You’ve landed in Bangkok – and the smell hits you like a blast. It’s the heat, combined with food, grilled meats, frying chilli and basil, the flower garlands… mixed with traffic exhausts and dank canalways. Smell is the first sense to be assaulted by Bangkok, but certainly not the last.
Sensing Bangkok may just be the best way to explore it. Why is the capital city of Thailand the way it is? This is the question Philip Cornwel-Smith, the author of Very Bangkok, has set out to answer. A follow-up to the highly-acclaimed Very Thai, his in-depth look at Thai popular culture, Very Bangkok is equally wide-ranging, and captures how Bangkok catches our senses, aware and unawares, delving beyond smell, taste and sound to explore other senses like space and flow, balance, and the heart of being Thai.
“Bangkok is a city with lots of preconceptions and projections,” said Cornwel-Smith at his book launch at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Bangkok (FCCT). “It’s known as the Land of Smiles, and its serene view of itself competes with a sensationalist view of the city.” Bangkok’s nightlife temptations are quite world-renowned but has tended to crowd out other stories of the city, such as of its creativity and design, he also noted.