A friend sent me a link to the video below and it struck me as a brilliant use of the resources at hand (men, a chain, and a plank) to perform a task that we in the U.S. would not consider possible without a machine. It’s a low-tech method and seems to work pretty well.
Many of those who commented on YouTube think it was shot in Pakistan but I believe it was shot in Thailand because the text in the description is written in the Thai language. Given the low cost of labor and the high cost of machinery in developing countries it’s hard to believe these are the only guys who drive piles this way.
The first video shows how piles are driven. What isn’t shown is that the piles are being driven into holes; the pile of mud off to the left is the give-away. The second video shows holes for pilings being dug by hand with a tool that’s a cross between a post-hole digger and spade. The third video shows piles being dropped into holes that are large enough not to require any driving. Note the presence of the cylindrical plugs of mud that were pulled out of the holes while digging.
Laugh if you want, but you don’t have to go very far back in the history of most countries to see a lot of things done by hand. My great-grandfather was a brick mason in the late 1800s and I’m pretty sure he did not have a forklift, electric mortar mixer, or gas-powered cutoff saw. What these guys are doing in Thailand would have looked pretty normal to him--except perhaps for the tambourine.