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Book Discussion “Very Bangkok: In the City of the Senses” by Philip Cornwel-Smith

February 19 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

The much-anticipated follow-up to the bestseller “Very Thai” profiles the author’s adoptive hometown in an acutely comprehensive book about Bangkok. Launched on 1 February this year at BangkokEdge, “Very Bangkok: In the City of the Senses” by Phlip Cornwel-Smith will be discussed at SEA Junction on 19 February at 6PM.

The richly illustrated book explores the city from unexpected angles, to reveal its nature, and patterns behind the wild reputation. Throughout, it keeps in mind how Bangkokness differs from Thainess. Half the book uses 20 senses to cut across the standard ways of categorizing found in guides or conventional books. This novel approach reveals the impact of the city’s sounds, smells and heat, explore its way with space, balance, and movement. Instead of reviewing restaurants, the taste chapter teases out the flavor profile of Bangkok’s famous food. Rather than list transit links, it tracks how the city flows. Beliefs shape several senses like direction, time or color, while many residents engage with the Sixth Sense or even surrender their senses under trance. In refuge from all that stimuli, the Buddhist ideal is to quell the senses, while locals find relief in the bland, cool sameness of the mall. Now digital sensors are changing the nature of this organic city. 

The core of the book, Heart, delves into the communities, identities and mindsets of the Thai capital, and how it contrasts with upcountry views of the city. Several chapters enter the subcultures of informal markets, youth tribes and ethnic roots. We see how this cosmopolitan ’world city’ enables those who aren’t Thai to become Bangkokian.

Reflecting on what all this means, the Face section tackles the ways insiders and outsiders depict Bangkok. The author compares how the city promotes itself though tourism to its edited memory of the past. Meanwhile creatives and reporters portray it through news, media, the arts. The conclusion considers visions of the future and the city’s resilience in the face of climate change. In all these areas of formal and informal life, we see how Bangkokians navigate the tensions between creative chaos and dreams of order. 

This is also a book about cities. Very Bangkok considers digital new ways of mapping the city, and applies the latest ‘messy urban’ thinking to this fast-changing tropical metropolis.  

We will hear this and more from Philip Cornmel-Smith at SEA Junction’s book discussion. After his presentation of the book also through the photographs that enrich it, there will be time for a Q&A session about “Very Bangkok” and the city itself.

Limited copies will be available for purchase and the author will be glad to sign them for those who so wish.


NB: The documentary video of Philip Cornwel Smith on his previous book: Very Thai on Remarkable Encounters:


Book Info

Publication Year: March 2020

Publisher: River Books

336 Pages, 6.5 x 9.5 inches

ISBN-10: 974986350X


Author’s Bio

Philip Cornwel-Smith is author of the groundbreaking bestseller Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture, and writer-editor of Time Out Bangkok guidebook. Born in England and based in Bangkok since 1994, Philip also contributes to international publications, writes for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and was founding editor of Bangkok Metro Magazine. Philip is writing a book on contemporary Thai pop culture and has contributed to several other books and guides. He frequently speaks about Thailand in international and local interviews, conferences, universities and TV documentaries, including ABC’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’, Discovery Channel’s ‘Noodle Box: Bangkok’, and TV5’s ‘Ports d’Attache: Bangkok’, as well as the Grammy-nominated ‘1 Giant Leap’ video album.

book cover

For information/reservation for our events please email  southeastasiajunction@gmail.com or phone/wa +66970024140

NB: The event is free, but donations are most welcome!


SEA-Junction, Our Venue to Connect on Southeast Asia

SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions– from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium) SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see www.seajunction.org, join the Facebook group:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/1693058870976440/ and follow us on twitter and Instagram @seajunction


February 19
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


SEA Junction, Room 408, BACC
939 Rama 1 Rd, Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330 Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand
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