First, he lost his job, then his home. Now all Suradet Buajan has left is his guitar and a monkey.
A former motorcycle-taxi driver, the 51-year-old said the coronavirus pandemic has been ruinous for him. Unable to find enough customers even after Pattaya’s lockdown ended last year, his leased motorbike was repossessed.
Then, after odd jobs weren’t enough to pay the rent, he was evicted from his apartment during the current Covid-19 lockdown. Suradet now squats in abandoned buildings around the city. He said he is not alone.
To survive, the former taxi driver has turned to music, playing on the street after sunset at Soi Buakhao’s Tree Town market and around Soi LK Metro. He gained some notoriety when videos of his performances were uploaded to social media.
“I don’t know many songs and I don’t think I’m the most talented singer but I manage to get by,” he told a reporter on Jan. 22.
Music aside, Suradet’s “hook” is the 7-year-old female monkey named Maruay who sits on his shoulder. She was given to him by a friend and is now his closest companion, saying he puts her well-being even above his.
The money he earns from busking isn’t a lot. There simply aren’t a lot of people around, Suradet said. But it’s enough to feed him and his monkey.
Finding places to sleep also isn’t a problem these days, he said. There is a growing number of abandoned buildings, filled with a growing number of homeless.
Pattaya’s economy has collapsed and the people who haven’t fled the city are struggling just to survive, he said. Life is hard, Suradet said, but he’s hopeful this year will bring an end to the pandemic and his hardship.