Bangkok’s Street Food Future

Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand

Panel discussion on the future of streetfood in Bangok, after the city authorities start moving it out of some parts of the city

7pm, Wednesday 17th May 2017

An apparently misreported comment from a Bangkok city government official set off a storm of protest recently, when he was quote as saying all street food would be banned in the capital. The government has rushed to reassure roadside gourmands that this is not true – Bangkok is in fact planning an international street food festival. But street food vendors have been moved from some city centre areas, and the authorities say they will enforce stricter hygiene, and try to clear pavements where they are blocked, leaving lingering anxiety over the future of the quintessentially Bangkok cuisine.

The need to clear pavements and ensure food safety are legitimate concerns – but the BMA’s record of cultural sensitivity and flexibiity in enforcing its edicts is not encouraging. There are disagreements too over what defines ‘street food’ – some of the finest examples are produced in shophouses, open to the street.

Speakers:
Chawadee Nualkhair is the author of “Thailand’s Best Street Food” and writes the blog Bangkok Glutton.

Piyaluck Nakayodhin is the publisher of “Street Food: 39 Great Places Under 100 Bahts”.

Philip Cornwel-Smith, a freelance writer and editor specializing in culture and travel, is the author of “Very Thai. Everyday Popular Culture”.

David Thompson is a celebrity chef who has run several successful restaurants in Australia, UK and Thailand, including the Nahm restaurant in Bangkok, and is the author of “Thai Street Food”, a collection of this favorite 100 recipes of the street.

Join us for what promises to be an invigorating discussion with some of the city’s greatest street food afficionados.

Members: free, Non-members 450thb, Thai journalists and Students with VALID ID: 150thb

Posted in: Blog, Events, Media,

Tags: #Bangkok #culture #events #FCCT #food #streetlife #Thailand #tourism #tradition 

Very Thai book updated for 2017

 

A lot has happened in Thailand since the 2nd edition of Very Thai was launched. King Bhumbol passed away on 13 October 2016, beginning the reign of King Vachiralongkorn. The Bangkok Shutdown protests, the coup of 2014 and the subsequent junta regime have changed many things about the country’s popular culture, especially in the capital.

In particular the junta and BMA have targeted the informal economy, evicting communities, closing famous markets, banishing streetfood and vendors from most of downtown, reorganising motorcycle taxis and car taxis, buses, boats and other streetlife. They have also affected nightlife, media, entertainments, and the river, among many other things. Meanwhile, movements like new curated markets have made a big splash. In addition, the world has shifted ever more into the digital realm, with apps becoming a major feature of Bangkok life.

This update has kept the structure of the book the same, but affected most chapters in some way.

Posted in: about the book, Blog,

Tags: #Bangkok #blogs #book #Thailand 

Thailand Expat Writers List

by Paul Dorsey

Philip Cornwel-Smith and ‘Very Thai’ feature on this comprehensive Facebook list of all books about Thailand by expatriate authors.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/358162037876931/

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Waterfront Cities of the World: Bangkok

In this Canadian documentary about Bangkok, Philip Cornwel-Smith is interviewed about transportation, as he is filmed taking six moves of transit as the quickest route across town.

 

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Media,

Tags: #Bangkok #Canadian #culture #documentaries #French #international #interviews #Thailand #tourism #transport 

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’.

Veeraporn Jung Chang_1

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.

Posted in: Blog, Media,

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 

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 

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.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.44.53 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.45.14 PM

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

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

 

Posted in: Blog,

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

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

A  SkIndy I heart indie JG 040616 003 copy

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

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

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

cu2014-webbanner-speakers010814

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 

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.

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

Rotary Talk: Very Thai Thai

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Bangkok’s oldest Rotary Club hosted a talk by Philip Cornwel-Smith called ‘Very Thai Thai: How Pop Became Culture’. Held at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel in Bangkok, the after-lunch speech marked the first time in nearly a year that the author was spotted wearing a suit and tie.
(more…)

Posted in: Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #events #talks #Thailand 

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 

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

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #metromagazine #parties 

20 Years of Thai Thai

Phases in Thai Popular Culture 1994-2014

20 Years of Thai Thai talk title

Philip Cornwel-Smith will give a talk on 6 March 2014 at The National Museum for the National Museum Volunteers’ postponed Lecture Series. The talk was about the phases of Thai popular culture that Philip has witnessed during the past two decades in Bangkok.

 

Posted in: Events,

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

‘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

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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 

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 

Richard Barrow

SECOND EDITION OF “VERY THAI” IS NOW OUT

 

It has been a long time coming, but the bestseller “Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture” has just come out as an expanded and fully updated 2nd edition with many new photographs. According to the author, Philip Cornwel-Smith, this is “a heavily rewritten, updated and expanded new version of the original Very Thai. Plus 4 new chapters.” The first edition came out in December 2004 and was an immediate bestseller. Since then it has been reprinted four times in July 2005, January 2006, February 2007 and January 2008.

I already have the first edition and highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Thailand. I just bought myself a copy of the 2nd edition of “Very Thai” at Asia Books in Bangkok. The price for this hardback book is 995 Baht. I’m looking forward to learning a bit more about the real Thailand.

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Bangkok Guide (ANZWG)

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

Getting Settled: Learn about Thai culture

20140626-ANZWG Bangkok 19 Guide a

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

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #book #guidebooks #reviews 

Laurence Osborne

Bangkok Post: The Freedom of the City

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

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

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

Posted in: Reviews,

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

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 

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: 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 

Nancy Chandler Map of Bangkok

Recommended Reading for All Newcomers

By Nima Chandler

Nancy Chandler map review

http://www.nancychandler.net/move.asp
No other author has delved so deeply into the subconscious of Thai popular culture in such an intriguing, eye-opening way. You’ll love the insights gained from reading this best-seller. Fairy lights, streetside shrubbery, and hair dos you may have seen every day but never noticed will take on new meaning. Learn why most Thai noodle shops offer the same pink colored tissues, why cats’ tails seem to be bent or at best stunted, and what is the Thai sniff kiss. Wonderful photography too!

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #book #maps #reviews #tourism 

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 

Somewhere Thai symposium – ‘Tools to Untie Thainess: How I Wrote Very Thai’

‘Somewhere Thai: Tools to Untie Thainess’ by Philip Cornwel-Smith

The Graphic Design Association of Thailand held a 2-day symposium on Thainess in graphic design, called Somewhere Thai. One of only two western speakers among the Thai program at Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, Philip Cornwel-Smith spoke about ‘Tools to Untie Thainess: How I Wrote Very Thai’, translated by Thai typographer Anuthin Wongsankakon.

http://en.bacc.or.th/event/IMTGD®FORUM-2010-SOMEWHERE-THAI.html

http://thaigraphicdesigner.wordpress.com

Somewhere Thai 1 coverPCS Somewhere Thai talk adj

Somewhere Thai PCS clipping

IMTGD®FORUM 2010: SOMEWHERE THAI

Date : 25 September – 26 September 2010

Location: Auditorium, 5th floor.

IMTGD®FORUM 2010: SOMEWHERE THAI
Initiated by Santi Lawrachawee
10.30 am – 7 pm
Organized by Practical Design Studio
in associated with Thai Graphic Designer Association and Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture

ThaiGA in corporation with Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC), Ministry of Culture, Bangkok Art and Cultural Center (BACC), and Practical Design Studio has launched “I’m a Thai graphic designer project 2010” under the topic of IMTGD®2010 : Somewhere Thai.

– See more at: http://en.bacc.or.th/event/IMTGD%C2%AEFORUM-2010-SOMEWHERE-THAI.html#sthash.yI720b37.dpuf

IMTGD®Forum will be held on September 25-26, 2010 at Auditorium Hall, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). More than 60 guest speakers will join the event. Somewhere Thai is the first conference where more than 60 outstanding graphic designers, academicians, cartoonists, editors and musicians will openly share their ideas on Thai identity in design works. Foreign guest speakers will also be invited to exchange their ideas on the same topic in order to provide primary data for future research and forthcoming creative works.  Speaker List: Anusorn Tipayanon Anuthin Wongsunkakon Be Our Friend Studio Chatchaval Khonkajee Chaiyot Itworaphan Craftsmanship studio DesignLab Ductstore Ekaluck Peanpanawate Farmgroup G49 Kelvin Wong Koichi Shimizu (Japan) & Thanaraj Vangsiripaisal LIKAYBINDERY Nutjarus Eangmahassakul Nuts Society Opas Limpi-Angkanan Pairoj Pittayamatee Philip Cornwel-Smith  Pichaya Suphavanij Pongtorn Hiranpruek Pongprom Sanitwong na Ayuthaya Practical Prinya Rojarayanont Roj siamruay Rukkit Kuanhawate Sethapong Povatong Siam Attariya Slowmotion Songsin Tiewsomboon Surat Tomornsuk  Thanaboon Somboon Vichean Tow Vip Buraphadeja Waroot Phanyarachun We too are Stardust Wee Viraporn Xavier Comas (Spain) Zeongklod Bangyikhan

*Admission is free.  **For more information, please visit www.imtgd.org or Facebook I am Thai graphic designer. ***Person reserving a seat via somewherethai@gmail.com will get a special premium gift.

for more information: Tel. 02 9382300-4 ext.1003 Fax. 02 9389522 Email: info@practical-studio.com

Posted in: Events,

Tags: #BACC #Bangkok #design #events #talks 

Proxy: Chumnai (Wounded)

Scorched copy of Very Thai an exhibit in a mixed-media art installation at Chat Room Gallery, RCA Block D, Bangkok.

18 June-30 July 2010

10-0618 Proxy fire art 7421 adj PCS smlproxy

Very Thai book featured as an exhibit in this exhibition of found materials that survived the fires and crackdown of 19 May 2010 at Ratchaprasong and Siam Square. The semi-charred copy of very Thai was found in a shop in the gutted Siam Theatre complex by Chat Room gallery owner Jeff Gompertz, who curated it in his segment of the Proxy show called ‘Body Doubles’, in which objects that survived the fires and were damaged by the flames and smoke – including that scorched copy of Very Thai alongside showroom dummies, melted signs and  the Siam Theatre’s vintage 7″ vinyl single of the Thai anthems –  act as stand-ins for the people damaged by the incident.

Review from CNNTravel

Proxy CNN rev aProxy CNN rev b

http://travel.cnn.com/bangkok/life/proxy-reflections-aftermath-637654

PDF of review: Proxy: Reflections in the aftermath | CNN Travel 2
(more…)

Posted in: Events,

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

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 

Asian Wall Street Journal (interview)

A Hidden Oasis in Bangkok

Amid urban bustle, a lush compound offers gardens, traditional architecture

By Stan Sesser

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 16.42.27 Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 16.42.39 Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 16.46.10
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123810984499552801

Buried in the fashionable Sukhumvit district of this bustling city, amid the high-rise buildings, bumper-to-bumper traffic and pulsating nightlife, sit 1.5 acres from an earlier era.

Wood and stone paths lead over a big pond and through a virtual jungle of ferns, trees and orchids. Surrounded by ponds and gardens are nine hardwood houses, some on stilts, all bearing the soaring peaked roofs and extensive wooden decks that are Thailand’s cultural signature. With their impeccably polished dark wood, the houses look as if they’ve sprouted from the ground.

They’re also very rare. Commonplace a few decades ago, these contemplative, lushly landscaped plots of land that once housed the city’s elite have all but disappeared, replaced with sleek high-rises so upscale a couple of them offer a swimming pool for each unit. An official of the Siam Society, which keeps tabs on Thai history and culture, says the only other compound he knew of in the Sukhumvit district was recently sold and torn down after its owner died. (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #culture #international #newspaper 

Thai Visa

‘Must Have’ Books on Thailand and Thai Culture

Post by Desi

I’m here permanently (unless something strange happens). But like others here, I have friends visiting as well as moving to Thailand for work.

Before I moved to BKK, I knew about the Bangkok Guide because I was a member of this forum before arrival (googled to find out the best place to learn about living in Thailand and this was it). I bought other books on the advice of this forum.

A group of my friends/work colleagues (three families + a single) are arriving in the spring for work. They do not utilize the internet (as far as I know), so I wanted to compile a reading list from those on the ground.

This is the list so far…

101 Thai Forms

A Child of the Northeast, by Kampoon Boontawee

Atomised

Bangkok, by William Warren

Bangkok 8, by John Burdett

Bangkok Inside Out, by Daniel Ziv and Guy Sharette

Bangkok Blondes

Bangkok Haunts, by John Burdett

Bangkok People, by James Eckardt

Bangkok Tattoo, by John Burdett

Bangkok Then and Now, by Steve Van Beck

Buddha in the Landscape

Culture Shock Thailand, by Robert Cooper

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand, by Kenny Yee and Catherine Gordon

Elephants in Thai life and legend

Firm Plus Focus on your Health

Four Reigns, by Kukrit Pramoj

Genders and Sexualities in Modern Thailand

Good Food Guide Bangkok, by Roseline NgCheong-Lum

Heart Words, by Christopher Moore

Inside Thai Society, by Niels Mulder

Knofs Thailand (guidebook)

Lady Boys, Tom Boys, Rent Boys, Male and Female Homosexualities in Contemporary Thailand, by Peter A Jackson/Gerard Sullivan

Letters from Thailand by Botan

Lonely Planet Bangkok

Losing the Plot, by Chuck Wow

Money Number One, by Neil Hutchison

Monsoon Country, by Pira Sudham

My Thai Girl and I, by Andrew Hicks

Phra Farang, by Phra Peter Pannapadipo

Private Dancer, by Stephen Leather

Reflections on Thai Culture, William J. Klausner

Siam Mapped, by Thongchai Winichakul

Siam Smiles, by Hugh Watson

Spiritual Abodes of Thailand, Barry Broman and William Warren

Thai Hawker Food, by Clive Wing

Thailand, a Short History, by David Wyatt

Thailand Confidential, by Jerry Hopkins

Thailand Fever

Thai Ways, by Denis Segaller

The Bangkok Guide (Australian New Zealand Women’s group)

The “Falcon of Siam”

The Spirit Houses of Thailand, by Peter Reichart and Pathawee Khongkhunthian

Vatch’s Thai Kitchen

Very Thai, everyday popular culture, by Philip Corawel-Smith

Who am ‘I’ in Thai?, by Voravudhi Chirasombutti and Anthony Diller

Working with the Thais’, by Henry Holmes

World Food Thailand, the Food and the Lifestyle, by Judy Williams

For moving to Thailand (BKK as a base), these are my top picks to get into the flow of the country quickly…

Inside Thai Society, by Niels Mulder

Thailand, a Short History, by David Wyatt

Thai Ways, by Denis Segaller

The Bangkok Guide (Australian New Zealand Women’s group)

Very Thai, everyday popular culture, by Philip Cornwel-Smith

Working with the Thais’, by Henry Holmes

Agree? Disagree? More to add?

And even though I haven’t read either, I believe Thailand Fever or Private Dancer would also be advised (?)

All, thank you for your help (and please keep them coming). I’m not sure about my friends, but my bookshelf is going to get quite full…

https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/217017-must-have-books-on-thailand-and-thai-culture/?page=2

 

Very Thai, everyday popular culture, by Philip Corawel-Smith

This book rocks! Easily in the top 3 books to pick up if moving to Thailand. I don’t know what the other two are. Seems to be hard to get a hold of these days. MAKE THE EFFORT

[note: it’s still easy to get hold of. The poster was writing while a new printing was being done.]

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Oom Magazine

Very Thai issue cover story

by Siriyakorn Pukkavesa

www.ooommagazine.com/issue025/index.html

Oom intv 08-04 cover001 smloom web cover

 

Oom is a Thai-language lifestyle magazine. For the full article open the PDF file below:

Oom Very Thai issue 08-04 sml

 

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #features #interviews #magazine #Thai language #website 

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 

Bangkok Recorder

Recorder Read: ‘Very Thai – Everyday Popular Culture’

by Laurie Osborne

Bangkokrecorder Urban Magazine VT a Bangkokrecorder Urban Magazine VT b Bangkokrecorder Urban Magazine VT c Bangkokrecorder Urban Magazine VT d

Bangkokrecorder Urban Magazine VT sml

Forget Lonely Planet, Very Thai – Everyday Popular Culture takes readers on a far more in-depth foray into Thai culture, one you won’t see on the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s website.

This Technicolored book is packed with explanations of modern-day phenomena, ranging from the everyday to the cosmic. For foreigners, it answers a thousand puzzling curiosities, from why tangled webs of electrical wire are proudly displayed as symbols of modernity to how whisky tables reinforce social hierarchy. Thai people themselves seem to have a more bemused attitude to Very Thai, delighted that such recognizable objects are the subject of a best-seller.

Before casting cynicism over the English author of a book called Very Thai, consider the detached and non-judgmental approach the writer, Philip Cornwel-Smith, has adopted in presenting popular Thai culture. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see value in the simple things. 

What better perspective than a 12-year resident of Bangkok and founding editor of Metro magazine? We sat down with the British-born Philip to discuss sex, tattoos and rock ‘n roll… 

 (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #e-magazine #features #interviews #reviews #website 

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.

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

Thai Day (talk preview)

Highlights

Thai Day VT talk preview 05-0914 copy

When Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture was released last year, the book was a sweeping success. Tracing the origins of mundane items like the taxi dashboard, the menthol inhaler and pink tissues, Bangkok-based British writer Philip Cornwel-Smith explained many of the oddities and nuicances of Thai culture. Now the author will share some of his insight at the Siam Society in a talk aimed at building a more inclusive, up-to-date picture of Thai culture, society and history. Take this chance to look anew at the ordinary at the Siam Society.

Thai Day was an English-language Thai newspaper

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #book #newspaper #reviews #SiamSociety #talks 

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

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

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 

‘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)

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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 

‘Bangkok, Bangkok’ (Barcelona)

La Capella Gallery, Barcelona

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.

8 Feb – 10 April 2005

Opening: 8 Feb 2004, 7pm (Barcelona time)
- with AboutTV live! from Barcelona under sub-channel: Bangkok, Bangkok at La Capella, Barcelona 


Watch the interview with participating artists and curator in archived section. More information will be added during the whole month of February. 

The project is part of a cultural exchange program between Bangkok and Barcelona.

Bangko Bangkok catalogue BarcelonaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

FROM ASIAN ART ARCHIVE:

 

Bangkok, Bangkok | Asia Art Archive

Bangkok, Bangkok is an exhibition of contemporary art and films by Bangkok-based artists. It is the first chapter inRoundabout Encounter, an exchange program between Bangkok and Barcelona, initiated by Marti Peran, the program director for this project on behalf of the city of Barcelona, in collaboration with Rirkrit Tiravanija, a renowned New-York based Thai artist. The initiative resulted in many layers of networking in both local and international contexts. The present catalogue includes artist biographies.

Curators: Klaomard Yipintsoi, Grithiya Gaweewong, Marti Peran

A Tale of Two Cities: Bangkom & Barcelona – Klaomard YIPINTSOI

Idea of Barcelona… With Art in the Background – Marti PERAN

Bangkok, Bangkok – Gridthiya GAWEEWONG(กฤติยา กาวีวงศ์)

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

Images from Very Thai used in the isntallation by Prapon Kumjim. A copyt of Very Thai displayed as an exhibit on the table in the exhibition.

Posted in: Events,

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

Gavroche

Tout tout tout, vous saurez tout sure les Thaïlandais

By Thibault Geoffrois

 

Mais que se chache-t-il derrière le sourire de la Joconde… euh, des Thaïlandais? Le pays du sourire recèle en effet de nombreuses facettes, à la fois surprenantes et mystérieuses, qui inteprellent.
Les multiples questions que vous pouves vous poser lors de vos peregrinations et autres déambulations dans l’ancien rayaume de siam, et auxquelles vous n’aviez, jusqu’alors, pas trouvé de réponse, trouveront lumière dans l’ouvrage “Very thai” de Philip Cornwel-smith. Ce journaliste Anglophone, ancien rédacteur en chef du magazine Metro à Bangkok, est spécialaisé dans le redaction d’articles lies au voyage à la culture thaïe. (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #book #French #magazine #reviews #Thailand 

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. (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #international #magazine #reviews #Thailand 

Very Thai book launch

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

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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…)

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #Bangkok #book #events #parties 

Bangkok Post: The Magazine

Perfect Ten

BKK Post mag PCS intv 04-1029 1 copy BKK Post mag PCS intv 04-1029 2 BKK Post mag PCS intv 04-1029 3 copyBKK Post mag PCS intv 04-1029 4 copy BKK Post mag PCS intv 005 copy

 

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #interviews #magazine