“Santa Claus of Rayong” rides motorbike through Northern Thailand

PHOTO: Thairath

Instead of eagerly listening for sleigh bells on Christmas night, children in rural Northern Thailand are keeping an ear out for an engine hum from a motorbike driven by the local legend “Santa Claus of Rayong.” Thailand’s Old Saint Nicholas goes from Rayong to northern provinces every December, driving his motorbike piled high with toys and handing gifts out to children.

64 year old Yongut Sangdee has been the “Santa Claus of Rayong” for 27 years. He says he loves spreading Christmas cheer and happiness. It’s his passion, he says, and he will continue to do it until he’s physically unable to continue.

Some of the gifts are a little different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Along with dolls, toys, sweaters and blankets, Yongut will be handing out face masks and hand sanitiser. The Santa of Rayong even made an appearance early this year. In May, he helped set up a roadside food pantry to help those with financial problems brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many people in the community help out by making donations and buying toys to be handed out to children. A local laundry shop owner even helped out by cleaning the donated toys.

“Santa of Rayong” started his journey earlier this month and is handing out toys to children in Nakhon Sawan, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.

SOURCES: Thai Residents | Facebook

Thailand News

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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