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Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture
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Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  127 ratings  ·  18 reviews
This pioneering insight into contemporary Thai folk culture delves beyond the traditional Thai icons to reveal the casual, everyday expressions of Thainess that sodelight and puzzle. From floral truck bolts and taxi altars to buffalo cart furniture and drinks in a bags, the same exquisite care, craft and improvisation resounds through home and street, bar and wardrobe. Nev ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published by River Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  127 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Quite simply the best book you'll ever read about Thailand. It clears up the mystery surrounding almost every quirk of Thai contemporary culture - why are the napkins always pink, the water pipes blue and why yellow is always worn on Mondays. And explains the main complicated superstitions and beliefs from spirit houses to amulets. There's also the quirks that ex-pats come to love - motorbike taxis and drinks in bags. All with lush brightly coloured photography. You can live in Thailand for year ...more
Patrick McCoy
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Thailand is a country that is very dear to my heart, since it is the second Asian country that I visited (and have returned to many times) since adopting Japan as my second home (and has served as a contrasting mirror from which to understand Japanese culture). Phillip Cornwel-Smith's book Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture (2005) is a great resource in which to understand Thai culture. The book also acts as a coffee table book with lively colorful pictures from Cornwel-Smith and main photograp ...more
A far cry from most travel books' "formal" culture debriefing, this book will show you what you will likely actually see and do in Thailand - through the pop and street culture. It had me ahh-ing in understanding at times and giggling madly at others (especially the section on those ridiculously flimsy tissue napkins that we Westerners seem to need 10 of to wipe the green curry off our faces...)
Oct 14, 2009 rated it liked it

A great post-trip read, this one explains a number of interesting cultural things we observed.
Alien B
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia
Living in Thailand for about 6 months before coming across this book in a coffee shop in Pai, I found it very informative and entertaining. All those little things that you notice in Thai culture and quickly explained - the wooden penis charms that one comes across casually in coffee shops and gift shops, the crazy electrical wires (once considered a sign of modernity and put on full display), magic tattoos. Not a deep dive into Thai culture, but a pretty colorful and broad sweep through every d ...more
Jimmy Jonecrantz
I've been reading this chapter by chapter for quite some time. It's great for learning more about Thai culture as well as being able to spot new things while living there. The chapters aren't always that fun to read and I often miss the Thai spelling of the words he uses. Still, i feel like the book is a must for people genuinely interested in Thailand and Thai culture.
May 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Some parts are interesting, some parts are boring.
Alina Ramona
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
how life is in Thailand.. from food, party..people.. just have a taste
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a Thai, I must say that this is spot-on. It will be good for both first timers who just come here or expats who also find some perplexity in our culture.
Nov 25, 2019 added it
Shelves: year-2019, dnf
Gorgeous book and photos. I assume good content too but the font is just too thin and small for my old-lady eyes. So I gave up at the preface.
Rebecca Saunders
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I first saw this book I knew I needed to have it. It is such a perfect portrait of the real culture of Thailand - beyond the temples and tourist traps. The little pink napkins, cha yen in plastic bags, and motorbike taxis - these are the things you'll experience on a day-to-day basis in Thailand that won't necessarily make it into travel guides. For me it is the perfect reminder of the time I had there.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
We are planning a trip to Thailand and this book seemed like a good way to learn some useful things before we go. It is usually the popular culture in non-Western countries that is most puzzling when you visit, and this book seems to cover most aspects of Thai everyday life and ways. It is too bulky to take with us, but has beautiful full-color pictures, and I have the feeling will be a good reference source and souvenir when we return.
Jason Sikora
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Thailand
A fantastic and original look into the real and current culture of a wonderful country. This is not your average look at traditional Thai culture, but rather a series of top-notch articles looking at the many curious aspects of Thailand one notices while there. It really answers the questions many visitors have.

It makes for a very enjoyable read.
Somporn Karam
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It kind of Postmodern guide book that you should read before making your journey to Thailand! It's about everyday Thai pop and streetlife stories with the fresh perspective. This book is now fully updated and expanded into a new 2nd Edition.
Johan De Herdt
Sep 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Read it during my first months in Bangkok. It clarified a lot.
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book on Thai pop culture ever. Ever.
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing book about Thai street and pop culture. Worth every penny.
Sarah Hughes
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
you absolutely must have this book if you're ever planning to visit Thailand
Maggie Hos-McGrane
rated it really liked it
Jun 08, 2012
Bec Sharkey
rated it it was amazing
Jul 14, 2014
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Dec 20, 2012
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Aug 05, 2014
Monthol Kumkaew
rated it it was ok
Sep 23, 2018
Bob Evans
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Feb 10, 2015
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