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Published: August 20th 2020
It’s likely the things you’ll do in Thailand, you’ll dream about for weeks.
It’s also likely the things you’ll see will bring on nightmares, lots and lots of nightmares.
Just like dreams, some are good, some bad. Thailand is THE dream destination; The sunsets, the food, the hospitality, the animals = Happy dream
The traffic, the climate, the pace, the other
animals = Scary dream (Have you seen the size of a Monitor Lizard??)
Scary plays a big role in Thai Culture, the concept of Hell, demons and ghosts aren’t wasted on the Thai, though at times an angry Thai mother can be the most terrifying of all.
But just a stroll through any street in Thailand shows just the impact Ghosts have on Thailand, lines of shot glasses, marigolds and burning incense at every corner indicate an attempt to keep any negative spirits at bay. For good reason too, Thailand has over 37 popular ghosts to worry about, from Krahang a man with rice baskets as wings, to Krasue, a floating head with hanging intestines (ew).
The most well-known of these is Mae Nak, A women who died giving birth while her husband fought in the war, and
continued to haunt her husband for the sake of love. Her story has been retold countless times through books, TV shows and movies (My favourite being the GTH film “Pee Mak”). Although folklore, the story of Mae Nak is very real for the Thai people, often travelling from far and wide to the small village of On Nut, where her shrine sits overlooking the Phra Khanong river. Despite the frightful story, Mae Nak has become a name synonymous with a disapproval for war, and her shrine is often visited by family reluctant to send loved ones to Army Training (Semi compulsory in Thailand).
The first few moments upon visiting the shrine were definitely unnerving, not overly scary, just eerie and ominous. It’s an area so surrounded by noise pollution, yet once inside you can hear a pin drop. For a 20 baht donation ($1 NZD) you’ll get a few Joss sticks, a candle and a square of golden foil to place on the shrine. Toys are also placed on the floor in front of the shrine as offering to the unborn child. On the wall, watching over the whole ordeal is around 15 different headshots of Mae Nak, and
no matter where you stand, they’re all watching you.
Feeling I had overstayed my welcome, I quickly made my offering and bolted for the door. I made a conscious effort not to take too many pictures (again, nothing scarier than a Thai mother, let alone a ghost one). My aim was to be a fly on this haunted wall and carry on my merry way, but of all the ‘Ghosty’ landmarks I’ve been to, this one had me walking away feeling different. These people that came here didn’t come out of fear, sure they’ve all heard about the frightful Mae Nak and all she is capable of, but here it didn’t matter. Here she’s a beautiful faithful wife with an ‘undying’ love for her husband (pardon the pun).
That in mind, if you’ve got a soft spot for the spookier side of Thailand, It wouldn’t hurt to stop by. Read up on the story of Mae Nak and Pee Mak if you’re a nut for Thai folklore, but also keep an open mind when you’re there. Most important of all; Be respectful and try not to disrupt the peaceful nature of this area. Behave as you would in
any Thai Temple (cover those knees & shoulders and lose the shoes!). Throw everything you have into honouring her spirit in her resting place and maybe (just maybe) she won’t be inclined to visit yours.
By Daniel Simmonds
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