Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Scorpion Man and His Son

Photo Courtesy of Daily News

UTTARADIT – More than thousands of scorpions creeping around the house, father and son meditate and let the scorpions crawl on them. People in the area are calling them the Scorpion Duo. At first, the family bred scorpions for sale but decided it was morally wrong and switched to selling woodworks at the OTOP product festival. They use the scorpions to attract customers and have been making good sales. The wife was scared at first but now finds the scorpions to be comforting although she does not go anywhere near them. The man’s 6-year-old son is following in his father’s footsteps.

A journalist arrived at the man’s home in Uttaradit to find a two-storey wooden home on a one acre block, decorated dark like a cave in a deep mountain valley. In the house were a variety of creations made from wood such as models of spiders, ants, scorpions, and grasshoppers; there was also a face statue of the Bodhisattva made from sawdust – and all were beautifully placed around the house.

In the middle of the home, a white sleeping tent was set up. Mr. Suang Phuangsri aka the Scorpion Man, 38-years-old, the owner of the house, and his 6-year-old son were meditating inside the tent. Inside the tent were over a thousand of scorpions crawling around. Some of the scorpions climbed onto Mr. Suang and his son, but they showed no signs of fear or discomfort, which the journalist found quite shocking.

After an interview, Mr. Suang Phuangsri said that in 1996, he had been a scorpion breeder and merchant, selling and wholesaling scorpions for both locals and foreigners to be used in stir-fried dishes. Some bought scorpions to extract medicines to mix with alcohol or liquor. Some just simply grilled them in barbeques. Many people believe that scorpion extracts are a remedy to intestinal gas and belching, and that they help to release poisons out of the body and improve blood-flow.

After being in the profession for almost 10 years, the man began to observe and understand scorpion behavior and personality traits. Suang says he became enlightened to the Dharmic truth and decided to stop selling scorpions to be killed as food. In 2005 he turned to woodworks making sculptures using raw materials from the forest. His new direction proved to be successful and his products made it to the OTOP shelf. He has also lived with over thousands of scorpions since then and meditates daily to pray for the scorpions as well. Every time he has a product display at a festival, he brings several scorpions along as friends, and usually attracts many customers.

On the other hand, Mrs. Lampoon Pimphum, Suang’s wife, says she has been with Suang for seven years. She admits that in the first few years, she did not understand the things her husband was doing, and why he brought a dangerous creature into the home let alone thousands of them. But after a while, she began to understand and accept it. The Scorpion Man’s son has also started to take interest in the scorpions and usually joins his father in meditation and prayers.

Courtesy of Daily News

Writer: Adrian Tse & Chet Chetchotisak