Where Legends are Born

Mae Nak400x263The Ghost of Mae Nak in Phra Kanong in Bangkok

Thai people are very superstitious and commonly have a story to tell about sensing a ghost or spirit. Ever since the reign of King Mongnut when Bangkok was coined “The Venice of the East”, the Phra Khanong area of Bangkok has been haunted by the ghost of Mae Nak. The story goes that Mae Nak was an incredibly beautiful lady, who was married and very much in love with her husband. With Mae Nak pregnant, Mak is conscripted to war to fight the Shan in northern Thailand. Mak was injured and fell ill though while away, his love dies during a difficult childbirth. Eventually he finds his way home to Bangkok where he nfinds his wife and new child waiting for him. Neighbors try to warn him that he is living with a ghost but they are killed instantly. One day Nam is preparing some chilli sauce and drops a lime off the porch, she extends her arm to catch it and Mak realizes she is a ghost! That night he flees the house and Mae Nak has been terrorizing the local population of Phra Khanong ever since!

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 lake-chini400x263Long Lost City and Monster of Malaysia’s Lake Chini

Lake Chini (Tasik Cini)) is located approximately 85 kilometres from Kuantan. It is Malaysia’s second-largest natural freshwater lake and is made up of a string of several connected lakes. Of course, no magical lake would be complete without stories of a resident monster or a long-lost, sunken city. Fortunately Tasik Chini has both! As legend has it, it is believed that the mysterious lake is guarded by a dragon-like beast called Sri Gumum. Over the decades there have been occasional reports of sightings, but as in the case of the famous Loch Ness monster, these have never been proven. On the other hand, historians believed the lake is the site of an ancient Khmer city from an era when the Khmer empire extended into the Malay Peninsula.

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Sri Tri Buana400x263The Legend of Sri Try Buana and his Crown

Sang Nila Utama, or Sri Tri Buana, was once the ruler of the Srivijaya Empire in Sumatra. According to legends, he went on an expedition in the late 13th century and discovered an island blessed with white sandy shores. After learning that the place was called Temasik, Sang Nila Utama decided to cross the waters to reach this newly discovered land. However, a storm appeared out of nowhere and nearly capsized the boat. In a desperate attempt to calm the storm, Sang Nila Utama threw his crown into the turbulent waters. The weather and the sea immediately subdued allowing the crew to reach Teluk Belanga (present-day Telok Blangah) safely. As they landed a strange beast was spotted from afar. Upon hearing that it was a lion, an auspicious symbol, Sang Nila Utama was overjoyed and decided to name the island Singapura, or Lion City. The discovery was said to have happened around AD1297 with Sang Nila Utama continuing to rule Singapura for 48 years before his death. His palace and burial ground were located on top of Bukit Larangan, or Forbidden Hill (present-day Fort Canning Hill).

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Roro Jonggrang600x394Folklore from the Pengging Kingdom of Central Java

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom named Prambanan and its people lived peacefully side by side. However, soon their happy lives were disturbed by the Pengging Kingdom and King Bandung Bondowoso who wanted to occupy Prambanan. He was a mean king and the war between Prambanan and Pengging could not be avoided. Prambanan lost the war to the new king who was believed to have supernatural powers. The king of Prambanan had a beautiful daughter named Roro Jonggrang (Rara Jonggrang). Bandung Bondowoso fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. “If you want to marry me, you have to build a thousand of temples in just one night,” said Roro Jonggrang.
He asked his people to help him and they worked hard to build 1000 temples. Meanwhile Roro Jonggrang heard from the lady-in-waiting that the building of 1000 temples was almost finished.

She did not want to marry him and asked all the ladies-in-waiting to help her. Prepare lots of straw to burn and make as much noise as possible. His people will think the sun is rising and they will run away as they are afraid of sunlight. With his supernatural power, Bandung Bondowoso made Loro Jonggrang a temple and it still stands today in Prambanan area, Central Java. The temple is named Roro Jonggrang.

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momotaro600x394The Story of ‘Peach Boy’ Momotaro

A long time ago there lived an elderly peasant couple who had always wanted a child of their own. Every day, they worked hard to make a living and despite their meagre lifestyle, they were humble, warm-hearted people. While the old woman was washing her laundry down by the river one day, a very large peach came floating downstream. She hurried home cradling the peach in her arms. Once her husband arrived home, they set out to cut the peach. But before they could slice it open the peach split in half and out of it emerged a beautiful little child. The old couple rejoiced at this miraculous gift from the gods and decided to raise the child as their own son. They named him Momotaro, or peach boy. As years passed, they raised him into a strong young man. One day, Momotaro told his parents, “I am setting off to Demon Island, Onigashima, where evil monsters plague the land and cause havoc to the island’s residents.” With a saddened heart, the old woman made his favorite millet dumplings, kibi-dango, which he took with him to Demon Island where he became a famed legend.

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