Feared downtown as much as upcountry, they’re found in movies, lakorn, and closets everywhere. Indeed one only has to consider the ubiquitous spirit house to understand ghosts are kind of a big deal.
And you can’t reach the core of Thai culture until you get to know them.
From the most-infamous Krasue to the underrated Kitty Ghost, this handy guide will help familiarize the uninitiated with our classic creeps. After all, you might just encounter one of these guys tonight.
Krasue & Krahang
At night, the evil Krasue separates a woman’s head from her body against her will, dragging all her internal organs – heart, lungs, intestines and all – to fly across the village and feast on disgusting stuff. We’re talking about dead animals and animal blood.
After her appetite for the awful is sated, Krasue will rudely wipe her mouth on people’s fresh laundry hanging around the house. That’s okay, there’s a way to get the bitch back: If you boil the stained item, Krasue will suffer from terrible pain! (Moral of the story: Keep your linens fresh.)
Despite her horrid appearance and filthy diet, it’s extremely easy to prevent a Krasue attack. Place sharp objects around your house. Krasue doesn’t want her guts getting cut up when she tries to float over your garden of punji sticks.
As for Krahang, he’s basically a normal guy with a powerful addiction to black magic. But when such a warlock loses control of his power, he gains the very specific superpower of being able to fly using rice baskets as wings.
Make sense? Krahang makes a perfect ghostly boy-toy for Krasue, as they both fly around eating nasty stuff.
“Gong Goi!” it screams. “Gong Goi!” it jumps. Gong Goi is a child-sized monster that lives in the forest. Gong Goi is really stupid. But watch your feet, for Gong Goi will suck blood from the toes of people camping in the wild while they sleep.
Gong Goi has a long mouth that looks like a large pipe, large eyes and red hair, making it just look awful. The sum of his afterlife is spent hopping around on one human leg that bends backward, so he has to do a lot of terrible bouncing to get around. No one knows exactly why, but this mindless spirit jumps and screams “Gong Goi, Gong Goi!” over and over.
Gong Goi pro-tip: As it sucks the blood through your toes, you can counter this ghost by hiding your feet inside your sleeping bag. His thirst for your foot blood is completely frustrated by some cozy camping gear. Or better yet, to really get Gong Goi’s goat, cross your legs while sleeping. Trust us, it really works.
Are you tired of waking up every morning to find your pet chickens and cattle torn into pieces? If so, you’re probably under attack from a Pop. (At least if you’re in Isaan.)
A ghost hailing from the northeast, Pop commonly possesses those who’ve been messing with black magic or committed a sin such as killing large animals (reason: killing peaceful beasts is worse than slaying people.) According to folklore, Pop will take human form to hunt for animals, especially domestic chickens it wants to savor alive.
So figure out who’s got the Pop in them PDQ, as the ghost will slowly consume them from the inside if the exorcism is not performed promptly and properly.
How to evict a Pop? Easy: Round up some folk dancers to perform the mighty Phi Fa dance before it’s too late.
If you think you can handle the mesmerizing sight of the Phi Fa in action, here it is immortalized in one of the you-tubes.
Tanee is the girl-next-door spirit adored by all. This darling-looking nymph lives in a banana tree.
Some legends claim Tanee is actually not a ghost, but the lowest kind of angel who is too sinful to live in heaven, so she finds shelter in a banana tree.
Anyway, the reason Tanee likes bananas so much is because she really loves penises. In addition to being so beautiful, Tanee is really thirsty, and this lustful girl-ghost lures men to have sex with her. But guys once you fall for Tanee, you may never love another woman again. Well you can try, but then Tanee will viciously rip your head off.
Ready to commit to her? A bachelor must pee on her banana tree or rub his penis on it, actions which she will consider as flirting. (FYI: Not every banana tree has a Tanee, guys.)
It is believed Mae Nak (Mrs. Nak) lived in Bangkok by Phra Khanong canal in the 1800s. Despite dying while giving birth, Nak stayed true to her love and waited for her husband Mark to come home from the war.
But once he was back, Nak forgot to mention one little thing to him – she and their baby were ghosts.
In Thai folklore, Mark discovered her undeath in a peculiar scene. He walked in on Nak while she was cooking and saw her arm stretch all the way to the ground to pick up a lime.
The story of Mae Nak has been adapted for the screen, television and stage about 10,000 times, while her spirit is worshipped by women seeking easy childbirth. The Mae Nak shrine is located at Wat Mahabut, Soi Sukhumvit 77.
Often described in folklore as “tall as a palm tree,” Pret is believed to be the terrible afterlife of an ungrateful person. Pret is pretty unhappy because of its terrible appetite that can’t be satisfied, due to its impossibly small mouth. Why does Pret have such a useless orifice? Because it once talked a lot of smack to its parents.
Pret spend their days going around begging for blessings when humans make merit. This photograph from earlier this year helpfully illustrates this.
Jakla is a kitty ghost. How awesome is that?
Jakla may be as fluffy as a normal cat, but don’t be fooled by its cuteness. One can drop dead from a heart attack by petting or just looking at Jakla. We warned you.
It’s created when a black magic magister channels sinister, arcane powers into an innocent animal, giving it the ability to kill.
Jakla is described as a black cat with red evil eyes.
Pii Baan Pii Ruan
They live in your house. They watch you sleep. There’s nothing you can do.
In addition to the guardian spirits shacked up outside in their spirit houses, Thais also believe they are living among the spirits of everyone who’s ever died on the premises. This is why folks like to buy new – the older the building, the more it’s packed with ghosts.
Household ghosts or Pii Barn Pii Ruan could be your dead relatives who never left or the previous owners or just someone who croaked on the property or an angry wraith whose were interred centuries earlier. The possibilities are endless.
Think nobody has died on the spot you’re sitting right now? Think again.
Illustrations: Praew Tansanga