Buy Thailand Reflected
in a River and Slithering
South and get a reduced price of $59 plus postage and handling
(contact us for postal rates)plus
a bonus: a bookmark made from the teak boat that Steve paddled down
the Ping and Chao Phya Rivers. This is the story as it appeared
in The Nation newspaper:
Burning it seemed sacrilegious. He had paddled and battled it the
length of the Ping and Chao Phya Rivers on an epic 58-day journey
whose adventures he later chronicled in the best-selling Slithering
The doughty teak boat had been specially built in a village near
Tak and, as the book relates, had become a major antagonist in the
author's attempts to run the river source to sea.
"After reaching the sea, I pulled it out of the water and it cracked,"
said its owner, Steve Van Beek.
"I knew it was too unwieldy to paddle on other rivers but I didn't
want to junk it." Van Beek
refurbished it and put it back in the water and it promptly began
"I finally put it on blocks in Julian Spindler's yard. Unfortunately,
it was directly beneath a palm tree. For a decade, it was bombed
by coconuts until all the joins had been beaten apart."
As he and Spindler surveyed the sorry wreck a few months ago, Van
Beek decided the only thing to do was to gather friends and stage
a gigantic bonfire/BBQ.
"Why not cut it up?" Spindler asked.
"Bookmarks. Give one away to those who value a bit of history, to
those who buy the two books, Thailand Reflected in a River and Slithering
South which were inspired by the journey." Why not indeed?
Van Beek dismantled the boat, impressed by the craftsmanship that
had gone into it. But when he talked with woodworkers on Boriphat
Road beneath the Golden Mount about cutting it into bookmarks, they
declined the honor.
"They had bigger projects and weren't interested."
Then, one day when wandering in Chatuchak Weekend Market, he met
a vendor at a woodworking studio and, initially, found similar disinterest.
"You'll supply the wood? Why?" he asked.
Van Beek explained the boat's genesis and suddenly the bored vendor
came to life.
"A boat? Down the river, all of it?" he asked.
"Hmmm. Interesting. Give me some of the boards and I'll talk with
some friends of mine in Nakhon Sawan."
And so the boat was re-launched in new form, part of the lore and
legacy of the first-ever descent of the Ping-Chao Phya Rivers in