Chiang Mai Thai

Ever wanted to learn Thai, in Chiang Mai? I did just that from November 2010, returning home in October 2011. If you don't want a headache, start HERE, it will explain the preceding posts. I'm Snap, Stray's other half. COOEE is our (other) travel blog.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Very Superstitious!

You know how you can walk past something a little unusual; time and time again, but never ask what or why?

I say to my hair dresser “Why do some of the pot plants have small red ribbons tied onto their stalks?”

Puzzled look in return. I explain it another way. Still no penny dropping.

“You know the word ‘ribbon’?” I ask politely. She has a good command of the English language.


Walking toward one of her potted plants, I pretend I have a small red ribbon in my hand and start tying it onto a small branch. “Do you know why people do this?” I ask.

“No, sorry. I never see before.” I explain that there are two outside our hotel and a few more in the soi, that she and I both share.
This afternoon I Googled and Binged myself silly and finally found the answer.

Generally only one type of plant is used. A Zamioculcas zamiifolia, A.K.A the ZZ Plant, Zanzibar Gem, Jin Qian Shu (金钱树), Gold Coin or Money tree and a myriad of other names. It’s a Chinese tradition to tie red ribbons and/or gold coins onto the plant to encourage good Chi....and attract wealth and prosperity into homes and businesses.

Apparently, sometimes succulents are used instead, because they retain water and water is associated with money...but not the thorny type...thorns can be associated with poison arrows! While I was on my quest for an answer I came across some really, how should I say, *interesting* Thai and Chinese beliefs and superstitions.

I was born on a Monday, so I shouldn’t do anything auspicious on a Sunday...I think I can manage that one.

If a dog howls continuously at night, this means death...yes, I know. I’ve felt like throttling that bloody dog and its inconsiderate owner.

If you make jokes when eating a ghost will steal your that’s where my rice went!

If you strike an animal during pregnancy, the newborn child will look like that animal and behave like one....don’t strike animals full stop!

You will see a ghost if you bend down and look between your legs...I tried it, nope, nothing expect blood rushing to my head.

Do not look at naked people because your eyes will become that’s what those googly eyed people have been up to.

Do not sweep dirt out of the front entrance. It will make all your money go away…my neighbours are in for some trying times.

Do not allow wedding guests break any plates or glasses. It will cause the couple to become separated…I wonder if Greece has an unusually high divorce rate?

Do not eat candy that has dropped on the floor. It now belongs to the ghost…stop eating food off the floor, people.

Clipping toenails or fingernails at night is bad luck; the person will be visited by a ghost...whoops!

Do not wash your plates at night-time because you will wash away your money...finally, a valid excuse to leave them until the morning.

Do not look down while you are walking because it will make your life shorter and no-one will love you...if I don't look down, I could disappear into one of those giant holes in the sidewalk.

Beating a person with a broom will rain bad luck upon that person for years...and an assault charge.

Do not wash the plates of food that a neighbour gave you because you will hate each other…what, I return them dirty?

I don’t consider myself to be a superstitious person, at all. I’ll open an umbrella indoors, walk under a ladder and cross the path of a black cat. I don’t believe that any type of symbolism or old wive's tales will determine my luck or fate....touch wood!


See what else we're up to at Cooee!


  1. I wish the ghosts would eat my rice more often. And I don't even want to think about how many swollen eyes there are in Soi Cowboy or something like that. Gross.

  2. ...people must be snickering behind my back, what with the bags under my eyes...lack of sleep, really, truly ;)

  3. Snap, Great to see that you've caught the "just gotta know about these weird things" bug!

    I read this post when I was sick earlier but I didn't get it. This time I laughed and/or smiled all the way down.

    Love this one: You will see a ghost if you bend down and look between your legs.

    What a thought, huh? I'd most likely fall over.

  4. Catherine there were just too many to list in one post. I had no idea that ghosts (phi) here have names. I'll bet London to a brick that it's Phi Peta nicking all of that rice while folk are joking at the dinner table.


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