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Mon bridge: Community rebuilds

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The bridge was at the center of their lives, so local temple helped organise bamboo for replacement bridge after wooden bridge collapsed. 

The 850m Mon Bridge - which locals bill as the longest handmade wooden bridge in the world - collapsed on July 28 PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL


Hope floats

When an 850m bridge joining two communities collapsed in July, villagers decided not to wait for authorities and built a bamboo raft bridge in six days


Patipat Janthong

It's dawn, and a villager loiters in the glow of the awakening day, enjoying the tranquility of the river from the newly built bamboo bridge.

"You know the bridge didn't cost a single baht," he says with a tinge of pride.

And he has good reason to feel pleased with himself as one of the 500 residents from tambon Nong Lu in Sangkhla Buri, Kanchanaburi province, who took only six days to construct the 450m floating bridge across the Song Kalia River in August.

The villagers took matters into their own hands when the middle section of the 850m Mon Bridge - which locals bill as the longest handmade wooden bridge in the world - collapsed on July 28. The bridge, which is 20m high and links communities in Moo 2 to communities in Moo 3, was brought down by a combination of weeds growing around the support struts and strong currents during heavy rains.

Unwilling to wait until the end of the rainy season when authorities could start repair work and facing higher transport costs, the Thai and ethnic Mon villagers joined forces to build the floating raft bridge. It was constructed under the supervision of Wat Sang Wiwekkaram, which helped organise the bamboo for the project.

...the temporary bridge ... [has helped] people go about their daily lives once again.

One Mon woman was precariously carrying a large tin pot on her head, and three tubs in her hands. The floating bridge was uneven and moving, not an easy walk when your neck muscles are being put to the test.

"It's not difficult," she says with a brave smile. "It's the way life is here."

Running past her is a little boy who somersaults off the bridge into the water. "I'm taking a bath," he explains, gleefully joining his friends in the middle of the river.

At the village, people come to make merit. It's not a Buddhist religious day, nor a special rite, this is what Mon villagers do every day. Apart from the bridge, they say it's the temple that is at the heart of village life. "It's Buddhism binding all of us," an elderly Mon woman says, contented and serene.

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authority: a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

bamboo: a tree that grows in thick bunches of long green poles - ต้นไผ่, ไม้ไผ่

bill as: advertise as, announce to the public as -

collapse: to fall down suddenly - พังลงมา  ล้ม, พังครืน

collapsed: fell down suddenly - ล้ม ทิ้งตัวลง

combination: the mixture you get when two or more things are combined - การรวมกัน

community: the people living in one particular area - ชุมชน

construct: to build or make something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. - สร้าง

content: willing to do something; happy and satisfied with what you have or are doing - พึงพอใจ

current: a strong movement of water in one direction - กระแสน้ำ

dawn: the beginning of the day, when it begins to get light - รุ่งอรุณ, เช้าตรู่

elderly: (of people) old - สูงวัย, อาวุโส, อายุมาก

ethnic: of a group of people with the same culture or traditions - กลุ่มชาติพันธุ์

float: an object that floats in the water - สิ่งที่ลอยได้ เช่น แพ

float: to cause to move slowly in the air or on water - ลอย

gleeful: very happy, especially about something good you have done or something bad that has happened to an enemy - ร่าเริง,สนุกสนาน,ยินดี,รื่นเริง,ดีใจ

glow: to produce a continuous light and sometimes heat - แสงแวววาว

handmade: a beautiful object or product that is made with the hands of a craftsman, not by many machines in a factory - ซึ่งทำด้วยมือ, ซึ่งใช้มือทำ

join forces: come together and do work together -

links: connections - ความเชื่อมโยงกัน

locals: people who live in a particular place - ชาวบ้าน

loiterers: people who move slowly around or stand especially in a public place without an obvious reason - คนเชือนแช,คนเถลไถล,คนอ้อยอิ่ง

muscle: a piece of body tissue that you contract and relax in order to move a particular part of the body; the tissue that forms the muscles of the body - กล้ามเนื้อ

neck: the part of the body between the head and the shoulders - ลำคอ (อวัยวะ), คอ

organiser: an event organiser; a person or company that organises big events such as beauty contests -

pleased: happy and satisfied - พอใจ, ปลื้ม

precarious: likely to change or become dangerous without warning; not safe or likely to fall - ที่ไม่ปลอดภัย, ไม่มั่นคง, ใกล้อันตราย

pride: a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that you get when you, or someone connected with you, have achieved something special - ความภาคภูมิใจ

project: a planned piece of work that is designed to find information about something, to produce something new, or to improve something - โครงการ

raft: a small light flat boat made of wood, rubber or plastic - แพ เรือแพ

reason: why something happened or exists - เหตุผล

repair: to fix something that is broken or damaged - ซ่อมบำรุง

resident: a person who lives in a particular area - ผู้พักอาศัย, ผู้อยู่อาศัยในบริเวณ  ประชาชนที่อาศัยในท้องที่

section: any of the parts into which something is divided - ส่วน, ส่วนที่ตัดออก, ส่วนย่อย

serene: calm, peaceful - สงบนิ่ง

somersault: a rolling movement or jump, either forwards or backwards, in which you turn over completely, with your body above your head, and finish with your head on top again - การตีลังกา

strut: a piece of metal or wood used to support a structure, to hold it up - คานรับ

supervision: the process of making sure that something is being done properly - การควบคุมดูแล การตรวจตรา

support: preventing something from falling down or decreasing -

take matters into own hands: so something yourself, instead of relying on others -

temporary: done or used for only a limited period of time, i.e., not permanent - ชั่วคราว

tinge: to add a small amount of something - ผสมลงไปเล็กน้อย

tranquility: the state of being quiet and peaceful - ความสงบ

transport: moving people or things from one place to another - การขนส่ง

tubs: small plastic containers with a lid, used for storing food - ถัง

uneven: not following a regular pattern; not having the same quality in all parts; - ซึ่งไม่เท่ากัน, ซึ่งไม่สม่ำเสมอ

unwilling: not wanting to do something and refusing to do it - ไม่เต็มใจ, ไม่สมัครใจ

weed: a wild plant growing where it is not wanted, especially among crops or garden plants - วัชพืช

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