Text page

Culture and politics

Culture and politics forum

Strangest things you've ever seen in Southeast Asia

Posted by MADMAC on 6/7/2009 at 02:55

I'd have to say the strangest sight I ever came across was in a bar in NKP. I walked into the bar, and sitting on a bar stool was a monkey smoking a cigarette. How the Monkey picked up this habit I don't know. He belonged to the bar owner. I guess the bar was his hang out... Very strange experience.

#1 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Thaiman on 6/7/2009 at 15:28

Saw a Falung lady last time I was there[Kanchanaburi] who took her shoes off to walk across the street in the pouring rain.Left her socks on though.

#2 Thaiman has been a member since 12/11/2008. Posts: 201

Posted by Jon_Mak_Mak on 9/8/2009 at 16:21

Great topic!

Some of the lady boys have been pretty strange. A sign for car rental in Chang Mai that says 'Bomb Car Rent' was a strange sight. Half the falang i have met have been pretty strange too!

#3 Jon_Mak_Mak has been a member since 21/2/2007. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 464

Posted by BruceMoon on 9/8/2009 at 18:29


On the car rental bit, we have had a firm here (in Oz) called Rent-a-Bomb (it rents out good, older cars). It's been around since the 1980's. In recent years the morality brigade have been pointing to examples like that as somehow giving terrorism legitimacy.

#4 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by Tilapia on 9/8/2009 at 21:51

1) The "Wooden Car" at Lazy Days on Koh Mak, built by Naan, Thai hippy and all-round good guy extraordinaire. Built during one of the rainy seasons when he had not much else to do. The thing had coconut shell side view mirrors and headlamps, and couldn't do over 15 km/hr. Then seeing the headlights bouncing around madly in the coconut grove, in the dark, as a very drunk Naan banged it into tree after tree. It's a wonder he wasn't killed by falling coconuts.

2) The Reggae Bar in Chewang in 1992. Is this place still open and the same? There were pool tables on platforms up in the branches of that gigantic tree!

3) Coming back to my Bangkok guest house at sunrise just in time to see a flaming and smoking, fuzzy, cheetah-spot patterned shoe flying across my guest house eating area, aimed directly at the very hungover head of one of the guests. It was torched and thrown by a very unhappy lady-boy who came downstairs to find that one of his (?) shoes was missing and he blamed his "customer" who was almost dead from embarrassment as the lady-boy had woken up every other guest and worker with his shrieking. Everyone came out to see what was going on. I was told several years later by Mama, the lady who ran the guest house, that she took the shoe that morning on her way to the temple. She didn't like that kind of stuff going on in her guest house.

#5 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,524

Posted by Saphir on 22/11/2009 at 12:00

Thaiman, the lady didn't want to ruin her shoes. I keep a pair of rubber thongs at work so that if it looks like it's going to storm on my way home I can wear them and not get my shoes wet.

#6 Saphir has been a member since 19/5/2009. Posts: 74

Posted by Thaiman on 22/11/2009 at 13:23

Can understand her not wanting to ruin the shoes but why leave the socks on?

#7 Thaiman has been a member since 12/11/2008. Posts: 201

Posted by idreamofdurian on 22/11/2009 at 22:50 TF writer

Mine involves a monkey too:

We (bf & I) were in Luang Prabang around 7 PM and made our way back to a restaurant we had seen earlier in the day. No one seemed to be around, so we walked into the open-air seating area to see if they were still open for dinner. There were no people to be seen, but there was a monkey sitting on top of a table, chained to it. It looked at us, shook its head, then laid down on the table and pulled a blanket over itself.

The boyfriend and I looked at each other: "The monkey says they're closed".

#8 idreamofdurian has been a member since 5/9/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 576

Posted by scottyheather on 3/12/2009 at 01:37

I'd have to say that the strangest thing I've seen was in Medan, Indonesia. We heard this lovely music being played and saw a large crowd watching whoever was playing. When we got up closer, we saw that the poor man was afflicted with the 'elephant man' disease. Honestly, he looked as bad, if not worse than the actual elephant man. The man he was with (obviously his 'manager') said that he had been thrown out of his family for looking that way and he had to make a living on the streets playing his music. I felt so sorry for him. It was just like an old fashioned freak show.

#9 scottyheather has been a member since 30/3/2008. Posts: 89

Posted by scottyheather on 3/12/2009 at 01:41

Oh and that was in 1988 but I still think about that man now and again and wonder what happened to him. Funny how certain things stick with you...

#10 scottyheather has been a member since 30/3/2008. Posts: 89

Posted by MADMAC on 3/12/2009 at 16:23

There's a guy who comes into Muk sometimes (I've seen him at the night market and the Indochina market) who has very short legs, a huge head, and moves around on a little platform on wheels. His life is almost as screwed up as it can be, but he still manages a big smile and a good attitude. He actually speaks English too. I talk with him whenever I see him and always throw some money his way, but I feel for him too (although I don't show it - who wants to be pitied?). Every time I see him I realize how lucky I am.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by scottyheather on 4/12/2009 at 06:05

Yep, it can be pretty humbling at times when you see people like that who are happy with their lot and then I think of the times I'm upset cos I can't shift a few kilos or whatever...... sometimes we don't know how lucky we are.

#12 scottyheather has been a member since 30/3/2008. Posts: 89

Posted by somsai on 4/12/2009 at 10:12

As we crested the small hill what had sounded like noise took on the distinct sound of some sort of loud ethnic music. There was much yelling and screaming as if from many people yet the music never stopped. The village gate had none of the crossed bamboo mats indicating that the village was closed to outsiders, yet the entire village seemed in the midst of some sort of crazy ritual or something. The yelling and screaming would switch from anger to pleading and then many shouts and other voices raised in what sounded like argument. And whoever was beating on the drum never stopped, and the chanting.

We were 40km from the road, my guide, and my local guide were of a different ethnicity, none of the three of us were intimately familiar with the culture of the people of this village or could even speak the language. The houses at the outside of the village were unusually deserted as every living soul seemed caught up in whatever human sacrifice was taking place in the center.

Every person was in the thrall of an intense game of spinning tops and people would cheer and wail as the various contestant's tops would spin out of control or come closest to the mark. The battery powered loud speakers were playing the traditional music at volume. The Naiban separated himself from the crowd and welcomed us with a big smile.

#13 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 566

Posted by sirhalberd on 5/12/2009 at 11:31

"Saw a Falung lady last time I was there[Kanchanaburi] who took her shoes off to walk across the street in the pouring rain.Left her socks on though."


I have done this myself when walking through minor flooding in Thailand. You can't see the crap and sharp stuff in the murky water so the socks do help a little! Socks can be purchased for as little as 30 or 40 baht but a pair of size 12 extra wide shoes will cost quite a bit more - if you can find them at all!

#14 sirhalberd has been a member since 30/12/2007. Posts: 295

Posted by AbgAcid on 15/3/2010 at 14:49

Me and a friend were cycling on rural road during our Sulawesi Cyle tour and heard the strangest sound in our life. As there were literally no trafic around and we were on bicylce, the sound came out distictively from afar. It sounds like something is being hit. Chaterring sound, by the thousands. Rocks? Woods?As we get closer, the sound gets louder and buzier, our curiosity grows and we cycle on to see what's its all about.

What we saw astoudned us. Large rounded rocks presumably from the river are being hit by sledgehammers to smaller peaces. Strong men giving hard blows splitting them. These pieces are then broken up to various other sizes by other men, women and children. Each has a different size hammer for the various size rocks need. Its a quarry, and no machine was used. Its all Human labor. Men women and child. It was a heart breaking sight. We cycled off.


#15 AbgAcid has been a member since 28/11/2009. Location: Malaysia. Posts: 162

Posted by Manticore on 1/6/2010 at 11:27

I was taking shelter in someones shop from a heavy rain in District 5, Saigon. The shop owners were nice enough to let us sit and wait it out so I bought a drink from them.

I stare out at the rain and heavy traffic and there walking in the middle of the road was a crab. Obviously escaped from the wet market. But how it made it so far up the road without getting squashed was amazing.

Shop owner picked it up and I convinced her to let it go. Released it next to a crack in the curb where it quickly crawled into, safe from the traffic.

#16 Manticore has been a member since 9/11/2006. Posts: 67

Posted by Manticore on 1/6/2010 at 11:49

Sitting at a bia hoi on Bui Vien St and a van load of police turned up. They all got out and rushed into the alley. A short time later they returned with about 6 black guys and roughly loaded into the van. And by roughly, I mean pushed, shoved and randomly beaten with batons. This went on for about 3 more van loads.

At the same bia hoi a few months earlier, a man was lying on the ground across the road. I noticed and asked someone what he was doing. I got the reply "he's dead". I didnt believe him. I thought it was more likely he was passed out from drunkenness and went back to my beer. A crowd soon gathered and the consensus was that he really was dead. Ambulance took ages to arrive.

#17 Manticore has been a member since 9/11/2006. Posts: 67

Posted by apriljune on 1/6/2010 at 17:01

wow, i like your adds in here.
i find it cute.

so far i haven't meet such strange in southeast asia.
but with your information i am aware of those strange things they encountered.

#18 apriljune has been a member since 1/6/2010. Posts: 13

Posted by MADMAC on 1/6/2010 at 17:04

Last week - another monkey. This one riding on the back of a motorcycle looking for all the world like a human. Hanging on, looking around... enjoying the ride. Hillarious.

#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by gotthebug on 16/6/2010 at 11:16

Riding a Lao bus (or probably lots of buses) is strange enough: how do they climb sheer up the sides of those things? How does it survive those turns when there's more on top than inside? It's an exercise in miraclemaking.

#20 gotthebug has been a member since 16/6/2010. Posts: 4

Posted by SBE on 16/6/2010 at 15:15

One of the strangest things I ever saw was this fish.


#21 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by MADMAC on 30/7/2010 at 01:33

That's definitely strange. I saw the monkey on the motorcycle again. Two days ago. Hillarious.

#22 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Please login to add your reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a post to the forum. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.