I'm the local fixer at the Thai cave who helped Tesla out last night, ama!
- I've been in the area since June 29th
- I'm a local fixer for American ABC News, not a reporter, more like a contractor
- Been to the rescue camp site almost everyday
- IT'S REALLY MUDDY UP HERE
Edit: It's been great, I didn't know there's this much international attention (even though I'm working with an international media agency). I'll get some sleep in a bit, 3-4 hours of sleep daily is unhealthy af, so I'd like to get some shut eye now.
I'll check back to see if there are unique and interesting questions and answer them :)
And please check ABC, especially Good Morning America and Worlds News Tonight! I'm doing this without their knowledge but I'd like to support them anyway, they have been very nice with me, and we are now the biggest and nicest media crew in the area.
Edit 2: redditors are magnificent sleuths. I got contacted asking about my personal info on my personal channels. I'll just say what I'm comfortable with: 28 yo., used to run a project management team in an American-owned company, made $55k last year working three jobs, want a full time job somewhere in the solar system, preferably with the MCRN; bachelor in telecoms engineering at 19yo, masters in management at 21yo. Plays PUBG (#regionlockchina) and Overwatch (hail papajeff), has a $4,000 gaming PC and PS4 and a Mavic Air those haven't been touched in a while, have a Nin Switch with me at the mudland but hasn't been turned on since I got here. I do some photography, instagram: @modernthan.
Now it's bed time for real,
3am4am local now. Thank you reddit, and I'll be back to answer some questions soon!
Yes. I'm rather hopeful. It hasn't rained heavily for a couple of days, but just now it has started pouring though.
Do you think the current diving method they've been trialing could work? Or do you feel in response to the death of a trained diver, more engineering focused methods might be deemed more promising?
Yes. I still trust that method, Plan A.
The diver who passed away was doing heavy labor (building the airtank ropeline) for hours before he passed out.
Engineering focused method could work awesomely or not at all, time is of the essence here.
What's the general attitude towards the coach? Props to him for keeping them alive for so long. I really hope he isn't blamed.
He wouldn't get any flak from the mainstream public, the fringes are attacking him.
IMHO I think it's a dumb thing to do getting into that cave near the rainy season but I also understand that shit happens. Mad props to him for keeping them alive.
This guy is going to have to live with this on his conscience for the rest of his life. I wonder if the people criticizing him have ever made one mistake in their life. Some men would crumble down there after that fateful decision, a decision they made that impacts the children around him.
Based on the photos and interviews I’ve seen, this guy is a champ. I implore anyone without kids to go handle 11-12 of them in a high stress situation. Subtract: food, drinking water, bed, bathroom, etc — and imagine all of that on top of the guilt in your head that you caused this.
This guy will need some mental help when he gets out. People will only focus on the kids and he’ll be an afterthought at first. Mr. Fixer - as somebody who has endured the trauma of guilt and mental health and is trying to help those around him, please fix this coach up with a therapist and support group. I’ll start a fundraiser if needed. And thank you for doing what you’re doing. I’m in the Midwest and have a 10 year old daughter. I hope if something ever happened to her that she has helpers like you around.
The Department of Mental Health is prepped and ready for this.
Further up they were saying how no one not even the parents blame him.
Right, this is not the first time for this team (not the exact same kids) to do this excursion. The cave is a tourist spot.
What is a "fixer"?
That's a really nice way of putting it, thank you!
I was so confused why a hit man was involved with the rescue efforts.
Yeah a different kind.
You want to Film a story, an episode, maybe a movie. So you send your reporter, and associated nerds (audio tech, camera person, etc.).
But do they know the local language? How not to offend the wrong people? Where you can eat without getting the shits? Maybe even how to contact certain criminal or underworld elements? How is traffic in various places at various times? Which palms should you grease?
That's what a fixer is for, they fix things for you. A trusted local or long term expat, who knows their way around the place.
Yeah and try to get connected with other locals, whomever they maybe. So for me I've been trying to get contacts to do interviews.
Someone with a particular set of skills
...skills I have acquired over a very long career.
We'll I've been translating for a majority of my life, so there's that. I also am contract with "a major SVOD provider".
How desperate is the situation in terms of water? Is it possible that the water level will rise faster than the pumping and suffocate the platform which the boys are on?
Unless there's some freakish storm, it won't get too bad, but weather up here could get unpredictable.
Suffocation like that unlikely, they will have to sqeeze in and share 10 sq.m. space though.
How are the parents holding up? I imagine they were so ecstatic when they were found. Now that they still haven’t been rescued it must be just devastating, especially with the rain coming.
They were cheering from the family's tent and building in the camp when the boys were found.
Morale should be good but don't quote me on it, they have been communicating through written letters and there are footage of the boys. Check facebook.com/thaiseal
CNN is reporting rescuers are posting warning signs right now indicating they intend to use explosives. Any idea what that's about?
It's more like "No smoking, oxygen compressing area, explosive", at least that's the one I saw.
Ohhhh, the news here is making it sound as if they were going to start blasting holes in the hillside. But your explanation makes perfect sense. Thanks!
They have been drilling 100+ chutes and dugged 18 holes in the hillside btw. Explosion unlikely imo.
Are there air chutes drilled that actually go into the cave?
No. They are expecting 600m into that chamber. So far the deepest chute they dug was 400m. The governor put it as "shooting at a green target taped to a green tree".
I’m following you on Twitter, thanks for everything you’re doing!
I’m sure it’s crazy on the ground, have Elon’s ideas been taken seriously? Or are there too many factors at play that the bag idea wouldn’t work?
Afaik, they will gladly take the Powerwalls.
The rest, not sure, it depends on the folks doing the rescuing.
Personally I think the tube and the bag ideas are too complicated to pull off.
Thai mainstream folks are really thankful and wowed by the ideas and the help though.
That makes sense! Doesn’t seem like there are any good options. Hopefully they can figure something out soon. God speed.
I have to rephrase, the cave is way too complex. Elon is aware of the cave's conditions though as he has talked to divers (per his tweets).
Imo, the "pumping water out and drilling the cave to make wider paths then float/dive the kids out", aka Plan A is the best bet.
If they can pump enough water out to drill in the array of narrow spots in the complex system of tunnels, couldn't they walk the kids out at that point? That plan seems unlikely to me.
Pump as much as possible, there are different bodies of water. Ideally they would walk the kids out, but realistically it would be more like just enough so it doesn't cover their heads.
Yes, and float them out in buoyancy vests. Good idea.
Thank you for doing all you're doing.
Do you think there is an issue of "too many cooks in the kitchen" from all the different experts coming in?
Not really now, they vet experts and personnel quite extensively at the camp. At first it was chaotic though.
How did you get connected with ABC?
My good friend is a fixer for NYT, and I was laid off from my full time job a week before the incident, so she referred me because I'm considered quite... nifty and nimble.
International agencies maintain a list of fixers in various locations.
Any words about finding a way in from the Burmese side? Some Burmese citizens from Tachileik (across Mae Sai) reported that there is a team looking at the connections to the cave from the Burmese side. The cave seems to be just a few kilometers away from Thai-Burma border. We don't have the tech or expertise but it would be great if we could be of some help. Just wanted to let you know that we Burmese are following the news closely and praying for the safe return of the boys. Thanks for doing what you're doing!
They are really far away, like 10km or something.
Is there any possibility of an easier escape route by going deeper into the cave system and coming out elsewhere?
And what’s the general feelings towards the coach up there for bringing them in there in the first place?
I live in Thailand and have a family here and I don’t think many Thais are being critical of the coach for his poor judgement. I saw the familys’ note saying they didn’t blame him but what about the rescuers and the team up there?
I've only been a farang tourist a few times but my impression is Thai people are a lot more fatalistic than Australia, for instance
Where we might have a Lookout point heavily fenced off and signposted for danger, the Thai will have a sign saying 'Danger, but if you want to see for yourself, don't blame us'
It won't say exactly that but that's the mindset yeah. You are warned and it will be on you.
My Thai wife and all her Thai friends are very critical of the coach and even more so with the death of a worker :/
I'm not that critical, he's young, it wasn't July yet, shit happens.
Personal thought: the guy is only 25. Shit happens. He kept the boys alive.
It's a dumb decision but shit happens. I hope and don't think the coach will get flaks from this. He kept the boys alive afterall.
Generally.. how's the mood over there?
How are these boys being fed? Are they getting any medical treatment & how?
Thai military has a Superman inside with them. Dr.Park, he's trained with Airborne, Seals, Rangers, Commando. He deployed with MNF-I in 2004. He leads the medical efforts and all. The latest update is he's happy with their health and will start them on more diving lessons
They have been getting US MREs snacks and high protein and energy food. Nothing that would fill their tummies but will at least give them the nutrition they need to get stronger.
For minor wounds, they are getting frogmen gel.
What specifically did you do regarding "helped Tesla out last night"?
I went up to the camp, made the folks in charge aware of Tesla's upcoming presence. Relayed some basic technical information to Tesla's folks and the Provincial Electricity Authority in Thailand (folks running the generator trucks, I woke them at 3am).
I got them patched in with the State Department (US Embassy Bangkok) and eventually the US military attache in Banngkok. The Embassy had a crash course from me regarding what Powerwalls are.
Now I'm out of the Tesla scene.
What are the odds of them bringing the kids out in the next week? P.S I followed you on twitter P.P.S thanks for doing this
Can't say, I'm optimistic.
Thank you, and it's my pleasure!
Why is pumping the water out not a full solution? What is preventing that solution from scaling? In other words, if they need a thousand times the drainage why can't they get a thousand more pumps working on it?
Multiple bodies of water, really narrow path deep down into the cave.
Pumping capacity is not a big problem, they have got people from the biggest Thai oil company on the piping and pumping. Getting the pipes/hose in is the main issue.
Did you meet the hero who lost his life during the dive?
No. I met his colleagues though.
Do fixers get paid an hourly wage or a flat fee? Can you get a bonus or tip if you land an awesome interview or inside information somehow? Also, is the wage based on the local economy or the US economy? (If that makes sense... not sure what a “living” wage is in Thailand compared to the US but I would imagine it is less. Hopefully that isn’t an offensive thing to say.)
Flat daily fee. I'm currently some kind of a nerd god in Thailand right now, so I hope more doors will open up, I'm "officially" unemployed at the moment.
Local economy wage. I'm paid generously enough for a local, but it's 3-4 hours of sleep daily.
You’ve got great insight and you’re not only fluent but eloquent in your speech. I’m a filmmaker who used to live in Thailand and I’m bookmarking this post in case I need to go back so I can hire you.
Neat! Do ping, even if it's a chit chat dinner, I'm interested in learning filmmaking!
Nerd god!! Tell us more!! are you the Will Wheaton of Thailand?
Ha, no, I grew up watching TNG and loathed his character before I did rewatches as an adult.
I have a similar beard pattern though. Love him.
Is there any need for heavy equipment? Or larger pumps?
Think we are good with pumps, not sure. Czech government is sending in more gigantic pumps.
How often are you out in the field working? I imagine that the amount of people makes it so individual shifts are shorter, but I don’t know
Our team is huge. I'm the head fixer/coordinator on the local side. I'd et 3-4 hours of sleep if I'm lucky. Sometimes I'd be at the camp, otherwise at our hotel coordinating drivers and fixers.
Where is the best place to follow everything that's going on in Thai ? Any good sites you reckon
In Thai, the language? Follow @MThai and @ThaiPBS (there's @ThaiPBSEnglish) on twitter.
If you meant Thailand, the country. Follow AP, NYT, BBC, NHK.
And of course, please give some love to ABC News!
Thank you for doing what you are doing. What do you think the cost of the whole operation will be?
Somewhere in the USD billions.
Appreciate this input and it sounds like great efforts are being put forth to save human lives. I’m very skeptical of “billions” USD. Last Mars Rover (Curiosity) cost $2.5b USD. I’ve worked on a multi-billion-dollar project ($3.2b over 5 years) and it would be nearly impossible to both procure and spend that amount of funding in this amount of time (survivors found 5 days ago).
I’m only pointing this out because there are some comments that imply that human life may not be worth this much (“billions of dollars”). This rescue operation is certainly pricey, but I do not think the total price will be absurdly high where we question the worth of saving human lives. It’s great to see these countries and people from all over the world come together to support the greater good. I applaud the OP for taking his precious few hours a day to conduct an AMA. Keep up the good work.
Yeah I may have put a number too large there. But it's something... bigly.
This is a great question that I’ve also been wondering about. The amount of resources dedicated to this operation is obviously gigantic. When the operation is complete, I’m imagining that it will be nearly impossible to give it a valuation that is close to accurate.
We are not exactly a poor country (poor per capita, but middle class in total, the inequality is large here), and I'm sure the population of Thailand will be more than glad to use their tax money to get the boys out.
Hi! Thank you so much for helping those boys/coach. My question is, the Dover who died setting up the lines, could it have been avoided? Did he run out of oxygen knowing that he was going to cut it close/run out and perhaps thought he could work through it? I'm trying to understand because if he was doing heavy labor like you said, shouldn't he have been more prepared? Not blaming anyone at all, I'm just curious in the details of why he died and how it could have or not been prevented. Again, thank you for doing this ama. Thoughts??
I'll just put it like this -- they signed up for it.
Edit: I don't want to go too deep into this out of respect. He's 38, ex-Seal, doing airport patrols. Everybody wanted to pitch in and he has the right qualifications. It's tragic though :(
What was the biggest concern about the kids who were in the cave? ~~ What I mean, was there any concern about serious injuries, death, starvation, or just general fear of being trapped?
O2 level and CO2 level.
Is this cave a commonly explored tourist spot?
Not fully explored, too deep and dangerous. But it is a tourist spot, a minor national park.
ABC as in Australia or America?
America. Every time I had to introduce myself here I have to say "Mickey Mouse". We don't have ABC here on TV but we dig everything Disney's. People only know CNN and BBC here.
Hey there, thanks for the AMA!
Can you please tell us about the location and the people there? What's the local infra like, are there proper roads airports etc nearby to allow access for for heavy equipment?
I'm not related to any of this, but I recall in another AMA that there were no roads suitable for bringing heavy equipment to drill down from the surface
The road up to the camp is a dirt/muddy road, not too shabby, I meant there are plenty of trucks at the camp. Inside the cave is more difficult.
If I recall from Elons tweets, he mentioned airdropping batteries and drills. That might be the most viable option if the roads aren't suitable
There a field that the military and the police have been parking and flying their helicopters in an out of nearby. They could also clear some space at the camp for helicopters, one of the transportation plans is to airlift the boys from the camp.
Pretty certain it's in the middle of the jungle
Not that far deep though, but yeah, it's in a jungle.
How does situation compare to that of the Chilean miners? Have they sent any mining experts used during that rescue? If not it is worth a shot to ask if they can
From the governor himself. Chilean miner they had to drill 1000m but they have the exact location. Here it's 600m of drilling but unsure of the location in relation to the chamber the boy are in. I think they have coordination going.
This sounds like a stupid question but where do the boys toilet?
Plenty of water in front of them, soo.... I guess there? No much food so I'm guessing mostly no. 1s.
Governor press confirmed they are starting the mission to bring the kids out now. 4 first.
This whole situation is horrifying and I haven't stopped thinking about it for days, refreshing the news hourly. I wish more people really understood how bad the situation is. There's a lot of people that feel like this is almost over, but really other than supplies, and an Oxygen line (I think, conflicting sources) It doesn't feel like they are much closer to a rescue than they were they day after they were found.
I really really hope Elon Musk helps save the day. Some of his ideas seem a bit out there, but I'm rooting for him. What have his people been doing over there so far?
Do you think diving them out is a realistic option? I really don't see it. What do you think the plan is right now? What would you like to see happen? I have a gut feeling that something bad is going to happen soon. No one wants to do anything because every option is dangerous, and it's going to get to the point where they have to rush it. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the water levels and air are going to become bigger issues, and no one is prepared to evacuate them.
Two big concerns at the moment:
- Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide levels
- The weather (monsoon season is coming)
Elon's batteries will sure help. Personally I wanna see some Boring Co's drills and maybe when everything is over, the flamethrower. SpaceX might have awesome ideas, who knows.
Check the governor's press briefing from today (July 7th), they will do something if they think the trend is dangerous. But they want to do their safest plan and that takes time.
One of the worst things to happen would be extreme raining.
A youth soccer team and their coach went exploring in a cave. While they were there it rained and they became trapped while also forcing them deeper into the cave system. Their location was unknown for ~9 days and the rescue efforts have stalled a bit due to the dangers of extracting them.
To add to this, the cave is insanely long and not fully explored. They found the kids like 2.9 miles into it.
The hill is called "Sleeping Lady" as it resembles a lady laid down, her hair stretches out to Myanmar. The kids went around the Lady's Neck.
I translated the army's map, they found the kids 400 meters beyond Pattaya beach at "Lady's Cleavage".
Mind you the army's map is 2D, the actual cave involves a lot of 3D movements.
What's the food situation like there? Are there vendors? I've been curious about that since there are so many people for support
No commercial vendors. Awesome donated food and drinks up at the rescue camp. There's even an espresso machine up there.
What is the plans to get them out exactly? I know the children dont know how to swim. Are they stringing in a guide rope?
Yeah, pump out enough water then stick them in life vests and float them out, that's Plan A.
Do the children have any blankets? Or padding to sleep/sit/rest on? The spot just looks so uncomfortable. I am glad the DRs are staying in now, because it must be hard for the Coach to try to take care of the boys mentally, and take care of himself. He must feel really guilty. He was all they have to guide them through the 9 days they were lost and stuck.
Yeap, mylar blankets: https://www.facebook.com/ABCNews/videos/10157418779888812/
He should be proud of himself for keeping the boys alive that long.
I'm getting rather anxious, is the engineering team there yet? I also saw the tweet from James Yenbamroong that 10 powerwalls will be arriving in Chiang Rai at 7am this Sunday.
Tesla engineers are in Bangkok now. SpaceX also sent a guy ahead.
Powerwalls look really intuitive and there are plenty of smart folks at the camp.
Found an image of the cave How did they know to look inside the cave?
Pattaya beach is the last well known place, but locals have explored further in.
It's 9am local, all press has just got kicked out from the camp. Rumor mill says they might get one kid out at 1pm. Follow @thanr
So, regarding the boys entering the cave. It appears from the various Maps I've looked at there are several places where only a man can squeeze through, and not have his scuba gear on his back. Does that mean when the boys crawled in they were going, single file, through these tight skinny areas?
Yep, that's why tandem diving is not a very viable idea unless they can expand the passage ways.
Did you know the Navy SEAL? And are there American Special Operations soldiers there helping too?
I have contact with the Thai Navy Seal, nothing too big.
Afaik Americans sent a lot of personnel, the quiet professionals were the first to get there.
What all equipments have Tesla's team brought in?
I could only say Powerwalls for certain. Unsure about anything else, Elon is quite public about it, check his twitter feed for updates :)
Were there any signs posted outside the cave warning people not to enter due to flooding?
There are warning signs about the flooding season, July-November
They went in on June 23rd
edit: don't downvote him, I wrote "23th" eariler
This might be dumb, but is there a reason you are not able to simply drill a hole down to them or blast an opening?
- They don't have the exact location inside relative to outside. The hill is yuuuuge. It will take time, they poked 100+ holes in the mountain already.
- Blasting is a bad idea imo, what if the chamber they are in collapses
Thank you for the AMA. Two questions:
Is there any way concerned citizens of the world can help this operation, with donations or in any other way?
Is there any way for concerned citizens of the world to communicate to the kids how much we care about them and are rooting for them?
If you could, order a lot of Wellington Boots / Wellies and send them up to:
Pongpha Subdistrict Administration Organization
Tambon Pong Pha, Amphoe Mae Sai,
That's the main donation center. They will not take cash donation though.
Go comment on facebook.com/thaiseal for morale support :)
I see from your choice of beverage that you are a man of culture. What is the beer selection like in Thailand?
Awesome, I co-founded this online beer delivery company: www.wishbeer.com
I'm usually a single malt guy though, Lagavulin 16 is my favorite.
While heading towards the entrance - how long would the kids have to stay submerged at its longest?
Are we talking minutes or hours?
3 hours by experienced divers to the 3rd chamber, it's tough.
Is there a possibility of sedating the children? It seems like they could be fitted with equipment and put under and more or less carried by the dive teams. Sure it's not an ideal solution but neither is a truly panicked teenager endangering not just their lives but the rescuers and fellow kids...all in all this is a scary situation.
Don't think so (guessing), too dangerous, can't monitor their health effectively if they are KO'ed.
Please elaborate on how you helped Tesla / Musk?
He asked me a technical question and I went up to the camp to find out. Got them hooked up with the right folks (State Dept. and Thai govt.)
Anny idea how they got that far into the cave, including past the narrow passageways? Were they already at the part they are at now or were they pushed back there by the water?
Yeah every time it rained they had to go further in, but now it's kinda stable.
Where are they pooping and how do they clean themselves after? Are they in danger from exposure to feces and inability to properly cleanse?
They have a Seal Medical Doctor (Dr.Pak, look him up, he's like Superman) taking care of them. When they come out they will be in a sterile environment for a while.
I don’t have a great imagination, is there some animation of illustration of what the the situation is? Like where the team is stuck and what the route is to get out
BBC has a good map, but you'll have to do some googling.
Am I the only one that thinks it's weird that some guy inexplicably had a bunch of boys 6 miles deep in a cave? Has there been any explanation as to why they went down there in the first place?
It's an adventure and team building type of thing, they packed a bunch of snacks. Not the first time they went in there. It's usually a tourist spot, minor national park.
Are you aware that Bert Kreisher will actually shed tears if they don't make it out alive?
We all would. Hopefully we won't.
What's your favorite Taiwanese meal?
Taiwanese? Of course their rice with marinated pork thing. Stinky tofu too stinky.
From this thread https://www.reddit.com/comments/8wsejy
Google "Thai Cave"
Tesla is delivering batteries.
Edit: I know what is going on, I thought at first he was just asking about Tesla. I made a quick response just saying that they were delivering batteries to make it simple.
Powerwalls will be brought in. US govt and Thai govt are handling the logistics afaik.
Do you think they will make it out?
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