Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - September 2010
The Thai Boat Museum is located on the city Island on Bang Ian Rd, a road just
Wat Maha That. It is a self-sponsored museum containing a real treasure of
old Siamese boats, boat miniatures and a library dedicated to boat and boat building.

The founder of the museum is Mr. Paithun Khaomala, born in Ban Ko sub-district of
Amphur Krung Kao (presently Ayutthaya District). Mr. Paithun has been all his life
intrigued by boats and their construction. He has been teaching boat building for nearly
four decades at the Ayutthaya Boat Building School located on Ko Loy, opposite the
Front Palace. In 1990 he was recognized as an outstanding ship building teacher and
the year there after he was honored by the Ayutthaya Province as an outstanding
Alumnus of the Phra Nakorn Ayutthaya Teacher College. He used to build miniature
boats in order to teach boat construction and continued with it after his retirement. Mr
Paithun wrote four technical volumes on Thai boat building. His wish has always been to
teach those of later generations the Thai knowledge and traditional craft and skills, as
well as Thai perseverance, in building boats of various kinds.

Mr. Paithun was so in love with its work that he and his wife Mrs. Ratana sold their land
in Pathum Thani province and bought land here in Ayutthaya in order to build a
two-storey Thai styled house to serve as a boat museum.

The museum is composed out of three areas. The lower floor of the first building
exhibits traditional wooden Siamese boats of various kinds, made of different woods
such as Mai Sak (Teak wood) and Mai Takhian (Iron Malabar wood), used for
different purposes. Some boats are more than 100 year old. We find here examples of
"rua mo", "rua mad", "rua chala", "rua sampan", "rua pong", "rua phai ma", etc.  

The lower floor of the second building houses the workshop and a beautiful collection of
boat and ship miniatures. Here you can admire exquisite miniatures of the royal barges:
Suphannahong, Anantanakharat and other Krabi boats, all made by Mr. Paithun. The
dozens of scale models are really impressive.

In the garden we find the more larger boats such as rice barges, a market boat, a
scorpion tailed boat and Mr. Paithun's own boat.

Boat fanatics, captains and water lovers do not miss this!

Visitors to the Thai Boat Museum are kindly requested to give a call prior their visit
(035/241195), although if the family is at home and you pass by and ring the bell, you
have a good chance they allow you in. The museum can be visited every day. The
museum is unfortunately not subsidized neither by the City of Ayutthaya, nor the
Province which is truly a shame. All costs are borne by the family, so a small token of
your generosity can be left at the tip box at the workshop, in order to keep Mr.
Paithun's life work safe. The latter's work will be safeguarded for the future by his son.
Mr. Kanok, presently manager of the museum.
(Mr. Paithun and his boat the "Paithun Ratnawa")
(Mr. Paithun and a large market boat)
(Southern entry to the museum)
(View of the smaller boats inside the museum)
(Northern entry to the museum)
(View of the smaller boats inside the museum)
(Mr. Paithun, founder of the Thai Boat Museum)