Men, you have been warned! You may experience some penis envy when you set your eyes on the shrine at Phra Nang Cave at Rai Leh Beach. The shrine has hundreds of wooden phallic statues left by local fisherman and boatmen to honor a princess goddess named Phra Nang. The statues are offerings to make sure they have a safe journey while they’re at sea.
Phra Nang Cave is at the far end of the beach, and as you walk along, you pass long-tail boats selling food and refreshments. The availability of food everywhere in Thailand still amazes me. You can pick something up at any hour of the day or night, and the prices are extremely reasonable.
Anyway, getting back to the penis envy. Guys, as you approach the cave, you will already have a sneaking suspicion that there’s something odd going on. People (mostly foreign tourists) stand in a semi-circle gawking at the shrine. They don’t want to express their shock in an obvious way or show any signs of disrespect at the holy site, but you can tell they have never been confronted with so much wood.
When you finally push to the front (for better pictures that document culturally significant locations, of course), I assure you that you’ll also gasp at what you see. Never before will you have come face to face with hundreds of wooden penis statues – large and small. They line altars, form neat rows in the sand or are simply piled one on top of the other. Many statues are decorated with colorful pieces of cloth that wave when a slight breeze comes through. You’ll even find a three-foot-tall member standing proudly erect and slightly apart from the others . . . so perhaps size does matter after all?