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Talking Thailand: Very Bangkok: In the City of Sense

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Philip Cornwel-Smith, author of 'Very Thai' speaks on his new book, 'Very Bangkok'.


The worlds most visited city finally gets the dynamic portrait it deserves. Vividly
photographed by the author, Very Bangkok explores its kaleidoscopic facets, from street
to chic, folk to pop, and ancient rights to sci-fi.

Experience Thailand’s enigmatic capital through each sense. Go beyond the taste of its
famous food to the sound of the city, the scent of the night, or the trance of a tattoo
shamen. Discover how beliefs shape the Thai sense of direction, time or colour.
The heart of the book navigates the tensions between creative chaos and dreams of
order. Enter the subcultures of organic markets, youth tribes and ethnic roots. Find the
patterns behind the wild reputation and see how the city portrays itself, through media,
the arts and the Bangkok noir.

This is also a book about cities, which applies the latest “messy urban“ thinking to this
fast changing tropical metropolis.


“Very Bangkok has the answers to the paradoxes we wondered about, or hadn’t looked
at closely enough to even wonder about. With its thorough coverage of every aspect of
Bangkok life, its wealth of detail and breadth of thought, this book on Bangkok will not be
equalled for years to come”. Alex Kerr, author of Lost Japan and Bangkok Found

“Philip Cornwel Smith’s much adored Very Thai captured the essence of contemporary
‘Thainess’ with a profound depth and uncanny authenticity few books could match,
whether by a Thai or a foreigner. Now his Very Bangkok does the same with an even
more adventurous search for the true identity of this complex, unique and notorious
capital. I am a Bangkok-born Thai, and live here, yet I’m sure Philip knows much more
about it than me.” Prabda Yom, film director & SEA Write prize-winning author

“A brilliant and polychromatic look at Bangkok done in a way that no other writer has
attempted. Philip Cornwel- Smith turns Bangkok into a vast tapestry of meditations on
the nature of cities… Combining whimsy, erudition, and a sense of precision of
language. Since publishing Very Thai, Cornwel-Smith has become the cities pre-eminent
mythographer in the English language. The city is re-seen, reimagined as a vast
complex of signs which requires the informal encyclopaedia which he has written. This
makes for many a surprise. What one feels unconsciously, he puts into a fine and
sensual prose that provides to the reader a little “discovery”. Lawrence Osborne, author of Bangkok Days and The Forgiven.