Cave boys claim life remains the same

Cave boys claim life remains the same

His Majesty to confer about 200 decorations

Twelve 'Wild Boars' footballers stand before a portrait of His Majesty the King as one reads a message of thanks to everyone involved in the Tham Luang rescue operation between June 23 and July 10 in Chiang Rai. They also pledged to dedicate themselves to doing good deeds. Patipat Janthong
Twelve 'Wild Boars' footballers stand before a portrait of His Majesty the King as one reads a message of thanks to everyone involved in the Tham Luang rescue operation between June 23 and July 10 in Chiang Rai. They also pledged to dedicate themselves to doing good deeds. Patipat Janthong

Life for the Tham Luang cave survivors has returned back to normal, they revealed yesterday during a "meet the press" session in Bangkok.

In a second formal interview with the media after being rescued from the cave in Chiang Rai almost two months ago, 12 young players and coach of the "Wild Boar" football team said they were doing what they used to do before they were trapped in the cave.

"Things are back to normal, except now I have more friends," said Chanin "Titan" Wiboonrungruang, 11, the youngest of the group.

Duangpetch "Dom" Phromthep, 13, who now has more than 358,000 followers on his Instagram account, said that life for him has not changed at all despite his newfound popularity.

"My daily activities are still the same. I ride my bike to school, I play football with friends and sometimes I run for charity," he said.

Pipat "Nick" Phothi, 16, said his daily life has remained unchanged, except he has to do more homework and attend extra classes in order to catch up with his classmates.

Pipat said his school had asked other students not to inquire about his experience in the cave because teachers feared he would be answering the same questions over and over again.

"I was surprised on the first day back at school that nobody talked to me, but as time goes by I seem to have more friends," he said.

Ekkapol "Coach Ake" Chanthawong, 25, who is now a monk, said all members of the "Wild Boar" football team have strictly followed the advice psychologists gave them to return to a normal life.

"Thanks to the whole world and the government for helping us, so we can have a normal life," he said.

Deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said the government has formed two sub-committees to handle issues related to the cave rescue.

The first subcommittee will screen interview requests by Thai and foreign media, while the second is responsible for legal matters that may arise in relation to the survivors and their families, he said.

He cited the example of approaches from filmmakers who are interested in producing a movie or documentary about the daring rescue.

After the first press conference was held on July 18, members of the press were asked to leave the survivors alone out of respect for their privacy.

Another "meet-the-press" session is scheduled for Sept 15-16 in Chiang Rai, added Lt Gen Werachon.

Questions from the media will be screened by the first subcommittee "to ensure there are no violations of their rights by an over-inquisitive media"," Lt Gen Werachon said.

After the media session in the afternoon, the footballers and their coach headed to the government-sponsored thank you gala dinner at the Royal Plaza, which was attended by thousands of people.

His Majesty the King had granted permission to use the Royal Plaza as the venue from 6pm until 9pm. His Majesty had also sponsored the provision of Thai and international food, including traditional desserts, while the government covered the cost of other dishes and beverages.

His Majesty the King has granted royal decorations for almost 200 people who were involved in the operations to rescue the football team from Tham Luang cave. The Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn are to be given to 114 foreigners and 74 Thais, according to PM's Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana.

The King also granted commemorative pins marking his 5th Cycle (60th) birthday on July 28, 2012 for military and police officers as well as civil servants who took part in the mission, he said.

The decorations and pins will be presented at a ceremony chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, at Government House at 3.30 pm today.

Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said the rescue operation serves an important lesson.

Thailand was assisted by experts from various fields who came together to conduct the rescue operation, he said yesterday after he viewing the Tham Luang rescue exhibition.

Thai people are also grateful for the gracious kindness of the King, who provided assistance and moral support for rescuers at that time, Mr Vira said.

The ministry have been asked to procure various media material related to the operation, which will be compiled into a book that would document all details of the operation, he added.

It is expected the special book will be completed within the next two months, and is to be published in Thai, Chinese, and English.

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