Street Smart Sukhumvit

**** (four stars)

7 Jul 2007

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 at Thai

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