I know Halloween just ended, but here in Thailand ghosts and spirits are not confined to a single night of roaming and haunting, they are out spooking year round! Are you afraid of the dark? You might be after reading about the top five spine chilling spirits from Thailand.
Let’s start with the one that probably creeps me out the most, the possible origins or at least eerie similar to the Luk Thep craze that took off a couple years ago. There’s today’s “child angel” dolls that have a metaphorical child’s spirit inside, and then there is the historical Kuman Thong.
Kuman Thong (กุมารทอง)
While kuman thong, or “golden child” isn’t necessarily our western version of things that go bump in the night, it is far more sinister and creepy than any ghost. Waist deep in black magic, the traditional and historical creation of this kuman thong involves removing a stillborn fetus from the mothers womb, dry roasting it over a fire while in a cemetery (at night, obviously), while a necromancer chants incantations and spells binding the stillborn’s spirit to it’s body. Once dried a (now illegal yet can still found in black markets) oil called nam man prai is applied to the corpse before covering it in laquer and finally gold foil, thus giving this ‘good luck charm’ the name “golden child”. (Not exactly what you were expecting, right?) A kuman thong is thought to provide protection and bring wealth and good luck.
Reports from people in possession of a kuman thong include hearing a child’s laughter, doors opening and shutting on their own, and the sounds of things moving around in the house as if a child is playing, Think kuman thong are a hellish practice of the past? Think again. In 2012 a man was arrested in Bangkok in possession of 6 male fetuses, roasted and gold plated, with the intent to sell them in Taiwan.
Phi Am (ผีอำ)
Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis? Awoken only to find yourself unable to move and having difficulty breathing? Maybe it wasn’t sleep paralysis at all, and maybe that panic you felt was due to an otherworldly visitation.
Phi Am is a ghost that sits on people’s chest as they sleep, causing discomfort and pain. She can even cause death. How do you avoid her? I don’t know. I’m not really sure you can do anything other than….not sleep (which won’t be a problem for me now imagining a ghost sitting on my chest and watching me).
Sweet dreams, everyone!
Krasue and Krahong (กระสือ and กระหัง)
These two make Dracula seem like the normal one in the blood thirsty family.
The origins of Krasue vary, but whether it be from a failed attempt at black magic or a spell gone wrong before death by burning, Krasue has the face of a beautiful woman…and that’s about it. Krasue is a dismebodied head floating about with her entrails hanging out that hunts at night.
Appearing as a shirtless man wearing a loincloth and flying around with the aid of rice winnowing baskets, Krahong was said to once be a man practicing sorcery and it backfired on him (I’m seeing a theme…takeaway here is don’t mess with black magic, folks!). He also hunts at night, and it said to hunt in the same areas as Krasue.
In fact, these two are quite similar in more ways than hunting grounds. While Krasue seeks out pregnant women (just before or after childbirth) to take and eat their babies and the Krahong attacks people walking alone in remote areas, both are out for blood. And if no blood is available feces will do. Oh, while both of these frightening ghosts manifest at night, during the day they are just your ordinary village folk!
How well do you really know your neighbor?
Phi Pob (ผีปอบ)
Hailing from our beautiful Issan region is Phi Pob, yet another bloodthirsty spirit. Pob has the ability to posses someone in order to dine on intestines. The Pob will use their new body to hunt for raw meat, and eventually eats its host’s intestines while they sleep.
They are difficult to get rid of but possible by calling in a healing dancer. Combined with chants, the dancer twirls around in a whirlpool type of movement as the possessed watches. This design in the dance is meant to draw the spirit out and into the whirlpool.
How do you know if someone is possessed by Phi Pob? The unwitting victim will be quick to anger, and usually pretend to be sick but sneak away to eat raw meat at night.
Phi Mae Mai (ผีแม่หม้าย)
Phi Mae Mai, or “widow ghost” is another spooky entity to come from the northeast region of Thailand. In the early nineties a sudden spike in unexplained deaths of young Thai men evoked fear of this vengeful ghost, and again in 2010 frightened villagers blamed a mysterious string of deaths of 10 ‘young and healthy men’ on Phi Mae Mai, despite doctors claiming it was respiratory failure. This ghost also goes by thai lai spirit (sudden instant death syndrome), and is believed to seduce men in their sleep so she can have them in the afterlife.
How do you protect yourself from Phi Mae Mai? Well ladies, you don’t have to do a thing! She has no interest in haunting other women. As for protecting the men….villagers have reported that the killings stopped after many of the men went to bed wearing lipstick, nail polish, and/or women’s clothing in order to trick the ghost. Apparently it worked!
So lock up your husband, lock up your son, because the “widow ghost” of Issan might want to have some fun. (Or, you know, if he’s secure enough have a ‘girls night’ and paint each others nails.)
Superstition and belief in spirits runs deep and has a big impact on Thai culture. The more you know, the more you understand why some things are the way that they are here. And whether you believe in ghosts or not, everyone loves a good ghost story!!
Did I miss any? If you have a favorite Thai ghost story that isn’t included, share it with us! Did I get any of these stories wrong? Tell me in the comments! Always on the hunt for a good spooky tale to add to the campfire story time. 🙂