Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bye bye baby

I'm back in Bangkok for a bit, before taking another flight at the end of the week. For all its faults, Bangkok is a much better place to kill a few days than Kuala Lumpur, where I would have been otherwise, and this at least gave me the chance to tie up a loose thread from my last visit here in November, when the morbidly fascinating Siriraj Medical Museum was closed following the flooding. It was worth the wait.

Bangkok is many things to many people - for some it's a sex tourism paradise or a convenient place to get a realistic-looking driver's licence without having to go through the tedious process of learning how not to run people over. In my case, it largely serves as a Deep Space Nine-style spaceport connecting my trips around various parts of Asia - a Bangkok Nor, if you will. If you're such an irredeemable nerd that you understand the reference.

This city isn't so renowned for the quality of its museums, but what they may lack in educational value and dinosaur skeletons they make up for with a commendably non-squeamish approach to death and deformity. Readers of a sensitive disposition and pregnant women (or anyone who doesn't really like seeing dead babies) might not want to read more. Seriously, this could be a bit upsetting.

Siriraj Medical Museum,

I really wasn't supposed to take photos in here, but after waiting so long to share it with you (and considering the creepy popularity of my Corrections Museum blog for Google searches) I wasn't going to let little things like rules or respect for the dead stop me from creating my most morally questionable blog yet.

Eventually a security guard did catch me taking a photo and I behaved after that (I've seen what they do to lawbreakers in this country - see previous link), so you're spared a few of the grislier sights towards the end, such as drowned kids. But don't worry, the grisly quotient is still fairly high.

Ellis Pathological Museum

If you can read Thai script, this collection of formaldehyde-preserved babies in varying degrees of deformity could be very educational. If you don't, it's at least a chance to see some authentic Siamese twins up close. Remember that thing I said before about not reading further if you don't want to see dead babies? Why not find out what I did on some of Thailand's nice islands instead?

Aborted foetus medley: Clockwise from top left - 4 weeks, 9 weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks.
See if you can spot the point where someone decided 'maybe we need a bigger petri dish'

Homozygous twins

Thoracopagus conjoined twins



Sirenomelia (a.k.a. mermaid deformity)

Harlequin-type icthyosis

Dicephalus dibrachius dipus

Cyclopia with proboscis

Arnold-Chiari malformation and hydrocephalus

Half a kid

Half a brain

Don't know what happened here

Possibly penis?

Parasitology Museum

Yeah, and I suppose that's a dramatically swollen scrotum, is it?

Oh... it actually is

I never realised Buster Gonad from Viz had such sound medical grounding. I wonder if this guy needed a wheelbarrow to cart them around too?

Oh come on! Filariasis must be a horrific condition, but if I can't joke about a man's unfeasibly large testicles, where else am I going to find humour in this distressing post?

Songkran Niyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum

This is the main attraction, with a couple of exhibits covering the ins and outs of forensic medicine (dental records, toxicity screenings and other stuff you've seen on CSI). But after that, it just takes any excuse to display a load of skulls in cabinets, assorted organs in jars and free-standing mummified corpses of executed rape murderers.

As someone who's always been fascinated by the human skeleton (I had even more skeleton toys than fake turds as a kid, which is saying something), my enthusiasm was curbed by the presence of an armed and vigilant guard at the end of the corridor, so I couldn't share my favourites with you. Instead, here are a few illegal photos taken from obscured corners before he caught me on the CCTV.

Fatally injured skulls compilation

'Car accident?' Could you be a bit more specific?

That's more like it

Oh come on, enough dead foetuses already.
Even I'm feeling a bit sick now

Why is this being displayed? There doesn't seem to be a medical reason for the amputation,
beyond an advertisement for the long-lasting potential of tattoos

There's even a celebrity among the anonymous deceased, in the form of Si Ouey, who killed and ate a load of people in the 1950s - as the caption clarifies, 'because he loves to eat human's organ not because of starving.' (Image:

Hopefully I'll find another macabre tourist attraction to keep me occupied and complete my Dark Side of Bangkok trilogy. Failing that, I could always go to a ping pong show and endure the spectacle of malnourished, drugged-up slave girls ejecting things out of themselves for the amusement of braying perverts. Each to their own, I guess. But considering I just spent the morning inspecting dead babies in jars, am I really in a position to judge these people?

Sure I am. Stop it, sickos!


  1. I would luv to go there! I'm takin a rosk OB class rite now and read about all of those deformities but never actually see them...awesome!

  2. Omg, simply great!
    And you can write home about how you visited a museum for culture and everything!

  3. I never knew this museums existed in Southeast Asia! Another reason to your post and writing style!!

  4. We have a weird museum similar to this in Philadelphia PA called the Mütter Museum

  5. Simply amazing! I have always had what most have called "morbid", interest in human anatomy & physiology and birth defects, medical anomalies, etc.
    I also have an Arnold Chiari Malformation, which is actually how I stumbled upon this. The Chiari 'baby' also appears to have a syrinx, indicating Syringomyelia. Which is extremely common with Chiari and Hydrocephalus.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Yeah, I got here researching Chiari. It's not comforting, but, it is interesting.

  7. Wilbur Whately had astounding deformities due to his father being extra-cosmic. Unfortunantly right after death, his teratologically fantastic body disintegrated into a white mass, the human element lacking any trace of a skeleton even.

  8. Why would anyone think that putting these babies on display like this a good idea...How dare you display these children like this. This is not education. These babies have suffered long enough and in death their bodies should be laid to rest...shame shame shame in you...

    1. Take it up with the museum. Or the parents who presumably gave their consent. I'm just sharing my illicit travel photos.