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The balloon artist

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Rungroj Suwanthada has made a good career out of an activity many people would consider child’s play. 

Click button to listen to Balloon twisting and rightclick to download

This is a fun story from last Thursday's My Life section of the Bangkok Post. It is a long story and I have just taken the first part of it for you. There you will find out how Runroj Suwanthada learned his rather unusual job. The hardest part is the first paragraph. After that it is quite easy.

Hopefully, you will find this introduction interesting enough to read the full story.

Twist of fate

Rungroj Suwanthada's artistic career is ballooning

Rungroj Suwanthada

Rungroj Suwanthada loves to entertain people and make them smile. He also has a knack with creative art. On top of this he is also a veteran of fun and attention-grabbing events – performing magic shows at countless private parties, providing a plethora of entertainment at festivals large and small and appearing as a clown juggling in pubs and restaurants. He is also a balloon twister.

Rungroj, 27, is from the country and was not a city man. Having the chance to visit Bangkok when he was a child, he was fascinated by city life. And what impressed him in particular were twisted balloons. It just drew his attention.

''I was very excited when I first saw a twisted balloon. It's unusual shape really amused me. I wanted to play with it,'' he recalled.

At a leading department store, Rungroj stood in a long queue for quite a long time just to be able to grab a free twisted balloon. But in the end he didn't get one, which left him feeling really hurt.

So instead, he searched around for a Thai balloon twisting book from bookstores and libraries in order to learn to shape balloons himself.

The book he ended up getting was Balloon Twisting, by Preecha Krajungthong.

''It was the only book I could find then. It's a balloon art guide,'' he said.

Learning from books was not enough for Rungroj. He went to see Preecha and asked him to teach him more about balloon twisting.

''Preecha taught me all about twisting,'' he said.

From single balloons to multiple balloon twisting, it became a piece of cake for Rungroj. He began crafting animals and then began to model flowers, cartoon characters and other unusual figures.

With the twisting skills and useful techniques he possessed, Rungroj started working as a busker and a clown in restaurants, while studying in his sophomore year.

''Each balloon piece has its own set of challenges and skills. I like it when people challenge me to twist something extraordinary.''

Working as a clown and a busker, he earned about 150 baht per hour.

To get more income, Rungroj sought out Preecha again to study balloon decoration. By expanding his skills, he believed he would be able to earn a better income.

On top of this he also began studying advanced techniques and the tricks of the trade with experts from South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

You can read the full story here:

twist – a to force something out of its original shape by bending it or turning it round ทำให้ผิดรูปร่าง
fate – the things that happen or will happen to someone ชะตากรรม
twist of fate – an unexpected event that causes a big change in someone’s life
ballooning – (1) the art of twisting balloons; (2) increasing (like a balloon filling up with air) or becoming more successful
knack – a skill or ability ความสามารถพิเศษ
creative – involving a lot of imagination and new ideas ซึ่งมีความคิดริเริ่ม, ซึ่งมีความคิดสร้างสรรค์
veteran – having a lot of experience doing something อาวุโส
countless – very many; too many to be counted มากเหลือคณานับ
attention-grabbing – causing people to notice something สร้างความสนใจ
plethora – a very large amount of something, especially a larger amount than you need, want or can deal with การมีมากเกินไป, ความอุดมสมบูรณ์เกินไป
festival – an event that is held to celebrate a particular thing or activity เทศกาล
clown – a performer who wears funny clothes and makes people laugh by doing silly things ตัวตลก
juggling - throwing several objects up into the air, and then catching and throwing them up โยนและรับลูกบอลหรือสิ่งของอย่างต่อเนื่อง
fascinated – very interested or attracted by someone or something น่าดึงดูดใจ
impressed – admiring someone or something very much because of an unusually good quality or achievement ประทับใจ
draw attention – to cause to notice something
queue – a line of people waiting for something คิว
hurt– upset  น้อยใจ
piece of cake – something that is very easy for someone to do เรื่องง่ายๆ
craft – to make objects, especially in a skilled way ทำด้วยมือ
figure – a shape, especially of a person รูปร่าง, รูปทรง
technique – a method of doing something using a special skill that you have developed เทคนิค,  กลวิธี (เฉพาะด้าน)
possess – to have or own something  ครอบครอง, ถือครอง
busker – someone who performs music in the streets and other public places for money
sophomore – a second-year student in a high school or university นักศึกษาปีที่ 2
challenge – something that needs a lot of skill, energy and determination to deal with or achieve สิ่งท้าทาย
extraordinary – very unusual and surprising เกินธรรมดา, ผิดธรรมดา
decoration – the activity of adding things to make something look nicer and more attractive การตกแต่ง
expand – to make or become larger ขยาย เพิ่ม
income – money that someone gets from working or from investing money รายได้
tricks of the trade – special techniques used for a particular type of work
expert – someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ

Here are some useful words and phrases from the rest of the story:

domestically – within the country, i.e., not internationally ภายในประเทศ
ecstatic – extremely happy or pleased ปิติ ยินดียิ่ง
runner-up – winning second place in a competition รองอันดับหนึ่ง
boost – to increase เพิ่ม
credentials – personal qualities, achievements, or experiences that make someone suitable for something คุณสมบัติ,  คุณวุฒิ
accommodation – a place for someone to stay, live, or work
afford – to have enough money to be able to pay for something  มีเงินพอจับจ่าย  ซื้อหา
reputation – the opinion people have about how good or bad someone or something is ชื่อเสียง
with many strings to his bow – having many different skills
complexity – features of something that make it confusing or difficult to deal with ความซับซ้อน
florist – someone whose job is to arrange and sell flowers คนปลูกหรือขายดอกไม้
rare - uncommon, unusual ซึ่งหายาก
medium - a method or way of expressing something สื่อ
competitive edge – an advantage that makes someone or something more successful than other people or things ข้อได้เปรียบ
diversify – to develop new products or activities in addition to the ones that you already provide or do ทำให้เป็นหลายชนิด
plain sailing – succeeding easily without any problems
adore – to like something very much ชอบมาก
fade – to slowly disappear or become weaker  อ่อนลง,หายไป
concentrate – to give most of your attention to one aim or activity  เพ่งความสนใจไปยัง  มุ่งไปที่
hesitate – to pause before you do or say something, often because you are uncertain or nervous about it ลังเล

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