September 11, 2007, 9:56 am
Filed under: Funny Stuff


See no evil

I would like to contribute some more stories and knowledge about ghosts, in addition to Sam Rith’s article and classification of ghosts (“Fake blood, they say, keeps the vampires away,” Phnom Penh Post, Sept. 9-22, page 16).

Apart from the ones mentioned in Rith’s story, I’ve found three more evil spirits, namely Preth, Asorakai and Akruok.

Preth are the unseen evil spirits that roam the pagodas for food offered by their living relatives, particularly around the Phchum Ben festival between the end of October and early November.

According to Khmer belief, people who commit wrongdoings, such as killing, stealing, committing corruption or cheating in the elections, would go to hell (if not to jail in this life) in the next life. After suffering an unimaginably long time in hell, they would then become Preth before being reborn as beasts. If they are lucky, they might be reborn as a human being.

Asorakai are the sort of unseen evil spirits on earth similar to Preth. Some people call them Preth Asorakai to refer to them both.

Akruok are another kind of large-size invisible spirits wandering the earth. Some people claim to have caught sight of Akruok, walking astride pagodas or houses when people are asleep at night.

These are some more kinds of evil spirits commonly known to Khmer people, especially our young kids, who tend to believe in their existence the most. However, there may be some other categories of evil spirits unknown to children.

Like discussing politics and corruption in Cambodia, talking about ghosts demands precaution and the ability to secure protection for oneself.

When some people make mistakes, they usually blame the ghosts. One would stop his or her friend from teasing them with a gun or a knife “lest the ghost pushes the hands” and kills somebody.

[ When people cannot find the guy who has broken wind, they would then say, “This means it’s the ghost who did it.” However, they may carefully not lay the blame on the ghosts if they are near the graveyard at nighttime. If they do, they may show their clean pair of heels upon hearing an unfamiliar denial: “Who said I broke wind? I didn’t do it.” ]

If children cannot find something, they often chant Khmaoch yok leak, a’khvark rok kheunh (Hidden by the ghosts, it’ll be found by the blind).

Sometimes, it works. However, a veteran ghost expert who asked not to be named suggests that one should also go to the police if he or she loses a motorbike or a car in case he or she has wrongly and unfairly blamed the ghosts.This is some additional knowledge about ghosts I gained working at the Phnom Penh Post during the early and mid-1990s. For more stories about ghosts, readers can read Post issues from 1993 and 1994.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh
Senior Ghost Reporter, Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Post, Issue 14/19, September 23 – October 6, 2005
© Michael Hayes, 2005. All rights revert to authors and artists on publication.
For permission to publish any part of this publication, contact
Michael Hayes, Editor-in-Chief – Any comments on the website to



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