How I Found Thailand’s “Human Bakery”

Just outside of Bangkok is a bakery where artist Kittiwat Unarrom bakes bread in the shape of bloody, dismembered human body parts. He’s supposedly been doing it since 2006 but pictures and videos of his creations went particularly viral in 2013 (maybe because Dexter was about to end and people sensed an impending void in their lives). I was determined to visit his shop during my trip to Thailand.

The idea of body-part bread fascinated me. How does he make them so realistic? Are they edible? How much do they cost? But the biggest question turned out to be: where is this place?

All the blog posts I found about the “Body Bakery” or “Human Bakery” or Kittiwat himself seemed to all get their information from the same source, and whatever that original source was, it didn’t include an address. (Or definitive answers to any of my other questions.)

I Googled until my fingers bled and could not find an address. I did, however, stumble across a forum post in which someone offered some GPS coordinates:

13º 41 38.09 N, 99º 50 24.55 E

I entered the coordinates into Google maps but saw no signs of a bakery. Some more searching turned up a photo of the sign outside the bakery. Still no address, but the sign featured a phone number (032-233901) and the actual name of the place: EAT BAKERY.

As convenient as it would’ve been to have an actual address, the piecing together of clues made the whole mission more intriguing: Maybe we’d get hopelessly lost, or maybe we’d end up eating a human head made of bread. Either way, we were going to find a way to get to those GPS coordinates.

Everyone online says the bakery is in Bangkok, but it’s actually in Ratchaburi, which is a healthy 100km outside of Bangkok. There didn’t seem to be any expeditious way to take the bus or train to our coordinates, so we bit the bullet and hired a cab for $45 roundtrip.

No one at our hotel had heard of Eat Bakery, nor had our cab driver, but we plugged the GPS coordinates into our iPhone and off we went…

Ninety minutes later, the GPS landed us somewhere in the middle of Ratchaburi. Our driver called the phone number we had and then backtracked for a block or two until we noticed the sign from the photo I had seen.

We pulled up to a small building with big, plate glass windows and peered inside. It was mostly empty, but we noticed a table full of hands and arms and some shelves with a head or two on them. An older man met us in the driveway and our cab driver explained that we were there to see the bread, so he let us into the building.

human_bakery2

The older man didn’t speak any English, and our cab driver spoke only a little more than none, so conversation was a little tough. We looked around at the scant amount of human bread on display and took a few photos. It wasn’t the House of Horrors we were hoping for, but it was still pretty cool to see the bread up close. We asked about its edibility but either the question or the answer was lost in translation.

We were about ready to leave when our host asked us to wait a moment and went into a house behind the small building. He came out with a guy in his 20s or 30s and our cab driver explained that this was the artist who made all the bread sculptures. Kittiwat Unarrom himself!

kittiwat1

Kittiwat’s English was somewhere between our cabbie’s and the older man’s. He explained that his sister had recently died. She ran the family bakery, so he had taken a break from creating body parts to help bake normal bread to keep the shop afloat. He had also recently had an art show and sold a bunch of pieces, which explained why there was so little on display.

My big question: can I eat this stuff? No. Again, communication was difficult, but my understanding is that it’s edible when it comes out of the oven, but after that it’s molded and altered in such a way that makes it inedible. I asked him how he preserved the bread and he said, “Spray urethane.” I laughed to myself, thinking how many times he must get asked that question in order to know such a specific English word.

Kittiwat called his art dealer in Bangkok and explained what was going on. The art dealer offered to translate our questions over the phone and then translate Kittiwat’s responses back to us. The dealer told us that Kittiwat could even do custom work, based on photos. I tried to get a price to see what it would cost to replicate myself in bread as an abused cadaver, but they couldn’t give me an estimate right there. Other custom work has sold for a few thousand, but I don’t know if anyone’s ever done their whole body before. We asked about purchasing some of his work but it’s usually only for sale at art shows, and since we had just missed his most recent one it looked like we were going home empty handed.

Kittiwat briefly showed us around the kitchen of his bakery and we petted some of the dogs hanging out around back and we took photos with us and Kittiwat and his work. When we felt we had seen as much of the place as possible, we thanked Kittiwat profusely for his time and bid him farewell.

As we were buckling up in the back of our taxi, there was a knock on the window. I rolled it down and Kittiwat reached out and gave me a hand. Not a helping hand, not a round of applause. A bloody, severed, decaying human hand made of bread. A gift, the cab driver translated, because he was so flattered that we had driven so far and taken such an interest in his work. We tried to offer him money for it and he refused, so we just thanked him over and over again and exchanged wai gestures and big smiles.

As our cab drove away, I took the hand and used it to wave to Kittiwat from the window. He laughed as we rolled out of his driveway and began our hour-and-a-half journey back to Bangkok.

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Kittiwat’s gift, on display at home

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