote for Time and is the author of The Trouser People.

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #blogs #book #reviews #Thailand 

Morning Talk

Magazine program on Thai Channel 11 TV

Interview with Philip Cornwel-Smith about Very Thai.

VT Morning Talk 001 copy

 

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Tags: #book #interviews #Thailand #TV 

Sticky Rice

Review: Very Thai – Everyday Popular Culture

By Ms. Connie Lingus

Sticky Rice review of VT

http://www.stickyrice.ws/?view=very_thai

As the Rough Guide to Thailand observed this guide on contemporary Thailand is well-researched, knowledgeable, and lavishly photographed. Its not a guide book per se. It can’t fit in your pocket, but it is of a size to pop in your packsack. But it should grace your coffee table and be readily at hand when you want to reference some cultural phenomenon that suddenly confronts you in your wanderings through the Land of Smiles. This could be when a street vendor passes your gate yelling that he has brooms for sale. It could be when another goes by selling ice cream sticks. Or it could be when you have just turned on the television and cannot figure out what your boyfriend finds so uproariously funny about this game show.
The author of this review did know that one piece of information, regarding the tailless cats which seem ubiquitous in Thailand, are commonly seen because somehow a tailless cat must have entered the feline gene pool in the Kingdom at some point. But in pointing this phenonmenon out to an acquaintance, realised that many people living in Thailand still think the cats without tails in Thailand have had their tails lopped off by some evil feline haters.

 

(more…)

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Tags: #book #gay #magazine #metromagazine #reviews #timeout 

Time Magazine (Asia)

The Thais That Bind

A new, encyclopedic book relishes Thailand’s embrace of all things un-Thai

By Andrew RC Marshall (Pullitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of The Trouser People)

VTW Time article 7842The publication of Very Thai, a unique guide to Thai pop and folk culture, coincides with the country’s biggest debate about national identity in more than half a century. In the World War II era, the military Phibunsongkhram regime rallied under the slogan “Thailand for the Thais.” Today, the country seems mesmerized again by nationalism. Schools and colleges have been ordered by the Ministry of Education to display the flag more prominently and play the national anthem at a higher volume.
(more…)

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #book #features #international #magazine #PullitzerPrize #reviews 

Asia Books magazine

Literary events: Very Thai book launch

River Books publishing and Asia Books, Thailand’s leading English-language publisher and distributor, welcome guests at the launch of Very Thai at Jim Thompson House.

VT AsiaBks mag 05-02004

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Tags: #book #endorsements #features #launch #magazine #parties #Thailand 

Travel Indochina

Recommended Reading

http://www.travelindochina.co.uk/NewsFeature.asp?NewsFeatureID=46

Jan 2005

 

This fantastic read delves behind the façade of Thai culture and explains why the Thais do what they do, say what they say, watch what they watch, and are who they are. And Very Thai does so in such an engaging fashion that it is hard to put down. Well researched and accompanied by 500 quirky photos, Very Thai is an essential for anyone navigating Thai life. Whether you are curious about the origins of the tuk-tuk, the bouffants preferred by those in the social pages, ladyboy culture or the thousands of superstitions observed in the Land of Smiles, Very Thai will give you the answer, along with several laughs and poignant insight.

 

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Tags: #blogs #book #international #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

Rough Guide to Thailand

Books: Culture & Society

By Lucy Ridout

“Why do Thais decant their soft drinks into plastic bags, and what lies behind their penchant for Neoclassical architecture? Answers and insights aplenty in this erudite, sumptuously photographed guide to contemporary Thai culture.”

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Tags: #book #guidebooks #international #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

Very Thai book launch

Themed party and photo exhibition held at Jim Thompson House to celebrate publication day.

SPEECH 041220 064 w narisa & Klausner251_5185 book team251_5167 Narisa w Hugo251_5169 PCS w Hugo
252_5209 khunyings252_5220 PCS w Nancy Chandler252_5225 PCS with Bay252_5219 gampler 251_5197 pcs sign251_5190 PCS signing

A huge crowd turned out for the official launch of Very Thai, held on 20 December 2004 at Jim Thompson House Museum.  The event ran all evening from dusk till 11pm, with a couple of hundred guests from the media, arts, Thai society, expat circles and celebrities.

The themes of the entertainment and decoration – and even some costumes – drew from chapters in the book in a ‘temple fair’ concept. Guests ate streetfood from vendor carts and drank shots of yaa dong herbal whisky and all other drinks from bags – wine and beer included – served by staff from bags slung by elastic bands from nails in blue pipes carried through the throng. Books hung in bags from the trees along with multi-colour fluorescent tubes like a temple fair. Candle stands and flower displays were also handmade for the event from blue pipes. A blind band serenaded the crowd all night, and a clairvoyant read fortunes. Among the guests in ‘theme’ were appearances by celebrities (Hugo Chakra, Pop Areya Jumsai), hi-society ladies (notably Khunying Rose), the reigning Miss Jumbo Queen (beauty pageant winner for women over 90kg  with the grace of an elephant), and the motocycle taxi vest worn by author Philip.

The official host, William Klausner, President of the James HW Thompson Foundation, presided over the event, introducing publisher Narisa Chakrabongse of River Books, the author Philip Cornwel-Smith and principal photographer John Goss.

On exhibition in Ayara Hall were a selection of photographs from the book by John Goss & Philip Cornwel-Smith. John had these printed onto translucent stickers affixed to shiny aluminium plates for a shimmery, pop effect. Around the displays, which were painted in the bright hues of the book was an installation of tiny plastic chairs. The exhibition continued for several days after the party. The event drew several rave reviews.

Reviews of Very Thai Launch

Thailand Tatler magazine

Nima Chandler (Publisher, Nancy Chandler Maps)

‘As a former travel trade journalist and as a frequent freeloader at parties in Bangkok hosted by both the big and small of luxury hotels, big business, pr companies, etc, I am still in awe. Your party last night was simply the best, most well conceived and delivered, truly original theme party I have been to … ever. Only two others could compare, both organized by big money with professional event planners. To all those involved in last night’s event, a standing ovation. Well done.’

(more…)

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Tags: #Bangkok #book #events #parties 

Android Phone Rooted Meaning Easily And Comfortable Reddit.com

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Clever Way To Get Jailbreak Ios 9.3.2 Keeps Crashing iPhonesCode.com

Kindle Fire Jailbreak Guide

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