Item description for Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith...
This insight into contemporary Thai culture delves beyond the traditional Thai icons to reveal the casual, everyday expressions of what it is to be Thai that so delight and puzzle outsiders. Never colonised, Thai culture retains ancient meaning in the most mundane things - over 200 colour images.
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Studio: River Books Press Dist A/C
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.61" Width: 6.85" Height: 0.87" Weight: 1.85 lbs.
Release Date Aug 4, 2006
Publisher River Books Press Dist A/C
ISBN 9749863003 ISBN13 9789749863008
Reviews - What do customers think about Very Thai?
Book Review Jul 20, 2007
great value, an asset for the home or the classroom as it shows daily living with the ordinary and the spectacular
I learned more about what I see around me almost everyday Apr 28, 2007
I have been living and working in Bangkok for nearly three years.
I bought the Very Thai book 6 months ago and was amazed and delighted to find clear and helpful explanations for the sights and sounds I encounter almost every day. What a great book! I helped me to gain a greater appreciation for Thai culture and in particular for the Thai people. The better understanding of Thai culture and people added new enjoyment to my life in Thailand.
I now recommed the book to all my family and friends who plan to visit Thailand in the hope that it will make their visit more interesting and enjoyable. It has worked so far for my American visiors.
What a super book! Feb 8, 2007
This book contains many explanations of the apparent vagaries of Thai pop culture, and is profusely illustrated with superb photographs. I have been living here for 7-8 years and have grown accustomed to a lot of this -- and I find a lot of it delightful.
For example, when I moved back to Thailand in 2002 ("Bye Bye Internet Bubble!") I was intrigued to find out that the room out in front of my house was being used as a make-up central and staging ground for Thai ladyboys who were going off to compete in beauty contests! Sometimes the "utterly bizarre" occurred -- a friend or a sister would appear with an urgent problem, and this teenage Thai boy would rush outside to consult, wearing nothing but his underwear and a fully-made up Thai female head!
What may take the cake, for some lingering Puritans, is that some of these "lady-boy beauty contests" took place at temple fairs. In the grounds of Buddhist temples.
Well, when the good folks in Austin, Texas begin holding such beauty contests for the Church Fair, I guess we will have reached some sort of parity! Right now it seems a little hard to imagine. (I don't think the Pope would like it, either. :-) )
But I digress...or do I? One of the salient facts about Thailand is that it seems to be a country which is entirely free of homophobia, at least among Thai families. The Chinese-Thai are a different story. But in Thailand, and in Burma, there is just NOTHING in the culture which is homophobic. I learn from the book under review that the monk celebrated for sculpting phallic amulets (!) recommended carrying the amulet in the right pocket when going to visit a female, and in the left pocket when going to visit a male. (I may have reported that backwards, sorry!)
But other piercing questions are answered: why are those little tiny napkins in restaurants -- why are they so tiny, and why are they always pink? You''ll have to read the book to find out!
Basically, the book is just a feast for people who love Thailand. Lots of details on the Big Bird (Garuda) -- wingspan 12,800 kilometers! Lots of details about Thai hawker food, pop stars, the high-society crowd, and all the other Thai people who make this country such a fascinating place!