How to protect yourself from vampires around the world

Feature photo by Movimente. Above photo by Josh Berglund.

Lonely Planet and Fodor’s don’t prepare you for quite everything.

GARLIC, CHECK. HOLY WATER, check. Crucifix, check. So you’ve packed for every contingency, even encounters with Nosferatu, and now you’re ready to go?

Think again, intrepid traveler. More than one kind of bloodsucker haunts the far reaches of the earth. Here’s the globe-trotter’s guide on how to avoid becoming the midnight snack of some of the world’s creepier ghouls.

Malaysia

Whizzing through the hot and humid Malaysian night air comes the horrific penanggalan, a flying woman’s head complete with hanging entrails. Once a beautiful midwife who made a pact with the devil for supernatural abilities, the penanggalan is cursed to detach from her body each night in search of the blood of newborn infants and expectant mothers.

Possessing the ability to float through walls and squeeze through the cracks of floorboards, the penanggalan also has prehensile intestines that leave constant sores on whomever it grasps. It’s pretty darn gross.

How to protect yourself:

Place thorns around the windows and doors of your hostel to snare the penanggalan’s entrails. If you want to get really gung-ho and make a preemptive strike, follow the creature back to its abode and wait for the next nightfall to place broken glass in the neck of the decapitated body. When the penanggalan tries to squeeze back into its body, its guts will be shredded to bits.

Brazil

Throw away your Anne Rice-inspired notions of dark, seductive bloodsuckers lurking in your boudoir, and say hello instead to the lobishomen, the hobo of vampires. Hairy and squat with a hunched back, jaundiced skin and rotten-black teeth, and frequently described as looking like a monkey, he’s not going to win any Lestat look-alike contests soon. Ironically, or maybe not, lobishomen primarily preys upon women, who become raving nymphomaniacs after his bite.

How to protect yourself:

The lobishomen’s one easily exploited weakness is the intoxicated state he enters after a nip or two of blood. Once he’s passed out, feel free to give him a stab—or crucify him if you’re feeling particularly energetic.

Feature and above photo by Brett Fernau.

Northern United States and Canada

An evil supernatural being associated with famine, winter, and desolation, the wendigo is said to resemble a sasquatch, only with an emaciated frame, sunken eyes, bloody and ragged lips, and (of course) a ravenous appetite for human meat. It also carries the odor of decay wherever it haunts.

People typically fall prey to possession by the spirit after resorting to cannibalism during a time of starvation. Then they’ll be driven insane by an unstoppable impulse to continue the bloody carnage, even killing family members and friends.

How to protect yourself:

Preventive measures are the preferred method, with ritual dances warning people of the dangers of cannibalism, since the only way to stop a victim already under the influence of the wendigo’s bloodlust is immediate execution. Always packing enough to eat for everyone, or not visiting in the winter, might also be wise decisions.

Southern Africa

A witch’s familiar handed down the matrilineal line, the impundulu inflicts an insatiable blood-thirst upon its mistress’s enemies. To the witch, the impundulu takes the appearance of a handsome, sexually receptive young man (you can see why they keep it in the family), but when out running errands it transforms into the lightning bird, a roughly human-sized rainbow-feathered bird that casts electric bolts with its wings.

How to protect yourself:

Effectively immortal, the impundulu is impervious to many customary methods of protection, except being set on fire. You just have to catch it first. Other than that, a local healer might have a magical salve created from impundulu fat that will help stave off an attack.

Caribbean

An old woman who has made a pact with the Devil for — you guessed it — supernatural powers, the loogaroo must appease her dark lord with the blood of a victim every night. If she can’t supply the Devil with the agreed-upon payment, he will take her own life’s essence in turn. Before her nightly sojourn, the loogaroo anoints her body with a magical potion that allows her to slip off her skin, which she leaves under the Devil Tree. Transforming into a glowing, sulfurous ball of light, she then searches out her next unsuspecting victim.

How to protect yourself:

Apparently this vampire has one bad case of OCD. To thwart the loogaroo’s attack, place a pile of sand outside your door and she will be compelled to count each grain. Once the sun begins to rise, she’ll flee back to her hidden skin and an unhappy Satan.

Feature and above photo by Shawn Allen.

India

Hell has no fury like a woman scorned, and this Indian vampy presents no exception. A malevolent sorceress who takes a disliking to a certain man, the chedipe disrobes, hops onto a flying tiger to the offending male’s house, and puts the inhabitant into a deep trance. While the unconscious man lies unaware, she siphons his blood through his big toe.

She will return every night until the man wastes away and eventually dies. If the man is particularly unlucky, the vampire will simply lick the victim, killing him instantly.

How to protect yourself:

Two fail-safe precautions would be to wear steel-toed boots to bed, or to be a woman. Barring that, if you feel you might be a victim of a Chedipe (symptoms include uneasiness and intoxication—kind of like you smoked too much ganja), see a local healer. You’ll be cured within ten days.

Australia

You might think that the country with the most venomous snakes in the world would catch a break in the monster department — but you’d be wrong. The yara-ma-yha-who, a small red man-like creature with an oversized head and no teeth, waits it in the upper reaches of a fig tree for its victims, descending upon them to drain their blood though suckers on its feet and hands.

After letting the weakened victim languish a bit, the manikin returns to swallow the person and then, after a short nap, regurgitate them. Usually, the person lives through the ordeal, minus a few inches of leg.

How to protect yourself:

Don’t hang out under fig trees. Other than that, it’s best to ride out the digestion process and reconcile yourself to getting all of your pants hemmed.

Mesopotamia

One of the oldest bloodsuckers of them all, Lamashtu has terrorized people since 4000 BCE. A rogue goddess described as having a head of a lion with donkey ears and teeth, and bird feet, she kidnaps children for the fun of it, gnawing on their bones and drinking their blood. Other claims to fame include causing miscarriages, polluting bodies of water, carrying pestilence, and generally being an evil pain in the ass.

How to protect yourself:

In this case, two wrongs do make a right. Pazuzu, chief rival of Lamashtu and the bringer of famine and drought, can be invoked to chase off the baby-eating goddess. What you then do to expel Pazuzu isn’t quite clear.

Photo by Marshall Astor.

Japan

You really, really don’t want to encounter a kappa. A frog-like river monster roughly the size of a small child, the kappa pulls its hapless victim into the water and then sucks the entrails out of… the poor bastard’s anus. Erk. If the person is lucky, they might drown beforehand.

How to protect yourself:

Surprisingly, the kappa possesses a deep sense of etiquette. If you have the presence of mind before being dragged to a watery and grotesque death, bow to the creature. The kappa will be obliged to bow in return, spilling the water in a special cavity on the top of its head and thus dying. It’s safe to say this guy was late when the vampire jobs were handed out.

Germany

The alp is an odd little fellow. With a jaunty cap that imbues him with magical powers, the alp sneaks into sleeping people’s bedrooms and commits various acts of scandal — causing nightmares, putting dirty diapers back on babies, and sucking blood through men and children’s nipples. It’s also not opposed to imbibing a bit of breast milk here and there. In one of its more adorable aspects, the alp can transmogrify into a cat, dog, pig, or butterfly—but only while still wearing the little hat.

How to protect yourself:

While not life-threatening, an alp attack is fairly annoying and can be easily avoided. Placing a broomstick under your pillow or shoes next to your bed should do the trick. If you happen to wake up to find an alp in the bedroom, ask him to come back for a morning cup of coffee and he’ll kindly oblige.

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  • http://Travel-Writers-Exchange.com Travel-Writers-Exchange.com

    Oh My! This was some article. You could definitely have some great travel writing articles by visiting these countries. Your angle would be comparing the different “vampire” beliefs from around the world!

  • Lily

    Nice post; only it’s spelled “lobisomem” and it is not a vampire, but a werewolf.

  • cactus

    The Brazilian vampire, the lobishomen, is not a vampire at all – its a werewolf. That’s what lobishomen means. In Portuguese, “lobo” means wolf and “homen” means man. Hence, lobishomen means “wolf-man.”

    The rest of the entry on the lobishomen doesn’t sound any more like the stories I heard while growing up in Brazil either.

  • http://travelaholicanonymous.com Jennine

    These monsters are definitely not hollywood potrail of vampires. Wouldn’t want to run across any of them in my travels… ;)

  • melissa

    you have nothing on how to protect yourself from the Jiang Shi vampire of China or the Eretik of Russia.

  • Jack_first

    can some one tell me where is a group of non vampire so i can join them , cus im living around of vampire yeah like that i have to deal with this shit and protect my self EVERY DAY .yeah that right ARUBA THE ONE FUKING VAMPIRE ISLAND

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