Despite the unlikeliness of their yarn, their straight-faced sincerity proved convincing. After gaining traction by word of mouth in Nakhon Sawan, Kaokala expanded its online presence and held public meet-ups , earning nationwide attention through the media. A community crystallised.
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Krittaya Ketkaewsuwan, a year-old graphic designer from Bangkok, joined because she loved sci-fi and really wants to see a UFO. Ploy Buranasiri , 29, another designer, said that spirituality was her gateway to Kaokala. According to Wassana the aliens chose Thailand as their contact point because the country had many Buddhists, who could use meditation to communicate with them.
Others have rocketed deeper into the wormhole. UFO Kaokala—Kaokala Coordination for Disasters Warning Group, to give the full title—took its name from Khao Kala mountain after aliens apparently told Wassana that there was a portal to another dimension there. For the past six years members have been meeting by the Buddhist statues on the peak to camp, meditate and spot UFOs.
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As we climbed higher, Ann remained insistent. She told me to take photos of the sky, so we could zoom in and check for spaceships later. Khao Kala mountain, with its jagged rock formations and fluttering butterflies, was calming and pretty on my visit, but was recently the scene of high drama. In mid-August police and Forestry Department officials raided the peak. Officers said the Kaokala group was impinging on protected forest area by building bathroom and storage buildings by the statues, and illegally camping there.
Wassana said that the core members will probably try and club together to pay the fine, if it comes to that. Others have cast suspicion on Charoen taking donations to fund structures on the peak. Ann points out that it is free to be a Kaokala member. There was little evidence of decadence among the group leaders I met. I see comments, but I try to avoid them.
Small black pyramid models were scattered on the ground and balanced among tree branches.
Wassana cleaned up detritus around the raid area; Ann and Ploy relaxed in the shadows of more Buddhist statues, embedded among tranquil forest. The vibe was more "weekend bus tour" than "doom cult," and local businesses unaffiliated to the group were taking advantage of the stream of alien obsessives.
After visiting the mountain we hit a Nakhon Sawan market to load up on baggy t-shirts plastered with garish alien designs, seemingly teleported from a s rave. But as in those instances, his tweets spark fear and paranoia that could have real consequences. This type of scare tactic has become more common under this administration.
Not long after Trump took office in , reports of ICE agents stopping people at train stations, schools, and courthouses started popping up, and they spread like wildfire on social media. Immigrant communities all over the United States began to panic about a possible mass sweep. Like a game of telephone, the report of one ICE official at a train station turned into fear of riding public transportation in general.
Such rhetoric only exacerbates the trauma that this population already have experienced that led them to flee their country to seek safety in the United States.
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