Reading “Bangkok Days” whilst on holiday in Bangkok was a wonderful, border-line surreal experience, since it made me simultaneously embarrassed at how little I know the city, whilst also inspiring me to try and follow in Mr. Osborne’s steps.
Not with the drinking nor the dentistry (the original reason the author landed up in Bangkok) but for the long wanders through the city, leisurely exploring. Not the well known palaces and Wats, but everyday neighbourhoods.
This wonderful memoir was published in 2009, and although much of the city must have changed in the intervening decade, there is a timelessness to Mr. Osborne’s portrayal of a city that clearly fascinates him.
He explores Bangkok, usually on foot, and usually at night, seeing beauty in the ordinary, and finding stories in the most mundane of places:
“I preferred nights there…I grew to like the atmosphere of stale basil & exhausted marijuana which Bangkok seems to breathe out of invisible nostrils…”
The author wanders the streets, and drinks in bars, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of fellow ex-pats. He explores the city with friends, men who have washed up in Thailand and then stay on, working, pretending to work, or simply just living there. It is a raffish, down-at-heel crowd, but seen through Mr. Osborne’s generous eye, there is genuine affection in his portrayal of these often lonely, often eccentric men.
Mr. Osborne clearly loves Bangkok, warts and all, and it is a tribute to his writing that I caught myself Googling places he mentions, planning to go and see for myself how the city has fared in the last 10 years or so.
I’m inspired, truly.
A wonderful book.
A wonderful tribute to a fascinating city.
Recommended, whether you know Bangkok well, or not at all.
Here’s a link to buy the book.
You’re very welcome.