CHAI NAT — Beneath all its crust and saltiness, the internet proved it has a heart in recent days by helping a rural farmer to buy a beloved buffalo he was about to lose.
In under three days, online donors sent over 135,000 baht to Surat Phaeoket – a father of two who earns only 6,000 baht a month – to make Tongkum the buffalo his forever friend. The two went viral last week for smiling and cavorting together in selfies evoking pastoral bliss.
“I’m so inspired that there are so many good people. I’m also happy that people see me as a good person,” Surat said. “Even though we’re strangers, I want to say, thank you so much!”
Reached for comment Tuesday morning, Surat said he was at the provincial livestock department filing the necessary documents to register Tongkum as his buffalo.
After weeks of caring for the animal, Tongkum had been set to be sold to someone else by his owner unless Surat could come up with 100,000 baht. After learning of their pending separation, netizens decided to keep them together by donating that, and a bit more.
Donations ranged from 10 baht to 10,000 baht, Surat said. As for the extra 35,000 baht, he said he would use it to build more bathing ponds for Tongkum as well as a stable with a roof and mosquito nets. Surat is also currently caring for Kao Hom, who is pregnant thanks to the strapping bull Tongkum, and another buffalo called Permpoon.
Due to his fame, Surat said the state Buffalo Bank has agreed to lend him an additional four buffaloes.
Surat also said he will soon make a Facebook page for people to follow his and Tongkum’s adventures in sunny Chai Nat province.