Supporters and spectators showed up in droves on the Thai side of Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom province this morning (Saturday), to offer moral support to Thai actor Phakin Khamwilaisak, aka “Tono”, as he began his charitable swim project, “One Man & The River”, in which he plans to swim across the river to raise funds for hospitals in the province and in Khammouane province in Laos.
Prior to the swim, scheduled to commence at 10.09am, a religious ceremony was held at the starting point on the bank of the river, to pay respects to the Naga deity, followed by a traditional dance performance by about 300 performers, including Tono’s girlfriend, all dressed in traditional Thai costumes.
After the ceremony, Tono took to the stage to thank both Thai and Lao people for their support.
The 15km swim along and across the Mekong River is divided into four legs and is expected to take about seven hours.
Tono will swim with the current for about 800 metres, to Klang Temple pier, where he will come ashore to greet his supporters for about 15 minutes.
Then he will swim from the pier for another 400 metres to the Saeng Sing Kaew pavilion, to receive donations from the people for about 15 minutes.
On the third leg he will be accompanied by a team of swimmers, from the pavilion across the Mekong River to That Sikhottabong Temple in Khammouane. Then he and his team will come ashore for a ride to Khammouane Hospital, to meet the medical staff, and then to a hotel for 2-3 hours rest.
For the final leg, Tono will swim 6km, from Ban Na Muang in Laos back to the starting point in Nakhon Phanom province at about 3pm.
Tono will wear a floatation device, so he can rest in the water, take sips of drinking water or a slice of fruit. To ensure his safety, he will be accompanied by four kayaks, four jet skis, four swimmers and a boat from the Nakhon Phanom provincial administration.
By 3pm, it was reported on taejai.com that the charitable swim had already raised aver 48.8 million baht in donations.
The swim is a version of the 2,000km charitable run, organised by rock star Artiwara Kongmalai, alias “Toon Bodyslam”, four years ago, which raised about 1.3 billion baht for 11 hospitals in Thailand’s southern provinces.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service