Siriraj Medical Museum

Looks like I may have jumped the gun here, things to do in the rain. It really isn’t raining much, threatening to, but not delivering. I actually decided to write this after my first rain related fall of the season. I usually fall anywhere from 5-10 times during the average rainy season while trying to limp across all of the smooth tile that covers the kingdom’s floors and walkways. This left me a little rattled and I decided once I was home and drying off that it would be best to talk about things that didn’t require this kind of extreme sport risk taking this month. But before moving along to my selection for the week I will leave you with a piece of advice I will often reiterate over the coming months –

if you walk with a cane, watch out for the rain.

siriraj-medical-museum

(photo by Pak Liam)

So, museums are probably one of the first types of attraction that spring to mind when contemplating rainy day activities. But I’m bored with museums. Not that they aren’t great, I’ve just visited and written on too many dry, sanitized and put under glass kinds of places lately. But my creativity seems stretched and I’m going to tell you about another museum anyway, also under glass. The twist of cool here, though, is that this museum pushes the “sanitary” thing both literally and metaphorically.

Siriraj Medical Museum has all the excitement and gore of 5 or 6 Wes Craven films in one place, and absolutely none of the painfully boring sparkling jewelry and ceremonial hats or whatever of the country’s rich and powerful dead. Though it does have some of their corpses, diseased organs, teeth and so on.

One Thai celebrity with his own display at the museum, for instance, is himself in perpetual attendance – as a mummy. And he is not famous for his brilliant statecraft, gallantry, or business acumen. He is famous for eating small children. Thailand’s first documented serial killer who, once captured and killed, was mummified and put under glass to serve as a warning to all other deviants who might start feeling a little peckish. Now he can scare you too.

But that’s actually one of the milder displays in this sprawling house of horrors, at least to me. People are big, easy to see coming. Diseases are much smaller and sneakier; you don’t usually see them until they’ve already arrived and launched their offensive.

And that’s the part of the Siriraj medical museum you can actually check out for free. The part you have to pay to get into is actually smaller and focuses mostly on crime/forensics. Building 27 is free to visit and greets you with a man and woman who have opened up to show you their organs. Then it’s all the bodies and skeletons donated to science, fetus’ and conjoined twins floating in embalming fluid, diseased and distressed organs and tissue, and all the biological horror you can take in before you need a stiff drink.

This museum is in the complex of Siriraj Hospital on the banks of Chao Phraya, and is easy to find and enjoy rain or shine. I know it’s an unusual suggestion, and certainly not for the very young or the faint of heart. But for those who would enjoy it, and I don’t need to tell you who you are, it is a really interesting, troubling, and at times exciting museum that is actually extremely educational if you’re interested in the evolution of medical science, Thai traditional medicine, and the nature of different Pathologies.

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