Driving around on the streets of Bangkok you might spot an interesting phenomenon, a car with a stuffed animal or doll dangling from the back of the car. Many of the hanging dolls are dirty and ragged from being dragged around on the city streets. There is something eerie and morbid about the sight of a child’s toy looking so disheveled.Taxi drivers seemed to be the first group to adopt this practice and it has since spread to the average motorist. Even on a short drive in Bangkok, you are bound to spot one of the hanging dolls. Taxis still comprise the largest number of cars that hang dolls on their bumpers.
The question that you are probably thinking is “Why?” For awhile I pondered this myself and although I asked around, no one else seemed to know either. Finally on the Thai news I got my answer.
The hanging doll or stuffed animal is an offering to the spirits of those that died in a traffic accident. It is hoped that the spirit will play with the toy and leave the car’s driver alone. This superstition is thought to have originated in Korea. Since Thai people believe that ghost hang around near the location of their death. They also believe that the ghost are waiting to be reborn and may provoke an accident by tricking a driver, especially at night. In light of such superstitious beliefs, it makes sense that some Thais would readily adopt a practice that seeks to placate these devious spirits.
Interestingly enough, the news report stated that many people have been adopting the practice of hanging a doll on their bumper without even knowing why. They simply saw others doing it and wished to do it as well. Other drivers get even more morbid and stick disturbingly real-looking fake arms out of their car trunks to shock fellow drivers.
Next time you take a drive through Bangkok, keep your eyes open for this quirky sight and we’ll see how long this trend lasts.