Los Angeles Times

The spirit houses of Bangkok keep watch over a frenetic modern city

BANGKOK, Thailand - In the shadows of Bangkok's glinting high-rises, the plazas of sprawling shopping malls and the cozy courtyards of simpler neighborhoods sit countless tiny monuments to Thais' enduring belief in the supernatural.

These miniature shrines, perched on pedestals and topped with sloping roofs, are known as spirit houses. Government buildings have them. So do five-star hotels, apartment buildings, offices, cafes and beauty parlors across Thailand's frenetic capital city.

Resembling elaborate dollhouses, they shelter the spirits that are thought to watch over that piece of land - a deity, guardian of the soil or the ghosts of former inhabitants.

More than 90% of Thais practice Buddhism, but the spiritual life

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