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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid


The subtitle for Thainess (ISBN 978-974-376-688-6, Unseen Planet, 2008) is “Live and Learn the Thai Way of Life” and is edited by Bob Tremayne with a large number of Thai writers and additional input, I presume, from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which is included in the list of credits.
The cover photograph of the young farang girl, tentatively patting an elephant, is a great start - as where in the west can you pat an elephant any day of the week? Good choice, Bob Tremayne!
The book begins with an overview of Thailand, covering (briefly) Thai people, Thai language, eating customs, religion, climate and attire and Thai traditional houses (wooden, not the concrete architectural period of today). The overview is then followed by a couple of pages of Thai phrases covering shopping and getting a lower price (“lot noi dai mai?”), eating, getting around and numbers 1-10 (though with the ubiquitous electronic calculator, knowing the numbers is not so important these days, is it?
The book is divided into four regions (North, North-East, Central and South). At the start of each region, there are a couple of pages describing features and attractions of the area, followed by some of the resorts in the area. With each resort comes a summary of places to visit around the resort, including, for example, making Sa Paper, blacksmith’s shops, massage and Lanna cuisine cooking classes out from the Kaomai Lanna Resort. The resort contact details are also given, so hopefully they will get some response from the readers.
The book also shows through the diverse nature of the resorts featured that there are some surprising places, even in Bangkok, with Baan Pra Nond off South Sathorn Road, in what was once the residence of a Supreme Court judge. The resort offers the guest a glimpse of Thai traditional life incorporating food and massage including the Thai herbal compress ball.
At B. 350 on the Bookazine shelves, this book is a bargain. It is a good book to send overseas for Xmas, and since it is a weighty tome, the time to send it is now, by standard mail. With 30 resorts from all over Thailand, and plenty of photographs, it is a most pleasant book, despite the obvious ‘commercial’ element which would have been necessary to be able to retail this book at the price. It is far better than just a string of resort PR handouts, as I had originally feared, but it does assist the newcomer or tourist “Live and Learn the Thai Way of Life”. My one big gripe with this book is the captions along with the photographs. Very faint print and the smallest possible font size. You need good light, or a magnifying glass if you are over 45 years of age. The typeface used elsewhere in the book is fine. Only the photo captions.
Despite my gripe, this book is well worth looking at, and is way underpriced. Get one for your overseas friends.