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 

Smiling Albino

Very Thai Thai: How Pop Became Heritage:

Philip gave a talk to the guides and staff of tailored travel agency Smiling Albino at their Ramkhamhaeng HQ in Bangkok. The monochrome theme marked the mourning period for King Bhumibol.

Posted in: Blog,

Tags: #popularculture #streetlife #talks #Thai language #Thailand #tradition 

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 

Soroptimists Bangkok talk

Very Thai Thai: How Pop Became Heritage:

Philip gave a talk to the Soroptimists Bangkok at the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel. The monochrome theme marked the mourning period for King Bhumibol.

Posted in: Blog,

Tags: #culture #events #popularculture #Thai language #Thailand #tradition 

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 

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.

Leaflet1 music eng sat-eng sun-eng

For details see:

http://www.bangkokedge.com

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

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

Exhibiting the Overlooked

 

Embracing Thai Popular Culture as Heritage

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 2.11.14 PM

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

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

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

Podcast about Very Thai by TalkTravelAsia

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.24.41 PM

 

‘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

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.23.09 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.23.33 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.23.49 PM

 

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

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

TCDC: Very Thai Cultural Filters

How Hybrids Preserve and Project a Sense of Thainess

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 1.18.15 PM

https://youtu.be/Kfp32Km69xU

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

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

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

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

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Media,

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

TBEX Asia Preview Talk: Shrines of Ratchaprasong

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

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.44.38 PM

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 

Talk to IDEA Group

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.50.20 PM

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

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

The Diplomat

Very Thai: Street, Style and Society in the Kingdom

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

By Jonathan DeHart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very Thai — The Diplomat

Very Thai -- The Diplomat 1Very Thai -- The Diplomat 2Very Thai -- The Diplomat 3Very Thai -- The Diplomat 4Very Thai -- The Diplomat 5

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Thrilled to BITS

 

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

Get inside the loop – go along.

14973_929300727098112_5272810464323069846_n

BITS MMXIV International Conference
15 – 16 November 2014
BACC

—————

15 November 2014

Wee Viraporn
10.00 -11.30 am.

“Reflecting myself, according to others, through type”

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

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

—–

Catherine Dixon
11.30 -12.30 am.

“Hands-on: typography as social activism”

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

—–

Julius Hon-Man Hui
2.00 – 3.00 pm.

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

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

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

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

—–

Danh Hong
3.00 – 4.00 pm.

“Khmer UI font for Small Device”

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

—–

Bruno Maag
4.00 – 5.00 pm.

“Type in a digital landscape”

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

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

—————

16 November 2014

Roger Black
10.30 – 11.30 am.

“Your type is your brand”

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

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

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

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

—–

Thanarat Vachiruckul
11.30 -12.30 am.

“From user to producer”

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

—–

Georg Seifert
2.00 – 3.00 pm.

“Why does Glyphs support Thai?”

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

—–

Piyaluk Benjadol
3.00 – 4.00 pm.

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

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

—–

David Carson
4.00 – 5.00 pm.

“Trusting Your Own Intuition”

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

 

 

Posted in: Blog,

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

Thaipography

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

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

Thaipography image by Anuthin

here&now-issue11-adjusted layout

Posted in: Blog,

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

The Beauty of Banality

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

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 12.37.39 PM

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

 

Posted in: Blog,

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

Morlam goes Mainstream?

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 1.59.39 PM

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 

Very Thai, Very Volatile

20 Years of Change in Popular Culture

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

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

29 September, 7.30pm-9pm, free entry

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.50.20 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

barluna-Banner_coffee

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Events, Uncategorized,

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

Very Thai pool

These are slides from the Flickr flow ‘Very Thai Pool’ set up in 2010 that was inspired by the visual language of the book Very Thai. You can join the group and add photos of your own to the flow.

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

VT Flickr flow 2014-06-29 at 23.37.22

 

VT Flickr flow 2014-06-29 at 23.37.34

VT Flickr flow 2014-06-29 at 23.37.46

VT Flickr flow 2014-06-29 at 23.37.54

VT Flickr flow 2014-06-29 at 23.38.04

VT Flickr flow 2014-06-29 at 23.38.14

 

Posted in: Media,

Tags: #endorsements #Flickr #photography #Thailand #website 

verythai.com Website Goes Live

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

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

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #events #launch #Thailand 

Rotary Talk: Very Thai Thai

14-0612 Rotary J12_6912 crop

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 

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 Post (2nd ed review)

How Very Thai gave rise to ‘Thai Thai’

 

Long-standing commentator on the Kingdom’s eccentricities discusses the second edition of his book.

By Brian Curtin

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 11.29.34 Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 11.29.24

Which cultural idiosyncrasies stick when you visit a foreign country? And what value do you accord them? Slightly amusing or perhaps just annoying? Indicative of some deep-rooted essence of that culture or merely a weird aberration? A challenge to your own vocabulary or a means of extending it? And why do some idiosyncrasies persist while others disappear or transform?

Thailand has an abundance of cultural idiosyncrasies and Philip Cornwel-Smith, a dedicated follower of local mores, has been exploring such questions for nearly two decades. Philip was the original editor of the defunct and much missed Metro magazine and of Time Out Bangkok, and his Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture is a must-read for anyone hoping to unpick such local phenomena as sniff-kissing and the pervasive influence of “hi-so” communities for Thai social hierarchies.

Originally published in 2005, the book has been expanded into a second edition with four extra chapters, and much of the rewritten material addresses how social upheaval has affected daily life here. Please describe how your new chapters relate to major cultural and/or political shifts in Thailand since the first edition.

The period between the editions has seen unprecedented challenges to the exotic Thai cliche. The world now questions those smiles. One reason I wrote the book was to celebrate the non-exotic things that also shape Thai character.

I look at how the internet has gained a Thai flavour. Modernity and the consumer lifestyle used to be synonymous with Bangkok, but increasingly they apply to the urbanising provincial middle class, too. One thread in the book is to view social evolution through the tastes of each class as it came to prominence.

Politics inevitably impacts many topics, though often indirectly. The chapter on day colours [wearing clothes of a specific colour on a certain day of the week] was an obscure curiosity for most readers _ then, overnight, the yellowshirts made it topical. Motorcycle taxis went from a lowly street fixture to an icon of a rising class now courted by election posters. Looking at everyday phenomena reveals how this political division is not just about parties, protests and personalities, but the latest of many shifts in the history of Thainess.

You have called one new chapter “Vernacular design”.

One trait of Thai street-life are those ad hoc solutions to practical problems with found materials like old planks and bits of plastic. Middle-class people associated that with slums, but the trauma of the Great Flood of 2011 turned that ingenuity into a meme on Facebook and an exhibition at the Thailand Creative & Design Centre. It became respectable once residents of housing estates suddenly had to live like canal-side squatters. Now it’s a style that is being called “vernacular design”.

Please comment on the readers Very Thai has attracted and what feedback you’ve received about it.

I wrote the book to explain what isn’t explained to expats. But its most enthusiastic fans are young, indie Thais who are hungry for fresh ideas. It’s become a required book in universities so I have to satisfy academics, too.

Last year’s exhibition of Very Thai photos outside Zen [CentralWorld] gained it a mainstream audience, who see it more sentimentally as a record of retro things that are slowly fading. In one new chapter I discuss how Very Thai became a kind of handbook for a zeitgeist wave that has made popular culture an accepted aspect of Thainess labelled “Thai Thai”. The design guru Pracha Suveeranont has written an afterword [for the second edition] about the impact of the book on creative Thais. Popular culture is low-status, edgy and even taboo, so they find the book lends a kind of legitimacy. Also they use it as a style reference for all kinds of stuff _ advertising, design, event organising. Independent of me, the book has been an exhibit in several art shows and the subject of film, mime and theatre performances.

Please discuss any criticisms you have heard about Very Thai.

Older readers complained about the font size. So we increased it. There has been less criticism than expected about giving street-life a platform as culture. That was partly to do with timing, because society was just starting to accept street culture as a legit form of Thainess. Some nationalists claim that foreigners can’t understand Thainess, yet Buddhism insists that detachment is necessary to see things clearly. There’s a concept called emic and etic _ insider and outsider views. Each is valid, and I try to integrate both in an insider/outsider approach.

The appearance of Very Thai is very different to that of other books about Thailand on the shelves. Was that a conscious decision?

Most illustrated books on Thailand strive to be beautiful and so the scene is often set up or “prettied” beforehand. That’s part of myth-making about Thainess, so it creates expectations. Yet the photos in Very Thai deliberately show normal things as-found. That impromptu aesthetic has emerged internationally _ and the public connects with this book precisely because it rings true to their experience. One reader gave the book to a friend who had moved away as an album of the photos she didn’t think to take while living here. It’s about looking at familiar things with a new eye.

The new edition kept a similar look, because the cover’s become a bit of a brand, but over a third of the pictures are new to keep up with how fast Thai tastes change.

How does Very Thai relate to other English-language literature about Thailand?

Ever more books tackle the chaotic street-life, often through fiction by the likes of John Burdett or Lawrence Osborne. But too much writing about Thai ways has veered to Orientalist extremes, whether sensationalism about infamous scandals or the fawning exoticism found in tourist, sponsored or Establishment books. Actually there is an older literary genre of objective accounts by Chinese, French, British, American traders and adventurers. Thai literature tended not to dwell on “low” topics, and murals just depict; they don’t describe.

So much of what we know about past popular culture comes from foreign observations of the kind reprinted by [local publisher] White Lotus Press. So I aspire to that legacy of insider-outsider commentaries. I’m trying to write contemporary history, but it’ll be up to future readers to judge whether I caught the tenor of the times.

 

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #features #interviews #newspaper #reviews #Thailand 

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

Nation 2nd ed  rev DSC01360 crop

With anger further fouling the city air and the streets a din of roars and whistles, this might not be the best time to be exploring the unknown alleys of Bangkok. But two terrific books that have just come out will have you dodging the slings and arrows of our unfortunate era to track down the history already written – as opposed to the kind that’s being written as you read this.

Kenneth Barrett’s “22 Walks in Bangkok” ranks as one of the most thorough guides yet to the city’s historically important areas – and the newly refurbished “Very Thai” can be its ideal companion in your travelling pack. The updated and extended second edition of Philip Cornwel-Smith’s popular and influential 2004 original is just as much a must-have resource, thanks to his encyclopaedic knowledge and charming explanations about all the sights and experiences you encounter in Thailand. Again, it’s replete with hundreds of great photos by John Goss, Cornwel-Smith and others.

Of course the current political demonstrations – anti-government and pro – have never come close to blanketing the metropolis. Barrett touches the fringes of a couple of hot spots, and both books allude in passing to Thaksin Shinawatra and his legacy, but there are still plenty of places free of discontent where you can poke around for evidence of Teochew civilisation (see Barrett) and perhaps a plastic bag of refreshing flavoured sugar-water with shaved ice (see Cornwel-Smith).

In fact the first few of the 22 Walks ramble through Thonburi, remote and relatively peaceful on the other side of the big water.

Barrett’s journey begins when Thonburi was anything but peaceful. Following the downfall of Ayutthaya’s King Narai in 1688, Siamese cannonballs hurled across the river to demolish the French fort he had allowed to be built in the swamp that grew up to be Bangkok. A century later Thonburi was Siam’s capital.

Three more centuries further on, you can still spot homes there that have four wooden pillars in the doorway – which can only be removed from the inside. That’s how the original Chinese immigrants “locked the door”, explains Barrett, a veteran journalist.

And completely hidden behind the Klong San District Office is a remnant of Pong Patchamit Fort, one of five that King Rama IV built to shield his capital from invaders. Still standing is a mast on which flags were once hoisted to indicate which trading vessels were present – and later to report the weather.

Not far away, down Soi Lat Ya 17, Barrett found a seven-metre-long stone sculpture of a Chinese boat called a yannawa perched among old timbered houses. With a bodhi tree as a mast, this is an ancient shrine recalling the arrival in Thailand of Buddhist monks from Japan and China.

One of the most intriguing of Bangkok’s many intriguing areas is Bang Krachao, the vast “pig’s stomach” of land around which the Chao Phraya River swirls, which continues to be a great green lung (to mix anatomical metaphors) despite covetous commercial intentions.

Barrett sets out from the Presbyterian Samray Church, a 1910 replacement for the 1862 original, chronicling the missionaries’ story as he goes, and then has a look for what’s left of venerable Chinese rice mills. He glimpses a gilded Captain Hook and David Beckham among the artwork at Wat Pariwat next to the Montien Riverside Hotel.

Just as interesting is the Mon community that since the fall of Ayutthaya has dominated this district, further down the Phra Pradaeng Peninsula. The Mon, fierce fighters in combat, came to man the forts that King Rama I built there.

To any Bangkok resident who’s never been there, it’s impossible to imagine, somewhere in among all this concrete, “a huge area of green countryside in which quiet villages snooze down peaceful lanes”. Barrett explores “orchards, jungle, mangrove swamps and hidden temples” – and with amusement comes across the more recently inaugurated Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market, a nod to tourists, but mainly Thai tourists.

“There is no police station. You will look hard to find an ATM … The modern city is only a ferryboat ride away, but there is no hurry to travel back across the water.”

In urban Thailand and in rural Thailand, you couldn’t have a better “dictionary” than “Very Thai”, and it’s easy to imagine Cornwel-Smith strolling alongside Barrett, quizzing the locals about what they’re up to. “I try to be the open-minded ‘flaneur’ – the wandering seeker of raw experience,” writes the chronically curious former editor of Bangkok Metro magazine.

“Very Thai” explains a great deal about amulets and magic tattoos, taxi altars, luk thung, beauty pageants, katoey life, ubiquitous uniforms, edible insects and the lore of the motorcycle-taxi stand. For farang, it’s magical in its own way – although, as Pracha Suveeranont, “an expert on visual culture”, points out in an afterword, the first edition of the book became a hit with Thais too, an aid in celebrating their culture for fun and profit.

But clearly it was badly in need of updating, Cornwel-Smith writes. Since 2004, Thai pop has “gone inter” and Apichatpong Weerasethakul triumphed at Cannes. Asean is about to blossom. We’ve got those plastic kitschy but undeniably purposeful hand-clappers and foot-clappers now (the whistles will have to wait for the next edition).

And virtually everyone in Thailand has “gone virtual”, not least the fashion-plate hero of Facebook, Mae Baan Mee Nuad (Housewife with a Moustache), who’s also featured here. The social media are rampant in Thailand. In 2012 there were more snapshots posted on Instagram from Suvarnabhumi Airport and Siam Paragon than from New York’s Times Square. “Digital media actually suit the Thai character,” the author says. “Local websites collide multiple diversions as discombobulating as their predecessor, the temple fair.”

Then, digging deeper, he adds, “The difference this new medium makes is that we can now see through the former taboos.” Cornwel-Smith displays a keen if subtle passion for the country’s politics, at least in the way it affects popular culture. In addressing the difficulties of nailing down the nature of Thainess, he says, “The recent politicisation of Thais at all social levels has made discussion more open, direct and heated. As censorship grows futile, we all now know so much more how this country works. The official version has lost its monopoly.”

In another informative chapter, on the rise of “Thai Thai” – which he calls “vernacular Thainess [with] a hint of both essence and exaggeration” – Cornwel-Smith tackles the vexing issue of Thai exceptionalism with his exquisite sense of balance. He cites the frequently heard insistence that foreigners can never fully understand Thai ways, and then demonstrates how “the accusation fires both ways”.

These two books serve to reassure readers, both Thai and farang, that there is nothing to fear, scorn or being ashamed about, in either stoic tradition – or in Bangkok’s immediate future.

GUIDE BOOKS

Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture
By Philip Cornwel-Smith and John Goss
Published by River Books, Second Edition 2013
Available at Asia Books, Bt796

22 Walks in Bangkok: Exploring the City’s Historic Back Lanes and Byways
By Kenneth Barrett
Published by Tuttle / Periplus, 2013
Available at Asia Books, Bt396

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #Bangkok #newspaper #reviews #Thailand 

Where

Very Thai Second Edition Launched

Added by  on December 11, 2013

VT Where mag 2014-06-29http://wherethailand.com/thai-second-edition-launched/

Featuring fascinating explanations of various oddities from everyday Thai popular culture, from why the tissues on tables are pink to the apparent obsession with phallic objects on street stalls in Thailand, the first edition of Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith has proved a real hit since its release in December 2004. Building on that success, the second edition delves even deeper with revamped chapters, extra pages and over 200 new photographs. It also includes four new chapters covering more recent developments such as the internet, the impact of the recent political crisis, the increasing cosmopolitan chic, and the hidden political context to changes in taste. It makes a great read for travelers to Thailand who want to get more from their visit and gain a better understanding of local culture.

B995, available at Asia Books.

www.verythai.com

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Angela Savage: Writers Ask Writers

Writers Ask Writers: Tools of the trade

Posted on 27/11/2013

By angelasavage

http://angelasavage.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/writers-ask-writers-tools-of-the-trade/

I’ve developed a passion for Western Australian fiction, this year reading Simone Lazaroo’s The Australian Fiancé, Julienne Van Loon’s Harmless, and the second novels in crime series by David Whish-Wilson and Felicity Young. On my TBR pile, I have Fractured by Dawn Barker and Elemental by Amanda Curtin. I’m also keen to get hold of Sara Foster’s Beneath the Shadows, described by one reviewer as showing ‘a quiet, non-violent mystery can pack a lot of punch’. Dawn, Amanda and Sara are part of a collective of writers in WA, together with Emma Chapman, Natasha Lester and Annabel Smith, who have a monthly discussion via their blogs on a question about the writing life.

I was inspired by their posts on being another author for a day to write my own version. This month, I’m delighted to be their guest blogger as their Writers Ask Writers series considers tools of the trade: What do you need to have around you in order to be able to write? Certain music? Special notebooks? Apps? Books? Pens?

Their questions made me realise that my writing tools are so basic, they’re almost quaint. I write my first draft using a notebook. Not a notebook computer, but a genuine, old school, tree-killing notebook. I write with a pen. Or pencil. Even a texta will do and, at a push, a lip liner. I’m not fussed.

My preferred notebook is the Marbig A5 ‘Colour Hide’, vertical spiral bound with a cardboard pocket at the front. I also love Chinese-made notebooks with nonsensical English phrases on the cover like ‘Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year’ and ‘I know that I’m too young to be in love, but I know that I like you much.’

But if I forget my notebook, I’ll scribble notes on whatever scraps of paper I can find—receipts, envelops, train tickets, business cards.

These simple tools suit my style. I’m not a planner. Writing for me involves a lot of what Marele Day calls ‘research in the imagination’ and Barry Maitland calls ‘mulling’; I think of it as percolating a story. An idea for a snatch of dialogue, a metaphor, a character’s distinguishing feature can come at any moment, and the less rigid my writing needs, the easier it is to capture inspiration when it strikes.

My Jayne Keeney PI crime fiction series are set in Thailand in the late-1990s. Among my essential reference materials are several books on Thai language, and Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith, a guide to everyday popular culture in Thailand. I rely on old travel guides to help me recreate the period, as well as journals I’ve kept of the years when I’ve lived in or travelled to Thailand.

Of course, I’m not so old school that I don’t do online research. I transfer my handwritten notes on to my Macbook Pro (aka ‘The Preciousss’) and use the internet to check facts, maps and geographic features.

But secondary sources only ever get you so far, and in my experience, to make a setting come alive, you need to do fieldwork. This leads me to my other important tool of the trade: my passport.

I’ve posted herehere and here about the value of scouting locations for my stories. That my commitment to fieldwork requires me to spend time in exotic tropical destinations is just one of many ways I suffer for my art.

Now read about what these other authors say about their tools of the trade:

‘One of the best things about writing is that it doesn’t require many tools,’ writes Dawn Barker, before making want to go out in search of the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus.
Emma Chapman‘s tools of the trade help her focus and include an intriguing ‘inspiration board’…
Amanda Curtin loves all forms of stationery, though not as much as her late cat Daisy, who ‘once famously ate all the post-it notes off the side of a manuscript.’
Sara Foster‘s writer’s toolbox turns out to be more extensive than she first imagined. I concur with her on the writer’s most precious tool of all.
Natasha Lester‘s enthusiasm for the writer’s software Scrivener borders on evangelical, though she also pines for a waterproof notebook for those ideas that come in the shower.
Annabel Smith shares my love of note taking. Using the kind of notebooks favoured by Hemingway makes her feel ‘part of a great and noble tradition’, though I wonder what Hemingway would make of her other tools like Evernote and Scrivener.

Collectively, these writers go through a hell of a lot of herbal tea and Lindt chocolate. What about you? Are there certain things you need to have around you in order to write — or to read for that matter? What are your tools of the trade?

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Lomography

Very Thai in October

Lomography VT in October 2014-06-30 at 00.09.07

http://www.lomography.co.th/homes/deng/photos/11956847

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #photography #Thailand 

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 

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 

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

Very Thai Photo Exhibition: Bangkok

By  • October 1, 2012

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

 

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

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

Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very Thai Photo Exhibition…

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

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

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

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

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

This photo was my favourite eyecandy of all.

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

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

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

 

10 Responses to “ Very Thai Photo Exhibition: Bangkok ”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

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

Richard Barrow: Thai Travel Blogs

Very Thai Exhibition in front of ZEN in Bangkok

by   on September 29, 2012

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

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

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

Richard Barrow: Paknam Web Forums

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

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

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

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

Mahindrasarath's Avatar

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

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

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

Planet Asia Podcast Series

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

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

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

Planet Asia podcast 2014-06-29

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #culture #interviews #podcast #Thailand 

Engaging Thailand Tips

Recommended Books

By Trevor Bide on January 7, 2011

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

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #book #reviews #Thailand 

Bangkok Design Festival

Very Thai

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

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

 

 

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

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #art #blogs #endorsements #Thailand 

Kit: Creative Thailand

Sukjai Keu Thai Tae (Happiness is the True Thainess)

by Patcharin Pattanaboonpaiboon

TCDC Kit VT intv 101201001 sml TCDC Kit VT intv 101201002 sml
Kit is the magazine of TCDC (Thailand Creative & Design Centre), Thailand

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #book #culture #design #interviews #magazine #tcdc #Thai language #Thailand 

Feel Goood

I Love Thailand

DTAC FeelGoood VT intv001 sml DTAC FeelGoood VT intv003 sml

Feel Goood is the subscriber magazine of DTAC Telecom, Thailand

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #interviews #magazine #Thai language #Thailand 

Way Magazine (Thai)

So You Think You’re Farang?

By Aphiradee Meedet

 

VT Way Thainess issue smlVT Way Thainess intv1 copy

A ten-page interview with Philip Cornwel-Smith about Very Thai in an issue themed around changing Thai identity. Open PDF link for full feature.

Way magazine 36 intv sml

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #book #features #interviews #Thai language #Thailand 

Chiang Mai University

Very Thai เวรี่ไทย

 

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

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

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

การวิพากษ์ถึงความล้มเหลวและความผิดพลาดของคนอื่นคงเป็นเรื่องสนุกสําหรับปถุชนคน ทั่วไป คล้ายกับคนในอดีตชอบดูถูกคนอื่นถูกลงโทษ ถูกตัดคอประหารชีวิตในที่สาธารณะ ณ จัตุรัส กลางเมือง ถือเป็นความบันเทิงของคนในยุคนั้น

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

ภาพบรรยากาศภายในนิทรรศการ

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

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

Thai Food & Travel Blog

Thai Napkins

by Michael Babcock, June 5th, 2010

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

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

 

caption: Napkins at My Choice restaurant in Bangkok

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #book #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

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

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

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

 

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

โอ้ยยยย

โมโหวววว์ โกรธาาาาาาาา

อยากจะปี๊ดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดดด!

.

เฮ้อ…

เมื่อไหร่จะมีฟังก์ชั่นกดแล้วมีเสียงกรี๊ด -*-

.

.

ช่างเถอะ…คงได้แต่บ่นกระปอดกระแปดไปอย่างนั้นแหละ

เหนื่อยใจ… แต่เดี๋ยวก็จะผ่านไป

.

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

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

.

.

1. สติกเกอร์กู้ภัย อุ้มหญิง แก้ผ้า

พยายามหารูปในเน็ตแต่ไม่ยักกะมี ทั้งที่เราเห็นออกจะง่ายตามท้ายรถกระบะ รถตู้ และรถกู้ภัย!

ที่เห็น บ่อยๆ แบบนี้

เอ่อ……

ผู้หญิงที่อุ้มน่ะ..ตายไปแล้วป่ะ …มาสลบคออ่อนแบบนี้

แล้วมันจะอุ้มได้เหรอคะเธอ ท่านี้อ่ะ -..-‘

มัน very Thai ตรงที่คงดูเท่มากนะ แมนสุดๆ …..อุ้มหญิงสาวหมดสติ ช่วยชีวิต

.

แล้ว หลังจากนั้นล่ะ?

 

อัน นี้ก็เห็นบ่อย

ผู้หญิงโป้เปลือยถอดน้ำเจี็ยกคาขาขวา…  เห็นหน่มน้มอูมๆ จากด้านหลัง

-..-‘ ที่ช่วยตามรูปบน นี่มันหวังผลที่รูปล่างชิมิ?

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

.

นี่ลงทุน วาดเองเลยนะ…คงนึกกันออก ไอ้สติกเกอร์ 2 รูปนี้..

ตามมาติดๆ คงไม่พ้นสติกเกอร์รูกระสุน …

ไม่รู้ว่าฝรั่ง ญี่ปุ่น ชาติอื่นๆ ฮิตติดลมบนอย่างเราหรือเปล่า

VERY THAI

.

 

.

2. แก้ปัญหายากด้วยวิธีง่าย!

เทพเนอะ…พี่ไทย… ทำเรื่องยากให้เป็นเรื่องง่าย! ถือว่าต้องใช้ควยามฉลาดเฉพาะตัวในการเลือกวิธีแก้ปัญหา

แล้วมัน Very Thai ตรงไหน? ที่ไหนๆ เค้าก็คิดอย่างงี้

.

คือเง๊…. บ้านเราอ่ะ แก้ปัญหาโลกแตกด้วยการปอกกล้วย!

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

เช่น… บุหรี่ เป็นอันตรายต่อสุขภาพและส่งผลต่อชีวิตผู้อื่น….ก็ใส่รูปฟันเหลือง ปอดแตกซะ……

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

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

VERY THAI

.

.

3. สื่อสารกันด้วยป้าย

ให้ตาย……. อ่านไม่ออกไม่นับเข้าพวกนะคะคู๊ณณณณ

.

รถคันนี้สีชมพูดอกบาน เย็นปลูกที่เชียงใหม่

บ้านนี้ไม่มีคนชื่อ ส ห ล ว ฮ ฏ ไปหาที่อื่นเถอะค่ะพี่ผีแม่หม้าย

ที่หมาเยี่ยว คนห้ามเยี่ยว

สงบ สันติ อหิงสา ยุบสภา (ตู้มมมมมมม! สงบกันมากกกก)

VERY THAI

.

.

4. หยวนๆ

ไม่ใช่สกุลเงินจีนนะคะคู๊ณณณณ  หมายถึง หยวนๆ อ่ะๆ ยังไงก้ได้

จะประนีประณอมกันไปไหน? บางทีอะไรมันก็ต้องชัดบ้าง เช่น ภาระงาน

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

คือ… งานมันชิ้นใหญ่แบ่งเป็นหลายส่วน หมายความว่า จะมารวมหัวกันทำไม่ได้ เดี่ยวจะไม่เสร็จ

แต่เพราะแบ่งกันไม่ชัด แล้วทุกคน ก็เลยต้องทำทุกงาน แล้วงานก็เลยซ้ำซ้อน แล้วคนก็เหนื่อยหลายที แล้วสุดท้ายก็ไม่มีอะไรเป็นระบบ

น่าเบื่อมากกกก…..

VERY THAI

.

.

พยายามมากที่จะจัดให้ได้ 5 ข้อ

.

5. นิสัยขั้นกว่า

แบบนี้ไง…

“การดำรงบทบาทเป็นผู้นำที่ต้อง ตัดสินใจนั้นน่าหนักใจ แต่การดำรงบทบาทเป็นผู้ตามของผู้นำที่ไม่ตัดสินใจนั้นน่าหนักใจกว่า”

“การ ทำตัวให้เป็นคนดีน่ารักนั้นดี แต่การทำตัวให้เป็นคนดีน่ารักโดยไม่เด่นนั้นดีกว่า”

“ข้าราชการที่ ซื่อสัตย์สุจริตนั้นเป็นที่พึงประสงค์ของผู้ใหญ่ แต่ข้าราชการที่ซื่อสัตย์เฉพาะกับผู้ใหญ่นั้นน่าพึงประสงค์กว่า”

“การ เรียนในมหาวิทยาลัยที่ใดก็มาตรฐานเดียวกันทั้งนั้น…แต่ถ้ามหาวิทยาลัยของ รัฐก็จะได้งานทำง่ายกว่า” (อ้าว)…

VERY THAI

.

.

.

จบ และ….

ซื่อๆ ….

เบื่อๆ เลยเขียนเล่นซะเลย

.

หงุด หงิดๆ

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Computer Arts

Thai Colour

Interview with Philip Cornwel-Smith

VT Computer Arts intv PCS a 1290 copyVT Computer Arts intv PCS b 1289

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #culture #design #interviews #magazine #Thai language #Thailand 

Thesis about translation in Very Thai

Translation Methods for Thai Cultural Words and Phrases in Non-Fiction

Case study: Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture

by Miss Mingkwan Charoennitniyom

Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Academic Year 2009

VT CM transliteration thesis copyVT CM thesis 002 copy VT CM thesis 003 copy

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #academic #book #culture #features #interviews #reviews #Thai language #Thailand #tradition 

Life in Phana

Very Thai

11 June 2009

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Very Thai

Everyday Popular Culture

Philip Cornwel-Smith

Photographs: John Goss

River Books

Bangkok 2005

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #culture #reviews #Thailand 

Bangkok Post (interview)

Very Thai

Philip Cornwel-Smith proposes a fresher, interesting view on the everyday complexities of life, and how Thailand is full of them

By Krittiya Wongtavavimarn, Photo by Yingyong Un-Anongrak

VT BkPost intv4VT BkPost intv5VT BkPost intv6

Philip Cornwel-Smith is obsessed with details. A man of boundless energy and great curiosity, the 43-year-old British is a meticulous, a perfectionist who is incredibly careful about his work, and his keen eyes always see things beyond the obvious – things that are very… very Thai.

While culture normally is a term associated with refined arts and national prestige, Cornwel-Smith looks for ordinary things representing hybrids between Thai tradition and modernity. The Bangkok-based writer took seven years gathering over a hundred casual, everyday expressions of Thainess, and presented them in a practical, easy to read and well-illustrated book of 60 chapters entitled Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture. (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #features #interviews #newspaper #Thailand 

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 

Virtual Tourist

Thai literature or literature about Thailand

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

 

By schmechi Jun 8, 2009 at 7:04 AM

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

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

 

Re: Thai literature or literature about Thailand

By Tina-Perth Jun 9, 2009 at 2:57 AM

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

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

 Enjoy your trip!

 

Re: Thai literature or literature about Thailand

By aberacadabra Jun 10, 2009 at 1:24 AM

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

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Travel Happy

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

BY  on 28 April 2008

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

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

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

 

Name
Philip Cornwel-Smith

Age
42

Nationality
British

Time in Thailand
14 years

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

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

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


Phil Cornwel-Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Favourite bar
Any indy bar with mis-matched furniture.

Favourite restaurant
Many. Frequent standby: Greyhound Café.

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

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

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

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

Travel Happy is a travel website

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Frommers: Thailand

Books on Thailand

By Ron Emmons

‘For help in understanding what the heck is going on around you in Thailand, pick up Philip Cornwel-Smith’s Very Thai, it’s a bit obvious in parts but does make for colourful an fun entertainment (don’t expect any deep intellectual insights). It will, however, explain some peculiar habits of the host country.’

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #guidebooks #reviews #Thailand 

Sorry 061

Very Thai

 

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

 

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

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

Tags: #blogs #design #Thai language #Thailand 

Nujai

 Very Thai by Jai

ธันวาคม 24, 2007 โดย nujai

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

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

PDF: Very Thai by Jai | Nujai’s Weblog

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

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

หากใครมีโอกาสไปร้านหนังสือก็อยากให้ลองไปดูหนังสือเล่มนี้
ภาพก็สวยดี ไม่ถึงสวยเวอร์ แต่ก็สวยระดับช่างภาพ
และแม้จะเป็นภาษาอังกฤษทั้งหมด ตั้งแต่ชื่อเรื่องจนกระทั่งคำลงท้าย
แต่ก็เป็นภาษาอังกฤษที่ไม่ยากจนเกินไป
ใครไม่ถนัดยืนอ่าน แบบว่ากลัวคนขายเพ่นกบาล
ก็ให้แอบเปิดดูภาพ ก็พอจะเดาได้ว่าเขาต้องการจะสื่อถึงอะไร

ฝรั่งมาเมืองไทย แล้วเขาเจออะไรบ้าง…ใจคิดว่าเขาอยากจะบอกแบบนี้
เมื่อเขาเห็นเขาก็คิดว่านี่แหละ โคตรไทยเลย หรือ very thai แต๊ๆ น้อ

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

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

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

วันนี้ใจไปเห็นของไทยๆ เหมือนกัน มันชินตา แต่ฝรั่งมาเห็นก็คงว่าแปลกดี
ใจไปซื้อส้มตำร้านป้าในซอยแล้วพบว่าแกบูชาเจ้าที่ บูชาสิ่งศักดิ์สิทธิ์ อะไรก็ตามแต่

โดยปกติเรามักเห็น จานพลาสติกสีชมพู มีข้าวใส่ถ้วยเล็ก กับข้าว ของหวาน
อาจจะมีผลไม้ และน้ำแดงใส่หลอดปักไว้ให้เจ้าใช่ไหมละ

โอ้…มีธูปด้วย 3 ดอกด้วยลืมไป ประมาณว่าจุดบอก มาทานอาหารด้วยนะเจ้า

ร้านป้าแกมาแปลก ไม่ยักกะเป็นแบบที่ใครๆ เขาทำกัน
ป้าแกเอาธูปปักบนมะลอกอลูกเบ้อเร่อ
ข้างๆ มีขวดยาคูลท์อยู่ด้วย แล้วก็เอาทั้งหมดวางบนหลังตู้ใส่มะละกอสับของแก

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

ว่าแต่…ถามแล้วเอาแต่ยิ้ม นี่ very thai ไหมนะ???

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Schvoong

**** (four stars)

7 Jul 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Street Smart Sukhumvit

**** (four stars)

7 Jul 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Thai360

any other good thai books?

 

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

 

Fidel 3094 posts

Posted 28 October 2006

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

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

A review from the net:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#3

Pailin on 10 July 2008

Re: Very Thai

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

 

#4

guava on 10 July 2008

ไอแอมฝาหรั่ง

Re: Very Thai

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

 

#5

yeows on 10 July 2008

Re: Very Thai

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

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Uniglobe Red Carpet Travel

Thailand Resources: Interesting Books: Culture

 

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

Very Thai: Everyday Thai Culture By Philip Cornwel-Smith

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

 

Posted in: Blog,

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

Jeffrey Miller

Books on Thailand — Very Thai

By Jeffrey Miller on July 16, 2006

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

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

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

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

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Unique Trails

Biking in Thailand: Further Reading

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

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

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

 

Posted in: Blog,

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

AFP (interview)

Thai water festival washes away political turmoil

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/thailandpolitics
BANGKOK (AFP) – A little more than a week ago, Bangkok was at a standstill caused by daily political rallies. But judging by the crowds snaking through the Thai capital during the Songkran water festival, nothing could now be further from most people’s minds.
Bangkok seems to have effortlessly shifted gear from the political protests that forced out Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra into celebratory mood, with tens of thousands of people armed with water pistols taking to the streets for this year’s festival.
Songkran, which commemorates the Buddhist New Year, is traditionally a time of renewal and involves pouring water over shrines and other people as a sign of cleansing.
But recently the festival has become a free-for-all water fight, when total strangers douse each other with water and spread white paste on their faces. For three days in Bangkok, people take to the streets armed with water pistols. (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #culture #international #interviews #newspaper #Thailand 

Conde Nast Traveller

Thai High

Bouncing back post-tsunami, Thailand is on a roll, with a booming economy, a flourishing arts scene, and an efficiently cosmopolitan capital. Giddy from cleaner air and new transport, Jamie James gets a contact high from Bangkok’s worldly buzz

By Jamie James

Thai High _ Condé Nast Traveler 1 Thai High _ Condé Nast Traveler 2

http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/detail?articleId=10233&pageNumber=1

Razzle-dazzle: At Sirocco, dine alfresco on the sixty-third floor of Bangkok’s second-tallest building, the State Tower, where Mediterranean cuisine and live jazz compete with glittering city views
Bangkok is one of the most heterogeneous, if not miscellaneous, cities in the world. Wandering down Sukhumvit Road, a main thoroughfare, in one block I passed a Kashmiri restaurant, a camping-gear shop, a diamond merchant, and a passel of friendly girls in red high heels in front of Pedro’s Bar before arriving at my destination, the California Wow Xperience, a popular exercise club. At the entrance, speakers aimed at the street keened and thudded with techno music. Directly underneath, two old women sat on camp stools, peddling lottery tickets and Buddhist amulets, while behind them a little girl sprawled on the sidewalk doing her English homework under a banner advertising a two-for-one membership promotion. (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #features #international #magazine #Thailand #tourism 

Mark Joachim

A Book Recommendation

13 Jan 2006

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

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

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

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

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

TAT Newsroom (Tourism Authority of Thailand)

Indie Bangkok

Books on Thai traditional arts and culture Thai fill the shop shelves, but the everyday aspects of modern Thai life that so beguile visitors go largely unsung and unexplained, until now.

1 Dec, 2005
www.tatnews.org

 

In the new book Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture, Philip Cornwel-Smith explores the pop things that people encounter in the street, in vehicles, in homes. He devotes whole chapters to such minutiae as buffalo cart furniture, auspiciously decorated trucks, and the Siamese delight in cute miniature objects.

These incidental things might not be the icons of high culture, but are every bit as authentic and immediately tell you you’re in Thailand. There is more to Thai pop than the tuk-tuk, though the book also reveals the unexpected origins of that symbolic vehicle. (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #e-magazine #features #reviews #Thailand #tourism #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 

Thai Day (feature)

The Man Who Knows Everything

by Nicholas Grossman

Thai Day VT intv rev 05-001 copy
VT Thai Day article 2856 crop

Thai Day was an English-language Thai newspaper

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #book #interviews #newspaper #reviews #Thailand 

‘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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Posted in: Blog, Events,

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

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 

Britain in Thailand

Visions of Thailand

British author Philip Cornwel-Smith talks to John Ramsay about his journey from Time Out London to Bangkok’s first city listings magazine and his new book Very Thai, an in-depth celebration of Thai popular culture.

By John Ramsay

VT intv Britain in Thailand VT intv Britain in Thailand2

Eleven years ago, on his way home to the UK, author Philip Cornwel-Smith landed in Thailand on a three-day stop-over little knowing it would change his life. In those three days he had an offer he couldn’t refuse: to become the founding editor of Metro, Bangkok’s first city listings magazine. He’s been here ever since.

“I’d previously worked on Time Out guidebooks in London,” he says. “And for a listings agency that supplied newspapers such as the Guardian, Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph.

“The Time Out London guide was the first publication I worked on, so things have come full circle, because I‘m now editing the Time Out Bangkok guidebook.” (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #magazine #reviews #Thailand 

Morning Talk

Magazine program on Thai Channel 11 TV

Interview with Philip Cornwel-Smith about Very Thai.

VT Morning Talk 001 copy

 

Posted in: Blog, Events,

Tags: #book #interviews #Thailand #TV 

Asia Books magazine

Literary events: Very Thai book launch

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

VT AsiaBks mag 05-02004

Posted in: Blog, Events, Reviews,

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

Travel Indochina

Recommended Reading

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

Jan 2005

 

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

 

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Tom Yum magazine

Review by Chris Otchy

“Aside from being a great read and entertaining conversation piece, Very Thai also goes great lengths to interpret the semiotics and symbols of modern times… It’s extremely hard to put back down.”

Tom Yum was an English-language Thai magazine

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #magazine #reviews #Thailand 

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 

City Life

Tom Yum! Hot Pot

Stirring Up Bangkok’s most flavourful
events/spots for January 2005

By Stirling Silliphant & Chris Otchy

VT City Life 05-0101a VT City Life 05-0101b

RIO GRANDE 
Brazilian madness erupts on Feb 26, when the Carnival from Rio de Janeiro pitches up at Shera1 Jan 2005
ton Grande Sukhumvit. Eat, drink, and be Latin with the self-professed “happiest Brazilian group in Asia!” After cocktails and a buffet dinner, samba dancers jiggle for the crowd, paying homage to four of the main Samba styles from Rio. A night of overindulgence in food and drunken gyrations to make the Romans proud…

Carnival from Rio de Janeiro Feb 26 at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, 6.30pm-1am. B2000/person. Contact Ana Lasavanich (09-812 0899, lasavanich@hotmail.com)

 (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #book #culture #Lanna #reviews #Thailand #tourism 

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 

Rough Guide to Thailand

Books: Culture & Society

By Lucy Ridout

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

Posted in: Blog, Reviews,

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

Bangkok Post (1st ed review)

It could only happen here

Real.Time Good Reads/Understanding Thailand

By Nick Grossman

Bk Post 1st ed rev DSC01369 crop
BK Post review DSC02973 crop

Thailand is full of unusual and mysterious sights, sounds and happenings, most of which we accept as the everyday glue of our lives. Want ice cream on a hot dog bun. Sure, why not? Make a right turn at that elephant. OK. Blind bands serenade the street; incongruous Greco-Roman balconies define the skyline; people stare into trees searching for lucky numbers. Has the novelty worn off?
Long-time expat Philip Cornwel-Smith has written a thrilling, trail-blazing book of cultural history that will help you see and understand Thailand afresh. In more than 60 essays complemented by over 250 colour photographs, Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture explicates the everyday mysteries and expressions of Thai culture. (more…)

Posted in: Reviews,

Tags: #newspaper #reviews #Thailand