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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).
had realized it McGinnis had slipped away: I wouldn’t see him again for two years, and I understood that this was his way of operating, that he came and went according to moods of sadness, embarrassment, and regret. He was a strange man, and a fugitive one, like one of those lost uncles which every family has, a man who shows up for three days at Christmas to pull crackers and play the piano and never at any other time, whose life no one knows anything about and whose activities are always
must have been that.” “I am curious. Do you ever think about the war period? I never hear it mentioned. There are scores of big-budget historical movies about the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, blockbusters like Sukhothai, which Thais seem to love, and yet nothing about the Second World War. Is the sixteenth century really more interesting to the mass market than the last war?” “Less shameful, is the answer to that. The Second World War was an awkward period for Thailand.” He said that
light covered in “five Buddha” tattoos. At a clearing, a small mob of skeletons came pouring out of the trees, begging for money. They were unafraid of our whiteness, or of the authority of a priest. It was a bizarre ambush. There was nothing in their eyes; the motor reactions of their limbs were unhinged, so that they walked like epileptics. Their backs and chests were tattooed with “nine crowns” motifs, magic Buddhist talismans. It was obvious that Father Joe kept them alive in some sense; he
long time.” Billions and billions of years to come, he added. Buddhism had it about right. There are more fearsome things to worry about than copulation. • At Soi 7/1, otherwise known as Soi Eden, we had a drink at a place called the Star Inn, where there was now a “Bar 24 Hours Cigar Club.” The street itself was small and claustrophobic, its sooty black walls muddled with tarpaulins, sundry ladders, cracked AC units stacked up like egg boxes, rusted grilles, and ropes. In the thick heat of a
had he done to them? They had been catatonic with me. “Can almost see Wang Lang,” he said as we sat by the tiny shrine, which contained not an image of Buddha but a miniature chedi. “Those were the days.” “How is Cambodia?” I asked. “Bloody wonderful. I decided I’m gonna croak there. A wonderful place to croak. Won’t be long now, either.” Strange, those men one sees once every two years or so, to whom one is bound by intangible connections not forged out of everyday life. I never quite knew