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Thai ghosts: Welcome to our world

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A beauty pageant of Thai ghosts in order to select the best mascot for Thai Halloween. 

[Note: Audio split into two parts. Listen to second part here ]

GURU 

Ghost off

We go on a spooky quest to find the ultimate ghost in the spirit-riddled Kingdom.

25/10/2013

Pornchai Sereemongkonpol

Here we compare six well-known Thai ghosts based on six criteria to find the ultimate mascot for Thai Halloween.

MAE NAK

STORY

The ghost of a loving wife and mother who died during childbirth while her husband Mak was conscripted into the army and sent to war. Despite being dead, Nak wants to be with her hubby posthumously. Mak returns, not knowing that his Nak is dead. The neighbours try to tell Mak that his wife is actually a ghost but he refuses to believe them. After he discovers by chance that his wife is indeed a ghost, he runs away. Furious, Nak pursues him and scares the living daylights out of villages in the process but is eventually subdued by an exorcist and confined to a jar. At the risk of sounding like a romantic, we think her tale is more a tragic love story than horror.

APPEARANCE

When she wants to, Nak can appear demure and housewifely in simple Thai garb with long hair. Upset her and she’ll hunt you down in a more ghostly form, although she isn’t that scary-looking. In other words, she’s just like your girlfriend or mother.

ABILITY

Among her supernatural powers are reaching for a lime that drops on the ground through a traditional Thai house’s floorboards a la Mr. Fantastic, walking on the ceiling, and breaking your neck. She has the power to make her husband think she keeps the house clean and tidy whereas other people see a run-down shack covered in dust. She has a shrine devoted to her at Wat Mahabut in Suan Luang district of Bangkok where people ask her to make their wishes come true.

FRIEND POTENTIAL

So long as you don’t try to expose her pretence, she seems to be civil.

THREAT LEVEL

If you cross her, know that her preferred method of killing is very hands-on. She chokes the life out of you by the neck while giving you dagger stares. She also carries her dead baby around and who knows what kind of power the baby possesses? Two ghosts are just simply scarier than one.

CULTURAL IMPACT

To the best of our knowledge, Mae Nak has inspired 24 films, seven TV lakorn, 10 radio lakorn and four musicals, and is also the subject of numerous books. Moreover, the latest film adaptation of her story, Pee Mak, has grossed more than B1 billion.

PRET

STORY

Thais believe that wicked people will be reborn as fugly beings called pret who suffer greatly as they eat their own blood and pus. This type of ghost also appears in other cultures and is called by different names. There are different types of pret, each of which is the result of a specific type of misconduct such as being too stingy or taking advantage of people. The idea of suffering for eternity in hell in your birthday suit is just too damn scary.

APPEARANCE

Pret look like disproportionately stretched-out versions of Gollum. They have a long neck, emaciated body with belly, dark skin and hands as big as palm leaves. They are as tall as a palm tree and have a mouth as small as the eye of a sewing needle (no wonder they are said to be always hungry). Ewww.

ABILITY

Given their long limbs, we guess Pret can get to places fast but we already have the BRT, MRT and motorcycle taxis for that. They are also always hungry so we doubt they have the energy to walk fast.

FRIEND POTENTIAL

Prets don’t do much except show up at auspicious ceremonies and ask people to give them merit. When they’ve accumulated enough, they would be freed from their pret status. It might eventually become annoying like a friend who always takes but never gives.

THREAT LEVEL

Zero. They want your help. You should actually take it as a compliment if a pret appears before you because this means you’ve done a lot of good and hence have some merit to spare.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Sightings of Prets have been reported in the Thai media again and again. Some have been proven as hoaxes. Pret have inspired one novel and a 2003 lakorn that is based on the novel. Many temples have built pret statues to remind people to be good as well as to act as a kind of attraction. Nobody that we know of is currently worshipping this miserable being.

PEE KRASUE

STORY

Pee Krasue show up in tales of our neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Malaysia and Laos under different names. There are also various accounts regarding their origin. Some believe they are a type of spirit that belong to humans who earned a living by deceiving others. When they die, they become krasue who go on to possess the bodies of people who commit the same kind of wrongdoing. In another legend, a woman tries to learn black magic but makes a mistake or uses a wrong spell, causing her head and body to become detachable.

APPEARANCE

In Thai folklore, krasue are depicted as a woman, old or young, who travels very lightly at night, bringing only her head and viscera along. She floats around with a green glow while finding something to eat and keeps the rest of her body somewhere nobody can find. During the day she lives like a regular woman. When you really think about krasue, they’re basically a human head and some internal organs. Watching a live autopsy may be scarier.

ABILITY

While pee krasue can fly, they don’t look good doing it. We also aren’t sure if their other ability should be considered an ability - they like to eat raw stuff, blood and faeces. Tasty.

FRIEND POTENTIAL

Pee Krasue are said to hate sunlight so you can’t go out with them during the day. They also avoid humans while they are on eating sprees, which is probably a good thing. More importantly, would you befriend someone who eats poop?

THREAT LEVEL

It’s believed that pee krasue prey on pregnant women in their homes. Their long tongues can even snack on placenta and foetus deep in the womb. This should no longer be a concern since Thailand already has things called hospitals. A more likely threat is that krasue are said to wipe their mouth on clothes that people leave outside. Extra laundry for humans? No thanks.

CULTURAL IMPACT

There have been nine films and two lakorn that feature krasue in main roles. The ghost was comically featured in a TV commercial for light bulbs and has a role in the 2008 computer-animated movie Nak.

PEE KRAHANG

STORY

Pee Krahang are said to be the result of a man who once practised sorcery but it backfired on him, turning him into an arguably scary ghost. Like pee krasue, they live as a normal person during the day and transform into a ghost at night.

APPEARANCE

Pee Krahang are often portrayed as shirtless men wearing a loin cloth. They wear a big circular basket meant for winnowing rice as wings on each arm. Pee Krahang do sound a little bit like drunken farmers trying to fly with any tools they can get their hands on. However, this also makes them the easiest ghost to pull off as a Halloween costume. If you’re a man with a decent body, go to a party as a pee krahang.

ABILITY

Sure they can fly and that’s pretty awesome. However, unless they resemble Ananda Everingham, they probably don’t look cool while flapping those baskets and sweating profusely in order to take off. The ghosts also like to eat dirty stuff at night.

FRIEND POTENTIAL

Pee Krahang aren’t known for being outrightly vicious. If you can befriend one, he’ll probably agree to take you on a free flight. You should give him some deodorant if you don’t want to smell his armpits. Toothpaste and mouthwash are also recommended gifts for him.

THREAT LEVEL

Pee Krahang may harm people walking in remote or secluded areas at night. However, would you really be scared of a man whose only weapons appear to be flat baskets?

CULTURAL IMPACT

As far as we know, there have been two lakorn and two films based on this ghost. A kind-hearted krahang appears in the Nak animated movie.

PEE POP

STORY

There are several versions of phi pop’s origins. It is the wandering spirit of a prince’s servant whose body was destroyed. His spirit goes from one body to another, eating its intestines. It’s also said to be the spirit of men or women who practised sorcery. They committed a taboo act and the magic backfired on them, turning them into a ghost.

APPEARANCE

These evil spirits often possess women, causing them to look like they haven’t slept for days with panda eyes.

ABILITY

Pee Bop can either go on to eat somebody else’s intestines in order to survive or they eat the intestine of the body they possess until the host dies during sleep.

FRIEND POTENTIAL

Pee Pop are not friendship material by any stretch of the imagination since all the Pee Bop want from you is your guts.

THREAT LEVEL

They can kill you in your sleep or transfer their pop-ness to you by spitting into your mouth, which is pretty evil.

CULTURAL IMPACT

The ghost has inspired many feature films and at least four lakorn The most notable adaptation is the Ban Phi Pop series which has spawned 14 films.

NANG TANI

STORY

It’s a female spirit that lives inside a type of banana called tani.

APPEARANCE

She appears as a young beautiful woman in a green traditional Thai costume. Her feet don’t touch the ground. To summon her, men can urinate on the tree said to be haunted by the ghost or rub their manliness on the tree. Her skin has a tint of green (presumably from all the chlorophyll) so she’s even less scary-looking than the Na’vi people from Avatar.

ABILITY

Living inside banana trees most of the time, she comes out at night when the moon is full. She’s considered a gentle ghost.

FRIEND POTENTIAL

When a tani banana tree starts to blossom, villagers hold a ceremony to pay respect to her. Among their offerings is a piece of cloth which is tied to the tree as if to cover her body. She’ll protect them and bring them fortune in return. She’s also still a tree so can give you oxygen and fruit to eat. What a pal.

THREAT LEVEL

Gentlemen, there’s a ritual to have nang tani as your wife (if you’re that desperate). It’s said that once you sleep with her you can’t be with another woman. If you really want to have a human girlfriend, you must ask permission from her first and she’ll let you be with the real thing. Sleeping with her also drains men’s vitality.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Five films have been made with her as the main role. She has a cool appearance as a boss character in the Rangarok Online game.

OUR VERDICT: Mae Nak wins (elastic) hands down by being the scariest/coolest in the most categories. She’s a well-rounded ghost that has evoked both fear and sympathy in Thais for many generations. Ghost girl power!

http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/culture-social/376316/ghost-off

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Vocabulary:

ability: a level of skill or intelligence - ความสามารถม กังวลใจ

account: a spoken or written report about something that has happened - รายงานข่าว

accumulate: to get more and more of something over a period of time - เก็บสะสม, สะสม, สั่งสมมานาน

actually: used for stressing what is really true or what really happened - ตามความเป็นจริง

adaptation: a film/movie, book or play that is based on a particular piece of work but that has been changed for a new situation - การดัดแปลง, การปรับใช้

animated: consisting of a series of drawings that are shown quickly one after another so that they look as if they are moving - ภาพวาดเคลื่อนไหวได้

annoying: making you feel slightly angry or impatient - น่ารำคาญ

appearance: the way that somebody/something looks on the outside - ลักษณะภายนอก, การปรากฏตัว

attraction: something that creates interest and brings people to see it - การดึงดูดความสนใจ

auspicious: showing signs that suggest that something is likely to be successful - โอกาสอันดี เป็นมงคลฤกษ์

autopsy: a medical examination of a dead person’s body to find out why they died - การชันสูตรศพ

backfire: to have the opposite effect or result than the one you intended - ส่งผลตรงข้ามกับที่หวังไว้

being: something that has life such as a feeling human or animal -

belly: the area on the skin on the outside of the body near the stomach -

birthday suit: having no clothes on; naked -

black magic: a type of magic which is believed to use the power of the Devil in order to do evil - เวทมนตร์, คาถา

board: a long thin piece of strong hard material, especially wood, used, for example, for making floors, building walls and roofs and making boats - กระดาน

by chance: the way things happen without being planned or expected - โดยบังเอิญ, โดยไม่รู้สาเหตุ

ceiling: the top inside surface of a room - เพดาน

ceremony: a formal public event - งานพิธี

childbirth: the period for a woman when her baby is born ; when the baby is coming out of her -

choke: to (cause someone to) stop breathing because something is blocking your throat - ทำให้หายใจไม่ออก

civil: to be well-behaved; to treat other people in a decent way and not be cruel to them -

commercial: an advertisement on the radio or on television - โฆษณาทางโทรทัศน์หรือวิทยุ

commit: to do something wrong or illegal - ทำความผิด

compliment: something nice that you say to praise someone - ชมเชย, สรรเสริญ

concern: a worry - ความกังวล

confined: kept somewhere and not allowed to leave; detention - ถูกกักตัว

conscript: someone who has been made to join the armed forces - ผู้ที่ถูกเกณฑ์ทหาร

consider: to regard as; to think of as - ถือว่า

criteria: a standard that is used for judging something or for making a decision about something - บรรทัดฐาน

cross: deceive; betray; break your promise to someone - ทำให้ผิดหวัง,หลอกลวง, ทรยศ,นอกใจ, ไม่ซื่อสัตย์

cultural: related to the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group - วัฒนธรรม

culture: the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group - วัฒนธรรม

dagger: a knife used to push hard into people to kill them -

deceive: to persuade someone that something false is the truth - หลอก

depict: to represent or show something in a picture or story - พรรณนา, บรรยายให้เห็นภาพ

despite: used to show that something happened or is true although something else might have happened to prevent it; used to show that somebody did not intend to do the thing mentioned - ถึงอย่างไรก็ตาม, ทั้ง ๆ ที่

detach: to remove a part from something - ถอดออก, แยกออก

devote: to use something for a particular purpose - มอบให้, อุทิศ, สละ

discover: to be the first person to become aware that a particular place or thing exists - ค้นพบ

doubt: a feeling of being uncertain about something/someone or not believing something - ความสงสัย

dust: very small pieces of dirt that cover surfaces inside buildings like a powder - ฝุ่น

earn a living: to earn enough money to support yourself/your family - หาเลี้ยงชีพ

emaciated: very thin and weak, usually because of illness or extreme hunger - ผอมแห้ง (เนื่องจากขาดอาหารหรือป่วยเป็นโรค)

energy: the physical and mental effort that you use to do something - กำลัง, พละกำลัง

eternity: a period of time that never ends; a never-ending period of time; for forever -

eventually: at the end of a period of time or at the end of a process - ในที่สุด

exorcist: a person who makes a ghost leave a person who it is living inside (possession) by doing a special ceremony - หมอผี, ผู้ทำพิธีไล่ผี, คนไล่ผี

expose: to uncover - เปิดออก

faeces: solid waste from your body - อุจจาระ

feature: (in newspapers, on television, etc.) a special article or programme about somebody/something - สารคดีพิเศษ

float: to cause to move slowly in the air or on water - ลอย

foetus: a young human being or animal before birth and after the organs have started to develop - ทารกในครรภ์, ตัวอ่อนในครรภ์

folklore: the traditions and stories of a country or community - คติชาวบ้าน,ความเชื่อหรือขนบธรรมเนียมประเพณีของชาวบ้าน

form: the particular way something is, seems, looks or is presented; a type or variety of something - รูปแบบ, รูปทรง

free: to release; to allow someone to go free - ปล่อยตัว

furious : extremely angry - ซึ่งโกรธจัด

garb: clothes; the kind of clothes that a country or a group of people wear -

ghost: the spirit of a dead person that someone sees or hears - ผี

glow: to produce a continuous light and sometimes heat - แสงแวววาว

gross: to earn money, used for films and other entertainment -

hands-on: doing something rather than just talking about it or learning about it -

hoax: a plan to deceive someone, such as telling the police there is a bomb somewhere when there is not one, or a trick - การหลอกลวง,เล่ห์กระเท่ห์,เล่ห์เหลี่ยม

horror: a strong feeling of shock or fear caused by something extremely unpleasant - ความหวาดกลัว, ความขยะแขยง

hubby: informal word for husband - สามี

hunt: to look for somebody in order to catch them or harm them; to chase wild animals or birds in order to catch or kill them for food, sport or to make money - ตามหา, ล่า

impact: an effect or influence - ผลกระทบ

in the process: while carrying out a series of actions to do or make something - ในกระบวนการ

inspire: to give someone the idea for a piece of work - ทำให้เกิด บันดาลใจให้

internal organs: the organs inside a person's body such as stomach and intestines -

knowledge: all the facts that people know about a subject (example: medical knowledge) - ความรู้

latest: newest; most recent - ] ล่าสุด, See also: ทันสมัยที่สุด, เกิดหลังสุด

laundry: washing clothes, sheets, etc. for customers - กิจกรรมซักรีดเสื้อผ้า

legend: a story from ancient times about people and events, that may or may not be true; this type of story - ตำนาน

limbs: arms or legs  - ท่อนแขนท่อนขา

lime: a small green fruit, like a lemon, with a lot of sour juice, used in cooking and in drinks; the juice of this fruit - มะนาวพันธุ์หนึ่ง

live: happening now, i.e., not recorded earlier - ถ่ายทอดสด

loin cloth: a small cloth worn as pants (so that people cannot see the private parts) -

mascot: an animal, a toy, etc. that that represents an organisation, event etc, or that people believe will bring them good luck - สัญลักษณ์, ตัวนำโชค

media: radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group - สื่อ

merit-making: doing good things according to religious beliefs - การทำบุญ

misconduct: unacceptable or bad behaviour by someone in a position of authority or responsibility - การประพฤติผิด

miserable: very unhappy, unpleasant and causing unhappiness - เดือดร้อน, เป็นทุกข์

mistake: something that you do that is not correct, an error - ความผิดพลาด, ข้อผิดพลาด,ความเข้าใจผิด

musical: a play or a film/movie in which part or all of the story is told using songs and often dancing - ละครเพลง

needle: a very thin, pointed piece of steel used on the end of a syringe for putting a drug into somebody's body, or for taking blood out of it - เข็ม(ฉีดยา)

neighbour: someone who lives near you, - เพื่อนบ้าน

neighbouring: located or living near or next to a place or person - ติดกัน, ที่อยู่ใกล้เคียง, ที่ตั้งอยู่ใกล้เคียง

normal: typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect - ปกติ, ภาวะปกติ

novel: a story long enough to fill a complete book, in which the characters and events are usually imaginary - นวนิยาย

numerous: many - มากมาย

origin: the place where someone/something comes from - ที่มา, ต้นกำเนิด

poop: to pass solid waste from - อุจจาระ

portray: to describe or show somebody/something in a particular way, especially when this does not give a complete or accurate impression of what they are like - พรรณนา, วาดภาพ

possess: to have or own something - ครอบครอง, ถือครอง

possessed: controlled by an evil spirit - ผีเข้า, ถูกครอบงำ

posthumously: when something happens after a person is dead -

potential: what is possible - ความเป็นไปได้

preferred: wanted more than anyone or anything else - ซึ่งชอบมากกว่า

pregnant: having a baby developing inside the body - ท้อง ตั้งครรภ์

pretence: the act of behaving in a particular way, in order to make other people believe something that is not true - พฤติกรรมที่ไม่จริงใจ

prey on: to hurt or deceive a group of people, especially people who are weak or can easily be hurt or deceived - หาเหยื่อ

pursue: to chase someone or something in order to catch them - ไล่ตาม

quest: a long search for something, especially for some quality such as happiness - การแสวงหา

raw: not cooked or not thoroughly cooked - ดิบ

refuse: to say or show that you will not do something that someone has asked you to do - ปฏิเสธ

regarding: concerning somebody/something; about somebody/something - เกี่ยวกับ

regular: normal; following a pattern, especially with the same time and space in between each thing and the next - ปกติ, เป็นประจำ, เสมอๆ

remind: to make someone think of something they have forgotten or might have forgotten - เตือนความจำ

results: what you get in the end when activity is completed (test results, research results, etc) - ผล

riddled with: full of (something bad) - เต็มไปด้วย

risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง

romantic: believing that things are more exciting or better than they really are, dreamy, idealistic, overuse of imagination - เพ้อฝัน, ในอุดมคติ, เต็มไปด้วยจินตนาการ

run away: escape - หนี

run-down: in very bad condition; that has not been taken care of - ผุพัง, เก่าแก่, ทรุดโทรม

scare: to make someone feel frightened or worried - ทำให้กลัว

scare the living daylights out of: to make people very scared -

scary: frightening - น่าตกใจ, น่ากลัว

shack: a very simple and small building made from pieces of wood, metal or other materials - กระท่อม

show up: to arrive at a place - แสดงตัว, ปรากฏตัว

shrine: a place for worship which is holy because of a connection with a holy person or object - สถานที่บูชา

sighting: an occasion when somebody sees somebody/something, especially something unusual or something that lasts for only a short time - โอกาสที่จะได้เห็น

simple: easy to understand; not complicated - ง่าย,ไม่ยุ่งยาก, ไม่ซับซ้อน

so long as: as long as; only if - เท่าที่, ตราบเท่าที่, จนกว่า

sorcery: witchcraft; black magic; a type of magic which is believed to use the power of the Devil in order to do evil - เวทมนตร์, คาถา เวทมนตร์ชั่วร้าย

spare: to save or set aside - สงวนไว้

specific: detailed and exact - โดยเฉพาะ, เฉพาะเจาะจง

spell: a magical something that a with says or does to control other people - มนตร์คาถา

spirit: the soul thought of as separate from the body and believed to live on after death; a ghost - วิญญาณ

spooky: scary; frightening - น่าตกใจ, น่ากลัว

spree: a period of time when you do a lot of some activity -- good, such as eating or shopping or bad, such as killing -

statues: human or animal images that are made of stone, wood, metal, etc. - รูปปั้น

status: social position - สถานะทางสังคม

stingy: not given or giving willingly; not generous, especially with money - ขี้เหนียว

stretch: to make your arms, legs, or body as straight as possible so that your muscles become long and tight - เหยียดตัว, เหยียดแขนขา

stuff: things; used to refer to a substance, material, group of objects, etc. when you do not know the name, when the name is not important or when it is obvious what you are talking about - สิ่ง, สิ่งของ, วัตถุ

subdue: to defeat a person or a group of people, and to take control of them - ปราบ

suffer: to experience something very unpleasant or painful - ประสบ

supernatural: caused by forces that cannot be explained by science - สิ่งที่เหนือธรรมชาติ

take advantage of: to use something to get some benefit or "advantage" from -

tale: story - เรื่องเล่า

tasty: having a nice flavour or taste - อร่อย

threat: a danger - อันตราย

tongue: the soft part in the mouth that moves around, used for tasting, swallowing, speaking, etc - ลิ้น

traditional: of a custom, a way of life or a way of doing things that has not changed for a long time - เป็นประเพณี, ตามธรรมเนียม, ตามที่ปฏิบัติกันมา

tragic: causing or involving great sadness, because someone suffers or dies - น่าสลดใจ

ultimate: most extreme; best, worst, greatest, most important, etc - ที่สุด

upset: to cause to be very worried, angry or sad about something   - ทำให้วิตกกังวล ทำให้หงุดหงิด

various: several different - หลากหลาย, ซึ่งแตกต่างกัน

version: a particular form of something which varies slightly from other forms of the same thing - ชุด, เวอร์ชั่น

viscera: the organs inside the body such as intestines and stomach -

wicked: morally bad - ชั่วร้าย

wipe: to rub something against a surface, in order to remove dirt or liquid from it; to rub a surface with a cloth, etc. in order to clean it - เช็ด

womb: the organ in women and female animals in which babies develop before they are born - มดลูก

worshipper: someone who is showing love and respect for God, especially during a religious ceremony or prayer - ผู้นับถือ,ผู้สักการะบูชา, ผู้สวดมนตร์

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