Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Fairy Thief of the Wilderness

The Johnson’s were second generation missionaries to Thailand.

Mrs. Johnsons’ parents were missionaries in the southern province of Chon Buri and although she spent most of her childhood away in boarding school, she felt a very real affinity for the country and its people. So she was thrilled after graduating Bible College in the late 1950s to be assigned with her husband to the northern province of Chiang Mai.

Mrs. Johnson had heard many strange stories while growing up with national children while on summer breaks. It seemed wherever there were jungle in Thailand there were strange stories of strange animals. This mystique of the unknown along with the unexplored in Thai jungles continues to this day but in the late 50s Mrs. Johnson relates that there seemed to be a much more romantic feel to such expeditions into the wilderness.

With their residence set up in a small village near the Ping river this mystique of the unknown must have been great indeed for they were almost 100 kilometers away from any other missionary and any western influence. But they preferred it that way since they could then immerse themselves in the surrounding culture while meeting the needs of the people. Mrs. Johnson was a nurse and Mr. Johnson busied himself with teaching and helping build permanent structures for those in need of shelter.

Sometimes odd things happen when you are hundreds of miles away from civilization. The Western mind almost automatically tries to categorize it in our rational way. But sometimes some things happen that just defies all known logic and previous experiences.

Mrs. Johnson was always eager to share these odd bits of the unexplained in her missionary talks while on furlough back in the states, and one of the more fascinating stories she told was of the Naang Maai Paa, or the little fairy of the wild forest.

The Naang Maai Paa lived deep in the forest and hated human beings. They looked like humans but were not, the villagers considered then to be spirits who took shape to guard the forest. They were as small as a child, but unlike our Western idea of fairies these spirit beings of the wilderness were little hairy people who lived in the earth underneath large trees.

Mrs. Johnson had always thought the creature a superstitious legend until a series of mysterious happenings in the early 60s.

In some of the new houses erected by her husband and other members of the local church, food began to disappear in the middle of the night. These houses were built in newly cleared land at the edge of the forest on a mountainside. The thieves never struck the same house twice in a row, but seemed to make a route going back and forth along the base of the mountain. It was not long after exchanging stories that they deduced the thieves pattern and set up a trap for the perpetrator. Mrs. Johnson’s husband joined them as they lay wait for the thief to make his move.

So they kept armed vigil around the house and waited. It was not until, morning was almost upon them that the criminal showed up. But curiously they did not see him enter the house, but only as he exited. It was a little Naang Maai Paa with it’s arms full of fruit and dried meat. It quickly waddled towards the woods when one of the national pastors, thinking it was a child jumped in front of it and raised his flashlight to its face.

From Mrs. Johnson’s account there were two screams heard by all the watchmen, that of the national pastor and the other of the fairy thief. When the others came to his aid the thief was gone, less some pieces of plunder to be sure, but he was long gone into the forest. However they found the pastor shaking on the ground, for he was sure he had seen a demon.

The three foot tall creature was covered in thick reddish fur and had black skin with yellow eyes. Its teeth were fangs and when it screamed there came a stench from its mouth that smelled like rotting flesh. The pastor was sure he had seen a Naang Maii Paa, and he was sure it was a demon from hell.

There were searches the next few days but they turned up nothing but some possible footprints that had been partially washed away by rain. The midnight food runs ceased from that point on however.

Mr. Johnson was sure that the pastor had seen a monkey of some kind, but the nationals were sure that it was a fairy of the wild forest. The stories of their trickery had been passed down from generation to generation, and every once in a while there would be a sighting when someone ventured deep into the wood.

What was the creature that raided those lonely houses almost half a century ago? Was it a monkey, demonic being, or something else? Whatever it was it had a definite taste for Western foods since almost all the perishables stolen were not normal Thai food.

The local Buddhists told the Christians it was the Naang Maii Paa demanding an offering for encroaching on its land.

Today the rainforests of Chaing Mai Province are vanishing at an alarming rate.

And what of the Naang Maii Paa?

Although retired from the mission field for many years she still keeps in contact with local friends she made long ago.

The forests are silent as they are burned into oblivion.

Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope


cryptidsrus said...

All Native and Aboriginal people have stories like this of dwarf-like beings who play tricks or steal from humans all over the world.

The Cree of Nroth America have the Manegheshee (which looks just like the Dover Demon, BTW).

The Aborigines have their own fairy-tyoe beings. Nothing new but still fascinating, Pastor.

M. K. Clarke said...

Creepy, Pastor. Thank you for the read! :)


NXavier said...

Wickedly good story, Pastor! Thank you :-)

cryptid_hunter said...

Great story, Pastor Swope. I really enjoyed the read, as usual, and look forward to seeing at least one new story posted every week. Keep up the good work and keep bringing us these interesting and entertaining stories. I just wish that we got more than just 1 story per week.....hint, hint...

Jason Offutt said...

Great post, Pastor Swope, as always.

eibhear said...

Migght it not have been the mythical orang pedank?

Anonymous said...

I live in south africa, and here too we have our "tokolosh". A 3ft(ish) man like animal, with fur.

The locals are terrified of them, and put bricks or bowls of water under their bed to protect them while they sleep.

While they still call them "mythyical", i once saw a bottle in a medicine man's shop in a rural area, which contained a hand, held in a yellowish liquid.

It was like an old man's, yet the size of a babies, wrinkled and fury. I still believe that it was not a human hand i saw.

Thanks for a great read :)