Bangkok's Penis Garden

The topic of “monuments to the male member” came up again recently on Twitter, so I thought it might actually make for an interesting topic for a continuing series of articles - there are a lot of penis statues around Southeast Asia, and I have pictures of many of them.

This article is about a little shrine in Bangkok called the Chao Mae Tubtim shrine. It's quite well known, and in most guidebooks, but it's slightly out-of-the-way so it doesn't get very many visitors. Well, not tourists anyway.

[caption id="attachment_1491" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Spirit House A little spirit house in the shade of a big tree, surrounded by phallic posts[/caption]

The tiny shrine dedicated to a Chinese mother goddess, Chao Mae Tubtim, is one of the more unusual sights of Bangkok. It's located in the grounds of the Nai Lert Hotel, which is now managed by Swissotel.

The shrine was originally set up by “Nai Lert”, one of Bangkok's first property developers, who developed the area around the shrine in the early part of the twentieth century. Tubtim (or Tuptim) is a Chinese goddess usually prayed to for the protection of sailors. There's a small statue of the goddess in the spirit house that is found in the area of the shrine. Curiously, tubtim is also the Thai word for pomegranate, which in Chinese folklore is a sign of fertility.

[caption id="attachment_1492" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Phallic Offerings A large pile of phallic offerings leaning against the big banyan tree.[/caption]

But, what interests most people who visit the shrine are the wooden and stone penises. The shrine is probably the largest phallic one in Bangkok. The phallic offerings aren't normally associated with Tubtim, but the story goes that one or more women got pregnant after praying to the goddess, and in 'thanks' she left the phallic offering, called a bhalad khik in Thai. More people starting leaving the offerings, and not just for children, but for anything.

The shrine is located right on the banks of the canal, behind the hotel. From the front of the hotel, take the stairs down to the parking area and walk back to the very end of the hotel area. The nearest train station is Chidlom.

Posted in Travel on Oct 24, 2012

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