SIT TBOW, Cambodia (Reuters) - Cambodians are flocking to see a three-year-old boy they believe was the son of a dragon in a former life because his best friend is a four-meter-long python.
Curled up for an afternoon snooze inside the coils of his scaly companion, the child, Oeun Sambath, attracts regular visits in the impoverished southeast Asian nation from villagers anxious to make use of what they believe are his supernatural powers.
"He has been playing with the python ever since he could first crawl," said his mother Kim Kannara, who is perfectly happy to allow her son to sleep cheek-by-jowl with the giant constrictor even though it could easily have him for dinner.
Traditional beliefs are still strong in Cambodia and it was not long before the boy's friendship with the female snake -- called Chamreun or 'Lucky' -- prompted a fortune teller to declare he must have been the son of a dragon in a previous life.
His special powers will probably make him a traditional healer at the age of seven, but meanwhile the bond between boy and snake is limiting the movements of the family.
"I don't know what is special about the relationship between my son and the snake -- whether they were related in their previous lives -- but they certainly can't be separated," Kim Kannara said.
"I once took my son off to the provinces, but we couldn't stay because my son was missing Chamreun so much."