Introduction to this story at, Is Tattoo Just A Body Art or A Cultural Sacred Design and Introduction to Pee Bpop of Savannakhet, Laos
This was a true story from April 2007 issued of Koosang Koosom Magazine, written by Phranom Khongphanrach in Thai Language, translated by Nye. As we are speaking, the second Thai-Lao Mekong bridge at Mukdahan-Savannakhet (the 2.5 billion baht ($60.5 million) bridge, financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation) is in the process of completing; hopefully we’d be able to use it to travel from Thailand to Laos and vice versa in the near future. The bridge is almost at 100% completion; they’re currently working on assembling the ropes to the upper portion of the bridge, hoping that this’d take no more than a few months. The author was originally from Nakornpranom, Thailand and has relatives that were living in Laos; one of his relatives was a police officer with high ranking.
The year was 2504 (1961), one of my relatives who was a police officer at Savannakhet province had offered me a job position; so I traveled there right away; took my wife and 3 children with me. Savannakhet at that time was one of the biggest cities of that area, and Lao currency at the time was not as inflated as today’s currency; back then 100 kips was equivalent to 27-28 baht, but currently 250 kips is equivalent to 1 baht…1,000 kips would only get you 4-5 baht.
Savannakhet at that time was known as the capital city of the Southern region of Laos, large populations, airport, there were 2-3 radio stations, military base, active trading, university, schools, newspaper head quarter, royal palace and the list goes on, let us just say it was one of the biggest cities in Laos at the time.
When we got there, my relative took us to look at Hong Tail (apartment), which has 4 units, 2 stories; the bottom portion were open except for the kitchens, which were toward the back, the rooms were on the top level. The Hong Tail (apartment) was facing west, which the town was called Mou Banh See Boun Reung. I was offered a position with USED, which was an organization from the United States, and the Thai people called it USOM at the time.
We lived at Hong Tail (apartment) for almost 2 years before becoming acquainted with other tenants; after a while we were like extended families. The 1st unit was occupied by an old man, who was short with light complexion, and lived with his granddaughter. He was originally from Parkse, Champassak. The 2nd unit was a husband and wife, with no children; selling water for a living, both were approximately 60 years of age. We were on the 3rd unit, I have a daughter and 2 sons, they weren’t old enough to attend school at the time, I was 37 years old, and my wife was 38, which worked at Savannakhet market. The 4th unit was occupied by a Vietnamese family and has a Lao son in law; he was in the military.
One evening, after I got off from work, I got home almost 16.30 (4:30 pm); my daughter was next door visiting with the old lady living at the 2nd unit, when all of a sudden, the old lady mentioned that she was having pain in one of her toes, and the pain lasted for a long time. Then it got worse, the pain spread rapidly to her knee area so her relative went to get Mor (medicine man), who lived about 100 meters from her house. His name was Jar Vanh Thong, he was a Lao military personnel, appeared very young, well built, and I was told later that he was only 40 years old. He specialized in treatment by means of Monh Katha Ah Kom (magic spells.) He came empty handed, so the neighbor told him about the old woman’s condition. He sat next to her, examining her very closely while whispering his magic spells in an audible tone, and then he put both hands above her body, spreading them out which looked very similar to a bomb detector. He moved the palm of his hands up and down her body and said that there was nothing there. He thought it might have been the ghost of her ancestor that processed her body looking for relatives. I wanted to make sure that, that’s what it was, so I asked him to examine her once again just to make sure.
Mor (medicine man) then whispered his magic spells once more, but this time it lasted for almost a minute, then he spat his saliva into the palm of his hands, then placed his hands next to the old woman’s body, but this time she jumped and was in the state of shock. She looked frighten, got up, told everyone that she was going to sleep, then disappeared into her bedroom. We followed her; she lay down and covered herself with a blanket. I looked at Mor (medicine man); then he said ‘YES it is!’ I knew right away, what he was talking about, so I asked ‘Does anyone know where I can find Mor Pee (ghost buster)?’ A person from the crowd said, ‘There’s one, he is a police officer, but I’m not sure where he lives.’
The next thing I know, I was at the police station, which was at Savannakhet market, someone told me that his name was Jar Bounmee, just my luck that he was on duty. I told him of what had happened; he immediately came back to Hong Tail (apartment) with me. When we arrived, he examined the old woman and did almost identical to the first Mor (medicine man), but Jar Bounmee has Varnh (root, very similar to ginger roots) with him. He told me to go get some water, so I brought back about half Cunh (bowl). Jar Bounmee sanded his Varnh (root) on a small rock and mixed the crumbles in the water until it was opaque, and then he told me to pour it over the old woman.
I was a bit skeptical, but at the same time, wanted to know what would happen. I pulled her blanket off; then pour the water over her head, left the Cunh (bowl) on top of her head. The old lady jumped up, she pout, and was perturbed, she formed both hands into fists and acted very much like a professional boxer, which was very contradicting to her overall appearance, somewhat comical because she was a frail old woman, not even a man. Shortly after that, she fell back down. Jar Bounmee then moved his hands up and down her body as if he was looking for something underneath her skin, made me think of him trying to catch fishes in the mud. Then finally, that thing came to a stop at her right side; Jar Bounmee then grabbed it and took it in his fist.
Jar Bounmee looked at me and asked ‘Do you want me to squeeze it? If I do that, then Pee Bpop will die!’ I said, ‘No, don’t do that yet, I want to know who is Pee Bpop? And where is s/he from?’ The old woman then said, ‘Not far from here!’ she then excused herself and said that she needed to use the bathroom, which meant that Pee Bpop left her body while she was urinating (this, Jar Bounmee informed me later); he also told me that the characteristic of Pee Bpop, if s/he met a good Mor Pee (ghost buster/medicine man), then s/he will leave the victim’s body, but if Mor Pee didn’t have enough Monh Katha Ah Kom (magic power), then its victim will die.
I came back down to the ground level and announced ‘If you’re Pee Bpop, please report yourself!’ I waited for about 10 minutes; the old man that occupied the 1st unit came forward and told me that he was Pee Bpop. After that I sent someone to go get the police and Nye Banh named Van thong (a respectable elder that oversees the town) to negotiate as to what action was needed toward this man/Pee Bpop. We all agreed that the old man has to leave town, and has to leave that night. We came up with a written agreement, signed by all parties involved, which was witness by the resident of Hong Tail (apartment) that he’d be excused, but has to go live at the police station, which he packed his personal belonging and left that night.
After that day, I’ve not once encounter another Pee Bpop.