Cobra Fears – You’ve Got To Be Kidding

I have always made it a policy on Beyond the Mango Juice to never include a YouTube video on this site. Now after over 200 posts I find myself going back on my promised word. It’s just that I find them so ugly looking. They’re big, bulky and well….overweight. Women wise, they’re very un-Thai like. With great regret the huge, fleshy, overfed, plump and portly pile of pixels is shown deeper into this post. First, here’s something much more to my liking, a photograph.

One of my more recent posts Baby and Python – Food For Thought included the photograph shown above. The post created a fair amount of debate via the comment box. The image was relevant to my story in that it showed in its extremity the vast differences in Western and Thai culture. I reasoned that the scene in the photograph was not shocking to seasoned Thai travellers and ex pats, very few if anyone at all would have witnessed such a sight, but if seen it would only alarm and not disarm their mindset. To a Thailand newbie brought up on Julie Andrews movies, Garabaldi biscuits and soft toilet tissue, it would be mentally disturbing.

The very first comment to arrive on the post came from Mike Rose author of Thailand Blogs. Mike suggested something I hadn’t considered when writing my story, he questioned whether the image had been photoshopped or in other words overlaid or edited. Further comments argued for and against Mike’s suggestion but none produced a definite conclusion. Today I am still in two minds myself about the photograph’s authenticity. However I would like to offer a little more evidence that the kind of practice highlighted in the photo is very evident in Asian culture today.

I proudly present proof of the role playing between snakes and children in Asian culture in my very first YouTube video on Beyond The Mango Juice. Some of you may have seen this short 70 second clip before but for those of you who haven’t then this is worth viewing. The video was not filmed in Thailand but in India and before you watch it here’s a bit of advice.

  • Make sure you are not eating anything.
  • Lock all your doors and take your feet off the floor and put them safely under your butt.
  • Put your fingernails between your teeth.
  • Practice saying the following “Doctor I need some tablets to help me sleep”.

Now the big, beefy, bovine chunk of video is ready to sing.


I did a bit of research into the video and whilst the facts it bore are by no means conclusive they do make a lot of sense. The cobra has obviously been de-venomed, it has also most certainly had its jaws taped or stitched shut, you can see in the video that it strikes with a closed mouth.

I also read during my research that this strange child and snake ritual is practised in the southern Indian state of Gujarat by the 600 strong Vadi tribe. Here’s a link to an excellent article onCurrent about the Vadi tribe which explains the Vadi’s ritual of introducing children to cobras at the age of two. The ten year snake initiation finishes with the boys being adept snake charmers and the girls expert snake handlers.

Here’s a snippet from the article, I’m sure they won’t mind.

“The training begins at two, the children are then taught the ancient ways of snake charming until they are ready to take up their roles in our community,” says chief snake charmer Babanath Mithunath Madari, 60.

“At twelve the children will know everything that they can know about snakes. They are then ready to continue the traditions of the Vadi tribe which can be stretched back over 1,000 years to India’s great Rajas (kings).”

Please do click on the link because it is a fascinating article.

Finally I would like to offer conclusive proof that I do not have any prejudice or narrow-mindedness toward overweight videos by publishing a further YouTube clip on Beyond The Mango Juice.

I did provide a link to this video in a post I wrote way back in February 2009 titled Cobra – King of My Fears. The video is about the Cobra Village in Khon Kaen Province in Thailand and there is one particular part of it I’d like you to view. The video is over four minutes long but the section I’d like you to see starts at the three minute forty second mark. You can use the bottom sliding bar to arrive directly at this point although I do recommend you watch the whole movie.

Before you get to the point I have highlighted please make sure you have some food in your mouth and then think real hard about what you are eating.

The video embedding has been disabled by request from its owner (I didn’t realise that until after I hit publish) but you can view it by clicking on the YouTube screen below and following the prompt. It takes about one second to get there.


Barring a heavy dose of snakebites (lager & cider) Beyond The Mango Juice will be back sometime next week with its normal brand of mickey taking humour but I hope you have enjoyed this more serious kind of post I have published here today.

If you have enjoyed this post then why not get Beyond The Mango Juice delivered free to your desktop or by email via myRSS feed.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

16 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Scary stuff. I wasn’t sure when you first posted that picture of the baby with the snake. I have now been converted. I suppose it must mean that we are not born with an aversion to snakes.

  2. Hoo Don says:

    Good morning Paul. You certainly do get up early. I’m a bit more convinced myself about the photo’s authenticity having done my research on this post. Rather the baby than me, even if the cobra has got its jaws stitched up I wouldn’t go anywhere near it.

  3. Paul says:

    Thanks Martyn, I get up at five every morning – I seem to work better before my wife and son get up. I also have Muay Thai training today so I need to get as much done before I go as possible – when I get back it is hard to even type 🙂

    I followed your advise in regards to the linkwithin – great stuff. Thanks

  4. Hoo Don says:

    Paul I’m an early morning riser like yourself, I even get up around five or six when on holiday in Thailand. Enjoy your training and reserve a little bit of energy for your keypad.

    I visited your blog this morning and the LinkWithin plugin sits in rather nicely. You should get a few more pageloads from it.


  5. Mike says:

    Martyn thanks for the mention. The baby and the bath-well I am still not 100% convinced but I must admit after reading the article on India and watching the video I am swayed somewhat.

    I agree that the 1st cobra has been “doctored” and of course the snake village video in Thailand I have seen before and have no doubt its the genuine thing.

    BTW I am sure I have some of the “medicine” plants in my garden 🙂

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Mike no problem with the link, always a pleasure. The India cobra video does edge me a bit closer to thinking the Thai photo is genuine. Though I’m not 100% convinced.

    Keep some of that ‘medicine’ in your bathroom cabinet because you never know (God forbid) when you might need it. Either that or get some big thick rubber wellies.

  7. Talen says:

    Scary stuff Martyn, I wonder if the snakes feel no fear from the children and therefore are comfortable.Maybe the excessive is twofold…1 to get the child acclimated to the snakes and 2 to get the snakes acclimated to the child or people. I would still think the parents are irresponsible to say the least…

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Talen the video is a bit of a shocker (the top one) but I guess it all goes back to culture. The nomadic Vadi tribe go back over 1,000 years so to them its just a natural way of life. To us it’s one hell of an eye opener. We’re 9 to 5 people, they live off the desert. Who’s right and who’s wrong.

  9. Talen says:

    Martyn, I guess it could be equated to inner city hoods letting the kids play with handguns and carry around drugs…

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Talen that’s a difficult choice, kids with guns or kids with cobras. I think I’d risk the snake.

  11. Julklappar says:

    Holy cow! I jumped on my seat when that child grabbed the cobra at the last part of that video. OMG! :O It was scary to look at and at the same time amusing. Because it seems the Cobra is the one scared rather than the boy. Really amazing when you learn about other cultures!

  12. Hoo Don says:

    Julklapper I must admit I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to tingle every time I watch either of the videos. They’re scary stuff if you don’t like snakes.

  13. Catherine says:

    The concept reminded me of how westerners teach their children to have no fear of water. And then when the kids come across water unsupervised… well, you know what happens. They can keep their heads above water to a limit but sometimes more is needed.

    And I wonder how many of those little Indian kids happen across snakes in the few minutes they are out of sight of their parents as well (kids are slippery little critters). And again, how many of those kids survive the snake bites?

  14. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I posted a reply to you but its disappeared somewhere. Last night (Thursday) I had horrendous problems with the Juice, only the home page would load. I kept getting broken link errors for other posts and a message saying 404 error Apache Server 80. I couldn’t fix it and went to bed stressed. This morning I managed to track it down to my Permalinks, a reset fixed it all. Maybe that’s why my comment went up in smoke.

    You have made a good comparison between Western kids swimming and Asian toddlers and snakes. Only a clever so and so like you would have thought of that. I bet you didn’t bunk off many lessons at school. Thanks for another well thought out comment. Have a nice day, in fact have a bloody good seven days.

  15. Catherine says:

    Martyn, my sympathies. I had site problems this week and wasted a morning tracking them down. If Thai Internet would refresh like the west, it would have been easier.

    But I just wanted to say that I did bunk off school. Often. I was not an attentive student – I was bored. As quick as possible, I graduated early and got out of there. College wasn’t much an improvement either. I did attend. I did the work. But I was mostly bored, racking up the needed prereqs.

    My real learning came when I married men a lot smarter than I am. I guess you could say that the search for a decent conversation became a passion of mine.

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I remember you having problems a few weeks back and I now know how stressful it can be. I thought I’d lost my baby good and proper and didn’t sleep too well last night. Now the little bugger’s come back and I’ve got to feed her once or twice a week.

    You’re pretty smart for a truant, learning must be in your genes.

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