An Antidote to Beer Chang?


Those who have caved in Thailand may have come across sticks that have been rested on end by Thai visitors under overhangs and boulders.This ‘stick standing’ can be found throughout the country;  a particularly fine example can be seen in Tham Jaeng in Loei.  It is obviously done for pseudo-religious reasons, but I had been unable to find an explanation for this behavior and it isn’t mentioned in Christophe Munier’s ‘Sacred Rocks and Buddhist Caves in Thailand’.

I was recently in the bar watching the evening news when one of the news items was about the drought and the effect it was having on the water levels in the Mae Khong river. The report showed the rapids on the Mae Khong in Ubon Ratchathani and then it showed the sandstone cliffs and rockshelters on the river banks which had dozens and dozens of sticks and branches stood on end under boulders and the overhangs.  “What’s all this about?” I asked and the bar staff weren’t shy about explaining the significance of the sticks. “Same same tham yu Krabi” said the Boss referring to Tham Phra Nang which is famous for a fertility shrine with lots of wooden phallus. “Bpen kwoi kaeng” [‘make knob hard’] one of the other girls informed me. Apparently it is important that the stick is propped up underneath the boulder or overhang, as if it was strong enough to support the weight of the boulder, and not just leaning against the boulder otherwise the magic will not work.

This might be useful caving information. Whilst exploring a cavern measureless prop a small twig under a rock, then in the evening you can drink your fill of Beer Chang without the usual drop off in performance.  Once I have managed to conduct some field trials I will report back on whether this stick propping also props up anything else.