This is a translated article from Koosang Koosom Magazine, written by Marood/Din Dang in Thai Language, translated by Nye.
In 1992 (Thai year 2535) I was working as an Ambulance Driver at one of the local hospitals in the Northern part of the Issan region. My job was to pick-up and drop-off patients, and sometimes helped handling patients by moving them in and out of their beds or anything else that they asked me to do.
One day, we had a patient that was in a car accident and he was from Krung Thep, and came to visit the area as a tourist. He was in critical condition, and they had to perform an emergency brain surgery because he had sustained a cerebral hemorrhage. He was in critical care for 1 week, and passed away. I had to drop off his body in Krung Thep and had his male relatives, 2 monks, and my co-worker named Pi Song that came along for the ride.
We left the hospital around 5 in the evening and I drove while Pi Song sat in the passenger side to keep me company, and in the back were 2 of his male relatives, 2 monks chanting on and off as part of the ceremony for his soul to rest in peace, and my job was to keep on driving.
Wat Hua Lamphong Bells, photographs by Mataho
We got to Krung Thep around 3 AM, his relatives told me to drop him off at Wat Hua Lamphong. I parked the car and helped carried the body, I stayed at the foot because I was afraid, and the atmosphere in the middle of the night was very eerie. At that time there were several people that came to open the Sala Wat (Buddhist Temple Worship Hall) and about 6 or 7 of his relatives were there waiting, but I was still afraid. I helped wheeled the body into the Sala and lifted the body onto a bed. I was in a hurry, still lifted from the foot because I didn’t dare go near his head since he had had surgery there and they wore a hat for him. Since I wouldn’t lift from that end, then it was a job for Pi Song, he lifted from the head side, while I stayed at the foot end.
Pi Song and I finished our job, and it was going on passed 3 AM, and we bid them farewell. To be honest, it was very eerie at the time and I was so afraid. His relatives were very kind, and gave us each 500Baht (Approximately $15). I then asked Pi Song to go say good bye to the body and lit incense sticks and told him, “We came to drop you off, and it’s time for us to go back home, please let us travel safely back.”
After that I invited the two monks back into the Ambulance, but then it wouldn’t start. I was puzzled because it had plenty of gas, and the battery, and spark plug were working fine, but why it wouldn’t start no one knew. His relatives told us to stay at the Sala (Worship Hall) with them till the morning and they’ll have someone to look at it for us, so we had no choice and stayed up and talked to the relatives until 5 AM. At the first light of dawn, I crank up the car again, and this time it started.
We got back around 4 PM, I dropped off the monks at the temple and drove back to the hospital. The hospital then gave me a day off the following day. The morning after that, I came to work as usual and I met one of the nurses that worked there named Pi Pboy and she asked me, “Por, yesterday I went to Wat (Buddhist Temple) and saw Por drove the Ambulance into the Wat.”
I replied, “Oh, yesterday I dropped off the monks, we just came back from Krung Thep.” Pi Pboy then said, “Awwh, I saw the body in the back of the Ambulance, my husband also saw, we were confused as to why you drove the body to Wat but only parked in front of the worship hall.” She went on and said, “The body was covered with a red blanket, and wore a hat, is that right?”
Pi Pboy described the body as if she saw it with her own eyes, I had chilled because she couldn’t have known this since she didn’t work the shift when I left the hospital with the body, but this, she was describing what I just dropped off, how could she have seen it?
Two-three days had passed, and I was working the night shift. When I approached the parked Ambulance, the one that I used to drop-off the body the other day, it started to shake, rocking side to side, but I kept thinking that I might have seen things, so I examined the vehicle very carefully and it was parked in a normal spot. I was curious, so I approached the vehicle and I smelled something rotten from the car. I was so afraid and took off running toward the hospital. I waited till morning and asked Pi Song to come with me and when we opened the front and back doors of the Ambulance, the pungent, rotten smelled flew out and kicked our noses, but it was only for a brief moment. I wanted to know where the smell came from, so we looked around, through the nook and cranny and saw a black waist pouch and clothes that belonged to the body that we just dropped off, but I forgot to give it to him.
No wonder, he came to get his stuff. I immediately told the hospital staff to contact his relative and for them to come and pickup his stuff.