Thursday, September 20, 2012

Trip Report, Part 25: Khuk Khi Kai

The road-side view of Khuk Khi Kai

While on a long weekend getaway this last trip I had the opportunity to stop and see Khuk Khi Kai, a remnant of the French-Thai unpleasantness at the end of the 19th century.

An internet image of Siamese mounted artillery in 1893

The Franco-Siamese War of 1893 was a conflict between the French Third Republic and what was then known as the Kingdom of Siam. The Thai naturally didn't care for the attempted occupation of Chantaburi, and some rebelled. As punishment, those who did were rounded up and put into the small (4.4 meters/14.4 feet across and 7 meters/23 feet high) brick building above.

If you don't already know, Thai culture believes the top of your head is the closest to heaven, and therefore the most "holy" part of the body, and your feet are the most base parts. It's common knowledge that you don't touch the top of peoples heads unless you've been given permission to do so, and that you don't point your feet at someone, step on them, or, indeed, even step over them. 

With that in mind, here's what made this holding facility most odious to the Thai: the French put a slatted roof on the building and kept chickens in a coop up there. The chickens would eat, scratch about as chickens will, and, naturally, poop - and their droppings would fall with no warning on the heads of the captives below. It wasn't a physical torture, per se, but one that was a great insult psychologically.

"Well, that was kind of a chickenshit thing to do," I commented while taking these images, and my friend blushed - he would rarely use such a crude term himself - but agreed. I had to push to get an answer as to how that would be said in Thai, and since I didn't take note of it I can't share it with you today. Probably just as well - there's plenty of that very behavior still going on today, anyway. Man's inhumanity to man, and all.

Being uncomfortable about the whole idea I declined to go inside myself, but you can bend down and enter a 3-foot high doorway, if you visit there.  It's history, but it's not history at its finest.  Still, an interesting stop.

The back side view, with the entrance door on the right

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