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Tourists flock to Sichon temple, worship a spirit known for granting wishes

Caitlin Ashworth

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Tourists flock to Sichon temple, worship a spirit known for granting wishes | Thaiger
PHOTO: destimap.com

Thai tourists destinations have gone quiet due to the pandemic, but one southern Thailand temple is thriving. Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Wat Chedi is known for granting wishes, and apparently many come true (although people don’t tend to talk about the ones that don’t come true). It is packed with visitors not just on the weekends, but every day.

Visitors worship Ai Khai, the spirit known to inhabit Wat Chedi in the province’s Sichon district. Ai Khai has become famous for granting wishes like lottery wins, business success and the recovery of lost or stolen items.

When a wish is granted, people return to the temple to set off fireworks and donate a rooster statue along with other offerings in honour of Ai Khai. Military camouflage uniforms, black glasses and slingshots are popular offerings. The frequent boom from firecrackers and the thousands of rooster statues show that people are getting what they want.

Many believe the spirit of a boy, about 9 or 10 years old, inhabits the temple. They call him ‘Ai Khai’, which is a common nickname in the South for young boys. Legend has it that Ai Khai was a disciple of a revered monk during the Ayutthaya period. They say he drowned in a nearby river, but his spirit is still at the temple.

So many people visited the temple last month, many trying to get their hands on a special Ai Khai amulet, that the temple had to suspend amulet trading. The number of visitors continues to rise. The number of monthly visitors at the temple has increased from 300,000 to 500,000 people, according to director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Nakhon Si Thammarat branch Pitsinee Thasniyom.

Nearby business and hotels have also benefited from the temple’s popularity. The province’s hotel occupancy rate is now at 90%. Tourists spent more than 800 million baht during the long holiday from September 4 to 7, Pitsnee says.

Flights to Nakhon Si Thammarat have doubled from 14 daily flights to 30, according to the chairman of the province’s chamber of commerce Krakow Tetiranon. He adds that airlines are continuing to offer new flights and hotels are often fully booked.

“As crowds have been drawn to the province over the past three months, local authorities have taken the opportunity to promote other kinds of activities, such as environmental and cultural tourism.”

But not every district in Nakhon Si Thammarat is benefiting from the temple’s success. Krakow says 5 of the 23 districts are seeing a gain: Muang, Sichon, Khanom, Tha Sala and Lan Saka. Sichon’s neighbouring district, Khanom, has changed since the pandemic. Once known for it’s quiet beach and “small town” feel, Khanom has become packed with tourists during the weekends.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    barry

    Sunday, September 13, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Let’s hope Lord Ai Khai will help those of us struggling with Thai visa issues at the moment…

  2. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    Monday, September 14, 2020 at 9:42 am

    sounds like a business opportunity.

  3. Avatar

    Alan

    Monday, September 14, 2020 at 11:04 am

    Thailand is a land of spirits. I have first hand direct experience. I made a discovery as an English spirit medium/dream interpreter in my encounter with Thai Naga spirit mediums, the realm of the Naga, is what we call the Celtic Other-world. I met my kindred spirits, and we recognized each other. My heart is in Thailand, I was told I shall keep returning, and I will breathe my last breath in Thailand, because that’s where I came from long ago.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

100+ Covid-19 infections cancels all prison visits

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100+ Covid-19 infections cancels all prison visits | Thaiger
PHOTO: Close quarters in prisons make dangerous conditions for Covid-19 spread

After a small Covid-19 outbreak reported yesterday, the Corrections Department has now cancelled all prison visits from tomorrow through May 5, after testing revealed more than 100 people infected within the prison systems in Narathiwat, a border province in the south of Thailand, and Surat Thani. Originally 2 prisoners in Narathiwat Central Prison were confirmed to have Covid-19 Friday, with contract tracing and testing revealing 5 inmates and a prison staffer who travelled to Surat Thani also have the virus. Now, further testing revealed that 112 infections have been identified in Narathiwat’s prison.

In order to prevent the spread in the confined spaces of a prison, several actions have been implemented. Aside from suspending all visitors, inmates will not be allowed to participate in any off-site work programs, and incoming prisoners will be tested twice and be isolated for 2 to 3 weeks before being assimilated into the common prison population. With visitations cancelled, the Corrections Department confirmed they will allow “virtual visits” through the Line app. Plans are being worked out to handle problems like court appearances remotely for any detainees or prisoners affected.

In Surat Thani, after the 5 prisoners and 1 prison official contracted Covid-19, testing was done on 135 inmates who were considered high risk. The preliminary results seem to be all negative. In the far south, the Deputy Governor of Narathiwat reported that medical officials had administered Coronavirus tests to 791 prisoners and prison staff thought to be high risk. Narathiwat Central Prison has a total population of 2,334 inmates and 97 staff members.

Of the 112 positive Covid-19 test results at Narathiwat Central Prison, 87 are male inmates, 23 are prison officials. Also afflicted are 1 female prisoner and 1 nurse. Prisons present some unique challenges and controversies when dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. For example, last week arrested protestors complained of human rights violations when prison guards claimed to be attempting to administer Covid-19 tests at unusual hours.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Southern Thai people turn from tourism to gold panning

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Southern Thai people turn from tourism to gold panning | Thaiger
PHOTO: Traditional panning for gold replaces tourism for income in Southern Thailand

Thars gold in dem hills!

With tourism in Thailand struggling due to Covid-19, and an economy needing some help, some people in the southern Thai region of the country have found income in an unusual source: panning for gold. The Sukhirin region close to the Malaysian border is known for gold deposits in the Sai Buri River and surrounding mountains. Villagers who made money before with tourism have now returned to panning for gold using old-fashioned manual techniques their ancestors used, without the aid of any machinery. Well, just an old pan.

Locals had previously made money selling food to passing tourists or acting as a tour guide to take people around the area, where travellers seeking to get away from the crowded and overdeveloped tourist areas that attract the most foreigners find many unique activities. Kayaking was a popular local activity with up to 150 people a day sailing down the rivers that are now filled with locals panning for gold. The prospectors are now making their income from the gold they collect which sells for 1,500 baht per gram. Families that work together can often collect at least one gram a day.

Thai Gold prices have reached record highs over the last 2 years and many Thai people have traditionally used gold and gold jewellery as a form of savings and investment, pawning their gold rings and bracelets in times of financial emergencies. The gold collected from these Southern villages will be used to make jewellery in Bangkok.

The region had invested in expanding into ecotourism but the pandemic put all their construction plans on hold. A cable car was being built to transport people up to the tops of the mountains to beautiful temples. The area’s unique history attracted people to their annual Rocket Festival, typically a north-eastern celebration.

In 1932, France was granted a 25 year mining contract in the jungles. They extracted almost 2000 kg of gold before World War II forced closure. The mining tunnels still exist and sometimes attracted adventurous tourists, but now sit vacant aside from snakes. In the 1960s the Thai government incentivised northerners with 18 rai of land each to move to the region. As a result, the area stands out in the Muslim region with 90% of the population being Buddhist, and most still speaking Isan dialects.

SOURCE: France 24

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Thailand

Boy killed by lightning strike in Surat Thani, 5 others injured

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Boy killed by lightning strike in Surat Thani, 5 others injured | Thaiger
Stock photo by Philippe Donn for Pexels

A 12 year old boy was killed by a lightning strike while he was playing football at a field in Southern Thailand’s Surat Thani. 5 other children were also injured from a bolt of lightning and were rushed to the Surat Thani Hospital.

Heavy rain had just cleared up and the boys were playing football when lightning struck the middle of the field in the Khian Sa district.

The 12 year old Mathayom 1 student (grade 7) was pronounced dead at the hospital. Reports do not go into detail about the conditions of the other boys, ages 13 to 16, who were injured from the lightning strike.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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