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Tourists come to Bangkok for many reasons a night of love a stay in a luxury hotel or simply to disappear for a while Lawrence Osborne comes for the cheap dentistry and then stays when he finds he can live off just a fe. Borrowed this book from a friend while living in Bangkok This was my daily BTS read for a bit than a month It s hard for me to put into words what I liked and did not like about this book But lets try It s an interesting introduction to the fucked up lives of dirty farang foreigner in Thai expats living in Bangkok that seek to escape their past There are many of them here and I bet this is one of the the best books written about them I liked it enough to recommend it to anyone with an interest in Bangkok It s well written and as shown in other reviews here it has some beautiful prose here and thereI liked the somewhat cynical approach towards Thai culture and the colourful farang characters I identify with the writer s appreciation of chaotic Bangkok and the urge to follow random roads until they end on late hours It s a bit of a travel book in that regard Bangkok is filled with little secrets unexpected sights hidden in side soi s or sometimes just unnoticed in that street you walk through every day This book describes these sorts of places analysing and writing about them I do have some different world views than the writer and sometimes he seems a bit fatalistic It s hard to describe what exactly bothers me here but I suppose I m a bit idealistic At the same time though while he distinguishes himself from the dirty sexpats and from the Thais themselves be it yaba addicts in Klong Toey or hi so housewives in Thong Lor it s without pretension or arrogance I appreciate that

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Bangkok Days

Ook Bangkok Days explores both the little known extraordinary city and the lives of a handful of doomed ex patriates living there 'as vivid a set of liars and losers as was ever invented by Graham Greene' New York Times. I suppose Lawrence Osborne s memoir Bangkok Days 2009 isn t for everyone since the Bangkok it describes is that of single middle aged men running away hiding searching or just living out their last days in a vital and potentially decadent city Bangkok is where some go when they feel they no longer can be loved when they give up It is also a city that I have returned to many times over the years as I have used it as a base to travel to other countries Laos Cambodia Myanmar Vietnam attended conferences in or in Thailand Khon Kaen Chang Mai and have visited friends who briefly lived there One of the many characters Osborne meets makes an observation about the lack of cleanliness in Bangkok I have also hated clean cities Cities should be as dirty as possible Dirt is the sign that they are healthy Not trash that s something else We don t want pizza cartons and Big Mac wrappers everywhere That s obscene no I mean decayed fruit and swill and pig bones and spittle Bangkok was the first Asian city I visited outside of Japan and the first one that felt truly Asian to my imagination of what an Asian city would be like that had that lack of cleanliness and the old world decay that I saw in my mindMy stomping grounds are similar to Osborne s Sukhumvit and the many Sois of pleasure and commerce along that stretch of road The author first arrived as a medical tourist to get his teeth fixed but he found himself returning and spending long stretches of time in the city Osborne has a very fluid and informed style in which he makes astute observations about the people he meets Thailand However conversant in Thai culture he will never get close to the bottom of it Buddhism Bangkok life We respond with instinctive bitterness to this loss of visibility but we also recognize the first taste of our future extinction and we accept it and himself Do we head to places which we know will undo us take the long hand of our clock and bend it backward throughout the book I am a sucker for this kind of memoir since it is not only a personal memoir but a love letter to Bangkok and a kind of analysis of the type of people who find themselves living in the vibrant city I have been waiting to read this book after spying it in a book store in Bangkok thus another visit to Thailand this year has inspired me to finally read it It was exactly what I was looking for in order to bring the city alive before I actually go there

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W dollars a dayOsborne's Bangkok is a vibrant instinctual city full of contradictions He wanders the streets dining on insects trawling through forgotten neighbourhoods decayed temples and sleazy barsFar than a travel b. Readers of this book should take note of these words in chapter 4 memoirs are rarely empirical in nature They are statements of purpose descriptions of life as the writer WOULD LIKE IT TO BE His emphasis but the faultless memoir doesn t exist indeed it s a lame moralistic fantasy James Frey couldn t have put it better That Osborne isn t concerned with facts or accuracy shows in his writing The book is loaded with mistranslations transliteration errors inaccuracies and bald faced liesSome of the mistakes are minor and could be just typos The word for 51 is spelled haa sip ek when it should be haa sip et Rot din gern for traffic jam should be rot dit gern He says he was in room 7036 which would put him on the 70th floor of a hospital with only 12 floorsIf you re trying to impress your readers with your foreign language skills you should at least get the right wordHe says maeng da are insects The word he s looking for is malaeng A maeng da is a water beetleSacred tattoos are called roi sak in the book which just means tattoo Sacred tattoos are called sak yantaHe writes that Amarin means angel Wrong again It means the god IndraHe claims nobody knows the meaning of Kluay Nam Thai He guesses banana forest It s the name of a variety of bananaA couple of times he makes reference to the northern girls of Issan which makes about as much sense as saying the midwestern girls of New EnglandHe does include lots of interesting trivia thoughSukhumvit s the longest road in the worldBangkok s the hottest city in the world with average temps of 40 degrees celsiusThe British make up the largest group of foreigners in BangkokThe Thai national anthem was composed by the King The above trivia would be even interesting if any of it were true He tells us that guaytio nam is Thailand s national dish which you ll never find in a Thai restaurant Both the name and the dish itself are from China and it s sold in restaurants throughout the city Apparently Osborne forgot he d told us that he was being served guaytio in the no hands restaurantWhen I read the first chapter I thought the book showed promise I thought it would follow the struggles of a lonely farang on the down and out He certainly sounds like he s broke He has to make less than 500 baht last five days He s so desperate he steals money from a middle aged Japanese woman But after that nothing adds up He never mentions work but when he gets sick he goes to one of the most expensive hospitals in town This brings you to the most ridiculous chapter in the book Despite having a life threatening illness he goes downstairs to a bar and is served alcohol His roommate lights up a cigarette His friend suggests a trip to Nana Plaza which they make with their IVs still in their armsThis book makes The Hangover Part II look like a documentary


10 thoughts on “Bangkok Days

  1. says:

    God how to describe this book imagine if O'Rourke were British and little less concerned with sociology and politics and a little philosophical

  2. says:

    This is the second book I've read recently where one's impression may be swayed by gender Having never been a woman I'm not sure but I think that Osborne's descriptions of the largely male characters in his Bangk

  3. says:

    Borrowed this book from a friend while living in Bangkok This was my daily BTS read for a bit than a month It's hard for me to put into words what I liked and did not like about this book But lets try It's an interesting introduction to the fucked up lives of dirty farang 'foreigner' in Thai expats living in Bangkok that

  4. says:

    Readers of this book should take note of these words in chapter 4 memoirs are rarely empirical in nature They are statements of purpose descr

  5. says:

    I read this book concurrently with Farang by Iain Corness as a sort of antidote to that books vanilla contentThe author travelled to Thailand to get some cut price dentistry and discovered he could live in Bangkok for practically no money so he stayed Throughout the book he comes and goes from Thailand but it is

  6. says:

    A great book to read during a time when it's hard to travel Bangkok Days investigates various nooks and crannies of the Big Mango that while fascinating I don't particularly want to go to personally Osborne is “on the lam” in Bangkok a place he can live cheap he makes this discovery while visiting to have de

  7. says:

    I suppose Lawrence Osborne's memoir Bangkok Days 2009 isn't for everyone since the Bangkok it describes is that of single middle aged men running away hiding searching or just living out their last days in a vital and potentially decadent city Bangkok is where some go when they feel they no longer can be loved when they give up It is also a city that I have returned to many times over the years as I have used it as a base to tr

  8. says:

    No one is a victim in Osborne's Bangkok or perhaps everyone is This is especially true in his interpretation of the sex industry which dominates the majority of the book's focus There are no villains either and on at least 3 occasions the book aims to dispute Bangkok prostitution statistics gathered from the United Nations and other NGO's

  9. says:

    Lonely middle aged white man writes about lonely middle aged white men in Bangkok That's a real perspective and there's some good phrasing and a few fun stories but in the end it's too limited to be very interesting

  10. says:

    I visited Bangkok for the first time only weeks before reading this book and really enjoyed following the adventures of Lawrence Osbourne in a small underworld community of foreign transplants to Bangkok It's a travelogue and nothing too momentous happens but the sights sounds impressions are beautifully narrated I particu