MUKDAHAN — By day, he’s a manager at Charoen Pokphand or CP. By night – or his free days – he is an intergalactic Predator.
That’s the double life of Samai Khammongkul. He recently gained viral fame for being pulled over by police in his rural Isaan province while fully decked out in alien-hunting battle gear while barrelling down the road on a chopper made from his “trophies.”
That was enough for Khaosod English to catch up with the Predator of Isaan, who dresses in meticulously crafted costumes to inspire school kids and give people something to selfie about. To him, his idol is an inspirational, technological marvel.
Samai told us that last Friday he was intercepted by police at a checkpoint after giving an inspirational talk to high school students at a local school. So what business does a Predator have to say to Thai youth?
“I wanted to encourage and inspire the kids who weren’t doing so well in school. I was also not a good student, with around a 2.0 GPA,” said the alien hunter. “But it’s important to find out what’s unique about yourself. Everyone is good at different things, or good at different times in your life.”
When he walks, he’s cool. When he kills aliens, he’s cool
Of course, the presentation was as important as the message:
“You gotta go in with an out-of-the-world concept, or else they won’t remember you.”
Samai’s been a Predator fan for over a decade, and could be seen riding one of his four custom choppers around the Thai south before moving back to his home province of Mukdahan.
He started making the costumes and outfitting sweet Predator bikes about five years ago from rubber, clothing, foam and metal. He sells them over Facebook to fellow enthusiasts for about 55,000 baht a set. It takes him 40 to 50 days to complete one costume.
That’s a steal, he claims, because overseas Predator costumes can fetch 100,000 baht or more. Even better, his costumes are designed to be fully moveable and rideable on a motorcycle.
“The head piece is actually also a helmet. I designed it this way so I can wear it while riding a motorcycle. I even cut a bit of the nose for visibility,” Samai said.
His enthusiasm for the franchise is so intense that he says he will only make Predator costumes – not those of his archenemy, the Alien xenomorphs.
“I like the Predator because he’s so hi-tech. He’s got blades that come out from his shoulders, laser beams, stealth technology and a language translator. He can even scan someone to see if they have cancer, so he doesn’t have to kill them if they’re going to die anyway,” Samai gushed.
Samai seems to favor the third installment of the franchise, 2010’s “Predators.”
“He’s tall and great and graceful,” Samai said, expressing his admiration for the extraterrestrial. “Some people say he’s scary. But I see such a smart and cool hunter. When he walks, he’s cool. When he kills aliens, he’s cool.”
Samai straps on his predatorial costume not just to inspire kids but also for paid events as entertainment, such as Pattaya’s annual Bike Week and Phuket for biker enthusiasts, where he says foreigners love taking pictures with him.
Still, stopping on the Mukdahan roadside to give locals a chance at an awesome selfie gives him an inexplicable joy.
“Mostly, people here know about the Predator but have never seen one dressed up before. Mukdahan people really want to take photos,” he said.
He recalls times when people drove up next to him while he’s riding his hog down the road and wave at him to pull over. Other times, people line up as he passes, so he takes the next U-turn to come back for a free photo op.
“My wife asked me, ‘Why are we stopping for everyone?’ So I told her it’s because they don’t get to see me often,” Samai said, a smile evident in his voice. “It makes them happy to keep a photo of me as a souvenir. And I’m very happy to give one.”