The Chinese Cemetery in Samut Sakhon Province is located very near to the terminal stop of the Maeklong Railway near the Ban Laem station in Tha Chalom district. GPS coordinates: 13.539693, 100.270350. Samut Sakhon, known by the locals as “Maha Chai”, is a small province located on the mouth of the Tha Chin River. This is a port off of the Gulf of Thailand and at one point was an important stopping off point for Chinese travellers. This cemetery was a delightful surprise on a trip via the Maeklong Railway to see the Umbrella Folding Market.
Cemeteries Around Bangkok
Thailand is 95% Buddhist. As I understand it, the particular form of Buddhism practiced here believes in reincarnation. Therefore, it is rare to see cemeteries. There was a heavy Chinese influence here so you will occasionally find Chinese cemeteries throughout Thailand. There are also a few Christian cemeteries.
Traditional Chinese Funeral Customs
Traditional Chinese funeral & burial procedures are steeped in superstition and follow strict procedures that at the least will seem unusual to Westerners, but will probably seem more on the side of totally bizarre.
- Elders should never show respect to younger. Babies, children, and single people will be buried in silence and all of the complex rituals are dispensed with.
- Upon death, all statues in the family home are covered with red cloth and all mirrors are removed so as to prevent the statue from seeing a dead body or a mourner from bringing bad luck to themselves by seeing the coffin in a mirror.
- The corpse must never be dressed in red, for this will cause it to turn into a ghost.
Not a black cat exactly but this little guy was standing guard on a corner wall of the cemetery.
Cemetery Abuse by Locals
One section of the cemetery (shown above) appeared to be used as a makeshift garage for one of the nearby homes. A shelter has been erected here and items stored underneath.
Chinese graves are distinctly colorful.
Many of the family graves also have a small monument of sorts for a spirit to reside. This spirit somehow protects the inhabitants of that particular grave.
This one is fairly recent. Thai date 2556 = Gregorian year 2013.
There is a lot of burning that goes on at Chinese funerals. I understand that effigies of many things such as cars, cell phones, computers, etc. are made from paper to be burned at the cemetery. In addition, all of the bedding used by the deceased are burned, often unceremoniously.
This one did not have the perpetual care plan!
Neglect is rampant at this cemetery.
Poh Teck Tung Foundation Cemetery
I came across many references to a mass exhumation being done at Poh Teck Tung Foundation Cemetery. I have not conclusively figured out if the cemetery shown here actually is Poh Teck Tung Foundation Cemetery. If you have any links or information on the cemetery shown here, please leave comments so that I can update this article.