There are many tales in Thailand about a Thai Ghost but none is as well known as the story about the Thai Ghost known as Mae Nak. Mae Nak was a much feared type of Thai Ghost called a Phi Tai Tong Glom. The tale of Mae Nak is both terrifying and touching. It is a love story that goes horribly wrong. No one enjoys a good ghost story more then Thai people do and the tale of Mae Nak has spawned several Movies, an animated feature film, a musical and even an opera.
Many years ago in an old district of Bangkok, Phra Khanong, there lived a young couple, Tid and Mae Nak. Mae Nak was expecting her first child when her husband Tid was drafted into the army to fight against the Burmese. While Tid was away, unfortunately both mother and child died during childbirth. Mae Nak’s love for her husband was so great and her spirit so strong that she returned as a ghost and both she and her child assumed human form.
Tid, unaware of these events, returned home and life for the young couple resumed as normal until one of Tid’s friends told him about his wife’s death. Tid did not believe him until one day, whilst eating supper together, a spoon was dropped and instinctively Mae Nak stretched out her arm to an extraordinary length to recover it. Tid questioned his wife about everything and eventually Mae Nak broke down and admitted that she had died and was now a ghost. Tid fled the house and took refuge in a temple.
Mae Nak begged her husband to come out of the temple but still terrified he refused. She flew into a rage and began to terrorize the villagers for having told her husband the truth. She went on a killing spree and even disposed of a Mho Phi (Ghost Doctor) whom the villagers had employed to exorcise Mae Nak. Every night Mae Nak would stand outside the temple where her husband was hiding and scream and wail for his return.
Legend has it that a senior and well respected Monk was passing nearby and heard the story. He spoke with Mae Nak for some time and finally persuaded her to give up her husband and seek peace. Mae Nak bids farewell to her husband for the last time, lies down on the ground and becomes a decomposed corpse.
A true story or not I hear you ask. No one knows for certain but it is a love story of great passion and more than just a few people would not dispute her existence.
A slight twist to this macabre tale is that today in Bangkok you can visit a shrine dedicated to Mae Nak who, whilst unlucky in love, is thought to be kind and generous and many Thai people believe they will receive good fortune in the Lottery by praying to her. Young couples ask for her blessings but pregnant women, not surprisingly, usually stay away.