The Legend of Nai Raeng

Hua Nai RaengThis folktale from Southern Thailand is about a man who was so big when he was born that his parents named him Nai Raeng (in Thai “raeng” means strength, energy or power). The first part of the story is quite as the boy eats so much that his poor parents cannot feed him, but not so the end where Nai Raeng orders that his own head be cut off and placed above a buried .

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Elementary level Simplified English version of the story which are not in our 800 word list are: , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

There is, indeed, an ancient temple in the city of Nakhorn Sri Thammarat that is said to house remains of the Lord Buddha. This temple (Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan) is one of the most important in Thailand. Its main chedi (the Thai term for ) was reportedly built in the early 13th century to house Buddha relics brought from Sri Lanka two thousand years ago. There are several stupas in Thailand that are said to house Buddha relics, but this is the oldest.

There are many different kinds of folktales but to me they can all be grouped under three headings: those that are just plain fun; those that carry a message about life; and those that explain things. As well as carrying a message about duty and honor, this story is used to explain the names of two places.

The story is set in the province of Songkhla in the far south of Thailand. Nai Raeng’s treasure was 900,000 baht in gold. On the southern end of Samila Beach in Songkhla there is a small fishing village called Khao Seng. Legend has it that the original name for the village was “Gao Saen”, which sounds very similar to the number 900,000 in Thai. Near the village there is a large boulder on an area of rocky land near the sea shore. This is called Hua Nai Raeng (Nai Raeng’s head). It is said that Nai Raeng’s spirit still guards his gold, and that before he died he made a wish that if anyone who was good could move his head from the place, he or she could take the treasure. So far, nobody has been able to do it.

And the treasure would certainly be worth having. Many people know the word “baht” in terms of it being the main unit of Thai money. 900,000 baht in money is around $30,000. However “baht” also has other meanings and one of these – a unit of weight used to calculate the value of gold – is likely to be the one meant in the story. At today’s prices, 900,000 baht weight of gold would be worth over US$700 million!

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amusing(adj: amusing) Funny; providing enjoyment; pleasantly entertaining. An amusing story. 3000

treasure(n: treasure pl treasures) 1. Something valuable (such as money, jewels, gold, or silver) that is hidden or kept in a safe place. (ขุมทรัพย์) 2. Something very special, important, or valuable. (ของมีค่า) 2000

bone(n: bone pl bones) The hard substance forming the skeleton of man, animals etc. 2000

bury(v: bury, buries, buried, burying) To place in the earth and cover with soil. 3000

captain(n: captain pl captains) 1. A person who is in charge of a ship, an aircraft, or a group of soldiers. 2. The leader of a team or club. 3000

fail(v: fail, fails, failed, failing) To not succeed; to not manage to do something. They failed to climb the mountain. I failed my exam. 2000

festival(n: festival pl festivals) A special time or event when people gather to celebrate something. 4000

healthy(adj: healthy, healthier, healthiest) Well; not sick or injured; having good health. 1000

honor(n: honor pl honors; British honour) 1. Respect given to someone or something that is admired. We fight for the honor of our country. 2. Something [such as a title or medal] that is given to a person as a sign of respect. He has received many honors for his research into cancer. 3. The quality of being honest. He is a man of honor. 2000

luck(n: luck, noncount) The things that happen when they are not planned or controlled by people; the state of happening by chance.
(adj: lucky, luckier, luckiest) 1. Used to describe someone who has good luck. 2. Used to describe someone or something that brings or causes good luck. 1000

storm(n: storm pl storms) An occurrence of bad weather in which there is a lot of rain, snow, etc., and often strong winds. The sky got dark and it looked like a storm was coming. The roof was damaged by the storm. (พายุ) 3000

temple(n: temple pl temples) A building in which people worship, usually as part of a non-Christian religion. (วัด) 4000

wise(adj: wise, wiser, wisest) Having gained a lot of knowledge from books or experience or both and able to use it well. (ฉลาด)
(n: wisdom; noncount) 1. The knowledge gained from books or experience. 2. The quality or state of being wise. (ปัญญา; สติปัญญา) 2000

stupa(n: stupa pl stupas) A ​building with a rounded ​roof containing relics (usually the remains of important Buddhist monks or nuns) that is a ​holy ​place for Buddhists. (เจดีย์)

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