Friday, October 30, 2015

[Folktale] Phi Kowpoon

This Lao folktale seems a little less well-known than others, but I like it because it draws on many fascinating elements of Lao daily life. It might properly fall under the category of urban legend, and while some might not consider it as terrifying as a creepypasta story, I hope it gets retold in future generations, just the same. It seems there’s likely only one Phi Kowpoon, and I haven’t been able to find any sources that give her a name otherwise. As always, this is far from the final or only version, but it goes something like this:

In Laos, a man was pushing his kowpoon cart down the road in the early evening. It had been a long day, and he hadn’t sold all of his noodles. He had heard of a village nearby and decided to head that way to try his luck there. On the way, he found himself at a fork in the road near a pair of twin banyan trees. He heard a soft whimpering, and as got closer to the trees he saw a little girl weeping on a log, her long hair covering her face.

It was getting very cold, and he sat on the log next to her. He asked “Are you all right, little sister?”

The girl just kept crying softly.

“Are you from the village up ahead?”

Still, the girl gave no reply.

“It’s getting cold. And you shouldn’t be all by yourself out here. There are many scary ghosts in the jungle at night. Don’t you think you should go home?”

The girl stopped crying. Everything was quiet in the jungle. Not even the insects were making noise.

The noodle seller felt a chill wash over him as he realized something was amiss. He asked her: “Are you alive? Or are you a ghost?”

At this, the girl nodded. Trembling, the man asked one last question: “Who did this to you?”

She looked up at him with an furious, ghastly visage and pointed accusingly with a cold, gray finger, “A NOODLE SELLER LIKE YOU!!!”

The noodle seller screamed in terror and ran away so fast in fear he left his kowpoon cart behind. He was never seen in the area again. But today, if you ask around the right village, they’ll tell the story of a girl who sold noodles who was murdered long ago, her body buried by a pair of banyan tres. And sometimes, when the moon is right, you can spot her still, by her trees, smiling as she sells her kowpoon to anyone who passes by.

But don’t complain if her soup is cold.

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