FCCT Dateline Bangkok

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand magazine

Books Section: Very Thai

By Vaudine England

VT FCCT dateline_4th_2004 cover VT FCCT dateline_4th_2004 review

Perhaps the publishing sensation of 2004, this book promises, and delivers, a fascinating exploration of Everyday Popular Culture in Thailand. Written by Philip Cornwel- Smith, and photographed by John Goss, this book is a revelation of all those things we thought we’d never understand.
The launch of the book, published by River Books, was just as imaginative and fun as the book. It was held at the Jim Thompson House, where the forecourt was covered in classic Thai street food stalls. Guests were treated to drinks in plastic bags with straws (yes, even the beer and the wine). Author Cornwel-Smith set the tone by wearing a bright orange motorbike taxi man’s jacket. And Miss Jumbo Queen was there to add to the fun.
Once readers delve into the book, they will find a cornucopia of delights. Ever wondered why Thai restaurants offer such tiny, pink paper napkins? The answer is here. Ever puzzled over why the Lady-Boy phenomenon seems so Very Thai? Then read on.
In this book are brilliant images – check out page 128 for the incredible symmetry between the colour schemes (at least) of the Seven Eleven convenience store and the local Buddhist temple. And cherish the verve and persistence which answers questions such as “What makes the Land of Smiles Smile?”.
This book is much more than a guide book. It is a serious, brilliantly executed investigation of daily life in this country, where the fun and funky coincide with trash and tackiness on a daily basis. Cornwel-Smith is to be congratulated on his curiosity, intellectual and otherwise, as is the entire publishing team on making such an appealing book.

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