Bangkok Days


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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 few dollars a day. Osborne'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 bars. Far more than a travel book, 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


"Wickedly enjoyable." - Joshua Hammer, The New York Times Book Review

"Bangkok is the sponge that absorbs 'those who have lapsed into dilettantism,' writes Osborne (The Accidental Connoisseur) in recounting his time in the fabled city of recreational sex and Buddhism. As he encounters characters questing for sensation and knowledge, he muses on how easy it is for Westerners to remake themselves in the East-much as the 19th-century English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens did when she tutored the royal children of Siam and fashioned herself into a mythologized literary figure. As he discovers in an encounter with a Catholic missionary, it is the ideal place to lose the burdensome grip of the "self." In Osborne's narrative, Bangkok serves as an existential crossroads for a cast of British, Australian and Spanish expatriates who are haphazardly searching for and running away from responsibilities; in the labyrinthine city, these tourists have established a playground for adult pleasure. As their documentarian, Osborne is at once incisive and romantic. He creates a character-driven travelogue that reveals but does not exploit the salacious subtext of Bangkok nightlife. It is a journey flush with atmosphere but tempered with a subtext of lonely Western wonder." - Publishers Weekly

"This book should rightly have been called 'Bangkok Nights,' for Osborne (The Naked Tourist) provides a raunchy account of the nightlife and bars and bargirls of Thailand's capital. In particular, he delves into the lives of a motley band of aging, libertine Westerners (Farangs) living in his apartment complex and explores the city in their company. Their tragicomic lives are compelling, and Osborne provides some extraordinary anecdotes. For instance, when an illness takes the author to the Bumrungad Hospital, he finds that it is more like a five-star hotel than a hospital. Despite being confined, the author and a companion manage a visit to a girly bar with two IV drips in tow. What lifts this book beyond mere sleaziness is Osborne's prose. He uses language with great skill, and the sounds and smells of Bangkok are wonderfully evoked. Osborne's writing conveys a genuine love for the city and an appreciation of its ethos of easygoing tolerance. Recommended." - Library Journal

"In Bangkok Days: A Sojourn in the Capital of Pleasure, Osborne revels in the intersection of the sacred and the profane . . . Bangkok Days is a refreshing diversion from the common portrait of the city's licentious reputation. From the Muslim neighborhood surrounding the Haroon Mosque to the ancient Buddhist Loha Prasat temple, Osborne finds beauty in all corners of the city. Meanwhile, his cultural exploration is sprinkled with information about the city's historic past. Osborne is at once sincere with his audience but occasionally deceitful with those he interacts with in the book. It's a commanding combination, one that lures readers to follow him around every twist and turn of Bangkok's back alleys." - Lily-Hayes Kaufman,

"Thailand inspires such enthralled romanticism that it also invites great cynicism and it is a feat to acknowledge all its complexities and graces, as Osborne does, without ever quite surrendering to them" - Pico Iyer, Los Angeles Times

"He is a first-rate observer and analyst... Any Westerner curious to take a decadent Oriental trip with a writer you can trust to keep you turning the pages should pick up a copy"- New York Times

"He vividly sketches the characters he meets: a man with a degree in air-conditioning, one with an air of "upper-class twittery"... Osborne's travelogue is, however, memorably touching" - Anita Sethi, Independent on Sunday

"With a brief stint as a gigolo, insights into the Buddhist interpretation of transgender 'kathoeys', and several friendships with various wayward desolates, Osborne maintains a lively note to proceedings throughout... this book has an underlying sense of warmth and genuine fondness for its subject matter" - Real Travel Magazine

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