Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe is a death-themed cafe, in Bangkok. The cafe experience includes a decorated white coffin, where customers are encouraged to lie down for a few minutes to secure a discount on a drink.

Shows a Thai teenager climbing out of a traditional coffin at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, an exhibition space built to educate the public about death and Buddhism, in Bangkok, March 30, 2018.
Shows a Thai teenager climbing out of a traditional coffin at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, an exhibition space built to educate the public about death and Buddhism, in Bangkok, March 30, 2018. (AFP)

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 and live better lives as a result.

With drinks called "death" and "painful" on the menu 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.

Pictures of drinks available to order are on display at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, an exhibition space built to educate the public about death and Buddhism, in Bangkok, March 30, 2018.
Pictures of drinks available to order are on display at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, an exhibition space built to educate the public about death and Buddhism, in Bangkok, March 30, 2018. (AFP)

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 their final moments  and secure a discount on a drink.

"I feel like I am in a funeral," 28-year-old Duanghatai Boonmoh said with a laugh as she sipped a chocolate "death smoothie" on a recent Saturday afternoon.

A barista prepares a chocolate milkshake called
A barista prepares a chocolate milkshake called "Death," at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, March 30, 2018. (AFP)

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

"The first thing that came to my mind was, what if no one opens it?" Duanghatai said after emerging from the coffin.

"How you going to tell everyone that 'I'm here, I'm still alive,'? I think that's probably the feeling you have when you know you're going to die soon," she added.

A skeleton on a chair is one of the many macabre props decorating the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, in Bangkok, April 5, 2018.
A skeleton on a chair is one of the many macabre props decorating the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, in Bangkok, April 5, 2018. (AFP)

Buddhist cure 

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 the Thai capital, which boasts everything from cat cafes to meerkat cafes to unicorn and mermaid-themed eateries.

Patrons have drinks at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, in Bangkok, April 5, 2018
Patrons have drinks at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, in Bangkok, April 5, 2018 (AFP)

A professor and social researcher, Veeranut Rojanaprapa conceived the cafe as a way to teach Thai people, some 90 percent of whom identify as Buddhist, about the benefits of "death awareness".

"We found that having an awareness of death decreases greed and anger," explained Veeranut, whose giggly demeanour belies his fascination with more morbid matters.

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

"When one is aware of their own death, they will do good. This is what our Lord Buddha teaches," he explained.

The casket experience is also a way to nudge the country's technology-addicted youth to step back and reassess their personal lives.

"When teenagers go down to the coffin and our staff close the coffin, because of the darkness, because of the small space, they will be aware of themselves, they will recall the things that they still haven't done," said Veeranut, adding that he makes a point of considering his own demise nightly.

The professor is not the first to offer a resurrection experience in Thailand, where a temple outside Bangkok is famous for hosting symbolic funerals for devotees looking to clear their souls of bad karma.

A Thai teenager tries out a traditional coffin at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, in Bangkok, March 30, 2018.
A Thai teenager tries out a traditional coffin at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, in Bangkok, March 30, 2018. (AFP)

But his cafe and coffin sit squarely in the middle of a local community centre in northern Bangkok, offering a public and morbid reminder of mortality that not everybody in the neighbourhood is happy about.

The cafe has also spread out to a public walkway, which is now posted with signs asking questions like, "What is the purpose of your life?"

A man lies inside a traditional Thai coffin at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, in Bangkok, April 5, 2018.
A man lies inside a traditional Thai coffin at the Kid Mai Death Awareness Cafe, in Bangkok, April 5, 2018. (AFP)

"This is so disturbing. I feel really strange walking there and might avoid this shortcut," one netizen wrote on a neighbourhood Facebook page.

Yet Veeranut says he welcomes any controversy as a sign of success.

"I love all of the complaints. Because if they are complaining it means they are thinking about death, they are aware of death."

Source: AFP