Makan

Bite the dust at Bangkok's 'death awareness' cafe

Dying for a cup of coffee?

You will feel right at home at Bangkok's new "death awareness" cafe, a macabre Buddhist spin on the themed-cafe craze where customers are urged to confront their own mortality.

With drinks called Death and Painful and a skeleton splayed out on a couch in the corner, the meet-your-maker theme is alive and well at this open-air lunch spot in the Thai capital.

But the centrepiece of the Kid Mai (Think New) Death Cafe experience is a decorated white coffin where customers are encouraged to lay down for a few minutes to contemplate - and secure a discount on a drink.

"I feel like I am in a funeral," Ms Duanghatai Boonmoh, 28, laughed as she sipped a chocolate "death smoothie".

She and other customers took turns climbing into the wooden box as friends sealed the lid.

The cafe's owner says his restaurant is more than just a gimmick or dark take on the cute and cuddly coffee shops common in Bangkok, which boasts everything from cat, husky and meerkat cafes to unicorn and mermaid-themed eateries.

Professor Veeranut Rojanaprapa, a social researcher, thought up the cafe as a way to teach Thai people - some 90 per cent of whom identify as Buddhist - about the benefits of "death awareness".

"We found that having an awareness of death decreases greed and anger," he explained.

Prof Veeranut believes the Buddhist concept, rooted in ideas of impermanence and selflessness, is the key to ridding Thai society of problems like violence and corruption.

The casket is a way to nudge technology-addicted youth to reassess their lives, he said.- AFP

Food & Drink