Market Day and Naga Thai Lottery Fever

On my recent trip to Loei and Phu Rua I discovered Thailand has two towns with the same name, Sang Khom, at least that’s how they are phonetically spelt on the English reading road signs. Who knows, there may be more Sang Khom’s about.

The larger and more well-known town of Sang Khom is located on the Nong Khai to Loei road between Si Chiang Mai and Pak Chom. In comparison the smaller version is just three kilometres from our village home in Udon Thani province and to call it a one horse town would be dressing up the girl to say the least. If Sang Khom ever did have a horse then it bolted from its stable a long time ago past a door hanging from its hinges.

Yesterday it was market day in our Sang Khom and Wonderful Wi and myself took a trip to check out the town’s twice monthly talart.

I’ll come back to the top photograph in good time, first, let’s follow the three little piggies to the market.

Black Beauty, Trigger and Barnum weren’t about, neither were the piglets, but in fairness to Sang Khom its big market is a large and colourful affair.

If you’re into last year’s trends and cheap trinkets then empty your car boot before arrival. For just a few baht you can acquire more ‘bling’ than a top rap star. Surely those wafer thin shirts should spout Rizla not Reebok.

I purchased a pair of training bottoms for a heavenly 60 baht and last night I serenaded them around our house as shorts that were either too long or trousers which showed off the tan on my ankles. There’s no fitting rooms at Sang Khom’s market and the guarantees are not worth the banana skins they’re written on, but isn’t that the attraction. Not getting ‘skinned’ is an art I’m yet to master.

Then again there are lots of good value items at the market.

I bought Sek Loso’s latest rock music CD for 130 baht and the fruit and vegetables on display got you searching for small change simply by the allure of their colours.

Kitchen wares, ‘falang’ stares, pots, pans and second hands. Watches, wallets and dollops …..of something (photo left).

Samlors came and went crammed full of passengers and goods. The market is a top event in Sang Khom’s monthly calendar.

I found myself a quiet shop and set up my own bar counter on one of those large blue ice boxes. I mused an hour or so away.

Walking back to our car Wilai suddenly called me over to where she stood amongst a small group of people.

“Hus…band, I want you come looking something”.

Sang Khom is not too far from the city of Nong Khai and Phon Pisai town. Both are on the banks of the Mekong River which is home of a mythological Naga, a giant serpent believed to be in its waters… we’re back to the top photograph.

The car owner had woken that morning to find strange markings ingrained on the vehicle’s bodywork. Imprints from some kind of creature could be seen on the paintwork, and it was clearly visible something large had slithered over the car. The gathering crowd were in no doubt as to what had caused these strange twisting track marks. The mythological Naga, a fire breathing dragon.

I quickly weighed up the evidence before me and instantly made a decision, purely based on self preservation and the instinct of survival.

“Wilai I’m off…there’s a bloody big python around here somewhere”

“No have snake about, naga walk over car…..same big dragon”.

There were two chairs at the side of the car, their purpose was to view more naga imprints on the car roof, like a lithe mountaineer I made my climb. To be honest I was half pissed and just about made it. Do Thais deliberately manufacture those cheap plastic chairs with one leg shorter than the others or are all their floors uneven.

I took aim with my camera and then a single word broke the silence of Sang Khom’s Motor Show Shrine.


Balls may have been better but ‘bollocks’ is a fairly safe word to use in rural districts because nobody understands what you are talking about. My camera battery had given up the ghost or dragon to be more accurate.

My quest for the truth was over.

Various reasons apply for sane Thai citizens kneeling in front of a car and praying to a dragon. Good health, better job prospects or promotion are no doubt at the ends of some fingertips, but the Thai National lottery winning numbers are at the foremost of most people’s minds. The car licence plate and its magic numbers are now firmly imprinted in everyone’s head.

And those magic numbers are:


Good luck.

It was time to get back to our village. I was a worried man. A river flows along the front edge of our small hamlet and I had concerns over what mysterious creäture might lurk beneath its murky water. Our car was also a rental one and I needed to check the insurance. Would it cover damage from a mythological Naga.


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.

19 Responses

  1. tom says:

    there are many villages with the same name in isaan thailand
    when going somewhere having the village name is useless you have to know the tambon, amphor and changwat

  2. Hoo Don says:

    Tom thanks for dropping in on the Juice, I didn’t realise place names were duplicated throughout Thailand. Thanks for the info and your comments are always most welcome.

  3. Mike says:

    Martyn a great read which of course leaves a lot of unanswered questions for me. Particularly regarding the plastic chairs 😉

    Naga? No, Python, yes!

    Was there a small donation box as well?

    Further evidence that rural Thais don’t do a lot to help themselves when those in Bangkok look down their noses at their bumpkin cousins I fancy.

    Now to find a subtle way to introduce the number 5983 to Duen in time for the next Thai lottery draw.

  4. Hoo Don says:

    Mike my guess is a big snake or over enthusiastic mountain bike rider.

    I didn’t notice a donation box but i wasn’t looking.

    You’d be amazed at how many people believe a naga made those marks, or more to the point how very few doubt it did. Thaksin was on a winner in Isaan.

    Wasn’t 83 about the last time Forest won a trophy (bit cruel of me), that might work.

  5. Mike says:

    Martyn….very good although you may be a little out with the date.

  6. Isaan says:

    Good luck on the lottery. My wife never wins. I tell her she might just as well flush 100 baht down the toilet every two weeks.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Isaan, my missus regularly loses 400 baht each lottery, that must be a Thai toilet you have.

    Thanks for your input and keep it coming.

    Happy New Year.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Mike only joking. I truly hope Forest get back to the Premier, they’re in with a shout.

    I’ve been back to the naga shrine today and taken a few more shots after my battery went belly up moo-a-wan. I might add a footnote to the post.

    It’s bloody hot here in Udon (village) it must be at least 35 this afternoon.

    Crewe Alex are now on a roll.

  9. Talen says:

    Martyn, terrific read. It’s unfortunate your camera battery died. I’ve seen a few places along the Mekong where makeshift shrines have been set up for the Naga with regular attendance by the devotee’s but a car is a first…love it.

    I mightjust have to play the Thai lottery this week.

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Talen my battery running out is all your fault, it was you who taught me to snap, snap, snap. I thank you for that because this holiday I have enough photos to keep me going in stories for a while.

    I went back to the naga car shrine yesterday and there was a steady stream of people and a nice big donation box too.

  11. Great stuff Martyn, it really is amazing what people get up to in Thailand. My wife was once convinced that my son could predict lottery numbers. Thankfully those days are behind us.

  12. Hoo Don says:

    Paul thanks for dropping by again I really appreciate your comments on the Juice.

    Thai people are convinced about many different things when it comes to the lottery and the amount of people who have fallen for this one has shocked me a bit. It makes you realise there is a big difference in the thinking of westerners and Asia people.

  13. Steve says:

    I wonder if those magic numbers would work here in the U.S. or if the Naga’s powers are limited by the distance.

  14. Hoo Don says:

    Steve a big hello to you from Udon Thani, I hope the three of you had a good Christmas and New Year.

    I might chance a few baht on 59 as that’s the year I was born. Like you I don’t know if that luck willl stretch back to England but I’ll chance my arm anyway. Some number has to win, so perhaps this crazy story might just hit the right note.

  15. Talen says:

    Martyn, I forgot to tell you one important thing…buy extra batteries 🙂

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Talen thanks for the tip, I could really have done with it a few days back.

  17. Catherine says:

    Martyn, I’m going to have to start using bollocks. Mainly because my sweet as a pea condo manager clearly knows other choice words that slip out in times of trouble. Not that I swear… much. But when startled, one does make an appearance.

  18. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine the cruder use of ‘balls’ may not be advisable in educated Bangkok, after all that’s the clever part of Thailand. I can only imagine that when you do swear it still comes across rather nicely.

    The condo manager has probably learned his vocabulary from some rather choice worded complaints from residents.

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