Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mindfulness and Murder (ศพไม่เงียบ)

This Thai movie is bound to be the talk of the town. Seeing the trailer, I can say that the director – Tom Waller – is courageous to touch on this area of Thai society. Some aspects of this movie are going to irk a few people in Thailand. The movie is fictional yet it contains some uncomfortable truths. I don’t think the film-maker set out to attack the religious establishment. There is no denying that some incidents portrayed in this movie actually happened when some dodgy and nefarious characters used religion as their safe haven in carrying out their sinful activities. Watching this movie might galvanise Thai people into looking critically at their religious beliefs and taking a practical approach to prevent people from hiding their immoral deeds under a veneer of religious asceticism.

2 Comments

Filed under Film

Schoolies on steroids?

This is not exactly my idea of having a good time, though I find the way these revellers choose to enjoy their lives quite amusing and interesting. As long as these party goers just enjoy themselves without causing trouble to anybody, Thai people are not going to be bothered by this party madness. This is Thailand after all. Everybody can always find an excuse to have fun. We live in the same beautiful world. Welcome to the full moon party in the land of smiles. Just get totally smashed!

Leave a comment

Filed under Thailand, Travel

Thongchai Winichakul and his “Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation”

After finishing his Master’s degree from Thammasat University, Thongchai Winichakul received an educational grant to go to study at Sydney University. From the beginning, due to his mediocrity in the language, he found it rather difficult to read English. He very often needed to resort to using a dictionary while reading English text books. He felt disheartened but even so, in comparison with writing his doctoral dissertation, this was inconsequential.

He had come up with quite a few ideas for his doctoral dissertation although they were rejected. Those ideas were unoriginal having been already thought up by other Thai scholars. It is said that during that time, while trying to come up with an innovative subject, he could not do anything for months. He spent his quotidian student life in Australia watching cricket – which is the most unimaginative, boring sport anyone can think of. It was his breakdown point. Then, one day the idea finally materialised.

Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation was the dissertation. The essence of this academic work deals with the idea of how the country was formed. In truth, the definition of the Thai state originated from the western knowledge of cartography when Thais started learning how to make a map.

This cartographic literacy brought about the demarcation of Thailand’s territory – something which would not have ensued without an understanding of the system of map-making.

This was a breakthrough. Siam Mapped was published. The book is his first and most well-known work. Subsequently, he was invited to teach at University of Wisconsin where he has been working since.

2 Comments

Filed under Book, Thailand

Two books that I must get my hands on this year

The first one is, without question, “1Q84” by my beloved Murakami, which is scheduled to be published in October. Previously it was supposed to be out in September. For some reason the date was moved.  I was slightly annoyed by the new release date but as a Murakami aficionado, I think I can deal with it.

The second one is a Thai classic called “The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen“.  It was fortuitous that I came across the English translation while I was seeking information about Murakami and Thailand on the internet. I could not be happier to see it published in English. According to Amazon.co.uk, the book will be out next month in hardcover.

“Siam’s folk epic of love, war, and tragedy. Khun Chang Khun Phaen is one of the
most famous works of old Thai literature. The plot is a love story, set against
a background of war, and ending in high tragedy. This folk epic was first
developed in oral form for popular performance with lashings of romance,
adventure, violence, farce and magic.”

Every Thai person knows the story of Khun Chang Khun Phaen. Students have to study it at school as part of their Thai language course. Even so, kids from the same generation as me did not seem particularly excited about the book.  We did not have to read all of it. Only a few episodes were included in the Thai language book. At that time I could understand why many, including me, did not enjoy reading this Thai classic as it was a bit much for us to take in. The book will be valuable for people who want to learn more about Thailand in terms of its historical and social context at that time. The language used in the book is also highly praised but I don’t know how it will turn out in English. I cannot wait for it.

1 Comment

Filed under Book