From a poor monk to a snus manager at Haypee

As a child, he was cared for by a wandering poor Buddhist monk and slept on cement floors in various temples and outdoors in Thailand. Today he is production manager and co-owner of Haypee’s snus factory in Bang Saen and is both a Swedish and Thai citizen.

Tanapon Bunjan, 34, was born in Thailand to a Thai mother and a Swedish father in Phichit in central Thailand. But it was his grandmother who took the main responsibility for Tanapon before he already at the age of five became a novice monk with his uncle Sombat, a wandering monk, “Phra Thu Dong”, without a real home.

– It was tough times to walk around sometimes barefoot in heat, rain and disease. In the early mornings we went around villages to get gifts and food from the villagers. Life consisted of a lifelong journey for Buddhism, Tanapon tells us with a crooked humble smile.

Among elephants and snakes

There are a number of wandering monks in present-day Thailand although they are fewer these days as Thai society changes. Nine months of the year is one long trek with overnight stays in various temples, jungles or in huts by rice fields among snakes, mosquitoes and sometimes elephants and even tigers. Only for three months in the rainy season do they stay permanently at a “home temple”.

You can recognize them by the slightly brownish saffron-yellow clothing they wear. Sometimes they hold a parasol which is described as the house or home. They hike in larger and smaller groups and there are also young helpers, a kind of all-in-one who helps with most things.

– I got a lot of respect from the population during the walk which leads to getting closer to the Buddha. It is a kind of education to live in harmony with nature without striving for power and positions in society, says Tanapon.

Moved to Singapore

After a few years as a wandering monk, Tanapon reconnected with his Swedish father and moved with his sister to Singapore, where the father had a business.

– It’s a big change to come to state-of-the-art Singapore, but already after seven months, father dies after a period of illness, says Tanapon.

Together with the father’s girlfriend at the time, he and his sister were forced to leave Singapore and return to Thailand and the monk life.

Tanapon had to go to temple school where he got basic knowledge in mathematics, language, history and above all Buddhist religion.

At the age of 18 – after total 13 years of monk life – Tanapon got the opportunity to travel to Sweden thanks to his father’s girlfriend in Singapore. He stayed for three months and through mutual friends met his current wife Supreeya from Thailand.

Wedding in Sweden

Back in Thailand, he left the monkhood and took command of a small petrol station in Nakhon Phanom and also worked on a rubber plantation. Then there was a period as a telephone salesman in Chonburi before he returned to Gothenburg in 2009 and already after two days, through contacts, he started working at Swedsnus, where Haypee’s current manager Roland Holm was in charge.

– I then married Supreeya and today we have two children, a ten-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl, he says proudly.

For several years, he commuted between the family in Gothenburg and the snus factory in Gnosjö, Småland, where Swedsnus had moved its operations. Roland Holm finally ended his involvement in Swedsnus and moved to Bangkok.

– In September 2023, I came back to Thailand to start the Haypee snus factory in Bang Saen, where I also live, together with Roland, he says.

Today he is production manager at Haypee and owns 45 percent of the company.

– If there’s something I’m good at, it’s snus production, which I have a lot of experience with, says Tanapon.


However, he of course misses his family who still live in Gothenburg and where Supreeya has now trained as a nurse and works at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden.

– I hope I can go to Sweden for some time later this year, says Tanapon Bunjan with a smile.

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