Yes, Thai a yellow ribbon ’round that old banyan tree because the boys are home safe and sound and the future awaits them. It was a rescue story heard around the world that put Thailand on the map in a marvelous new way.
The 12 boys and their soccer coach in Thailand are now free from the cave they were rescued from, and have visited their families and friends. They have also shaved their heads to become Buddhists monks for 10 days, as befits a Thai tradition to offer thanks to the 8,000 Gods of Thailand that minister to people’s needs and desires, just as Western Gods minister to the needs of Western people.
So what lies ahead for these teenagers and their 20-something soccer coach?
Using our crystal ball to peer into the future, this is what we think might transpire in their future lives.
This is not about reincarnation but bout forging identities and fortunes (financial or spiritual) in the future. Take it all with a grain of saffron. I cannot see the future but I can peer into it.
Akkapol Chanthawong, 25 years old, the coach: He will be come a TV producer for a major network in Thailand and write a nonficiton book about his experiences in life that will become a bestseller in 15 languages around the world.
Adul Sam-On, 14 years old, an 8th grade student at Mae Sai district’s Ban Wiang Phan school: He will join the military after graduating from college and become a top general.
Prajak Sutham, 14 years old, 8th grade student at Mae Sai Prasitthisart school: He will study anthropology at Harvard and return to Thailand with a PhD and a British wife.
Natthawut Thakhamsai, 14 years old, 8th grade student at Mae Sai Prasitthisart school: He will enter the motion picture industry in Thailand as an actor and director and churn out a string of blockbuster films over the years, some horror movies, some cli-fi movies and some old-fashioned Thai love stories with ghosts and spirits tying the knot, too.
Pipat Phothi, 15 years old, student at Ban San Sai school: He will study English in London after finishing his undergraduate degree in Bangkok and will later write a series of novels in both Thai and English for an international readership.
Panumas Saeng-Dee, 13 years old, student at Mae Sai Prasitthisart school: He will become a monk for life and devote himself to the betterment of humankind, both at home and abroad.
Duangphet Promthep, 13 years old, student at Mae Sai Prasitthisart school: He will join the New York Times Bangkok bureau as an intern and later go on to a stellar career as an international reporter for CNN and the BBC.
Akarat Wongsukchan, 14 years old, student at Darunratwitthaya school: He will become a poet.
Peerapat Somphiangjai, 16 years old, student at Mae Sai Prasitthisart school: He will become a major Thai businessman in the retail sector and produce a series of bestselling cosmetics creams and skin improvement systems.
Ponchai Khamluang, 16 years old, student at Ban Pa Yang school: He will be a school principal where his students will refer to him as their “Pal.”
Somjai Jaiwong, 13 years old, student at Mae Sai Prasitthisart school: He will move to India when he turns 21 and work with under-privileged street kids in New Delhi and Mumbai.
Mongkol Boonpiam, 13 years old, 7th grade student at Ban Pa Muat school: He will become a climatologist and work for the Thai Weather Bureau predicting the high and lows of global warming as it impacts Thailand in the next 60 years.
And last but not least, Chanin Viboonrungruang, the youngest boy in the group at 11 years old and possessing a wonderful smile and sense of humor, even in the midst of the worst possible of circumstances being trapped in a dark cave without food or water, and a student at Mae Sai Kindergarten school: Chanin will become a future prime minister of Thailand and turn heads left and right as he walks down the streets of his beloved country.
There you have it. Thirteen young people thrown into the spotlight of history. Let’s see what the future brings. Godspeed, God bless and may the wind be always at their backs from now on.