Not the News: Stories that turned out to be hoaxes

Not the News: Stories that turned out to be hoaxes

Can you tell real news from fake news? From snake girls to Nagas met walking to the bathroom to Thais eating an African man.


We revisit five news stories that turned out to be hoaxes


Pornchai Sereemongkonpol

This week, for your edutainment, we’ve conducted some armchair research into some of the most memorable fake news ever reported about Thailand.


A story about an eight-year-old girl from Bangkok named “Mai Li Fay”, whose bottom half of her body is that of a snake, recently surfaced on the web. According to top Thai medical expert “Dr. Ping Lao”, Nong Mai Li Fay suffers from a rare syndrome known as Serpentosis Malianorcis. There is also a picture of the said girl in a red top, smiling and laying on her bed with her snake bottom half exposed. It's reported that her condition attracts people who come to touch her for good fortune. Her family is said to welcome the situation as it generates income.

Why you may buy it: The story includes a doctor who gives a fancy name for the disease. Thailand already has a wolf girl. Also, Thais have a penchant for turning a weird thing into something auspicious. Some believe a cat carcass found in a sausage led them to winning the lottery so touching a snake girl for good luck seems about right.

Why it's not true: While the person(s) who created this false news seems to have some knowledge about Thai superstition, what immediately gave the story away were the names of the girl and the doctor (and that's why we put unnecessary quotation marks around them earlier). Their names sound Chinese while Thai names are usually ridiculously long i.e. Sumati Sivasiamphai, Pimchanok Phungbun Na Ayudhya or Pornchai Sereemongkonpol. Secondly, the picture of the supposed snake girl is amateur photoshop work. We rest our case.


In October last year, a 67-year-old grandma named Kaew Promthong from Nakhon Phanom claimed she captured a real naga with her mobile phone (for a lady of advanced age, she’s very tech savvy). She said that after making merit at a temple she walked to the toilet and encountered a big snake-like creature emerging from a pond. She did the most sensible thing any granny would by snapping a few shots of it before running away in fear. The villagers believed the creature was the mythical naga who showed up to bless them. Its appearance also coincided with a local legend regarding the temple’s pond as being naga’s habitat. Furthermore, she happened to be a sister to the temple’s abbot.

Why you may buy it: You believe in unicorns, dragons and fairies.

Why it’s not true: Well, we don’t have to find any scientific evidence to disprove the story. We can just use common sense. When encountering a scary unknown creature on the way to the toilet, people usually just run away and/or wet themselves instead of whipping out a mobile phone to take pictures. With due respect to the granny, we think she is merely an accessory in a publicity stunt to promote her brother’s temple. Also, Thai Rath later reported that the naga in the picture was just the top part of a walking cane. A local administrative officer led an investigation and disproved it also. Good on him.


Back in 2009, very OMB, NSFW, disturbing-as-hell pictures from Thailand were circulated online. They showed a group of Thais who, for lack of a better explanation, thoroughly dismembered the body of a man with darker complexion. A woman held his severed hand to the camera, smiling. Two young men seemed to be cooking something. A boy held a plate of food. A bloody skull was placed not too far from a plate of food and drinks. Were they eating a human? Foreign online forums posted pictures of the alleged human-eating and some believed these people actually ate an African man.

Why you may buy it: The solid photographic evidence can easily be found online. Perform a Google search along the lines of “Thai people eating a black man” at your own risk and at least six hours before a meal. Plus, some Thais have a weird appetite for eating live geckos, cockroaches and bats already.

Why it’s not true: Fortunately, it was just a case of misunderstanding caused by cultural difference. According to an episode of Rueng Jing Phan Jor aired on Xmas Eve in 2009, the icky incident turned out to be a big misunderstanding. It was actually a cemetery cleansing ceremony by a foundation in Prachuap Khiri Khan for dead bodies without relatives. Due to the overwhelming amount of bodies to be processed, the body in the video, which was a Thai man and one week old, was stripped of flesh by the foundation’s volunteers so he could easily be cremated along with other bodies. The food in the pictures was phad kaprao and was for the volunteers. The disturbing pictures were first circulated in Thailand as forwarded emails before they went inter and caused all the misunderstanding.

Learn from listening

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  • abbot (noun): the head monk at a temple - เจ้าอาวาส
  • accessory: a person who helps another person break the law and carry out a crime -
  • actually: used for stressing what is really true or what really happened - ตามความเป็นจริง
  • advanced age: an old age, i.e., a person is very old -
  • air: to broadcast; to send out a programme on television or radio - ออกอากาศ, กระจายเสียง,กระจายข่าว
  • alleged: claimed to be true although not yet proven; claimed to have done something wrong but not yet proven - ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
  • along the lines of: something that is like .... -
  • amateur: a person who takes part in a sport or other activity for enjoyment, not as a job - มือสมัครเล่น
  • appearance: the way that somebody/something looks on the outside - ลักษณะภายนอก, การปรากฏตัว
  • appetite: the natural feeling of wanting to eat - น้ำย่อย ความอยากอาหาร
  • armchair: interested in a subject, but lacking any practical or first-hand experience with it, i.e., not really know what you are talking about -
  • attract: to cause someone to be interested in something - ดึงดูดความสนใจ
  • auspicious: (opposite: inauspicious) suggesting a positive and successful future - ที่มีฤกษ์ดี
  • believe: being fond and think of something to be right and will follow it - เชื่อใจ,ศรัทธา
  • bless: to ask God to protect somebody/something - อวยพร, ทำให้เกิดความศักดิ์สิทธิ์
  • buy it: believe it -
  • cane (noun): a piece of cane or a thin stick, used to help somebody to walk - ไม้เท้า
  • capture: to catch someone or something; to take someone as a prisoner - จับ, จับกุม
  • carcass: the body of a dead animal - ซาก
  • cause: the person or thing that makes something happen - สาเหตุ
  • cemetery: the area of ground where dead people are buried or their bodies or ashes are kept - สุสาน
  • ceremony (noun): a formal public event - งานพิธี
  • circulate: to pass from one person to another - ยังคงมีการแพร่ระบาดอยู่
  • claim (noun): saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา
  • cockroach: a large brown insect with wings, that lives in houses, especially where there is dirt - แมลงสาบ
  • coincide with: to happen at the same time as something else - เกิดขึ้นพร้อมกับ
  • common sense: the ability to think about things in a practical way and make sensible decisions - การใช้ความคิดตัดสินเบื้องต้น, การตัดสินแบบพื้นๆ
  • complexion: the natural colour and condition of the skin on a person's face - ลักษณะผิว
  • condition: the physical state of a person or animal, especially how healthy they are - อาการ, สุขภาพ
  • creature: anything that lives except plants - สิ่งมีชีวิต (คน, สัตว์)
  • cremate: to burn the body of a dead person - เผาศพ
  • cultural (adj.): related to the customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group - วัฒนธรรม
  • disease (noun): a health problem and problem with a person's body, often caused by an infection, either from a bacteria or virus - โรค
  • dismembered: having legs, arms, hands, etc. cut off - ถูกตัดออกเป็นส่วน ๆ , ถูกตัดมือตัดขาออก
  • disprove: to prove and show that something is not true -
  • disturbing: making you feel extremely worried or upset - ที่ขุ่นเคืองใจ
  • disturbing: making you feel extremely worried, annoyed or upset - ที่ขุ่นเคืองใจ, น่ารำคาญ
  • dragon (noun): a large dangerous creature in old stories that breathes fire and has wings and long pointed tale - มังกร
  • emerge: to appear or to become recognised - โผล่ออกมา
  • encounter: a meeting, especially one that happens by chance - การเผชิญหน้า
  • episode: one of the single parts into which a story is divided, especially when it is broadcast on the television or radio - ตอน
  • evidence: facts, signs or objects that make you believe that something is true - หลักฐาน,ข้อแสดง
  • expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
  • explanation (noun): a description of how something happened or happens; giving the reasons why it happened - การอธิบาย, การชี้แจง, การขยายความ, คำอธิบาย
  • expose: to uncover - เปิดออก
  • fake: made to look like something real in order to trick people - ที่ทำปลอม
  • fancy: unusually complicated; intended to impress other people - ไม่ธรรมดา, งดงาม, วิเศษ
  • flesh (noun): the skin of the human body - ผิวเนื้อของคน
  • fortunately: used for emphasizing that something good has happened, especially because of good luck - อย่างโชคดี, อย่างเคราะห์ดี
  • fortune: luck - โชค
  • forum (noun): a place where people can express their ideas and opinions - ที่แสดงความคิดเห็น, การประชุมแสดงความคิดเห็น
  • forward: to send onwards - ส่งต่อ
  • foundation: an organisation that provides money for things such as medical research or for a charity - มูลนิธิ
  • gave it away: something that you see that tells you that something is not true or real -
  • gecko: a small lizard (= a type of reptile ) that lives in warm countries - ตุ๊กแก
  • generate: to produce - ก่อให้เกิด
  • grandma: grandmother, the mother of your mother or father - ย่า / ยาย
  • habitat: the type of place that a particular animal usually lives in or a particular plant usually grows in - ถิ่นที่อยู่ของพืชหรือสัตว์
  • 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
  • icky: not nice -
  • immediately (adv): happening right after something else with no delay; right away - ทันที
  • incident: something that happens, usually something bad - เหตุการณ์
  • income: money that someone gets from working or from investing money - รายได้
  • inter: international -
  • international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • investigation: the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something - การสอบสวน
  • knowledge (noun): all the facts that people know about a subject (example: medical knowledge) - ความรู้
  • lack of: when there is not enough of something - ขาด
  • legend: a story from ancient times about people and events, that may or may not be true; this type of story - ตำนาน
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • lottery: a way of raising money for a government, charity, etc. by selling tickets that have different numbers on them that people have chosen. Numbers are then chosen by chance and the people who have those numbers on their tickets win prizes - สลากกินแบ่ง, ล็อตเตอรี่
  • meal: the food that you serve or eat at one time - มื้ออาหาร
  • medical: connected with illness and injury and their treatment - ทางการแพทย์, ด้านการแพทย์, เกี่ยวกับการแพทย์
  • memorable: likely to be remembered or worth remembering - ซึ่งมีค่าน่าจดจำ, โดดเด่น
  • merit-making: doing good things according to religious beliefs - การทำบุญ
  • misunderstanding: a situation in which a comment, an instruction, etc. is not understood correctly - ความเข้าใจผิด
  • mythical: relating to or existing only in myths; imaginary, or not real - ซึ่งเป็นนิทาน
  • overwhelm: to be in such great amount that a person cannot deal with it - ท่วมท้น
  • penchant (noun): a liking for - การชอบอย่างมาก
  • pond: a small area of still water, especially one that is artificial - บ่อน้ำ, สระน้ำ
  • promote: to encourage or support something - สนับสนุน
  • publicity stunt: something that is done to get attention for the person or people responsible for it -
  • rare: not happening very often - หาได้ยาก
  • recently (adverb): not long ago - เมื่อไม่นานมานี้, เมื่อเร็วๆ นี้
  • relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง
  • research: a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it - การวิจัย
  • rest our case: finish making an argument, as a lawyer does in a court "case" -
  • risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง
  • savvy: having practical knowledge or understanding of something - รู้,เข้าใจ, มีความรู้ความสามารถ
  • scary: frightening - น่าตกใจ, น่ากลัว
  • sensible: reasonable and practical - มีเหตุผล
  • severed: cut off - ถูกตัด
  • situation: all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์
  • skull : the bones of the head - กระโหลกศีรษะ
  • snapped: took a lot of photographs quickly - ถ่ายรูป
  • solid: completely good, with no mistakes or bad parts - ซึ่งไว้ใจได้
  • strip: to remove, pull or tear the covering or outer layer from something - กวาด, ลอก,ปอก
  • superstition: the belief that particular events happen in a way that cannot be explained by reason or science; the belief that particular events bring good or bad luck - ความเชื่อในทางไสยศาสตร์, ความเชื่อในผีสางเทวดา
  • supposed: believed to be; thought to be - เป็นที่เชื่อว่า
  • surface: to become known or seen - เป็นที่รู้, ปรากฏ, เปิดเผย
  • syndrome: a set of feelings or actions that are typical in a particular situation; a medical condition that has a particular set of effects on your body or mind - ลักษณะเชิงซ้อนต่างๆ ที่บ่งบอกถึงสภาพใดสภาพหนึ่ง, อาการของโรคต่างๆ ที่เกิดขึ้นพร้อมๆ กัน
  • thoroughly (adv): very much; completely - อย่างแท้จริง, อย่างที่สุด
  • top (noun): a shirt -
  • touch (verb): to put your hands and fingers on something - สัมผัส
  • unknown (adj.): someone who you do not know who they are; unfamiliar - ที่ไม่รู้, ที่ไม่เป็นเป็นรู้จัก
  • volunteer (noun): someone who is not paid for the work that they do; someone who does something willingly without being required to - อาสาสมัคร
  • weird: very strange - แปลกประหลาด
  • welcome: to be pleased to receive or accept something - รับด้วยความยินดี
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