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Book Review

Book Review: by Ann Nongsue

Farang - Thailand through the eyes of an ex-pat

You may have noticed that there has been a bit of press lately about a new book. There is good reason for this, as not only is Farang, Thailand through the eyes of an ex-pat (ISBN 978-1-905379-42-2, Maverick House 2007) a good read, it is the first tome by our very own Dr. Iain Corness.
Dr. Corness first visited Thailand in 1975, and after facing some health concerns he fulfilled a longtime dream by relocating to Thailand in 1997. His background as a motor racer, photographer, writer, former Thai restaurant owner and doctor who has practiced medicine and plied his trades from UK to Australia and beyond qualifies him as somewhat of an expat expert, but it is his unique way of looking at things, and his ability to put that view to paper, which makes this collection of short stories such a pleasure to read.
People who have never been to Thailand might find themselves shaking their heads at the possibility of being run over by a shop, or finding a cobra in the kitchen cupboard, raised up with hood spread. People who have visited and or lived in Thailand for any length of time will no doubt find themselves nodding in agreement, having seen with their own eyes such things as five people on a motorcycle, or the “carnage” that the once delightful Songkran holiday has become. However, even if you have lived here a while, there are still bound to be things in this book that you haven’t experienced (for me it was Likay theater), so, like every good writer, Dr. Corness informs as well as entertains.
The relatively short chapters, most 4 to 5 pages each, keeps the book moving at a fast pace, encouraging the reader to find out what whacky situation the good doctor has found himself in next. Each chapter is filled with information and humor (or humour for those from the right hand side of the Atlantic), and each presents a unique look at the way things are done here. “The meal is consumed sitting on a mat on the floor. Sitting at a table takes away half the flavour it seems!” Or, “Sick buffaloes are an industry leader all on their own. Ask any lady from the bar.”
Mingled in amongst the many “a day in the life” humorous chapters, Dr Corness also provides useful information and advice. He covers such things as how to get married, visa applications to Australia and UK, and medical tourism. By providing his experiences he may just save some time and hassle for others preparing for similar endeavors.
The best way to summarize this book is by using Dr Corness’s own words, written at the beginning of the chapter On Being Run Over By a Shop, “After a while of living in this country, you start to take Thai life for granted. That which once drew inward gasps of breath no longer quickens the pulse, and items that we would initially and incredulously point out are now commonplace. But we should not lose sight of these items. They are part of what makes this country so magical.” Well put.
At an RRP of 495 baht, this book should be required reading for anyone thinking of visiting or relocating here, and it offers many chuckles, and some outright guffaws, for anyone who has been here, done that.