A journey from the villages of Thailand to being owner of a Thai restaurant!
My name is Thichathorn Panomkarn, 33 years old. Born in a small village in the north of Thailand, I came from the poor family of farmers. We grew rice, corns, pumpkins, vegetables anything at all that suited the soil. As my parents could not afford to feed more kids, I was brought up as a single child. All my friends thought I was a pampered child with toys and luxury due to my being the only child to my parents. On the contrary all through my childhood I have never held a toy in my hands.
My childhood was spent under the shade of the trees whilst my parent worked hard all through day. I was registered in the government school for education as we did not have to pay fees. As I had never eaten ice-cream and wanted so much to taste some, I bought some fruits that grew on my farm to school and sold them to save money for the same. All the poor students with good grades received student fund from the school but I was always denied it as they felt being a single child, my parents could afford me. All weekends were spent working in the farm with my parents planting, harvesting, fertilizing, watering, weeding out grass and more.
The day I finished my primary schooling, I approached my father with the desire to study further. The High School was 20kms away and required me to travel by school car. In addition we had heavy semester fees to pay. My father debated that as I would ultimately marry and be a housewife, he saw no use to my studies. But my mother finally helped him understand and sent me with 20 Baht [0.60cents] to support my lunch and expenses on my first day at high school. But as luck could have it the teacher announced an opportunity of part time work in the school cafeteria during lunch break and offered 10Baht [0.30cents] as the daily wage. I was escalated that I had found a way to support myself. I returned home and gave my mother not only the money she had given me but also the additional money I had earned. As lunch was free along with the remuneration for me! She initially reprimanded me for stealing, however when I explained the opportunity both my parents were happy. I continued to support all the requirements of Uniform, Books and Stationary by working part time.
As a year passed, a classmate and close friend of mine enquired if I would like to join her as a traditional Thai dance performer in the hotels. I agreed and practiced hard. The hotels paid 200Baht [6$] per night. It was a huge sum for me. I performed every evening from 7 to 9pm till it was time for University. As luck could have it, the government announced student loans and I applied for it. My father also applied for a bank loan to support my University studies. I still had 3 months before classes could start, so I enrolled in short term tailoring classes and began to support my own wardrobe. My friends in the University began noticing my dressing sense and style and asked me to make clothes for them. During the summer break, I would work as a waitress in the restaurants. I had to ensure I could support the university fees and this helped me with my goal.
I was happy when I got my first job in the travel agency. Though heavily underpaid I had no choice but take it up. My father had an accident and was medically advised not to work for over 2 years. I worked day time in the travel agency and at nights in the restaurant, until I got a job as a spa receptionist in one of the 5 star hotels. This was the beginning of change in my life. I first transferred myself with promotion to Bangkok and then later took up the over seas project in Tanzania. By now I had worked myself to the post of a spa manager. I was offered a role in the pre opening team for a spa in Abudhabi as manager. I worked in the spa industry for over 4 years only to realize there was something in me that was pushing me to do something on my own. I took myself seriously and in 2010 along with like minded friends formed a team and registered a Thai Cuisine Restaurant in Jumeira Lake Towers, Dubai. We launched “The Kitchen of Thai Restaurant” finally in 2011. It is 3 years since we started and it is still growing. It is not about success nor about failure, it is only about opportunities, learning and experience. So I advise everyone to just go for it. www.tkot-restaurant.com