The signs of this universal belief in ghosts and spirits are not difficult to spot. Spirit Houses,San Phra Phum, (small houses to accommodate the displaced Spirit of the land) can be seen outside most Thai houses and many offices.
The trade in amulets (religious medallions) is enormous throughout Thailand. Many Thai men will wear more than one for protection against evil spirits. There is even a special penis shaped medallion (Palad Khik) worn by Thai men to, among other things, protect their most prized and private possession from any interference by evil spirits
Especially popular among Thai people, both male and female, are a special type of magic tattoo called a Sak Yant. These tattoos are worn mainly for protection including protection against evil spirits.
Thai ghosts and spirits are everywhere but a favourite dwelling place is a tree. Some ghosts are most particular about where they stay and will seek out, for example, a banana tree as their residence. Thai people will wrap coloured cloth around many of these trees to appease their inhabitants and to warn any innocent passers-by not to cut down any of these trees. A particularly frightening Thai Ghost is the Phi Kraseu, which flies around with only a head and intestines showing.
Several industries have grown up and thrive on Thai people’s love affair with the macabre and fear of the unknown. Amulets and Sak Yant have already been mentioned and to these we can add the Ghost Doctor commonly known as Mor Phi whose job it is to banish any ghost who has become particularly bothersome. With his specialized knowledge of chants, incantations, potions and spells, these secrets having been handed down from generation to generation. As a testament to their popularity, many of these Ghost Doctors have become quite wealthy and have achieved celebrity status. The largest beneficiary by far though of Thailand’s Spirit World is the Thai Movie industry which churns out ghost stories ranging from the comic to the gruesome. In spite of their fear, Thai people just cannot resist a good ghost story. The list is endless. There is even a town in North Eastern Thailand, Dansai, which holds an annual Ghost Festival (Phi Ta Khon)
As we continue our travels through the Thai Spirit World we will bring you full details with accurate descriptions of the many types of ghosts we hope to meet. We have been warned that this pursuit of the paranormal may take some time as there could be many 100’s of different types of ghosts inhabiting the Land of Smiles. As our fear of needles is greater than our fear of ghosts, we will unfortunately not get a Sak Yant tattoo and, because our sole purpose is to meet with these ghosts, we will have to venture into the unknown without wearing even a single amulet for protection.