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Our rice barge, the “Nattawarin”or Brilliance on the Water, is a teak rice barge built in the traditional Rua Krachaeng style and now converted for lunch and dinner cruises.
Rua Krachaeng Thai means a boat built from wood with a canopy.. Currently more than 80% of boats that we see on the river are Rua Krachaeng. The word “Krachaeng“ means the canopy that covers almost the entire length of the boat. So the boat is called “Krachaeng“.
In the olden days Krachaeng was made of bamboo leaves or Pandan palm leaves or Toei (a water plant) leaves. The leaves were sewn by using needle to form a sheet, and then sew the sheets together to form Krachaeng using as canopy.
Subsequently, Krachaeng made of such materials became expensive. It was hence changed from nature to galvanized iron sheet. Therefore a canopy made of natural material has no longer to be seen.
“Krachaeng boat” can carry many cargoes, be they rocks, soil, sand, firewood, paddy, rice, etc. If it is used for carrying paddy or rice, it would be differently called “Rice Boat”. When loading cargo, especially paddy or rice, the Krachaeng canopies would be moved to one side to ease the loading.
Occasionally, when there is nothing to carry, the Krachaeng canopies would be opened to sun the interior of the boat to get rid of small. Size of Krachaeng boat is decided in accordance with the number of paddy or rice it can maximally load, such as 700 sacks, 1600 sacks, etc.
Note: The above explanation is translated from an article “Differences between Krachaeng Boat and Iamjun Boat“ published in the Thai travel magazine “Aw Saw Thaw“ in April 2001.
In memory of and with Great thank to Khun Anan Subhongsang for the above translation into English.