This is a Book Review!
Bangkok Inside Out was co-authored by Daniel Ziv (a seasoned peripathic) and Guy Sharett who has managed to sit still long enough to put down some roots in Bangkok. It was released in 2005 (Equinox Publishing, ISBN 979-97964-6-6) and is printed in Thailand.
It is a collection of illustrated essays, arranged alphabetically like a guide book, and that is about as close as it gets to the usual tourist oriented guide to Bangkok. The authors state in their Introduction and Rules of Engagement that “This book isn’t really a guide to Bangkok. There’s no map in here or sections on where to stay and how to get around. Instead, it’s a street level snapshot of a twenty-first century South-east Asian city bursting at the seams. Our approach is raw and cheeky and irreverent at times, but we think of it at as honest and real.”
The bulk of photography in the book is through the lens of Croatian Sasa Kralj who manages to impart the urgency that is a part of Bangkok. A still photography ‘cinema verite’ that I found particulary appealing. The Contents include such subjects that do make up Thailand and Bangkok, but ignored by the mainstream guidebooks. Comics, Fakes, Fortune tellers, Gambling, Hi So/Lo So, Krating Daeng (Red Bull), Motosai, Pollution, 7-Eleven, Soi dogs and even Yaa Baa are featured.
At the back of the book there is an amusing episode called My Grace Hotel Weekend, and whilst it is a humorous interlude, I would have preferred more subjects being dealt with by the authors. Mind you, it is difficult to imagine just what subjects were not covered by the energic pair of writers!
This is probably the most authentic Bangkok book that you will see on the shelves. It is a paperback you can send overseas that will try and explain just why we all live here. The madness, mayhem and melee that makes up Bangkok today. For those who can remember Bangkok 30 years ago, they can see what happened in the three decades – the music might be ended but the malady lingers on, brilliantly caught by these two young writers. The book is truly a snapshot of Bangkok, a slice of time, and I know of no better book to give to disbeliving friends who think that your tales of life in the capital are all anecdotal fairy tales. You can now reply, “You see, it’s all true, page 53 even describes Bangkok as a real-life movie set, and I am a bit-layer (along with eight million others)!”