“I hope Denis will forgive me for posting a quote without permission. I have just finished reading The Bangkok World, with photography by our friend Bill Harting. Denis was the editor of Bangkok World and Bill was managing editor.

“Having visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand on several occasions and having been opposed to the Vietnam War from its beginning . . . I did not know what to expect from this book. Denis shares his experiences in a personal and powerful way. I found myself in tears more than once. But the book is filled with tales that make you smile and even laugh. Here is a quote from the end of the book.

‘Bangkok taught that when the heart has been so astonishingly opened, how can I fear that it will narrow down, fall small and tight? Loving a people who believe things different than I believe, how could I ever think, then, that what I believe is the only thing to believe? It cannot ever happen exactly that way again, nor should it; but that hardly means that no such adventure or mystery and joy can ever happen again, nor that we should give up looking for it, awaiting it, welcoming it. Those times are both done and unendable. There are, exactly, in so many fresh new hearts everywhere, every moment, similarly intense awakening of the senses, absorbing the sparkle of their own new sounds, the flashes of fresh color and history and culture; for spirits eager to receive them, the same laughter waits with the wind, the same light and sparkle are in the breeze.

‘The river, all the rivers, of our lives may sometimes just seem dull, cluttered with the unscraped tankers and heavy-shouldered freighters of necessity; but to know that someday, any day soon, there will appear again true grandeur such as the king’s great royal barge procession – the Narai Song Suban – the full pageant, gold and jasmine, serpent heads and lotus bells glittering in the sun, hundreds of white helmeted oarsmen in perfect flow, is to know that there is forever beauty to come. All else stops to see that. And yes, the fields, all our fields, can seem flat and dusty, speaking only of hard work for small gain and only more difficult effort to forever follow; but we can know that the path can turn a corner and there is a village temple, white walls, green and red-orange in the roof tiles, bells a-tinkling up in the golden eaves somewhere and where the good monks glide along the walkways, accepting our gifts, giving the gift of giving. It has happened and it will happen again.

‘I know this is so because I have seen it. The door of the past always remains ajar to bow to the future – in Bangkok’s world, or anywhere we open our hearts. We need only listen for the soft footfalls of the chingchok.'”

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