Spirit Houses and Cardboard Chefs

18 Jan

As well as more zebras and pigs


In case it hasn’t occurred to you yet, there is no question that Thais take their Spirit Houses very seriously.  So do I.  And this Bangkok Blog entry will yet again deal mainly with them.  You might recall that back in October, I wrote a piece on a ‘dazzle’ of zebras hanging out at one of the Spirit Houses I discovered while walking along one of the main streets.  In that entry, I presented the theories as to why zebras turn up at so many Spirit Houses when there are no zebras native to Thailand.

The other day on a walk back from the bank, I spotted a very cool looking all black Spirit House.  It was unusual in that while there are lots of all black models, they usually are of a contemporary design.  This one was a traditional version, but painted black  I thought it looked pretty cool.  But what also caught my eye was the ‘dazzle’ of zebras below the Spirit House.  These weren’t just little zebras on protective duty.  No, these were big guys that you wouldn’t want to mess around with.  The thing is that this Spirit House wasn’t on an intersection and actually was away from traffic, so I wondered why such big zebras were necessary.  I’m sure there was a good reason to hire such large specimens.  Also, I thought that the chicken at the feet of one of the zebras, added a nice touch – a sort of domestic touch, I would say.

As I continued my walk, I passed a large lot that we have rented for parking staff vehicles.  We ran out of parking space at our main hospital campus, so it was necessary to rent a space where staff could park, allowing all the spaces close to the hospital to be used by patients.  This lot is about a 5 minute walk from our buildings, so it has seemed to work out well, with only moderate staff complaints.  (We also park one or more of our mobile clinic buses in this lot.)  Of course, it was necessary for us to protect the parking lot from whatever, so we placed a Spirit House in one corner.  It’s a pretty nice model – nothing fancy except for the pigs and a couple of big guys standing guard. although one of them looks to be a bit drunk.  And there are two zebras, as you never know what kind of trouble so many cars in a parking lot might get into.  It seems like we need to do some maintenance, as lots of leaves from overhanging tree branches are starting to clog the front door. These Spirits must be pretty rugged.  After all, they are guarding dozens of cars, trucks and buses in a huge outdoor area.  Maybe they like the leaves floating into their house.  They provide more of a camping feel that is appropriate to a large open area.

Finally, as I continued walking toward the hospital, I noticed a bunch of cardboard chefs walking down the street with a two fruit baskets in tow.  That was strange.

It’s amazing what turns up on the streets of Bangkok.  Large zebras and small smiley pigs guarding Spirits who, in turn, guard people and parking lots.  Then there are walking signs bearing fruit.  Bangkok is a very strange place.

As is sometimes the case, there is one more thing.  Yesterday, I noticed an article in Wired Magazine entitled ‘The Man in the Zebra Suit Knows the Secret of the Stripes.’  This article is about one expert’s views on why zebras have stripes.  I felt that it was important to link to this article, given the amount of space I have devoted to zebras and their role, as partners to Spirits, in protecting pedestrians and drivers in Thailand.  (By the way, I have just looked at accident statistics for driving related deaths in Thailand, and it appears that the zebras are doing a terrible job, because Thailand is considered to be the second most dangerous place in the world, next to Honduras, for traffic related deaths. In 2012, there were about 14,000 deaths due to traffic related accidents.  What’s with those zebras? They need to start doing a better job.)

2 thoughts on “Spirit Houses and Cardboard Chefs

    • The turtles are partly protected by a tiny Spirit House on top of the little rock formation at their pond, but there is a really big Spirit House at the entrance to the hospital, which protects everything and everyone in the complex – even turtles. I guess the tiny House has tiny turtle Spirits taking care of the pond. There might even be a fish Spirit living there as there are some fish in the pond as well.

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