When does a goat story become a ghost story? In Thailand, of course, where belief in ghosts and spirits is so widespread it influences most aspects of daily life.
Actually, to say that Thai people believe in ghosts is an understatement of monumental proportions. Belief in ghosts is such an integral part of the culture, it is as though the Thais themselves manifest spirits whether they exist in "objective" reality or not. Oddly, as a Westerner who does not share Thai ghost beliefs, I am not immune. Upon moving to Chiang Mai exactly one year ago, I sometimes sensed unseen presences or caught glimpses of shadowy figures out of the corner of my eye in my condo.
But the ghosts have since moved. After becoming more acclimated to Thailand, my unwelcome guests and I had a polite but direct conversation. I asked them to relocate to the condo building's san phra phum (spirit house). They obliged. Because I was a farang (foreigner), the ghosts assumed that I didn't know Thai cultural rules so they had pushed the boundaries.
There are spirit houses near all Thai homes, temples, hotels, condominiums, car dealerships, fitness centers, shopping malls, etc., etc.. The spirit houses are usually elaborately painted wooden structures the size of large doll houses on big pedestals with miniature replicas of people, furniture, and animals inside and around them. A Buddhist monk typically advises about the optimum placement of the spirit house on a property.
|Traditional spirit houses|
|Spirit house figurines|