Pattaya amputee turns trash into treasure

Palangkorn Auipako, who had his arm amputated at age 10, has learned to turn beer and soda cans into art.
Palangkorn Auipako, who had his arm amputated at age 10, has learned to turn beer and soda cans into art.

One man’s trash has been good fortune for a Pattaya amputee who turns beer and soda cans into art.

Palangkorn Auipako had his arm amputated at age 10 after falling from a tree and getting an infection in his broken arm. The future might have looked bleak at that point, but, like so many, the newly disabled boy found hope at the Redemptorist Vocational School for Persons with Disabilities in Pattaya.

The Father Ray Foundation vocational school – now called Redemptorist Technological College – educated and trained Palangkorn in computers at no cost. The Surin native graduated and landed a job at a plastics and auto-parts factory.

Inspiration struck one day when noticed piles of empty beer and soft drink cans being collected to sell for scrap for just a few baht a kilogram. Why not, he thought, make something from them that people want.

Studying tutorials and videos online, Palangkorn taught himself to make models from the disused aluminum, fashioning them with his left arm and right foot. He now turns cans into models of tuk-tuks, aircraft, trains and even Vespa motorbikes and sells them on social media.

“I believe that everyone has a different genius and inspiration,” Palangkorn said. “I lost my right arm, but I kept fighting and found my ability to create things and earn an income from adding value to garbage.”

What started out as a hobby has turned into a good business for Palangkorn, sometimes too much business. He said he still works full-time, so must fulfill orders for tuk-tuks and Vespas in his spare time. And it takes time.

A tuk-tuk or train model uses 10-15 cans and takes up to six hours to make. He sells them for 500 baht each. A Vespa takes two cans, two hours and he sells them for 120 baht.

Palangkorn wants to show others how to create art from recyclables and has started his own YouTube channel where he gives lessons on making tuk-tuks and other models, providing links to purchase other people’s projects.

“All problems have ways to be solved,” Palangkorn said. “Don’t give up and you will find the way.”