But not all ghosts (“phii” in Thai) are so co-operative and nice. Judging by ads for numerous horror films fearuring ghosts, Thais simply adore being terrified. Here’s a short list of some favourite ‘phii’:
Phii Kraseu - the most feared ghost of all. Usually a woman’s head, trailing intestines, glowing heart and bleeding organs, floats around at night to find human entrails and dirt to eat. Thais often know she has visited them when they find grisly streaky marks where she has wiped her mouth on their laundry.
Phii Phret with matching K9 accomplice.
Phii Mae Naak – a woman who dies in childbirth returns to look after her husband… see an illustrated review of this Thai horror movie.
Phii Krahang – lives in barns. Its feathered body, half-bird, half-man, glows at night while it wanders in search of food (oddly enough, like Thai people themselves, most Thai ghosts are very fond of food).
Phii Phret – this is how evil-doers and parent-abusers end up… a translucent male ghost as tall as a tree, eternally wailing and hungry because its mouth is only the size of a pin-hole [see main photo above].
And so on - the list is long. In response to his account of being pursued through a forest by a pale-faced Phii Kraseu, one Thai boy wrote: “I became caught in the screamy moment and can’t do anything. Tears come out of my eyes because of fearing”.
A girl recounted how she encountered a Phii Phret in her grandmother’s backyard at night: “It had hands and foots very big and a thin body more tall than trees. It yelling and hungry”.
Another girl wrote: “My mum told me if I do wrong the Phret ghost will come to me. My hair’s arm stand up and I’m very suspicious”.
A fourth student, however, wryly observed: “I used to fear Phii Phret, but now I think some bad people is scary more than ghosts”.
By the way, it's best to avoid brushing your hair 100 times in front of a mirror at midnight, surrounded by burning candles. It makes Thai ghosts particularly VICIOUS.