No rest for Thongpoon, a homeless furniture vendor

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He sells beds during the day, but has nowhere to sleep. He pushes a cart full of chairs, but never rests. For Thongpoon Naktae, cruel irony is a way of life.

An unemployed laborer in his home province of Nakhon Ratchasima, the married 43-year-old father of two came to Pattaya to try to earn enough to send his youngest son to school. His office is a push-cart, from which he sells Korat-made rattan chairs and bed frames. His home is a highway overpass or wherever he lays his head after a day of walking across the city.

Thongpoon and some friends chipped in to buy the furniture for 1,100-1,500 baht each. He tries to sell them for 300-1,000 baht more. They sometimes go for less to those haggling the price down. Sometimes he doesn’t sell any for five days. But the chairs and beds have to go. The idea was he’d come to Pattaya to work the high season. Come low season, he’ll try the same back home.

Thongpoon Naktae walks all over the city, trying to sell his rattan furniture so he can send his son to school. Thongpoon Naktae walks all over the city, trying to sell his rattan furniture so he can send his son to school.

His days start at around 8 a.m. and he pushes his cart around the city until after dark. Sometimes he’ll get to sleep at a temple and use a shower there. Other nights, he’ll sleep under a bridge. For Thongpoon, it’s all about saving money. He sleeps in his own bed for two or three nights when he goes home to get more stock.

It’s obviously a hard life, but Thongpoon says it’s the price a good father has to pay to take care of his family. He once raised hawks and then worked as a laborer. But when the economy slowed two years ago, he lost his job. He was too late to pay for the education of his eldest son, who is now 21 and working himself as a laborer. That boy makes only enough money to support himself, so it’s up to dad to pay for school for the youngest son.

He hopes his walks across Pattaya will mean his son will never have to make the same journeys.