Daily Archives: August 24, 2008

Return to Khun Samut School

In early July 2008, I shared with you some shocking pictures of the Ban Khun Samut School where the buildings had collapsed into the canal. I have written about this community a number of times. This is the place where the local temple is surrounded by water at high tide. Even though the school was moved further inland in the early 1980’s, the sea has caught up with it again and during high tide the playground is flooded. I was back again at Khun Samut Chin this morning and I wanted to share with you some of the latest pictures of the school.

As you can see from these photos, in just over one month, the classrooms have been raised and they also have concrete supports. The old wooden supports had been eaten away which resulted in the collapse. There is still more work to be done but the school has re-opened. Apparently it was only closed for one week. I guess it was to their advantage that there are only 30 students so it was easy to move them to an empty classroom. The local government came to their aid and sent some money their way to do the repairs. Though it wasn’t quite enough.

It was exactly one year ago that I came to Khun Samut Chin to take part in the fund-raising effort at the temple. There were at least 500 people on that day including dignitaries such as the governor of Samut Prakan Province. A lot of money was raised for the temple. Other groups have come since and they have raised over one million baht for the temple. I also believe they have spent one million baht on building a sea wall around the temple as well as new buildings. But, none of this money went to the school which, in my mind, is just as important for the local community.

I was glad to receive an invitation to return to Khun Samut Chin for another fund-raising, though this time it was for the benefit of the school. There was a large crowd of people, though maybe not as much as last year. Nor did the governor of Samut Prakan make an appearance. People feel they are making more merit if they donate to the temple rather than a local charity. However, over 200,000 baht was raised. When I went to the school I could also see that they had received a number of donations of classroom equipment. There was also some company employees who had volunteered their time to do some painting. I am glad to see that the future for the school looks brighter. Though, as you can see from the above picture, the classrooms in the second block have started to lean as well.

You can see more of my pictures and read about this community at our sister site www.KhunSamut.com. I am planning to go back again in October to volunteer as an English teacher. I will share some updates with you later.

Iron Maidens

Prapawadee won the gold medal.

“Thailand won a gold medal!”

I came running out of my cubicle and did my celebratory dance in the hallway at the office when I learned that Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakon brought Thailand the first 2008 Olympic gold.

My coworker David hollered from his office, “What sports?”

“Women’s weightlifting. Yes! Woohoo!”


“Yes, Dave.”

“Are you kidding?”

I got Dave out of his office and proceeded to show him the stats. Prapawadee lifted 221 kilograms (486.2 pounds).

“How big is this lady?”

“53 kilo. That’s 117 lbs.”

“Are you kidding me? She’s…tiny!”

“Oh, Dave, honey. And I haven’t told you what us girls did in Athens.”

2 gold and 3 bronzes in weightlifting, plus a bronze in Taekwondo. While the boys brought back one of each medal all in boxing.

In Beijing, the ladies are taking home one gold and another Taekwondo silver from Buttree Puenpong. The boys are bringing back the same 2 medals in boxing.

David REALLY stared at me now.

“WHAT exactly do they feed you girls over there?”

Once and for all, Thai women prove in the international stage, with the whole world watching, that we are not all Thai women are dainty little flowers, or, well, the pretty little hookers that some of them think we are.

In the sports where in Thailand traditionally considered men’s, weightlifting is not something a proper girl would do nor Taekwondo where you kick and punch somebody.

When I was younger, and before Taekwondo becomes a popular sport, the training center used to be just around the corner from my house, a stone throw from the ballet studio. 2 sons of my mom’s best friends were training there and I wanted to do it too. My mom said no because “it’s not a girl’s sport.”

I don’t think the “Not a Proper Girl Thing To Do” antics may have just been fadiing away these past 10 years. Especially with the success at the 2004 Olympics, doors have been flung open and ceilings came shattering down for Thai girls everywhere to pursue whatever sports they would like. And the continuing success of our ladies would pave the way for future generations to be world class athletes.

We can kick butt, and quite literally too for Buttree, and take names. We can be whoever and whatever we want to be.

Girl power, indeed.

Oh, and for the record, I did eventually get Taekwondo lesson later when I started dating Brandon who was going for his second black belt at the time. Made it 2 steps away from a black belt before an ankle injury benched me for good. So there. 😉