MUKDAHARN: With prices at the pumps rising ever higher, some people tend to forget that even at 25 baht/liter gasoline remains one of the cheapest liquids available on sale anywhere and it is still a good deal cheaper than even the lowest-priced beers.
Perhaps that is why 31-year-old farmer Sa-ngiam Janlong of Tambon Ban Khoke in Mukdaharn has taken to drinking gasoline, rather than allowing it to be uselessly burned up in some internal combustion engine.
On November 2, a TV crew from the Mun Plaek Dee (That’s Delightfully Strange) show tracked down Sa-ngiam for an interview that appeared at 2 pm the following Saturday on Thai TV Channel 9.
When they first contacted Sa-ngiam, the TV crew asked if they could film a segment about his daily routine. Sa-ngiam said he was glad to oblige, asking them to go to a nearby roadside gasoline vendor for a bottle of gasoline so he could demonstrate.
At the pump a hand-pump perched atop a 55-gallon drum the reporters learned that the owner had stopped selling gasoline to Sa-ngiam after learning that the man had been drinking it. Undeterred, Sa-ngiam simply took his business elsewhere, the owner explained.
Bottle of gasoline in hand, the reporters returned to Sa-ngiam’s home, where he quickly poured out a big tumbler of the volatile liquid, took a big whiff of the fumes and prepared to drink up for the camera. But before he could, the emcee cried out “Stop!”, saying he first wanted to know why the man enjoyed drinking gasoline so much.
Sa-ngiam explained that he had been drinking gasoline for two years, gulping it down whenever he felt the urge. His normal daily consumption is about half a liter, drunk in two or three sessions, he said.
He said he drank gasoline because he like the strong taste. Sometimes he mixed the gasoline with alcohol to get an extra kick, he told the reporters. When asked about the health risks of the known carcinogen, Sa-ngiam admitted that he couldn’t give it up now, even though he knew it might bad for his health.
However, he added, he had suffered no ill-effects or burning sensations in his throat or guts from drinking gasoline.
To show that this was real gasoline, the emcee poured a bit out from the bottle and dropped a match into it. Flames leaped up. Unimpressed, Sa-ngaim then took the shot glass and, with the TV crew and emcee looking on in stunned amazement, downed its contents. “Saep!” (delicious), he said.
Dr Somsak Amornwiwat of Samitiwech Hospital said that Sa-ngiam’s habit put him at risk of a number of life-threatening conditions, including bone marrow cancer and leukemia.
“If he doesn’t stop drinking right now he’ll be dead in five years,” he warned.
One thing is for sure, if you go out drinking with K. Sa-ngiam, it would be best not to smoke.