Dark and Early
We’ve talked about early morning starts in other blog posts, but today’s start takes the cake. As I type this, it’s 8 PM, and it has been 19 hours since our day started. For those of you not doing the math, that means we started work at 1 AM! Yesterday, Sarah and Nick finished installing the plumbing in the distribution station. The glue on the pipes needed 4 hours to dry, and we were all excited to see how the station would hold up with water running through it, so we decided to test the pipes no later than 4 hours and 1 minute after the last length of pipe was installed. It was so incredible to see clean water coming out of the fixtures for the first time! Unfortunately, there were several major leaks in the pipes. Several repairs and several hours later, some of the leaks were fixed, but we ended up blowing apart a connection inside the station... twice. It was exciting to say the least! At this point we were out of time, so we did the best we could and hoped the patches would hold.
This morning was a flurry of activity. Those of us not occupied by the plumbing were putting the finishing touches on the station and cleaning up the area so everything looked nice for the community members. By 10 AM, the church building and front lot were full of 50 families chatting, 15 kids engaged in a very exciting soccer game, 4 dogs investigating the newcomers, and 2 ice cream motorbikes. To start, there was a ceremony where we team members got to introduce ourselves and say a short speech, which Kan graciously interpreted for the community members. Then, we got to hear speeches from both town chiefs, again interpreted by Kan so that we could understand them. We also got to watch and even participate in some traditional Thai dances!
Then, it was time to cut the ribbon and open our station! Thankfully, our pipe repairs held together long enough for a few photo ops, and we assured the community members that the station would be ready to drink from in a few days. All in all, the grand opening was a success, and we were so thankful to meet the community we’ve been designing for this whole year.
When the Kids Go Away, the Adults Come Out to Play
After lunch, the team members took a much-needed sleep or relaxation break. In our absence, others jumped in to find a more permanent solution to our plumbing situation! Khem, Nalong (Khem’s brother-in-law), Get (our van driver), and Lee (a hydrogeologist visiting from Austin) were all over the station (literally) all afternoon. Fresh eyes and a bit of experience did the trick! By the end of the day, we had a fully functioning plumbing system. We are very happy to have the last piece of our project-puzzle in place! We're done, we're done, we're done at last!
Warning: some sappy language ahead.
This team has worked incredibly hard this whole year, and especially over the last three weeks we’ve spent in Don Kang. We’ve devoted countless hours, brain cells, and pads of engineering paper to this project. We’ve lost sleep, sweat, blood, and tears. Some of us even lost a little sanity breathing too much PVC solvent. And in the end, we finally have a finished project to show for it. It looks much different now than it did at various stages of conception. We’ve made changes, both game-changers and minor tweaks along the way. We’ve had to think on the fly here as well, designing and re-designing as we encounter additional information. This project taught us so much, and we are so happy to leave behind a thing that will make a tangible difference in the lives of the people who live here. However, none of this would have been possible without the support of so many people. Thank you so much to everyone who helped and supported us, in ways big and small. Our special thanks go out to:
The team back home: Our friends and family, who gave us their money, time, advice, and Facebook likes; Dr. O’Connor and Marty, who instructed us well; The members of SLAB, whose pieces of advice and feedback were invaluable; and Gethsemane Lutheran Church, who shouldered the financial burden of the filtration system and helped make it possible for a PUC team to come to Thailand.
The team here in Thailand: Khem, Pimjai, and Chilau, who hosted us, cooked for us, and made our stay comfortable; Kan, Dream, and Mook, who became integral members of our team and made project implementation so much easier in so many ways; All those at Mahidol University who coordinated this partnership between Mahidol and UT; and the community of Don Kang, who allowed us to come into their community and learn so much from them.
Finally, my personal thanks to each member of the PUC team: To David, who lead us even when "leading" was more like herding cats; To Patrick, whose leadership the first semester set us on course; To Eby, whose leadership through design and implementation got us through even the roughest situations; To Hannah, whose inventive mind gave us a distribution station to be proud of; to Mika, who designed the best sinks the world ever did see; To Sarah, whose dedication to the project never failed; To Nick, whose enthusiasm never failed to lift our spirits; To Ryan, who did whatever was needed for the good of the project; And to Savannah, who kept our team together through the worst of stresses.
This project would not have been possible without each and every one of you. Y'all are great, but now it's late, so with that bad rhyme I'm going to sign off for the last time.
Over and out,
Boy oh boy, what a day! Mika here, checking in from our nearly completed project. Can you believe it? NEARLY COMPLETED! Today was our last full day of work and man let me tell you, we worked our patooties off. We spent the day finalizing, touching up, piping, teaching and entertaining. The day started early again since we have found the heat is much less draining at 5am. Although… college students could argue waking up at 5am is equally as draining. However, the early mornings have paid off and everything is coming together just in time for the grand opening tomorrow!
Navigating the Labyrinth
After finalizing the structural components of the station, today we moved forward with the plumbing work. The Labyrinth emerged at the crack of dawn and a few brave souls dared to enter. Sarah, our resident pipe queen, was joined by Nick in the quest to finalize and execute the piping design for the inflow and drainage systems inside the station. They both spent most of the day crammed in the nooks and crannies of the station’s interior. We had a team assembled on the outside prepping equipment and cutting PVC pipes for their use.
The Imagination Station Becomes the Hydration Station
While the piping was coming together on the inside, the exterior of the station was getting some finishing touches. We began the installation process for the fiber board paneling that we will be screwed into the front of each sink to cover the PVC piping to the drains and faucets. Additionally, we finished up the landscaping through the yard leading to and around the station. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow and rock after rock, the pathways came together as a great addition to the aesthetic to the station. Last but certainly not least, Tian (our masonry savior aka a kickass lady I aspire to be) stopped by with her daughter to finish the stucco on the top of the station. Overall, at the end of the day the area had transformed from The Imagination Station to The Hydration Station. All the plans and ideas came together into something tangible. All the doubts and concerns fell away as we stepped back and looked at what we created. It’s difficult to describe the feeling you get from designing something and building it with your own hands. In my opinion it is one of the best feelings in this world. What I felt today was far superior to my past experiences because the success came from the contribution of so many people and the purpose of the project serves such an import role.
,Taming the Outback
The Outback was finally tamed this afternoon, but we needed some heavy-duty machinery to get it done. Backfilling the trenches would have been a time-consuming challenge by shovel, so Khem brought in the big guns with a skilled tractor dude. Not to say The Outback crew wasn’t up for the task, but we aren’t complaining. Within minutes The Outback was transformed into a beautiful and most importantly, flat landscape.
Too Cool for School
Another highlight of the day was our trip to the nearby school. Thanks to Savannah, we were amply prepared for our time with the entire school, approximately 200 kiddos (insert nervous laugh). We split them up into three groups and rotated them through with the help of Kan, Mook, Dream, Khem and Pimjai. The first station involved English-learning activities including charades and picture/word matching. At this station, the importance of clean drinking water and healthy daily water intake was emphasized throughout the activities. The second station got the creative juices flowing with some pictaphone and human knot games. The last station took us outside to the school soccer field where Nick, Hannah, Ryan and I lathered up shaving cream on our faces for some pretty priceless entertainment from “Q-tip Face”. As the name might have suggested, we handed the kids Q-tips and made it a competition to see which group could get the most stuck on their group leader’s face. It was amazing to see the joy and excitement that resulted from the simplicity of it. It was a straightforward activity that brought people together from opposite sides of the world with few words needed. In a way, it was an activity that shattered the language barrier between us as we communicated through laughter and exaggerated hand motions. As we handed out the gifts we had packaged together (containing school supplies and a couple treats) we said goodbye to our new friends as they packed up to head home.
After the festivities, we met with the school principal to scout out a potential project on the school campus for next year’s team. We spent some time measuring, taking pictures, videoing, and measuring some more around the potential site. I won’t dive into the details but the proposed project is focused on teaching the younger kids about hygiene and personal care with a hand washing station.
I want to close this post by thanking my teammates for all the hard work they have put in over the course of the year. It has been an epic journey and I am so glad we got to ride this wild ride together. Y'all are brilliant, fun, weird humans that are going to do amazing things in life. To Kan, Mook and Dream, you three have made this entire project possible while also making this an experience of a lifetime for us. We are so grateful to have you as part of our team and to have bonded with you over the past weeks. You're kindness and patience are unparalleled and I know you will continue to do wonderful things in the years to come. Throughout this year, this project has impacted my knowledge, perceptions, and opinions on the world. I am at a loss for words to describe my gratitude to all of those who have contributed to the project to make this experience a reality.
Signing off with much love and many thanks,
“Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other.”
Hi Y’all, Sarah here!! I know you have been spoiled with long creative blogs, but I am tired so I am keeping is simple. Today was our second to last building day that started at 5:30am and finished at 6pm. Mika, Hannah, David, and I woke early to watch the sunrise at 5:15am. We then sealed the sinks. As our last few blogs mentioned, we have finished the main structure and we are now working on the internal piping and minor finishing touches. We were able to cut all the doors for the maintenance hatch as well as pressure test the line. We only had one leak that was easily fixed by the strong Patrick and Ryan. Patrick and Rachel were able to do a bucket test that yielded 13 gallons per minute, which meets our max demand! The pressure coming out of the treatment system is around 3.5 bar or around 50 psi for our American audience. We did it Marty woot!
Patrick also got to ride Khem’s bicycle today, Which is a much safer mode of transportation, right Julie? 😉 As far as the piping, like every day on a PUC project there was a lot of trial and error, but we finished installing all the fixtures and drains!!! We also finished painting our basketball court lines. Tomorrow, we will be going to a local school nearby to have fun with the kids and have activities centered around healthy hydration and clean water! We are so excited to meet around 200 students from kindergarten to 9th grade and learn from them as well. We also look forward to our last work day! So you can look out for an exciting blog tomorrow!
This will be my final blog post in country, so I just want to say how thankful I am for this experience and my amazing teammates. This project would not be the same without them. I would also like to thank all of our family, friends, advisers, and teachers.
There are so many people that deserve thanks that have spent their time, money and expertise to make this trip possible. So, thank you! I would like to highlight a few people that I do not think we talk about much in the blog, but have made this project so enjoyable. Thank you Khun Khem, Pimjai, Chali and all the other people that have helped feed us in our new Thai Home. They really have gone out of their ways to insure we have the full Thailand experience. Special shout out to Khem, our #1 NGO, who has taken us so many place and treated us so well. Khem thank you so much for scheduling people to take me to the piping store and HomePro. I had to go way too many times. :) I would also like to thank everyone from Mahidol, specifically Mook, Dream, and Kan. They have shown us so much of Thailand and this project would not be possible without them.
I personally have learned so much from this project and my teammates. I know we will all go our separate ways in the future, but this experience will be a pivotal moment in my life. So thank you again for everyone that has had this possible.
And thank you all for keeping up with us on our adventure.
Sarah signing off!
Wazzup, it's Ryan!
Today was not unlike when you finish the outside of a 100-piece puzzle and the pieces begin falling like crazy. We were able to make very tangible progress and the picture of the puzzle is starting to show. *Terrible metaphor ending now, moving to summary mode followed by the most in-depth interviews of our PUC members in the history of all blog posts of all time ever*
Gettin’ Ready to Distribute
We got so much done today on the distribution. It was wiiilllddd!! Our dear friend, Tian, was back at it again and teaching us the ways of the masonry (a la Miyagi.) We started the day by placing the sinks in a technique taught to us by our local concrete expert (Tian.) Rather than laying the sinks in a big bed of mortar (which we might have done on our own), we placed the sinks directly on the stucco’d blocks (to be discussed below) and filled in the backs of the sinks with mortar for support. It was exciting to be taught in a unique masonry style and be given such insight from an expert in the field.
The “stucco” that I mentioned before was also a critical accomplishment for the day. This is a process of placing a thin layer of cement on the rough blocks and continually smoothing the edges to give it a nice finish. We used the “slap n’ smooth” method with a long, flat straightening tool to touch up the edges. To finish up our work on the station today, we touched up our concrete sinks as there were a few air bubbles that had formed as the concrete was setting. They made a special cement paste and used their level 99 dexterity they filled in all of the craters formed from the air bubbles on the surface. Our station is starting to come together and we are anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s work that will bring us that much closer to our grand opening!
A Welcome Surprise
Right as our team was wrapping up our morning work, we were hit with a surprise visit from a very special guest! The Dean of ICT at Mahidol, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jarernsri L. Mitrpanont came down to check on the progress we’d made. She had just arrived back in Thailand from her trip to the United States and we were very happy to show her around and have her for lunch. She told us that she was excited for us to give a presentation to the president of Mahidol and for us to man our booth at the Computer Olympics when we return to Bangkok on Monday. Our team is very excited to be able to show off our work!
Clean Water Bound
Our treatment contractor, Wichan, was back today to finish up all of the connections within the water treatment system. He opened up his never-ending toolkit and went to town. We then tested out our pump and piping connections by running water all the way from the treatment system to the pipe coming up from the slab in our distribution station.
Patrick, Sarah, and I had to run to the store to get him all of the equipment he needed (and some that we would need for the piping inside the distribution station over the next two days.) On the way back from the piping store, we decided to stop by a local florist shop. We each picked out a flower and a Patrick picked out a tree. (The flowers Khem picked out are called "khem" in Thai, which means needle!)
We will be planting these plants on top of the discharge from our system (where the water that misses the users mouths/water bottles go) during our grand opening as a ceremonial symbol showing a positive use of waste-water.
We will be moving on to fully pressure-testing our piping tomorrow and ensuring that everything is good to go for the community members to get some refreshing water after a hard day’s work (or for the kids, a hard day’s play.)
We ended our day today by going out into the community and away from our engineering work to have direct communications with the people who will potentially benefit from this project. We went door to door, meeting the people living in the area. We introduced ourselves then gave them a flyer, personally inviting them to our grand opening this Saturday. It was very exciting and we are looking forward to seeing them this weekend and tell them about the work we’ve been doing and how it can benefit their lives!
Hard-Hitting Interviews: Do you really know our PUC members? Find out below as I sit down one on one with each member of our PUC Thailand team. The transcripts from these interviews below are written as spoken (with an occasional unintentional paraphrase)
Ryan: If you were to design a festival revolving around one single item what would it be?
Savannah: Goat festival. Have you seen the goat yoga?
S: It would be like goat yoga. Another station would be like goat’s king of the hill. What else can you do with goats Oh, there would be competitions for how well-groomed your goat is or how small your goat is, like there would be tricks, or how quick your goat is. Eating competition, you know how goats eat everything? Would be like how much they can eat. That’s all I can think of. Haha, wait. There would be educational stations on how to keep goats healthy and happy. Not just physical health, you have to keep the goats happy. You know how you have to have multiple goats when you have goats because just one goat would get too sad.
**late edition** add live music and good food and drinks. I think it was a given but I wanted to explicitly say it.
Ryan; What is your ideal day?
Rachel: Um, my ideal day would include learning something that I didn’t know before, doing something that I haven’t done before. And something that gets my adrenaline pumping (ziplining or something) I don’t know where I could possibly go to do those things in one day but that would be ideal.
Ry: What two things could possibly fall in the learn something new and do something you haven’t done before fall?
Ra: I guess…. I want to go skydiving which may hit the third category two (haha) and then learn something… I don’t know because I don’t know it yet. I don’t know if I have an answer.
Ry: Knowledge is the great unknown, is that what you’re saying?
Ra: I guess.
Ryan: You have one meal left to eat, what is it?
Khem: Why it have to be in the blog?
R: The IO said it has to be, what’s your answer?
K: How about stick-rice with taro, roasted, sticky rice with taro
R: That’s what you would eat?
K: Maybe stick rice wrapped with banana leaf, not roasted, grilled.
Ryan; You’re tasked with rescuing the cutest dog in the world from a well-guarded castle, how are you going to save the day?
Mika: Oh ma gahd… *sips water* how am I going to save the day…hmm… Does this need to be realistic..?
M: I think I would go like batman the dark knight style where he parachutes out of a plane into the castle, snap the doggo, and then have a device where I can reconnect with the plane and then… know what I’m talking about?
R: Uhh.. the dark knight?
M: Yeah it’s in the movie, I can think of something else. Okay, I would still parachute into the castle, cause I really want to do that. What’s the security like?
R: Umm, I’m going to say one dragon and 50 guards.
M: Woah, so the dog is just in the tower?
R: No, he’s in the middle but you can try and distract the guards?
M: Yeah, I’m assuming this doggo is pretty important so I would find all of his doggo friends to draw all the guards out. So now it’s just me, the doggo, and the dragon. How would I get past the dragon? If I had some type of treasure, I would bring it as a peace offering or I would have a minion steal some of the treasure so it would go after the minion but then I’d be afraid that the minion wouldn’t get away. I would have a piece of treasure or fake piece of treasure whichever one would work I don’t know I’m not an expert on dragons. That would be my plan and I hope the dragon would accept my treasure and let me by to get the doggo and escape from the castle with the doggo army by my side.
Ryan: If you could exchange all of a certain item in the world for something else, what would it be and why?
Eby: What are the limitations of this?
E: None? That’s a really hard question. There are so many, like, I mean.. I would assume that you would exchange something you don’t like but I don’t even know what I don’t like, that’s so hard. Are you writing this? What I’m saying?
E: This is stream of conscious though? You’re writing that?
E: Okay. I mean, I hate okra but that seems so lame, I don’t hate it that much. I also hate Kevin Bacon, but there’s only one of him. Whatever I’m exchanging I’m going to exchange it with cookies or puppies. Definitely cookies or puppies.
R: Maybe like mosquitos?
E: No…. I don’t like them but I don’t have nearly as many mosquito bites as Sarah, so I don’t hate them that much. Not a living thing, that’s mean. Okra is too healthy, so maybe not okra. Kevin Bacon is a living thing so maybe not him. I can’t believe that’s what I thought of first, I’m trash. Now I’m rethinking the puppies thing, cause where would they all go? There’s already so many without homies. So maybe just cookies. Can I just say useless things and leave it at that?
R: Uh, yeah I guess.
E: Okay, well just replace all of the useless crap with cookies. Cause unless you really don’t like cookies that’s a win. Right? Speaking of cookies, I’m going to get one right now. Cya.
Ryan: You’re a shapeshifter in a major battle but before the battle starts you have to pick the three animals you will shapeshift in to during the battle. What are your three animals and why?
Sarah: Okay.. I can’t even think of animal names right now.. Hmm.. They have to be real animals?
R: Umm… I’ll just say no, whatever you consider an animal.
S: Okay. I want to be a pelican-falcon because…
S: Yup, that’s the name of it. Oh wait, no.. A peregrine falcon.
S: It’s one of the fastest birds in the world so I’ll be able to fly and go fast. I’m debating between a cockroach and a leaf-cutter ant because they’re pretty invincible and strong animals. A cockroach can survive a nuclear explosion right? So I’d want to be that. Cockroach and peregrine falcon are my first two. I want something that digs for my third. I’m going to pick a badger for my last animal because they can construct complex and long-lasting tunnel network. My whole strategy for this battle is to divert the attention and flee as long as possible. Since I don’t know what I’m fighting against in this battle, the safest bet is to keep a safe distance. If I knew what I was fighting against, I may have different choices. Plus, the badger can make such complex tunnels that it could set up a weak spot in the ground for the enemy to fall through.
Ryan: It’s the year 2200 and all of the technology in the world turns against the human race. How do you save the day?
Nick: Can you describe this technology?
R: Personal assistant with full independent motor capability are as commonplace as iPhones
N: Turning against humans means?
R: They have realized that humankind is inefficient and they are seeking to eradicate.
N: Well, first things first, EMP blasts are pretty damn effective against anything are electronic. I know for a fact that at least 5 or 6 governments have them stuffed in somewhere. Second, we are a very talented breed of monkey and I feel like designing a virus to kill this thing would be doable. I would personally enjoy, however, running in John Wayne style on a horse with and going to town (target practice) on the metalheads. A gun against a blending arm would be skewed in my favor ever so slightly.
R: You have succeeded in your John Wayne revolution, how to rebuild, survivors in the millions across the world.
N: Find the nearby survivors, make a nice community and use our engineering skills to live a sedentary, simple life enjoying those around you. Oh, and I would definitely be wearing a cowboy hat.
**He would also like to add, post-interview that he would most definitely have a sword.
Ryan: If you were to add one limb to the human body what would be its purpose and what would it look like?
Patrick: Okay, definitely an antenna. What would its purpose be..? To swat away flies or any flying things from your face.
R: Anything else that it does?
P: I mean, that’s pretty good already, but… Also, to have the ability to communicate telepathically. Not very good, but that’ll do pig.
R: How would that change our day-to-day lives?
P: First of all, hats would be rendered completely useless. Big hat lobbyists would be against this for sure. I could also talk trash about anyone without them knowing. New hairstyles would also come about from this, using the antennae.
R: Anything else you want to add?
P: Umm, anything? Hi mom, hi dad, I’m still alive. Hello friends, I know you’re not reading this. Hi Julie, we DID NOT ride in the back of a motorcycle…… we rode in the side car 😉
Ryan: You are tasked with the creation of major motion picture from scratch. What’s it about and what is your process going to be? (assuming you have all of the equipment and budget.)
Hannah: I don’t know what it’s about but I would come up with some concept.. some brainstorming session. I would call up some Hollywood homies and some of my funny friends. We would sit in a room until we came up with a funny concept, probably be a comedy. Once the concept is set, I would set up a storyboard and reach out to my Hollywood homies to pick out a dope location and get some big stars. That’s the process.
R: What would it be about?
H: I don’t know… Maybe I’d make it an animated movie because that is easier. Kid’s funny humor you can just do whatever you want and you can add mature jokes that would go over their heads but still be funny. You can add subtle humor which is a fine art. It would be a random movie about some animals that get in trouble or something. Instead of major actors I would get some major animators I guess.
*David brings in a baby gecko interrupting the interview. After we get back to the interview*
H: My movie would be about a gecko. It’s now about a baby gecko who’s lost and the gecko goes on a magical adventure to find the meaning of being a gecko. He felt like really, it’s really cliché, but he thinks that being a gecko is boring and he’s so small, and no one really cares about baby geckos. On this adventure though he finds out that even though he’s just a baby gecko, he’s really important gecko and it’s a life lesson at the end that everyone is important and that it’s okay to be yourself and love yourself. Even if you’re a small gecko, you’re important.
Ryan: You are given a sufficient budget for whatever project of your choice, what project will you undertake and why?
David: *Deep thought for a minute or three or four*…. I assume you want a short answer here..
R: I’ll type whatever
D: Okay, it’s to build a prototype facility that takes orphans into an environment that is based in education and community with guardian families that dispels the basic concept of orphan and focuses on the gifts that each kid has whatever that may be.
R: What would your role be in that community?
D: I would want to teach them how to build. To have the experience of designing and making useful things with their own hands.
R: Why how to build?
D: That’s one of the things that has given me the most satisfaction (outside of my kids and family) but in the physical world that has given me so much joy.
Hope you enjoyed this hard-hitting set of interviews and thanks for keeping up with our project! Please reach out to us via email @pucthailand2017 or on Facebook if you have any questions and we'll respond as soon as possible!
Hey y’all! This is Hannah again! We’re a little over halfway through the project and things are starting to fall into place. I’m elated to announce that we finished our distribution station walls today!
Constructing the Fortress
We woke up at the crack of dawn this morning to beat the Thai sun. Patrick, Eby, Rachel, Sarah and I headed out to the distribution station to QC our work from yesterday. Our contractor Narong and his wife Tian (shee-an) showed up early to help us get started on our walls. Tian took a quick look at the work we had done so far and then went home to eat breakfast and retrieve her tools. When she returned, we got to work mixing up mortar and putting up walls. Tian showed us how to mortar our external mortar joints and how to use a wire reinforcement in addition to our vertical rebar. Basically, Tian is a badass lady. She and her husband Narong built Khem’s and Chalao’s houses and parts of the church. She wields a trowel like a weapon and she stacks courses like nobody’s business. She has all kinds of tips and tricks to laying brick, setting mortar and building walls. At one point, we found a scorpion in one of the holes in the wall and she squished it with the brick she was holding without blinking an eye. As a female engineer, I have so much respect for a builder like her and we can’t thank her enough for all of her help today. Although Kan, Mook and Dream did an excellent job translating, Tian and I had quite a few interesting conversations in a mashup of English, Thai, grunts and gestures. The language barrier was pretty significant, but we still managed to communicate well enough to construct the remaining four courses of the distribution station today. It looks pretty great if I do say so myself.
Water runs deep
Wichan came today and we helped him connect all the elements in the treatment system. We got the system up and working with no leaks so far. We took some samples to get tested in the morning. Khem gave Patrick and Ryan a ride over to the filtration station on the back of his bike.
Another group made a store run to get some more materials and joints to connect our pipes within the station. They also came back with some different flavors of Thai chips and some cake to celebrate our progress today!
I would like to thank the academy
Today was an incredibly proud moment for me. As head of the structures team, it was really cool to sit back at the end of the day and see our roof and distribution station standing up on their own. It’s an amazing feeling to have built something with our own hands that was nothing more than a concept about 5 months ago. The amount of patience that bricklaying requires is pretty incredible, but the team buckled down until all the pieces fit together. Special thanks to David for helping with the design of the distribution station and for keeping us grounded when we get stressed. Thanks also to Kan, Mook and Dream for translating all the things Tian was telling us and asking her the million questions we had for her. Finally, I want to thank my team. This team worked their butts off, laying and relaying blocks until they were level on about 27 different axes. Even though it was hot and tiring and frustrating, we never gave up and we made something pretty incredible. Not only today, but overall it’s really amazing what we have managed to accomplish on this trip. In just a few short weeks we have laid trenches, poured sinks out of concrete despite the overwhelming opinion that we should just buy sinks, figured out countless problems with the well, and put up the most beautiful 6 brick-and-mortar walls I have ever seen in my entire life (I may be a little biased). These 8 people are some of the most hardworking, dedicated, overcommitted, crazy, hilarious, uplifting, inspiring and brilliant people I have ever met in my life, and I hope that our friendships will last long after this project is over. I love y'all. <3
Doggos of Don Kang
At the end of this blog post, I wanted to do something a little different. Like most college students who only interact with animals on a semi-regular basis, our team is a little obsessed with doggos. I wanted to highlight all of our new furry little friends that we have met in Don Kang thus far.
Bud-bud ( Buddy)
"I am the ring leader around these parts. I am the toughest dog in Don Kang. The other doggos are only around to do my bidding. Don’t come close to my turf unless you want to get run out of town. The people like to ride their little vroom vrooms in from the sugar cane fields, but I always make sure to put them back in their place… any place but mine. "
"Bam-bam and I used to get along. We used to play together and be best friends. One hot afternoon it was getting a little hot outside and momma left the door open. I tried to go inside and look for her (and also to feel the magical fans they keep behind the people doors). Then bam-bam started freaking out and she bit me! I didn’t even do anything wrong! Anyway, then she didn’t want to be my friend after that and now I mostly just hang out in all the cool forts the humans build for me. They appreciate me a lot more than my EX-best friend ever did… "
"One time Tao tried to get in the house which is most certainly NOT allowed. I told her that Momma wouldn’t want her to be in there. When she didn’t get the message the first time, I had to give her a little nibble so Momma wouldn’t be mad. Tao doesn’t really like to play with me anymore. I miss my friend a lot, but she shouldn’t have tried to go in there."
"I like to keep under the radar. Most of the youngin’s are always yapping on about how other dogs are trying to steal their land, but I’m not worried. I think we should all share the land and eat sausages together. No one seems to listen to me though."
"I can do almost anything I want. My favorite activity is marking my territory. I mark all the trees, blocks, rocks, and piles of sand I see. If it’s on the church property, there is a good chance I have peed on it. I pretty much own this place. The dumb humans always leave the doors open, so I like to trick them and go in there when they are not looking. It usually works too. Dumb humans."
That's all for today!
Hey it’s Savannah again! Today, we got right back to work after our day off at the waterfalls. We’ve decided that waking up even earlier helps get work done before the intense heat of the day, so we started our work day at 6:30 AM. Even though it’s cooler in the morning, the sun was shining bright, and we were still sweating profusely. As the grand opening gets closer, our work is really starting to come together, and we are reaching our deadlines.
In order to be ready to install the sinks, we must have four courses (levels) of the bricks laid today. Therefore, we made sure there were always people working on laying bricks at all times today, even during meals. After watching our contractor, we are all becoming pros at finding the right consistency of mortar, and getting the bricks level. Practice makes perfect, and while the first part of brick-laying has been slow-going, we are starting to get a hang of it and make some good progress. We were able to finish the four courses we needed to, and will be able to finish all eight tomorrow.
Mika, Sarah, and Ryan de-molded our last sink this morning! The sink-pouring process has been a long one with many challenges and lots of problem-solving along the way, so I know we, especially Mika, are thrilled to have this part of the station successfully done.
There are still some issues with the electrical side of the well, but we got it working this morning to do a bucket test. For a bucket test, you time how long it takes to fill a 100-liter tank, and the good news is that it looks like the well has a solid flow rate.
Patrick and I also started the landscaping early this morning. We are making several gravel paths to the station in order to make it accessible and even more beautiful. First, we have to dig small trenches to set the big rocks in to make sure they stay in place, and then we fill the middle in with the smaller bits of gravel. Since we haven’t had rain in a few days, the ground is dry and hard to dig. Therefore, after our bucket test this morning, we used the water from the test to wet the ground before digging. Thanks to Ryan for carrying the huge tank over and spreading the water. Waste not want not. Sarah and Ryan also came over and helped continue with our landscaping; we finished the second path today. Scruffy the dog came by to try out the first path we made, and she liked it so we are optimistic that the community will too.
We also worked on planning the activities for our visit to the nearby school this Friday. We had to make sure that one of the activities would work, so Patrick volunteered his face to be covered in shaving cream and let us throw cotton swabs at him. It worked. It worked real good.
We ended the evening with some games, including bowling with water jugs and a soccer ball. Rachel won with a strike, and Patrick and I scored a spare. No matter what, we have found fun and laughter in all of the sweat, stress, and work.
Goodnight from Don Kang,
Escaping to the Countryside
Today we finally took a break from our sink-pouring, brick-laying, trench-digging routine to escape to the Thai countryside. We started our three-hour journey to Erawan National Park at seven this morning and, upon arrival, we were all very eager to get out and move for the journey ahead. We set forth after a quick picture and began our adventure!
While our trail through the beautiful Thai forest started on relatively smooth ground, we quickly reached our first obstacle: stairs. These weren’t just normal stairs however, some of the steps were at least two feet vertically apart and we seemed to climb for an eternity until we reached the top. This was just the beginning. After conquering the stairs, we were met with an increasingly wild and overgrown trail, filled with slippery slopes and narrow pathways. Despite some slipping and sliding, we all survived unscathed to reach the top of the slope, where the final waterfall on the trial laid.
Pedicures (Free of Charge)
At the top of the trail (if you could really call our beaten path a trail) we were greeted with a serene waterfall and small reservoir fit for swimming. Drenched in sweat and surely starting to smell, many of us took the opportunity to go for a little swim. We were not alone in the pools however, little fish inhabited this area and, if you stood still, would quickly go to work eating any dead skin off of your body (feet mainly). While uncomfortable, especially to those with ticklish feet, we braved the fish and enjoyed our day atop the mountain in the cool, sapphire blue water.
While difficult and treacherous, we survived our journey back down the mountain and began our quest for food after a brief ice cream stop. With the slow rumble of our van and the wonderful air conditioning, our exhaustion quickly took the better of us and we passed out on the drive. Approximately an hour later, we had arrived at our destination.
Dinner on the Water
Descending from the confines of our van, we began exploring the markets by the river Kwai. Window shopping mostly, our stomachs had collectively decided that food was a wise option. Khem took us to a nice restaurant that branched out onto the river Kwai. Armed with bags of fish food, we eagerly anticipated the arrival of our food with the distraction of the ravenous fish below us. When the food arrived, the table fell momentarily silent as we dug into our food. A personal favorite of mine was the garlic bread, a reminder of home and a welcome addition to our mainly rice-based diet.
After dinner, we promptly traveled home as the shops had since closed. Quickly meeting and going along our separate ways, we prepared for bed and waited for our next big work day to arrive.
Best wishes from Thailand!
Hi friends! It’s Eby again, ready to tell you all about our day! We’re more than halfway through with our project in terms of time, and it’s crazy to see the progress we’re making in what feels like just a few days! Everyone on our team has been working so hard and coming up with great solutions to the challenges we’ve faced, and I’m so excited to see how we handle the rest of our project work.
For the past few days, the heat has been unbearable and the Thai sun has been relentless, so we decided to start our day at 6:30am this morning.
Goodnight, Sinks (For Now)
Mika, Kan, Ryan, and I started off our morning preparing to pour the last concrete sink for our project. We demolded yesterday’s sink without any problems and got to work on casting an extra bubbler sink. The pour went well and since today was Saturday, a day when community children come to play with the equipment near our site, we even had a curious little visitor!
It was also really uplifting to see the kids play with the soccer goals we constructed last weekend- they seemed to enjoy their game!
After we poured, tamped, vibrated, and smoothed the sink, we said goodnight to our last little sink in the Nursery (new nickname for the sink station, kudos to Hannah), until we install them in the distribution station.
There’s a Hole in the Bucket…
…And it’s for drainage! Sarah, Nick, Patrick, and Rachel started their morning shift off deepening the trenches near the distribution station and assembling the modified-bucket/French-drain system that will serve as our drainage element for the distribution station.
They made good progress and were able to connect the bucket near a small tree and were also able to connect the inflow pipe line to the station.
The [Path] Less Traveled
Savanah, Rachel, Mika, Sarah, Patrick, and Nick were able to plan and complete a gravel pathway leading up to the distribution station today. They dug and carted rocks around through their dripping sweat and ended up with a beautiful little path!
Good Morning, Distribution Station
Today was a milestone day since laying and mortaring block for the distribution station begun! After the rebar was cut and set, Hannah, Savannah, Rachel, and David observed and learned an efficient way to lay block from one of our contractors, and they were able to complete a whole course (a level) of the station today! They worked through several complications and challenges in the blistering heat but they made amazing progress and the Imagination Station is coming along!
We’re taking a much-needed break tomorrow to hike at a National Park, but we’re eager to continue progressing on the project!
Man, I Love My Team
Apologies for the basic Drake reference, but if you can’t tell through our social media and blog posts, our team is a truly one-of-a-kind group of people. We’ve all been proud of the work we’ve done, how well we’ve overcome complications together, and of how much we’ve bonded and grown together on this trip. I’m obviously biased, but each of these people is amazing in their own special way, and to celebrate them, I’ve put together this BuzzFeed quiz (something we’ve meant to do for a while) so you can see which of these amazing people you relate to the most!
Until next time,
Hi friends, Thai Trio is here !! (Kan, Mook, Dream) We are glad to be a part of this project. We all begin a warm morning with sausages fried rice while Savannah (Vegetarian girl) had one without sausages. Having finished all the food, Hannah, Rachel and Mook went to work on moving blocks from the field to the distribution station. However, there was a little problem with an inflow pipe in which it was not placed in the right spot. Thankfully, travelling technical advisor, David, can figure it out.
Patrick, Ryan, Eby and Kan went to work on piping and trenching. We cleared the area to lay the pipe. We cut and glue the pipe as we have done before. The scent of a glue always make us dizzy but we can handle it!
Hannah and Sarah take responsibility for drilling the floor of distribution station in order to put rebar which will be cut tomorrow.
That’s it!!! for today. We are so tired, see you tomorrow BYE BYE :) Kan, Mook, Dream (Powerpuff Girl)
If you would like, check out our website!!! https://pucthailand2017.000webhostapp.com/pucth2017/index.html
Crack of Dawn
Howdy again from Thailand! If you are super discerning or a little clairvoyant, you already know that you’re hearing from a new voice to the blog. The team has bestowed the honor on their traveling technical advisor (that’s me, David, in case you haven’t been paying attention) to speak on their behalf today… probably because they’re all too tired to type. I’ve sweated through my clothes every day just taking photos of all their hard work, so you can imagine where they are physically!
So in the wake of yesterday’s ridiculous heat wave, the team decided to hit the trenches, literally, at 6:30 this morning!
Guess you can stick that in your “Millennials don’t work hard” pipe and smoke it! These fine people are not just working their tails off, but they’re doing it with humor and a sense of camaraderie that makes it a sweaty muddy joy to be part of! And as a reminder of the reason why, a little dude from the neighborhood stopped by shortly after they started work by for some early morning play time! He’ll soon be able to get a fresh cool drink – thanks to PUC Thailand – without leaving the playground!
And so the day began with Ryan, Mika, Sarah and Patrick completing the trenches that tie the water service and drain lines into the distribution station. That before a spicy breakfast of pad thai, and then the crews split off onto their quests as decided in last night’s team meeting. The diggers returned to put finishing touches on the trenches, with Kan subbing in for Mika. They yearned again for that brief moment of cool they enjoyed earlier – before the Thai morning sun returned with a vengeance. The sink team of the day – Mika, Nick, Eby and Mook, harvested the sink cast yesterday and then went through their well established procedure to cast another.
Just a stone’s throw away under the basketball big top, Hannah, Rachel, Savannah and Dream went to work on mocking up the block walls for the distribution station.
They are anxiously awaiting the completion of our Thai contractor’s foundation work so they can move onto the slab, mix some mortar, and start laying block!
Meanwhile in the outback, Khem worked with the electrician to get the pumps and equipment powered up.
You can feel the electricity in the air. Not because the electrician screwed anything up, but because every facet of the project is coming together beautifully. Success is no longer a question, and everyone can feel it.
But the outback itself seemed lonely and confused. There was no mud flying; no tools broken. Its one ray of hope – the return of the team – is the trench backfilling operation to come. That is sure to be preceded by a monsoon downpour of biblical proportions. Mud is the mortar that binds this team.
The diggers, having dug it, then converged on the community room, where they affixed PUC Thailand stickers to the water jugs that they’ll soon be distributing door to door throughout the community.
You would imagine that to be a pretty full day, right? Well… imagine again! All that work happened before noon (midnight Texas mean time… all good things start in Texas!).
With the morning’s work successfully completed, the team opted for a much needed break while the Thai countryside magically transformed into an outdoor sauna. Heat strokes: Zero, shopping trip to Suphan Buri: One!
This (relatively but not really) old engineer has been involved in some very interesting projects, large and small. But in many ways this is the most satisfying one yet. It ain’t about the concrete and steel, or the bricks and mortar. It’s seeing every member of this team fighting for quality through the dripping sweat, looking out for each other, lifting each other up, making each other laugh, and stepping way outside of themselves to do something that really matters. Kudos and my deep respect to each and every one of them!
Ode to the Team
Eby our leader is soft spoken and kind
A better soul would be too hard to find
Savannah is also a quiet sweet voice
In picking your team she would be a top choice
Patrick’s not quiet – no not in the least
He’s our leader of games, our entertainment beast
Speaking of beasts, we can’t forget Nick
He’s two hundred percent in – to the mud thin or thick
Hannah’s hard work is structurally sound
Smiling and thinking from rooftop to ground
Rachel’s discerning, thoughtful and light
If you see her smiling, you know that it’s right
Ryan’s big smile is as bright as the sun
He works his tail off and still makes it fun
Sarah is right there in the mud and sweat bath
Meanwhile in her head she is doing the math
Mika shoots straight – you know what she thinks
Whether fighting the mud or casting the sinks
Our sweet Thai trio, Mook Kan and Dream
Take care of us all and round out the team
Much thanks to our hosts, the family and Khem
The spice of our life, we’d starve without them
There’s an obvious truth as this flag is unfurled
What begins at U.T. really does change the world