A Geek in Thailand


A book with possibly the world’s most colorful cover arrived on the review table. A  Geek in Thailand (ISBN-0-8048-4448-2, Tuttle Publishing) has been written by Jody Houton, the Geek in this instance.

The title of the book I found interesting. A “geek” is an Australian slang for taking a “look” at something, but there are also the more modern explanations of 1: a person who is socially awkward and unpopular; a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people or:

2: a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity.

After reading his book, I decided that author Jody Houton fitted the second category very well. The book is a mine of information about Thailand, living in Thailand, and (attempting to) understand Thailand.

The book covers the origins of the Thai people, as they are known, though there is a groundswell promoting a return to the appellation Siamese.

There are seven chapters, with each covering an abundance of informative items. The first chapter is entitled Thai History and Culture and touches on a brief history, the color of politics, the coup, the land of plenty, Thai language, important religious sites, Thai Buddhism, other religions, Thai folklore and the Royal Palace. And that’s the first chapter. The remaining chapters are equally as diverse, with Thai “Pretties” and thriving companies in Thailand under the same umbrella in chapter three for example.

The author is not afraid to comment on subject matter and proffer opinions, such as the lack of advancement for women’s rights under the Yingluck administration. Jody opines that from Go Go bars to the highest level in administrative positions, “Thai women sell their beauty as a commodity. Sometimes it’s the only commodity they have.”

One chapter that does stick to its subject is the one on Thai food, incorporating Thai beverages, with the differences between Thai whiskies and beers and western whiskies and beers covered, and the Thai cultural mores as to who fills whose glasses first.

The “tribe” mentality in Thai society is mentioned several times in the book, but understanding of it can make life much easier for the foreigner. The more you know, the less you understand, is understood by most long stay expats.

This is the most comprehensive book with the cover promising “Discovering the Land of the Golden Buddha, Pad Thai and Kickboxing.” And a whole lot more.

A Geek in Thailand is available through Asia Books and good bookstores, with an RRP of 625 baht. There have been similar books written a few years ago attempting to show what to expect in Thailand, but this one is right up to date and the most complete. A bargain when taking the vast coverage into account, and with Xmas round the corner, an ideal New Year gift.