CityNews – On the morning of 29th March 2017 roads were closed around Tha Pae Gate between 9 and 11am with dozens of ambulances, emergency vehicles and police cars lining the roads. Tourists in the vicinity reported that they saw a man, looking unkempt and wild, “with eyes of an innocent child,” said Lars Nordstrom, a visiting fisherman from Sweden. Startled, tourists tried to engage this man, but he ran up to the top of Tha Pae Gate in panic and refused to come down for many hours.
Rescue workers tried to engage him, but he spoke very broken Thai and kept repeating the words, “Luk Takae”.
A volunteer social worker, who had studied linguistics at Edinburgh University, spent some time with the man and eventually it was discovered that he had emerged from the city drain that morning due to unbearable smells from the Mae Kha Canal.
“This is an incredible story,” said Poodmak Maiyud, the volunteer linguist. “After we convinced him to allow us to hose him down, we realised that he is a young man, possibly in his late teens, who has spent virtually all of his life in the Chiang Mai drainage system. His early memories are of a family of crocodiles, which adopted and fed him. He used to sit under grills and listen to conversations of people above, and that is the only reason he has rudimentary speaking skills. We are going to have to do DNA testing, but seventeen years ago I remember reading about a woman who had dropped her newborn son down the city drain, never to be found again. Remarkably, this could be him.
Authorities are going through old documents to find if that woman is still alive in case Luk Takae – which translates to Son of Crocodiles – has any living relatives.
In the meanwhile, a team of linguists, psychologists, social anthropologists and biologists from the Smithsonian Institute in the US are flying over to Chiang Mai to study this young man. Authorities will send a team down the city drains to search for Luk Takae’s parents, in hopes that he can find some comfort in these confusing times.