Bangkok Days summary ´ 8

Lawrence Osborne ☆ 8 summary

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. 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 No opposing numbers are provided rather the reader is to take the word of Osborne and a group of desperate losers in self imposed exile He tries so hard to empathize these men So much time is spent rationalizing their behavior playing up their weaknesses and insisting that the relationship between the sex tourists and the sex worker is one of mutual predation Osborne glosses over if not totally ignores the darker facets of this industry like sex slavery unwanted pregnancies unsafe abortions sexually transmitted diseases or the rampant poverty that might drive these men and women to sell themselves This tendency to gloss over extends into other aspects of the book as Osborne rushes past opportunities for deeper reflection and chances to build a stronger narrative The one consistent female character Kitty is only mentioned in passing but often enough to make her role in Osborne s life seem significant But the reader is never given any further information about their relationship or if she means anything to him Big political events are hastily summarized like the coup in 2006 which receives a paragraph before rolling back into another chapter of walking around aimlessly and going to go go bars There is a scene where Osborne is watching a large group of citizens gather for a political rally and he notices their signs are in English He does a fine job in this moment of conveying its implications I wanted him to stay in that moment What I got instead were 200 pages of middle aged White men tramping around South East Asia This would have been fine if Osborne didn t seem so capable of I wanted him to spend time using these personal experiences to speak about the culture My favorite parts of the book are the digressions when Osborne abandons the narrative about his time slumming in Bangkok and reflects on the nation s identity its history In these passages his knowledge conveys a true love for the country represented in the text He does a great job of this in the chapters The Blue God Ladies of Kuching and In Search of Another Past Osborne s priorities seem to be sex and brevity The book has a uick pacing but it is uneven There are often scenes when he rushes the action and things get confusing due to the lack of directional prose Also in Osborne s attempt to give the narrative a greater sense of of urgency he often leaves out much needed dialogue tags When three male characters are having a conversation and two of them sound identical to nearly every other auxiliary male character spewing cynical expatriate bullshit one cannot afford to remove dialogue tags I had trouble finding distinction between voices with the exception of Father Joe and Sister Joan a priest and a nun working and living in a slum in Klong Tuey once again Osborne misses an opportunity to say about the dichotomy between Bangkok s extreme poverty and a widely expanding middle class limiting what he sees and experiences in Klong Tuey to a single chapter and never referencing it again I know things may be based on real people and true events but I couldn t help wishing Osborne had consolidated some of these characters Thankfully one of them Farlo has an accent Osborne employs dialect whenever he speaksAlso there are a significant number of clich s and sloppy metaphors that only make things harder to understand There is a scene where he describes a friend s eyes as being like a goat What does that mean And this on page 204 a man with burnished skin the color and texture of a primate s fingers Do primates all have the same color fingers and how many people know what a primate s fingers feel likeBangkok Days feels rushed The GoodOne of the greatest aspects of this story is its lack of presumption Osborne never claims to be an authority on Bangkok which he implicitly states in the Author s Note His open mindedness is admirable and his gaze is compassionate He allows others to make the provocative assertions about Thai culture Osborne s obvious intelligence is another appeal to the book his seemingly vast knowledge ofeverything The text is made richer by his references to art music and contemporary and classical literature from all over the globe It is redeemed by the way Osborne uses words from those like Rumi and Hemingway to illuminate his own pontifications on one of the world s most complex cities Despite its shortcomings the book served me well helping me learn some useful Thai phrases and providing a list of cool sites around Bangkok like the Erawan Shrine the Forensics Museum and Loha Prasat

review Bangkok Days

Bangkok Days

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

summary ☆ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ☆ Lawrence Osborne

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


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 and you can begin to imagine Lawrence Osborne First off a caveat this book which was just published this year is marketed almost as some sort of expose on the steamy sordid underworld of Bangkok As the subtitle says A Sojourn in the Capital of Pleasure which resides

  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

  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

  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 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 w

  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 practi

  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 dental work done“The days were empty by design I didn’t have a job; I was on the lam as old Ameri

  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 ba

  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 in

  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 narra

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