I am the egg man
They are the egg men
(I Am The Walrus — The Beatles)
Thanks to John Lennon and his pals, we know who the Egg Man is, but who is the Egg Boy? And why did termites in Thailand build a mound that looks strangely like Ai Khai, a mysterious ghost boy of Thai legend whose name translates to Egg Boy? Why are people flocking to the temple he allegedly haunts? And wouldn’t Termites of Thai make a great name for a band?
“As reported by Daily News Thailand, residents of Ban Khok Klan Village in Surin Province were surprised to see a termite nest on 26 January. The reason is, the termite nest is not in the form of an ordinary mound, but instead is shaped like a statue of a child. The termite nest photo was then shared on Thai social media and went viral. People believe that the termite nest is similar to Ai Khai, the spirit of a boy with the power to grant people’s wishes.”
TomoNews Indonesia reveals that the story of Ai Khai the Egg Boy and his doppleganger termite mound went viral with a Facebook post of the strange termite creation in the jungle around the Ban Khok Klan community in Surin province in lower northeastern Thailand. The boy-like mound (photo here) would be enough to attract attention itself, but the likeness to Ai Khai was the viral propellant. According to the legend, Khai was the servant of a monk on a pilgrimage that passed through Nakhon Si Thammarat where the stopped to rest at a monastery. The monk felt the monastery was destined to become a major Buddhist site, so he ordered the boy to stay there.
“When something happened, they’d call Ai Khai for help. When they felt unsafe, when there were thieves around, just asked and he’d help with anything. If they lost their cattles or chickens, they asked him and would find the animals. Now, people put faith in him over gambling or business.”
According to the website Coconuts.com, Khai quickly gained a reputation for being mischievous, but that was overlooked when he demonstrated a psychic ability which helped locals with various problems. Khai liked the attention, so when he heard the monk was returning and might take him away, he drowned himself in a nearby pond, and now it’s his ghost that brings luck to the residents and tourists who flock to Wat Chedi Ai Khai. And flock they do – making it a major tourist attraction that supported the local economy … until the coronavirus pandemic hit and tourists disappeared. Fortunately, Wat Chedi Ai Khai had a secret weapon.
“Thailand had lost nearly 70% of tourism revenue, about THB1.39 trillion (US$44.6 billion), as of September compared to the same period last year. By August, more than 720,000 people had become unemployed, a nearly 90% increase from one year earlier. So it was a boon to the southern province, buffeted by the economic turmoil, to suddenly be the go-to place for material salvation through spiritual appeals. By mid-August the temple had sold out of amulets after tens of thousands flocked there to buy them. Earlier this month, it announced that it had raised over THB56 million (US$1.8 million) during Kathin, which amounts to an annual donor drive. Visitors to the province have spiked, and last month Nakhon Si Thammarat became the only province to see more overnight visitors, a rise of nearly 2% from 2019.”
According to local media, tourists and locals are flocking to the monastery again, many looking for the Egg Boy’s lucky charms but a sizeable number seeking a number – specifically, a winning lottery number. Winning the lottery solves a lot more problems these days that finding a lost cow, so the attraction is obvious. Which leads us back to the Egg Boy termite mound (remember that?). When it was revealed, the Ai Khai lookalike became a satellite monastery with people flocking to it for luck. Could this be why the termites built it?
“While some are holding up the blessed insect nest as a blessing from mother nature – people are already queuing to receive its lottery number wisdom – others say it was probably carved to resemble the en vogue spirit by a very crafty local monk.”
The Egg Boy mound definitely seems like an odd and timely coincidence. Can you blame an enterprising monk for risking a rob full of crawling termites in return for more tourist business and the donations and souvenir sales it brings?
Or is it really Ai Khai playing yet another mischievous trick? If only John Lennon were still here to give us a musical answer.
Or did he already?
Man you’ve been a naughty boy
You let your face grow long