It’s no secret, as much as they’re terrified of them, Thais love ghosts. So when a good ghost story starts making the rounds, don’t be surprised if it suddenly becomes a national treasurer and may even spark a shrine that becomes a huge tourist attraction. Such is the case of the Mae Nak Shrine in Bangkok.
The story goes, over a century ago there was a beautiful woman called Nak who lived on the banks of the Prakanong River. She grew up and married her sweetheart, a man named Maak.
Maak went off to war and, while he was gone, Nak died in childbirth. But, she loved her husband so much, her ghost still waited for him and, when he returned, they went on living together as before – Maak not knowing his wife had died.
When he finally realized Nak was a ghost, Maak was so frightened he hid in the local temple. This angered Nak, who went on a campaign of terror around the village, until she was finally exorcised by a local ‘ghost doctor’.
Today, there’s a shrine built for Nak at the Maha But Temple in Bangkok. More like a home than a shrine, people leave gifts of food, clothing, money and toys (for Nak’s dead child) and go to ask for help with lottery numbers and to get out of being called up for military service, as it’s believed Nak can help with both.
The story of Nak was also made into a movie, Nang Nak, which can be bought on DVD at most Bangkok DVD shops and, let me tell you, it’s scary.
To get to the Maha But Temple and the Mae Nak Shrine (also known as ‘Nang Nak’ – Mae Nak, in Thai, means ‘Mother Nak’), take the sky train to the On Nut station, and the temple is a few hundred years down Sukhumvit Soi 77.
Top photo – movie poster for ‘Nang Nak’