Amanda Mustard is an independent photojournalist and filmmaker based between Bangkok, Thailand and Pennsylvania, USA. She is a contributor for Redux Pictures and is currently accepting assignments and project collaborations worldwide. Mustard is...
Mae Hong Son, Thailand ï¿½ October 6, 2020 : Ma Nay, 20, plays on her phone next to her cousin (center) and his friend (left). The long neck village of Huai Suea Tao. Credit: Amanda Mustard for New York Times
Tens of thousands of chicken statues, if not more, have been donated by visitors making merit to Ai Khai. All of the statues are placed in a vast 'chicken graveyard' about a kilometer from the temple. Fighting roosters are culturally relevant to the Ayutthaya period, from which Ai Khai is said to have lived. At Wat Chedi Ai Khai in Sichon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, a statue of a 9 year old boy, Ai Khai (or 'Egg Boy'), has drawn hundreds of thousands of Thai visitors who hope it will bless them with prosperity and good luck. In stark contrast to the rest of the country during the pandemic, the Sichon area has seen a massive spike in tourism as a result of popularity of this wish-making temple. Visitors can perform a range of merit-making actions, including the purchase and donation of chicken statues, fireworks, children's toys and clothing, and food items said to be desired by the spirit of Ai Khai. Traditional rituals also take place at the temple that reveal fortuitous predictions or numbers to be played in the lottery. While Thailand has largely kept COVID at bay with a strict response and tight border control, the local economy has suffered with the loss of tourism revenue, which normally accounts for about 15% of Thailand's GDP. For many in Thailand, times of uncertainty and desperation can often be met with superstitious solutions. Note: Wat Chedi Ai Khai location release available Local Manager – Navaon Waii Siradapuvadol (firstname.lastname@example.org)