Reflections on The
By Alex Kerr
Long-term Thailand expats are not
rare birds. The flock contains many nationalities who have nested in Thailand
since the end of World War II and the large numbers currently living here
started no more than 25 years ago. But only a handful of expat writers have
managed to capture the Ďspirití of expat experience, the history and culture of
Thailand, and context of expat life. Alex Kerr because he has taken the time to
make friends with Thais and learn the language, has written a fine book that
describes and discusses the relationship between the native Thais and the expats
quite unlike any other book you will read. Alex Kerrís Bangkok Found Reflections
on The City has written a beautifully illustrated and rare book. One that fills
a gap in the expat literature.
Bangkok Found is filled with
a luminous insight and intelligence by an expat whose Asian experience began in
Japan at age twelve when his father, a naval officer, was sent to that country.
Alex speaks fluent Japanese,
Chinese and Thai, and what makes Bangkok Found one of the best books you
will read about an expatís life in Asia in general, and Thailand in particular,
is that his cross-cultural and linguistic training has equipped him with an
ability to see, record, evaluate an explain aspects of Thai life that escapes
most expats who have written about Thailand. Kerr is also a first class observer
of people, language and culture.
Kerr has befriended many Thais
during his thirty-years since first coming to Thailand, and his Thai friends
like Ping who took him to the old capital of Ayutthaya gave him an early
grounding into the Thai society. He also made friends among members of the
colourful expat community that he has met over the years. His chapter on Thai
Expat Society charts their work and lives as writers, restaurant owners,
collectors, philanderers, and businessmen. Their intermarriage and the luk
khrueng children are part of their legacy. Foreigners are painted against the
larger canvas of Thai political, social and economic life. Kerr places the
expats into historical and contemporary context. So long as barbarian Westerners
donít rock the boat, they can stay on board. The cross-cultural references to
Japan make Bangkok Found an original and highly engaging read, and
answers the basic question as to why large numbers of Westerners voluntary chose
to live long-term in Thailand as opposed to Japan.
If in 2010 you buy only one
book about the connection of the Westerner to Thailand, Iíd highly recommend
that you buy Bangkok Found. It is truly a gem.