Sunday, March 16, 2008

End Of A Very Long Day


It was a Friday in April 1998, the kind of day Somchai never thought would come to an end. But as the sun sunk low against the Bangkok skyline, and took on a striking shade of orange, Somchai reveled in the fact that he'd survived another day in what was easily the toughest job he'd ever had.

As a worker with Ital-Thai, organizers of the Bangkok Skytrain elevated railway system, Somchai was used to putting in the kind of long days that drain a man of not only his strength, but also his senses. The workday began long before dawn, at 4 am, but considering the sweltering daytime heat that beats down on the Thai capital with all the mercy of a drill instructor, nary a complaint was ever heard from the workers regarding the early start time.

The task of building the Bangkok Skytrain system was hugely complex, not to mention dangerous. In its early phases, workers were charged with digging holes and then sinking huge concrete pillars into the median strip of several Bangkok roadways, risking life and limb as traffic charged impatiently by on both sides. Then, workers had to position into place gigantic concrete slabs that would serve as the train tracks.

This photo was taken just as Somchai and his crew had painstakingly maneuvered the final concrete slab into place, with one guy barely escaping with his thumbs intact. The tracks were complete. Next lay the equally huge task of building the railway stations. But for now, the entire focus of Somchai's being was on a cold beer and some roast chicken and sticky rice.

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