The worst places to sit on an airplane flight are in the last row, in any middle seat, next to a crying baby or next to someone who won’t stop talking to you even if you pretend to be a crying baby. Here’s a new one you may want to add to your list: Thai Smile Airways is allowing dolls supposedly possessed by the spirits of children to sit in a seat and be treated like a regular passenger … provided the doll’s owner pays for a ticket. Sounds creepy? There’s more.
The dolls are called Luk Thep or Child Angels and, like many strange trends, were made popular when some Thai celebrities started touting their benefits. A DJ (I guess DJs are celebrities in Thailand, as long as it’s an FM station) claimed his doll is the reason for his latest job.
The first day I got him, I took him out shopping for clothes in the baby section. Right after I paid for his clothes, I got a call that my canceled job was back on!
Yes, shopping for clothes (expensive ones, of course – you know how picky those possessed dolls are), going out to eat and taking them on airline trips are part of the care and feeding of these lucky Luk Thep dolls.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how these dolls become possessed. Up until recently, it involved a dead fetus. It’s a modern version of an ancient Thai witch doctor ritual called Kuman Thong, which means “golden little boy.” Kumari Thong is the girl version. An unborn fetus was taken from the mother (sometimes stillborn, sometimes surgically) and preserved by a witch doctor, who then adopted it or gave it to another person for good luck.
Do you still want to sit next to a Luk Thep doll on a plane?
The modern dolls are real dolls made by doll collector Mae Ning, who says she invokes the Hindu goddess Parvati to breathe new children’s souls into the dolls. Then she goes Cabbage Patch – giving them names and birth dates.
With the celebrity endorsements, Mae Ning’s Luk Thep dolls are a big business and popular enough that demanding “parents” forced Thai Smile Airways to sell them seats (or for the less wealthy “parents” – preferred spots in the overhead bins – that probably doesn’t bring as much luck).
Would you sit next to one of these possessed dolls on a long crowded flight? Even if it shared its bag of peanuts? What about if the only other seat was next to an “emotional support” turkey?