Build a New Moken Kabang Houseboat

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DONATION GOAL: 289,000 Baht (about 7,700 Euro or 9,000 US Dollars)

The last Kabang (traditional houseboat) in the Moken village on Koh Surin is over 12 years old. She was built to serve as a cultural icon, a teacher of the past, and present inspiration. Unfortunately, this beautiful boat is no longer sea-worthy, and the Moken Tourism Team is ready to start building a new Kabang. Finances are short on the island and the process of building a Kabang needs outside support.

DONATION GOAL: 289,000 Baht (about 7,700 Euro or 9,000 US Dollars)
Amount Already Raised: 108,000 Baht

HOW does the building of a Kabang support the community?

1) Cultural Preservation.

The Kabang is the traditional home of the Moken Sea Nomads. She embodies history and memories of old ways of life. There are no more Moken living on traditional Kabang boats – all the more important to have one around to remind the youth where and how their parents grew up.

2) Knowledge sharing and ancient skills

Being an oral culture, the way to pass on knowledge is not through books but by practice. The only way of teaching how to build a Kabang is doing it. The younger children of the village have never seen the creation of a Kabang boat. The Moken’s ancient craft skills are amazing and all steps in the building are performed with simple hand tools.

3) Support families.

By funding the costs for building a Kabang, 7 Moken families will be financially supported during the monsoon months. It also means that the Moken men building the Kabang will stay in the village, together with their families, instead of seeking work on the mainland.


189,000 Baht – Nine months of labor for a team of seven men at a salary of 3,000 Baht per month.
100,000 Baht – Tools and Materials
Time for project administration and documentation donated by Lena B. and the North Andaman Network Foundation.


Your funds will go directly to the project, with no administration costs. Donations will be transferred to the boat builders through the North Andaman Network  Foundation (NAN), a registered foundation based in Kuraburi. As the mainland town closest to the Surin islands, Kuraburi is also where supplies for the building process need to be purchased. NAN has a long-standing relationship with the Moken and have for many years helped with the logistics, finances, and cultural communication between the Moken and the Thai mainlanders in official matters.


In 2011, the Moken people of Koh Surin started their guide group  to personally receive visitors in their village and take them snorkeling around their home-islands. At this time the only Kabang houseboat remaining on Koh Surin sat on the beach in the village, unused and falling apart. With the growing interest of visitors, the Moken guides decided that they wanted to restore the Kabang and use it to take visitors around the island. Over the last 8 years, the Moken invested  a lot of time and finances to fix the Kabang each year. It is the only working Moken houseboat in Thailand.

The Moken guide team has requested our help in building a new Kabang. Since Kabang are made of natural materials, the cost of supplies is very low, but they have asked us to help with funding for labor-time and tools. In the old days, they wouldn’t need funding to build a Kabang, as they could fish and gather from the bounty of the sea. Nowadays, as they no longer are independent from the cash economy to buy food and necessities, the Moken must find paid labor during the rainy season. Taking “time off” to build a houseboat is not in their financial plan. Which is where we come in with outside support.