I finally managed to make the trip to Siriraj Medical Museum. I was in Bangkok a few weeks ago and was able to visit this place that my yoga anatomy teacher, Ewa, from the yoga teacher training recommended. Should I actually now inform that some of these photos – in addition to the actual museum – are not for the squeamish?! Just kidding, don’t worry. I’ve left out the freakiest. They might get banned anyway.
Siriraj Medical – Just one out of many museums
This place is situated at the Faculty of Medicine or Siriraj Hospital area and it actually consists of 5 different museums, in a few different buildings. It can be a bit tricky finding the correct place but, luckily, you can always ask someone: plenty of security guards around who are used to tourists looking clueless. The place is not too far from Rattanakosin which is the historic part of Bangkok (Khao San Rd, the backpacker mecca, is also part of Rattanakosin, though it is a separate entity as well: “same same, but different”, you know, the famous Thai proverb). It has a plethora of things to see, so maybe next time extend your stay in the area and do something different!
The most interesting museums were the Pathology and Anatomy Museums. In the first one, they had deformed babies in formaldehyde (it’s strange that the creepiest stuff is always the most interesting). They had a very informative exhibition about the 2004 Tsunami’s effects on human bodies, and how the forensic investigators worked to identify the bodies and the medical team helped people with serious injuries. This was a part of a wider Forensic Museum collection, which had eg. bodies of murderers, skulls showing gunshot holes and displays on what might happen to your head if you die in a car accident. After this, you will want to wear a seat belt and helmet. Guaranteed!
Unfortunately, most of the information here is in Thai but in the Pathology Museum, you can ask a headset, if you want to hear the commentaries in English (perhaps they have other languages as well, I’m not sure). In the same building they also have the Parasitology Museum, which I didn’t find super fascinating. You can stroll it through in 5-10 minutes though, since it doesn’t cost extra.
When you get to the Anatomy Museum, you feel…just wow! At least I did. It would make a perfect scene for a horror movie. The building itself is very old and when you climb the wooden stairs up to the museum, it makes the same creepy sound, that you could hear at your grandparents’ old house, when you were little (or am I the only one who was scared of treading those creaky steps at night). When you get into the museum, everything is, well… old. And damp. It’s amazing how well everything has been able to preserve in this humidity.
Prepare to see numerous dissected body parts and human bodies. Bones also, but they seem a bit tame after the REAL deal. Obviously deformities as well. Babies in jars, in the same vein, as in the Pathology Museum. This museum boasts also being the only one, which has the whole body arterial system and central nervous system intact, and on display. Imagine the person who has scraped off everything else, so there is nothing else but a fine, thread-like matrix of peripheral nervous system left (google it, or better yet, go and see for yourself)!
Strangely enough, I found the museum somehow beautiful: numerous rows of old shelves with glass doors and glass jars. I’ve always been a bit romantic, when it comes to things from the past: I like to imagine what life was like then, what kind of life I would’ve lead and so on. Okay, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about some of the shocking images sticking into my head. But luckily, they didn’t. If you are very sensitive, this might not be the place for you, though. And small children, leave them home.
Chill at the riverside afterwards
The museum should be open daily from 10am to 5pm, except Tuesdays and public holidays. The admission to all of the museums is only 300 baht. After the creepy(?) experience, you can chill your nerves down at the riverside, where they have some nice cafes and restaurants. In addition, you can find the new, cool, hipstery mall, Tha Maharaj on the east bank of Chao Phraya (Rattanakosin side) where the ferries cross the river. The ferry cost only 3 baht and they run frequently. Oh, and you are not allowed to take photos inside the museums. Don’t tell anyone. I know I won’t…
If you feel the Anatomy Museum is a bit too much for you, why don’t you try the Unicorn Cafe in Bangkok. That should be enough of pink, fluff and rainbow colours for one day!