Daily Archives: February 13, 2005

A graveyard for spirit houses

[b]Have you ever wondered what happened to spirit houses when they die?[/b]

If you have been to Thailand then you must have seen the spirit houses. They are everywhere. Just about every house has one – also every business, school and even petrol stations! These little ornate houses on a pole, are for the guardian spirits of the land. When people build houses on the land they disturb the local spirits. In order to pacify the spirits you need to build them a house more splendid than your own. When I originally started teaching at my school there was only a small spirit house. After they had built the new six storey building they then had to buy a larger and better spirit house. I don’t think any of my neighbours have a spirit house, but at the far end there is a very large spirit house. Three actually. Those are for all of us though, I suppose, we could still have our own.

Back to the original question. What happens to spirit houses after they become too old or break? Well, you cannot just throw them away. You have to take them to a special spirit house “graveyard”. I took the picture above in Samut Prakan alongside the road. There is quite an important shrine at this point so people from around the area have brought their broken spirit houses and Buddha images and put them to rest here. I have also seen broken shrines in a corner of temples grounds.

Gimme a break…. Part One

Fo those who have been here for a quite a while would have realised by now, that some of the world’s most crackpot villians walk our streets. For those who haven’t, pls let me enlighten you with a few news stories from the past.

Just a couple of years ago the Headlines read ‘Millions gone missing after security van’s door is found open!’ On arriving at it’s destination the backdoor of the van was found to be open and the drivers were soon taken into questioning by Bangkok’s finest. They had no ‘excuse’ whatsoever but “We forgot to lock it”. The police were confused however, as the drivers had a perfectly clean record and after thorough searches of their abodes found nothing, they were held anyway.

A week or so later however, the police were informed of a suspicious looking Tollway cleaner, who in the spate of a week had given the local temple a massive donation, a gigantic Buddha Image and bought all the monks a brand new Sony Sound System each, and on top of that had been seen generously handing out 500baht notes to all the temple-goers. It didnt take the authorities to realise that this guy worked on the same part of the tollway of which the millions had supposedly gone missing. Having heard that the police were after him, decides to leg it – home!. When the police arrived to search his house, they find him sitting in the attic and in the basement, the missing millions. When asked why he hadn’t returned the money, his alibi was “I wanted to take from the rich to give to the poor”.

Then i remember the time a few years ago about the ridiculous IQ count of a Bangkok Bank security guard. One morning the police were called in to the bank’s branch at The Mall, Bangkapi and were informed that over the past few days the sum of 967,000baht had gone missing from the ATM. After intensive investigation the police were stupified and could only presume the bank’s security guard was involved, “but he couldn’t have been” they thought, as he was at work as usual and hadn’t done any kinda runner. Not until a bank clerk from the bank across the road told the police that a scruffy looking security guard had deposited the sum of 960,000 baht in his bank account just a few days ago. When quizzed by the police to the origins of this fond amount of cash , replied “I won the lottery’.

Talking about the Govt. Lottery, everyone in the country knows that it has been fixed on and off for years. Just last year the country’s lottery players were up in arms. While the draw was being broadcast live on TV one of the ball grabbers who was to ‘pick a ball’ was seen taking a ball from the ‘wheelie tub’, have a good look at it, but throw it back in to grab another, if that wasn’t obvious enough, performed the trick yet once again. It was found later that he had been using state of the art contact lenses and that in each wheelie tub was one ball that had been coated with some kind of liquid only seen through these high technology goggles.

Talking about morality, just a few weeks ago while going through the ‘juicy’ Thai Raj newspaper i came across the unusual antics of a few youngish monks. A couple of days before, at one of the Kingdom’s temples, the police had been informed by some villagers about a handful of monks at their local temple being up to no good in their kutis (monk’s hut). The police on hearing this decided to put in a video camera to back up the claims. Just that evening, the police, ‘done the bust’ to find a few teenage monks with a couple of crates of Beer Chang, a stack of ganja, and if that wasnt enough, were also caught watching a dirty video with a couple of equally dirty looking girls. The local news channels made no hesitation to show the video to the whole nation at mealtime the following day.

Next, there was the story of the elusive ‘Gold Shop Robber’, who after robbing a few gold shops decided to ‘give it a go’ at acting in a music video, unfortunately for him, the video he was in became a mega hit and there he was in person, witnessed by the police, booping away right in front of their TV sets at home. Perhaps he is still bopping away now, behind bars.

Bangkok’s finest aren’t exactly famed for having ‘clean hands’ themselves as was witnessed by the whole nation last year. Caught on camera was a traffic policeman clearly receiving a hundred baht from a motorist after being flagged over. His alibi? “The guy just last week asked me to lend him some money as he didnt have any cash to buy petrol, so he was only giving me my money back” fortunately hovever for the policeman he was transferred to one of those most enviable positions of ‘inactive duty’ where all he has to do is sign-in, sit around drinking coffee all day and watch football.

The local cops are also among the world’s finest when it comes to acquiring evidence. A couple of years back, the infamous Mr Chuwit (now an MP)had a feverish run-in with the police on the grounds of ‘kickbacks’ after they had busted his naughty massage parlours on Ratchadaphisek. The police accused Mr Chuwit that his massage parlours also consisted of ‘little extras’ for well-paying patrons. Mr Chuwit denied any extra-curricular goings on at his establshments. Then the next day on the news Mr Chuwit had been caught! There in front of the camera was a massage girl with a towel over her head and the sight of a beaming looking policeman, while still pulling up his trousers was flashing a used contraceptive in front of the cameras!

Then finally the ‘Legend of Ai Dum’ that goes down as perhaps the most classic of all.

A long long long time ago the nation were awoken to read a frightening newspaper headline that went something like ‘Ferocious beast on the run’.

The day before, it was reported that a leopard had broken loose and was ravaging its away around Taling Chan. To back up the claims, carcasses of dogs and a few cats were found scattered along the railway line, the nation was terrified. Next, there were interviews of eyewitness accounts of the beast who reported seeing this hellish looking black tiger with the remains of a buffalo hanging from its mouth. The beast was nicknamed by the press ‘Ai Dum'(The Black Beast!)The days went past and each day the nation were to read ‘close-up-accounts’ of Ai Dum and how they had manged to miraculousy escape the vicious claws of the beast. Many parents used the story to get their kids in before dark with ‘If youre not back in time Ai Dum will get you!’

The days turned into weks and Ai Dum was still on the loose. Next, there was a new sighting of Ai Dum in Saphan Kwai! were there now two Ai Dums?! or had Ai Dum produced offspring to the fear of the capital! Some people did begin to suspect the authenticity of the beast. One man was shot dead by another after getting into an arguement about whether the beast existed at all! The govt. decided therefore to debate Ai Dum in parliament and quickly issued a massive reward to anyone that caught ‘dead or alive’ the ghastly Ai Dum. For a couple of days a few hopefuls showed off to the press that they had ‘caught’ Ai Dum. The public weren’t too impressed however when their Ai Dum resembled a louse-ridden temple dog. Numerous stories filled the bars about “I nearly got the beast, but his claws were just the size of daggers!” The kids were petrified.

Then a few days later it hit national headlines ‘Ai Dum caught alive!’. There in front of the camera was the awesome sight of Ai Dum, a pretty massive leopard, but on the other hand did look rather tame, not as ferocious looking as the reports had made him out to be. Nevermind, the next day, escorted by the Prime Minister, the heroes took Ai Dum into the skies by helicopter and released him into the jungles. The two glory hunters were National Hereos and on receiving a handsome reward retold how they had risked their lives capturing Ai Dum! The story was terrifying and tens of millions of viewers lapped up the story.

A couple of days later however, a frail old zookeeper reported to the press that The National Hereos looked extremely like a couple of lads who had just last week, bought an imported leopard from him and hadn’t yet paid him for it . The National Heroes were soon telling their stories from behind bars and the real Ai Dum was never caught.
So, if you do come to Thailand – be aware, ‘The beast of Taling Chan’ is still out there.

NOTES: A warm thanks to Roger Crutchley of the ‘Bangkok Post’ for allowing me the inspiration to retell his classic, in my words ‘The Legend of Ai Dum’.

Back from the unseen

Hi folks, back from a five-day crisscrossing in Thailand and Laos. This time I chose the Nong Khai – Vientiane (Laos) border for my regular visa run. I had a much more pleasant experience this time.

This border crossing was unbelievably smooth; the immigration was friendly, although the journey was more adventurous than anything before. It took 24 hours to get to the northeastern border town of Nong Khai from Chiang Mai. Then I spent three days in Laos waiting for my visa. This was followed by another 24-hour trek back inside Thailand. For nearly ever day this week, dawn and sunset greeted me on the road to somewhere.

At the end, I got back with lots of great experiences richer, and 7000 Bt poorer – but, most importantly, I became a proud holder of a three-month visa! 🙂 I haven’t seen one of these babies for a long while. If it only weren’t so darned tiresome to get it!

I will share stories from this travel with you for the next few days, once I got the pictures out of my digicam (my laptop is still broken).

Take care until next time,


Saturday in England!

It’s Saturday again. The weather here is quite nice for mid Feb. It was very sunny. However, English weather is sometimes a pain as it can be sunny for an hour and rain the next. Today was similar to that saying as it kind of stormed for about an hour and it was back to normal. Today was also a very windy day. Usually in England, it gets really windy around this time of the year.

Today I have to go to Uni to meet up with my friends for a law assignment task. I was there for a couple of hours to work on the assignment. After the library closed at about 3.30pm, we headed off to Kingston to do some walking around. I went with my Finnish friend. Studying in England has been very beneficial for me as I get to meet a lot of people from around europe. I have friends from Spain, Germany, Portugal, Italy etc. A lot of European people study in England especially London. London is like the capital of Europe. Everyone comes here to study, work, travel etc. This Finnish friend of mine (Kim), he is a very nice guy. He has perfect understanding of English. I usually hang out with him after classes. Today, we went to a pub to watch football together. English people usually watch football a lot just like Thais. However, it is more tense here as people have favourite teams and they’re committed to it. And also, this is England, the home where the premiership takes place. In Thailand, it is just a reflection of what happens in England.

I would like to talk more on the diversification of Uni’s life here. In Thailand, most people who study there are Thai students. You’ll never be able to learn another culture or get a chance to learn English or other languages. Actually, I used to attend an international Thai University for 2 months. My friends there are all Thai. However, I met some Chinese people and got a chance to talk to them (I am learning Chinese). Thai University students do not really want to make friends with Chinese students. I think it’s because of the language barrier. It is so much different here as everyone tries to speak the same language and exchange culture. You learn so much more.

It’s getting very here. So, I think I must hit the bed. Bye Bye for now……

Preparing to go to Thailand

I would like to start off telling you a little about me. I am a student in ALabama that is going to Thailand soon (probably this fall) We are working out the specifics of travel now. One of the professors at my school has his Doctorate in Eastern Philosophy and is helping me make arrangements. I will be teaching English over there and hopefully travelling a little while I am there 🙂

I am starting my blog now so that anyone planning a trip there can use this blog as a reference because I will be documenting everything I do to plan and organize this trip. It’s hard to find a lot of practical help for students going over there. there is so much to know!

If anyone can offer me advice on any of the following:
when is the best time to go to Bangkok?
Do they have school years like ours or is it year round?
Do the school weeks go from Mon-Fri or is it all week?
What are the first steps in moving there?
Where do you find out what immunizations to get?
What are some of the things that are “not-to-be-missed”?
Where are the best resources for finding out about living in Bangkok?

Anything I think would help. I hope that if I can ask a lot of questions and find the answers then I can help other people like me who like to do a lot of research about things before going.