The rice barge Tahsaneeya Nava
Almost forty years ago, an American engineer, Botter Reeves, working
at IBM in Bangkok, was asked to arrange dinner on the river for some
visiting executives. He hired an old rice barge, placed some planks of
wood across the boat and brought some food on board.
The executives had such a good time that Botter started to think about the possibilities of a business based around the concept. He bought a 30 year-old rice barge, made of exceptionally high quality solid teak wood, and totally converted it, constructing two decks of teak, adding various teak carvings and adornments, which he commissioned, and a seven layer roof made of traditionally woven split bamboo skins (over 100,000 in number). Two powerful engines and generators were added to provide failsafe propulsion although the boat was designed to be able to be run on a single engine, if necessary. Thus, the first dinner cruise barge commenced business on the Chao Phraya River.
Over the years numerous refinements have been made during the annual two-week dry dock overhaul that takes place in the low season. It is estimated that 700,000 persons have dined on-board the vessel, including numerous heads of state, royalty and international celebrities. It remains the only authentic antique rice barge operating on the river.