Game|Home Sweet Home — Thai Culture/Superstitions Breakdown[Part 1]

Game|Home Sweet Home — Thai Culture/Superstitions Breakdown[Part 1]

Hihi loves~ So last week I was reached out to by Dez (Dezrah) of PSVR Without Parole [LINK]. He was doing some research for a review discussion they were doing of the Thai horror game Home Sweet Home. Upon his research he stumbled upon the post I did a while back [LINK]. Anways, he reached out to me and Kenny to ask if he could reference my post. He also wanted to ask me a couple questions about the Thai cultural and superstitious aspects in the game. Which of course, I was happy to help with. They just uploaded their podcast review, and were kind enough to mention me in it~

Home Sweet Home is a truly fantastic Thai horror game. It draws from alot of aspects from Thai culture, superstitions, and folklore. The music even uses sounds of traditional instruments. I loved the usage of Thai superstitions and folklore. I was also amazed at the little details that really sold the Thai setting. Being Thai, I really appreciated it. However, I also recognize that there are alot of things that was probably confusing or completely missed by non-Thai players. I had alot of fun talking to Dez about all the little details. I’ve always had fun talking about cultural stuffs. Now, I always wanted to do a post breaking down the cultural and superstitious aspects of Home Sweet Home. I kept putting it off though. Honestly, I almost forgot about it. However, my recent discussion with Dez and his podcast really made me want to finally do it.

Your girl at Wat Phra Kaew (The Emerald Buddha Temple) in Bangkok, Thailand. Summer 2015.

So first, let me clear up my background a bit. If you didn’t know, I’m Thai-American. My family is from Thailand, but I was born, raised, and live in in the States. Technically, I’m ethnically Thai and a quarter Chinese. I grew up in a pretty traditional Thai family, and I spent almost every summer in Thailand. Bangkok is basically my second home. I also grew up listening to alot of Thai music and watching Thai movies and TV series. So I grew being pretty fluent in Thai, and being pretty informed and well connected to my roots. I speak Thai fairly well and don’t have a noticeable Thai-American accent. Although I do have some trouble with more difficult vocabulary. I can’t write it, but I taught myself to read a little bit of Thai (at like a kindergartner level). So I don’t know -EVERYTHING-, but I think I’m pretty knowledgeable. Therefore, I’ll be taking it upon myself to help explain different things in the game for everyone. I expect that it could be too long for one post, so I’ll be breaking it down to several posts.
I’ll be using/referring to the first impressions video from my new friends at PSVR Without Parole. I’m also watching Thai play throughs make some comparisons between the English version vs the Thai version.

At around the [7:00 mark] of the video, you’ll see a shelf with various objects. The object in the middle is basically a mortar and pestle. It’s common to find this in most Thai homes, because we use it alot in Thai cooking. It’s especially known for being used to make ส้มตำ/somtam, or spicy green papaya salad. The thing in the back is what’s used to make a traditional Thai dessert called ขนมครก/khanom khrok. It’s basically these little coconut-rice pudding-pancake type of desserts. I remember alot of my relatives and friends in Thailand had these as well. As kids, we’d often use this to play house and pretend we were cooking. Except we’d use mud and dirt. It’s not really important, but I found it amusing since it really helped sell the setting. It definitely helped bring back alot of memories for me. It really made think, “This is definitely someone’s home in Thailand!” The only thing was that I was wondering why it was in a random room and not in the kitchen.

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Thai Buddhist monks chanting from the movie, Phobia 2. That thread is what’s called “sai sin”, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

At around the [7:23 mark], you start to hear some chanting. This is the sound of Thai Buddhist monks chanting. I should also note that there are different types of chantings for different purposes and occasions. Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, about 98-99%. Specifically, we observe Theravada Buddhism; Basically the oldest form of Buddhism. It’s kind of like Catholicism being the OG form of Christianity (I think? I apologize…it’s been like 10 years since I was in Catholic school…). Theravada Buddhism also uses the Pali language. So this is typically the kind of thing you’d hear at many Thai Buddhist ceremonies. Also,you know how Western countries have Christian channels that’ll show Christian masses and such? We kind of have Thai Buddhist equivalents as well. Some Buddhists will play this Buddhist monk chanting, and follow along to help meditate as well. I’m pretty used to it, because my dad is a hellaaaaa devout Buddhist and plays this kind of stuff almost 24/7… Typically, it’s said that the chanting should help keep you safe and keep the spirits away. But if you hear the kind of chanting said at funerals…that’s kind of ominous.

Not so much a cultural note, but I did notice a difference between the Thai audio and English audio versions of the game. At the [17:06 mark] you hear the ghost say, “I miss you so much…” However, that’s not what she says in the Thai version. In the Thai version she says, “Don’t you love me anymore?” I kind of find this interesting since the English audio makes me feel like the ghost is an obsessive lover. However, the Thai version sounds like a heartbroken and possibly scorned lover. The Thai audio sounds creepy, but sad. The English audio sounds creepy and obsessed.

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Tokay gecko from the 2009 movie Phobia 2.

At the [20:20 mark] you hear the sound of a tokay gecko. Tokay geckos are these large geckos that are also known for their pretty vicious bite. They basically don’t let go if they bite. However, they’re most well known for their distinctive croaking sounds. Which is how they get their name. As far as superstitions go, suddenly hearing their cries like that is considered an ominous sign. In horror movies, it’s basically a sign that some bad shit is about to go down.

At the [21:20 mark] you see a little golden statue of a woman. This statue is known as นางกวัก/Nang Kwak. She’s like a Thai version of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. She’s basically known as a benevolent spirit or household divinity. It’s said that she brings good fortune and prosperity. It’s also said that she’ll help attract customers to businesses. So you’ll often see alot of Thai businesses, including those outside of Thailand, having one of these. My family’s restaurants have always had these as well. She’s usually shown in a sitting position with one hand by her side or holding a money bag, and the other hand in a beckoning position; As if to beckon customers and fortune.

Around the [24:42 mark] Bryan enters a bathroom in the dilapidated/abandoned dorm, and you see a giant ceramic water jar; Also known as a “(ceramic) dragon pot”. Often times, it has a dragon design on it. This thing is just basically used to store water. It’s pretty old school. There are some homes where they don’t necessarily have showers, or they still have this so they won’t waste water. It’s basically the old school way of bathing. It’s usually full of water, and you have something like a little bucket to scoop out the water. I remember back in the day my grandparents and some of my relatives would have this (along with an actual shower). I think for the most part (at least in my family), people these days have your regular modern day shower. However, I think it’s still fairly common to use these things in some places like in the more rural areas. Again, for me it’s not a relevant thing. However, it’s a small detail that helps sell the setting. However, this is also apparently a reference to an old Thai movie from the 80’s where the character hid from the ghost by hiding in the water jar. On a side note, in some of the other bathrooms you’ll see these large plastic basins. That’s just what people use to do their laundry the old fashioned way. Alot of people in Asia tend to do their laundry the old fashioned way.

To answer Bryan’s question at the [26:44 mark], it’s an abandoned university dorm~

At the [31:18 mark] we find information about the the cursed nail jinx/hex. In Thai it’s known as ฝังรูปฝังรอย, or “Nails into the Stomach Spell”. Thai people are pretty superstitious. While there are some people who are a more skeptical, there are alot of people who strongly believe in superstitions and the supernatural. There are quite alot of people who do believe in curses and hexes. This is a pretty common one as well. I don’t think you’d typically find some magazine ad info on it though. Typically, people believe in going to shamans/witch doctors for these things. Although I will say, often times people say that many shamans aren’t legit. Often times, it’s the elderly or rural people who are getting scammed by con-artists. However, people do believe that a handful of these shamans are legit, have power, and can do these kinds of things like black magic. Of course, there’s also a saying that you shouldn’t mess with black magic because it may backfire and you may risk getting hexed yourself. It’s also believed that there’s always a price and consequence (guaranteed by karma). Black magic spells and hexes are also believed to require something from the target. It could be blood, hair, nails, etc. I remember my grandma and mom would tell me to carefully dispose of anything with blood, hair, or nails myself. She’d tell me that it’s said that you should be careful because someone with bad intentions may try to use it go hex you. There are many different kinds of hexes or voodoo, but the nail jinx is a pretty well known one. It’s known to be one of those possibly fatal jinxes as well.

The description of the jinx also refers to a thread. It’s referring to the สายสิญจน์/sai sin. The sai sin is usually translated as “sacred thread” or “holy thread”. Sometimes it’s called “enchanted thread”. It’s a cotton thread that’s been blessed by Buddhist monks and used for various ceremonies. The thread comes in many colors, however the white thread is typically used. White represents purity and protection. The sai sin is also used for bracelets as well. You can typically get them at temples, for Buddhist holidays and ceremonies, and funerals. Typically you get blessed and they put it around your wrist. It’s meant to be a form of protection and good luck.

The sai sin bracelet I’ve had currently since 2011.

I typically found two types of sai sin bracelets. You have the simple one where it’s just the thread tied around your wrist. There are also thicker, and more elaborate types of sai sin bracelets. Either way, they typically have this part that’s a bit thicker than the rest of the bracelet. I’ve been told by my elders that you’re not supposed to cut it off. You’re supposed to just let it come off naturally. The thicker ones definitely last much longer. The one I currently have, I’ve had it from when I visited my cousin in Koh Samui back in the summer of 2011. Mine has faded, frayed, and loosened a bit…but it’s still on and pretty strong. My last sai sin (which I had maybe for 2-3 years before this one) only lasted me about 4 years? I’ve had the simple ones from funeral services before. In my experience those would fray and come off after a few months to a year.

Scene from the 2013 film, Pee Mak Phrakhanong.

Other than for various occasions and ceremonies, sai sin is also used to create a barrier to protect yourself from evil spirits. You’ll typically see this done by monks or shamans in Thai horror movies. It’s kind of like how Western films and the Supernatural TV series uses salt to create a barrier of protection. It’s also used to tie corpses as well. Which is exactly what this jinx called for. So yeah, sai sin has different uses.

I also wanted to point out how you may miss something due to the English translation for the note at the [33:05 mark]. The English version has a note that refers to a guy just by the name of Chai. However, the note literally translates to, “Bring (these) things to A. Chai. Shane’s hair and nails.” The อ/A shows that he’s referred to as Ajarn Chai. อาจารย์ /Ajarn can be translated as teacher or professor. It can also be used to refer to a doctor. I would also say that it can also be translated as “Master”. It’s typically a title that denotes some kind of respect or stature. It’s also used to refer to/address shamans/witch doctors. It may be a minor detail, but in the English version it just seems like “Okay, get this stuff to a random guy.” In actuality, the note shows that you’re definitely going to a “professional”.

She says something around the [34:35 mark]. I couldn’t really make out what she’s saying in the English audio at first. Later, it’s clear that she says, “You said, ‘Together, forever…'”,”I miss you so much” and “Come back…come back to me…” However, I do know that in the Thai version she says something like,”Didn’t you say we’d be together?” Later on, she can be clearly heard saying, “Didn’t you say we’d be together forever?” She does also say, “I miss you so much.”

At around the [37:34 mark] we see a creepy doll. It reminded me of another Thai superstition. Generally, you shouldn’t take old or abandoned things. Especially if it’s found in obscure places. It’s believed that there may be bad luck or evil spirits attached to it. Kids are also told not to pick up things like dolls they may find in random areas. My mom told me a story from when she was a kid once. She said she once found this seemingly abandoned doll. She picked it up and brought it home with her. However, that night she had a nightmare. The spirit of the doll chased her around the house and made loud noises, demanding that she return it. Mom said it felt so incredibly real and really spooked her. So she returned it first thing in the morning.

At around the [39:08 mark] we see what looks to be like a little shrine. There seems to be figures of traditional Thai dancers, garlands, cup, and incense/joss sticks. There also seems to be cups with either water, alcohol, or some other drink offering. This may be a spoiler, but I assume this may tie in with Episode 2 of Home Sweet Home.


At the [39:50 mark] we see two dolls hugging each other. We find out that this is used for the lechery jinx. In Thai it’s known as ฝังรูปฝังรอย. This is again, another jinx that actually exists. Again, I don’t know whether these jinxes are effective. However, it is something that people have used.

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A newspaper is found at the [47:42 mark]. I actually had to watch a Thai playthrough to see the other side of the newspaper. There’s actually a bit of an easter egg. One of the headliners (on the left) says, “Horror game by Thai developers YGGDRAZIL Group. Continue on p. 13.” You can also see the picture of the Thai dancer ghost that was in the promo material for the game. The other news stories include: 1) A haunted room/home where someone’s head was pulled at in the middle of the night. 2) A 50 year old grandfather kidnapped his 10 year old granddaughter, and brought her to the forest/jungle 3) A wicked shaman’s institution has been destroyed. 4) GOGOJO, the amazing Korean dancing and singing show has set out to open a concert in Thailand. It could be possible that these may be easter eggs or spoilers for the continuation of this game? Also I just want to say, this actually looks like an actual newspaper; Specifically the Thairath newspaper.

At around the [1:06:06 mark] we see a spirit house and the Rolled Metal Amulet. Let’s first talk about the amulet. In Thai it’s called ตะกรุด (“Takrut”). Traditionally it was a type of rolled metal jewelry around one’s arms, waist or arms. What made it special was that it would be inscribed with sacred words. It was believed to have some power to protect the wearer. It was mostly worn by men. It was believed to make them more attractive, and even immortal. The traditional ones don’t typically look like the one you see in the game. I suggest just looking up the Thai word in Google images.


Remember the sai sin bracelets we talked about earlier? These days, there are sai sin bracelets that kind of double as this kind of amulet. Remember the thicker part of the bracelet? These versions of the bracelets have rolled metal that has those sacred inscriptions on there.

Spirit houses at the shrine in front of my step-cousin’s home in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

So let’s move onto the spirit houses, or ศาลพระภูมิ (“San Phra Poom”). They’re also known as guardian spirit houses or a joss house. They’re found in many homes, and in front of many businesses. So if you haven’t noticed by now, Thai culture is rooted in mysticism and superstitions. Thais believe that there are spirits everywhere. People used to believe that illnesses were caused by bad spirits. We also believe that spirits are tied to your land. Usually, you’d build a spirit house to house the guardian spirits of the land. You’d also give food and drink offerings. You can also offer flowers and garlands. You do this to placate them and so that they may protect you and your home. For the most part, these spirit houses can be pretty elaborate, and often draw alot of traditional Thai architectural elements. However, you can find simple ones like the one in the game. Typically, you’re supposed to do a special ceremony to placate spirits whenever you’re going to start construction, moving into a new home, or start any large production (movie/ TV dramas). The ceremony is to ask for their permission, placate them, and hope everything goes smoothly. My mom and grandma often always tell me that whenever I go somewhere or stay in an unfamiliar place, I should pray and ask for permission and safety from the local guardian spirit. I should also note that spirit houses aren’t only found in Thailand. It’s a common practice in many other Southeast Asian cultures.

At the [1:08:42 mark] we find out the name of our character, Tim. So this is where I’m going to take the opportunity to explain something about names in Thai culture. Thai people all have their real name and a nickname. We really only use our real names for formal situations. For the most part, we just use our nicknames in our daily lives and more than our real names. Honestly, I wouldn’t know many of my friends’ and family’s full names. The reason for Thai nicknames is due to the old belief that evil spirits are looking to spirit away and control children; Especially newborns. Thai nicknames can be a shorted version of your actual name. However, it’s typically something pretty random. Most Thai nicknames come from animals, flowers, food, colors, activities. numbers, descriptions, etc. So for example, my real name is Thitaree. However, my Thai nickname is “Mint” (pronounced “Min”) from the word mint. My sister’s nickname is “Mo”. Her Thai nickname comes from แตงโม (Tang-Mo), the Thai word for watermelon. Some other common Thai nicknames are ฟ้า (Fah, meaning “sky” or “blue”), แดง (Daeng/Dang, meaning “red”), หมู (Moo, meaning “pig”), บัว (Bua, meaning “lotus), ชมพู่ (Chompoo, meaning “Rose Apple”), อั๋น (Oun, meaning “fat” or “plump”), and บอล (Bon/Ball, meaning “ball”. Now back to our character, Tim. “Tim” is his nickname. We find out from a note [1:10:33 mark] in the office that his real name is Chadchai Tubloy. What I can tell you is that “Tim” comes from the Thai word ไอติม (Ai-Dtim), which is one of the Thai words/pronunciations of “Ice Cream”. I know, these nicknames sound really weird to westerners. However, these are just seen as pretty common names in Thailand. We also find out Jane’s real name is Nitharinya.

We also find out that the house they live in is located in Samut Phrakan. So this takes place in an area south or southeast of Bangkok. Basically, they’re not in the big city.

At [1:08:54] you see this mesh thing on the table. This is called a ฝาชี /Fa Chi. It’s a plastic mesh cover that you put over your food on the table. It’s to prevent things like flies from getting on your food when you’re not eating it. This is another minor detail that sells the setting for me. It’s something that’s found in many Thai homes. Hell, I’ve got one in my kitchen right now. I also want to add that the house has alot of very Thai decorations. For example, the hanging banners/tapestries with the elephants or the wooden carving of a man in the office. Those would be considered Thai art. Funny enough, my family and relatives have these kinds of things in their homes and businesses too. Even the ones in the States.

At the [1:09:28 mark] we notice that there’s this red string everywhere. It looks like red sai sin, and we basically see more and more of it throughout the game. Typically, red is seen as an auspicious color in Thai, Chinese, and many other cultures. However, after discussing it with my grandma, we came to the conclusion that the red string in the game may be symbolic of blood and vengeance. Dez also mentioned how he came across the “Red String/Thread of Fate” lore, and how he believes this may be to tied to the game.

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So the Red Thread of Fate is a belief from East Asian cultures (China, Japan, Korea, etc), where you’re tied to your soulmate by a red thread. It originated from an ancient Chinese legend, and the belief was adopted by several other East Asian cultures. While this isn’t really something found in purely Thai beliefs, I wouldn’t rule it out. Thailand does have a large population of Chinese descent. So it’s possible that this idea could’ve been put into the game by Thai-Chinese cultural influences. It also seems to be confirmed from one of the official promo pictures.

At the [1:23:15 mark], you’ll noticed a statue on top of the book case. This is a กุมาร (Kuman) statue.  It’s a statue of a young boy with gold. The Kuman is a household divinity (and spirit) that looks like a young boy. It’s said that they’ll bring good fortune and luck; If properly revered by the owner. There’s also something called กุมารทอง (Kumanthong). It could be translated as “Golden (Little) Boy”. However, the origin of the Kumantong is tied to necromancy and black magic. Authentic Kumantong were made from fetuses of children that died in the womb. Witch doctors/Shamans are said to have the power to invoke them, adopt them, and then use them. Kumantong spirits basically serve the shamans and help do their bidding. Apparently, ancient texts say that the bodies would be roasted dry. They’d then be painted with the same lacquer used for amulets and trakut. Lastly, they would then be covered in gold leaf. Hence, “Golden Little Boy”. This practice is obviously incredibly illegal and frowned upon now. However, there are news stories of people still doing it, and authentic amulets being found on the black market.

The knife at [1:27:32 mark] is known as a มีดหมอ (Meed Mor), or an exorcist’s knife. It’s typically used by shamans/witch doctor’s to get rid of evil spirits.

At the [1:29:33 mark] we start to enter the old wooden house in the countryside. I just want to say how amazed I am at the design and detail. It truly is very much like an actual wooden house you’d find in the country side. I love the little details such as the Thai triangular pillows (Something my family always had as well).

At [1:29:57 mark] you start to hear dogs suddenly howl and bark in the middle of the night. It’s an ominous sign. Thai people believe that it’s an ominous sign and that there are spirits nearby.

At the [1:32:15 mark] we see a bunch of black and white portraits on the wall. There are many homes that will typically have portraits of family members who’ve passed.

Pictures of relatives on my mom’s side at her aunt’s home in Udon Thani, Thailand. Her aunt put flower garlands underneath.

Again, this game has alot of interesting details. There’s even more things in the rest of the game~ There is some irony though. The mechanics of this game has you basically playing hide and seek from the ghosts. It’s ironic since there’s a Thai superstition that you shouldn’t play hide and seek at night, as you might get spirited away. I just found it amusing and ironic. I’ll try continuing this for the entire game, but it may take a while. Like I said, this game has alooooooooot of stuff in it. Let me know if you have any questions! And on a final note: I’ll be taking a brief hiatus from BAYOG for about a week or 2. I basically have to go back to my subber life. I’ll be back soon though!

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