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What books would you recommend for a trip to Thailand?

Posted by MikeSanto on 19/1/2014 at 02:23

It should be a good book, preferably easy to read and interesting, somehow related to thai culture, history or people. Fiction or documentary doesnt play a beeg role. I am looking for something that can put you in a right mood to feel this country better, to understand it deeper. I hate mindless sightseeng and photofetishism.
Thanks in advance to you, devoted readers of this forum!

#1 MikeSanto has been a member since 19/1/2014. Posts: 5

Posted by caseyprich on 19/1/2014 at 19:45

A book that explores some interesting aspects of Thai culture through a Science-Fiction frame is called The Windup Girl. You could call it biopunk distopia, but as someone with a little knowledge of SE & East Asian culture I found the framing excellent.

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Posted by DLuek on 19/1/2014 at 21:03 TF writer

For a more historical slant, I really liked The Buddha in the Jungle by Kamala Tiyavanich. She's a Thai academic who went to Columbia University but the book isn't dry or boring. It comprises mostly of accounts written by a whole bunch of different 18th and 19th Westerners who were traveling and living in Thailand at the time, plus the author's commentary that puts those accounts into perspective. Gives you a real accurate feel for the wild place that Thailand used to be, and also highlights a bunch of historical sites that can still be visited. Definitely a good start for understanding what's behind the traditional culture.

Another good Thai writer who works in English is Pira Sudham. He's from Isaan (northeastern Thailand - the poorest region) but trained in London, and most of his books relate to life among people from Isaan in the late 20th century. His books are simply written novels that rely on real events and characters usually based on real people, and his tone is very honest and touching. People of Esarn is a good one to start with, but he's written at least seven or eight books in total.

#3 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,220
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Posted by gregmccann1 on 19/1/2014 at 21:30

Impressions of the Siamese-Malayan Jungle by Hans Morgenthaler (set in Nakhon Si Thammarat in the 1920s).

Tracks of an Intruder by Gordon Young (set in the mountains north of Chiang Mai in the 1950s)

Chasing the Dragon's Tail: the struggle to save Thailand's wild cats by Alan Rabinowitz (1980s in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary).

All are non-fiction.

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Posted by lanathai on 20/1/2014 at 07:21 TF writer

I agree with the above recommendation of the Windup Girl -- fantastic dystopian story about post-apolcalyptic Bangkok (might be better to read after visiting Bangkok, you'll better appreciate it perhaps) -- loved this book!

Touch the Dragon by Karen Connelly - memoir of a girl's year-long stay in Northern Thailand

In Grandmother's House: Thai Folklore, Traditions, and Rural Village Life by Sorasing Kaowai

Borderlines: A Journey in Thailand and Burma by Charles Nicholl -- madcap & crazy, great travel adventure

Phra Farang and One Step at a Time by Phra Peter Pannapadipo (who has now disrobed and runs the SET Foundation charity as Peter Robinson) -- a look into the life of a monk

Welcome to the Bangkok Slaughterhouse: The Battle for Human Dignity in Bangkok's Bleakest Slums - by Father Joe Maier -- some eye-opening, tragic stories about the dwellers of Bangkok's slums

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Posted by MikeSanto on 20/1/2014 at 22:58

Thanks guys!
Since I am a huge postapoclyptic-fiction fan, The Windup Girl will be my next must read. Thnaks Casey for reccomendation.
As for the non-fiction, I think I will stick to The Buddha in the Jungle for now. The description just grab me, thanks DLuek!
Thank you all once again, I'll be looking forward for more recomendations from you!

#6 MikeSanto has been a member since 19/1/2014. Posts: 5

Posted by gregmccann1 on 20/1/2014 at 23:14

Brand new: Thai Stick: surfers, scammers, and the untold story of the marijuana trade. It covers a lot more than Thailand, but man is it a brilliant, smooth, wicked read.

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Posted by esseestpercipi on 9/3/2014 at 06:36

I recently read "The backpacker" by John Harris. An easy to read (and incredeibly true story) travel adventure about a backpacker that finds himself pursued by Thai Mafia. Lots of fun!

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