Daily Archives: May 30, 2005

Superstitions about Animals

Here are some more Thai superstitions and Old Wives Tales:

(1) Do not kill big animals such as elephant, horse, cow, buffalo, etc. because it is a big sin
(2) Do not touch a buffalo horn because it won’t grow any more
(3) Do not turn over a puppy because it will go and eat your chicken
(4) Do not touch a horse’s tail because it will get sick
(5) Do not hit a dog with a bamboo pole meant for carrying things because it will become rabid
(6) Do not hit a cat because it is as much sinful as hitting a novice monk
(7) Do not hit a cat on the head because when you grow old your head will shake like the cat did when you hit it
(8) Do not rest a cow or a buffalo in the temple grounds because it is a sin
(9) Do not let a black cat jump across a corpse because the dead spirit will then become an angry ghost
(10) Do not raise five cats and six dogs because it will be bad luck for you
(11) Do not chain a monkey because your children will have small wrists like it has been chained
(12) Do not pat a cat’s back because you will make it thin
(13) Do not catch a firefly because your plates and bowls will break often
(14) Do not allow a husband and wife to go and see a snake together because the wife will have a miscarriage

Source: Translated from “Boran Oo-bai” by Sanom Krutmeuang

Alms Round

My last trip I had the luck to stay at Wat Tepagron in Thonburi for several days with the teacher of my friend and Thai teacher Phramaha Anurak.

Photo Op

My host, Ajahn Pilom, would rise quitely every morning and go on his alms rounds leaving me to arise my lazy farang carcass as I saw fit. A couple of hours later he would return loaded down with all sorts of wonderful food and usually with someone in tow who could speak a little English. While the monks would eat I would engage the days inteperter in conversation. Well maybe conversation is a strech, most often they were wonderful exchanges of broken English and Thai with each side assuring the other that we spoke Thai or English very well! 🙂

After a few days Ajahn Pilom invited me to go out and go on alms round with him so I could see a Buddhist and Thai tradition first hand. I eagerly agreed as I was now getting over my jet lag and more accoustmed to his time schedule. The next morning I arose with Ajahn and went down to the first floor to shower. He smiled at me and tapped his forehead, as he did every time I went to the bathroom, to remind me not to bang my head on the low door transom. Alas the warning was to no avail as the large hollow thud of my forgetfulness rang throughout the Wat Once again.

Photo Op

It was beautiful morning as we left the Wat and began our walk. The sun was still down and I was very aware of the river in the air, embracing me with a comfortable coolness and tickling my nostrils with her perfume. The morning birds were singing and the dogs, which seemed to bark all night long, must now all be napping.

As we started out we were part of a small unorganized procession of monks all seeming to be on their own program heading out from the Wat towards the main streets of the area. People on their way to work or way home from work would pass us, and the site of the monk being followed by the large blonde farang carrying his bag would always warrant a second look. In a few minutes we got to the area where people were beginning to set up their days shops or were already set up and serving their morning clientele. But we weren’t stopping for alms!? Ok, we did stop once, but I was starting to wonder where all the food I seen before came from.

Photo Op

We walked out onto and down the main street and then took a turn down a narrow hard to see alley way and began an absolutely fascinating journey. For the next 2 hours we walked all over Bkk it seemed. We passed by the homes of people well to do, with expensive cars and opulent gardens, glimpsed through walled enclosures. Past the homes that people had built with an amazing variety of discarded materials. Shortcuts through fields, over klongs and through hallways in apartment buildings. Always stopping to receive alms, give a blessing and have the presence of the farang explained.

At, I guess, several prearranged spots, we would be met by Ajahn’s regular lay attendant and he would bicycle off with the alms I would transfer to him.This was an outstanding morning for me. In one sense I felt a little on display, after all how often does a monk come around with a farang temple boy in tow, particularly one almost as old as the monk! On the other hand, every one I met from all walks of life, seemed as happy as they could be that a farang would be following a monk around.

Photo Op

As I have reflected on this experience as the months have passed, what strikes me is the feeling of bonding I had with these people I met on the alms round. Even though I was from half way around the world and raised in a different culture we have, at a very deep level, a very common bond. I have never felt that same feeling here. Funny where you find things.

Do’s and Dont’s in Laos

Hi folks,

Back from Laos, and brought with me a souvenir to share. Officials at the TAL (Lao version of the TAT) must have read Steve’s famous “do’s and don’ts” blog series, as they issued a small booklet of their own with a similar title.


It isn’t anything particulary new, and it’s not as funny as Steve’s works, but the pictures are worth a look. If you look at them carefully, you can find aspects of Lao everyday life that are also found in Thai life. Also, note the similarity between Thai and Lao social conduct and culture.


Finally, there is something of interest for our linguist readers as well: compare Thai and Lao script, and see if your knowledge of Thai helps reading Lao. Many of my Thai friends can read most of it, even non-Isaan folks.

Public kissing

You can see all the pictures full-sized, in our ThaiBlogs Photoalbum. Enjoy! 🙂

If you are interested in a high-resolution version of any of the pictures, please contact me by email through Thai-blogs.com

Suan Serithai

It is rainy season now and it has been bucketing down here. Loud thunder claps were going off nearby and the soi was full of big puddles. But now it has stopped and I can walk to the market for lunch. I walk down my soi and cross Thannon Serithai. Instead of going straight to the market I decide today to go through the park.

I live opposite Suan Serithai and love it very much. I come here almost everyday to run or use the gym equipment that is provided free by the government and some of the local residents. The other day as I entered the park for a walk I saw a squirrel running up a tree. Today I see a medium sized lizard just inside the gate. I look at him, he looks at me. As I go closer for a better look he dives into the lake to get away from me. I keep on walking. There are lots of sparrows and little fan- tailed birds dancing about.

It is almost 2km around the walking path. I go over the large bridge and stop half way over. The big fish are jumping today and giving me a good view of them. They seem happy with the rain. The turtles seem less happy and are sitting up out of the water. I watch them for a few minutes and then keep on walking. A man rides past on a bike, he smiles and says hello. Almost all the people I walk past always smile and many say hello (Sawat Dii) and quite often people stop and talk also. Thai people are very friendly.

As I go a bit further I see a small animal, about the size of a sparrow moving in the grass ahead of me. I don’t take much notice, but as I get closer it doesn’t fly away like a sparrow would. I look down. It is a small fish. How did it get here? WOW! It was raining very heavily, but was it so heavy that it was raining fish? A bird could have dropped it. There are lots of birds flying around in the park but I have never seen one, in the park, big enough to carry this fish. I don’t know. Maybe the Monitor Lizards dropped it here? But they could swallow this fish in a gulp, so why would they drop it? I can’t see any around and there are not many people here to scare them into dropping a fish. I don’t know.

Anyway, I pick it up. It slips out of my hands. I pick the fish up again and take it and put it in the water. I keep on walking.

Around the next bend I see 3 monitor lizards. 1 medium sized one and 2 big ones that are in an embrace. I have never seen them hug each other like that, with their front two legs wrapped around each other’s chests. Are they fighting or hugging? So, maybe it was the lizards that dropped the fish. The man on the bike rides past again but this time stops and chats. He tells me what these lizards are called in Thai language and mentions that it means bad luck if they come inside your house. Hmmm, they are big, so I think it would be very bad luck if they came into my small 1 bedroom apartment. The man has a son who studied in Melbourne. He met a Japanese lady there and they are married, now living in Bangkok. The man also has a daughter. She is a receptionist in a hotel. The man’s wife is at work. It is very easy to make friends with Thai people. The man rides off. I keep walking.

After a while the man appears again and stops and talks some more. He says I am very friendly looking. He goes again to do another lap and I keep walking. Now, near the end of my walk, I see a small animal about the size of a mouse moving on the path ahead of me. As I get closer it moves into the puddle. It is another fish. Hmmm, OK, it wasn’t the lizards that dropped the last one. The banks of the lake are very big and it would take a big jump for these little fish to get out of the pond and onto the ground. But I think this is what they have done. My theory is that these little fish, after heavy rain, jump from their homes into the puddles and perhaps into the next lake or river. In the wild this would help this species populate other rivers and lakes and would improve the chances of survival of the species. Now I think they did not come down with the rain, the birds did not drop them and neither did the monitor lizards. The fish are ‘programmed’ to jump from one water source to another, after heavy rains produce puddles and swell the rivers and lakes.

I pick this one up. It slips out. I pick it up again and put it back in the lake. I hope my theory is correct and I am not hurting the little fish by putting it back in the lake, but it cannot survive in that puddle. I keep on walking, in the Moo Baan and to the markets to get some lunch. I love it in Thailand. It is a beautiful place, filled with fascinating creatures and wonderful people.

Does anyone what these little fish are? Do you think my theory is correct?