Koh Panyee a sea gypsy fishing village in Phang Nga Province, Thailand. It was built on stilts by Indonesian fishermen some 200 years ago, although it is quite isolated this thriving fishing village is a popular tourist attraction.
The population of about 360 families or approx 1,685 people are all descendants of 2 seafaring Muslim families from Java, Indonesia.
Descendants, directly or indirectly, of a man called Toh Baboo, his family and friends. They were the first people to settle on Koh Panyee over 200 years ago.
Toh Baboo and two other families left their homeland in Indonesia by boat, looking for a new place to live. The three families made a vow to each other. They said if one of them found a place where there were lots of fish and where everyone could live, that they would signal the others. They would do so by raising a flag on a mountain as high as possible so that the others could see it and join them.
Toh Baboo discovered the island with its abundance of fish and, true to his promise, raised a flag atop its soaring cliff. That is how the island got its name, Koh Panyee – the Island of the Flag.
Koh Panyee is about 20 minutes by long-tail boat from Surakul pier in Phang Nga province.
We set out on the calm sunny morning from our hotel and travelled over the Saracen Bridge, which is the gateway in and out of Phuket Island. As we drove over the bridge the tour guide told us of the story of two young people from different backgrounds. The boy from a poor family and the girl from a well to do family who fell in love and how they were forbidden to meet again by their families…
Heartbroken they tied themselves together with a loincloth and jumped to their deaths… Together forever… A bit like Romeo and Juliet and this story is still being told and is what has made the Saracen bridge so famous.
There is a beautiful riverside restaurant at Saracen bridge which we have been to many times… It offers all types of very fresh Seafood.
Alongside the road from the restaurant, running parallel to the main road are many stalls which sell dried fish of all sorts and pineapples by the truckload. It is a popular venue for shops and market traders as they can just pull up and load their trucks with fresh produce and then carry on into Phuket.
It wasn’t long before we arrived where the long tail boats leave to Koh Panyee. After a whistle-stop tour of the little shop a visit the ladies restroom we just had time to try on a few sun hats so many to choose from.. before we were on the long tail boat to Koh Panyee.
The ride which takes you passed spooky mangroves and amazing Limestone Karst’s rising majestically out of the sea is a wonder in itself. It is absolutely beautiful … Soon the sea gypsy village of Koh Panyee came into view… I was expecting a small village with a few houses on stilts but no this is a large, thriving community and quite charming.
This fishing village has a school, a mosque, a health centre and even a football pitch. The team is noted for beating teams from the mainland. Who would have known that from a makeshift pitch made from old boards, that this state of the art football pitch would be born? It is an amazing story as this little video shows…
I would say that you would become pretty good at ball control if you knew if it was kicked off the pitch. Then it landed in the surrounding sea and the only way to retrieve it was to get wet. Wouldn’t you?
The original pitch was built by a few lads who used driftwood, in fact, any wood they lay their hands on… They played in bare feet on a slippery surface. The one they have now is somewhat different to that first pitch but it is thanks to those boys that they have the one they have today.
There are also a few seafood restaurants and the food looked pretty good. The fish is all freshly caught. A thriving little market with local crafts, we were soon soaking up the atmosphere and charm. We were looking for that special gift to take away.. Beautiful silks and lovely local handmade foods, dried fruits of all sorts and nuts cooked in honey and all sorts, dried fish …
A treasure trove it was like Aladdin’s cave so colourful and busy, bustling with everyday life and no frills. When you see how basic some of the accommodation is but many smiling faces and happy children.
With fishing still being a large source of income, men and women are going about their day-to-day life as we arrive. Women sitting in doorways chatting, babies asleep in little makeshift hammocks, men mending their fishing nets, old men asleep. Thais sleep anywhere… No comfy beds with feather pillows here… A chair, a doorway, curled up on their shop counter or underneath it… When you call a tousled head pops up with a beaming smile of welcome. Eager to sell their wares…
Children running or swimming in the murky water with no fear… and very eager to get their photo taken so lovely and happy…
Our precious gifts bought and wrapped we headed to a restaurant for some food while we waited for our boat ride back to terra firma…
We were served some lovely soft-shelled crab curry… It was beautiful and there was only one way to eat it… We were left with fingers smelling of curry and fish but it was the best food and so fresh…
After our trip back on the long tail boat, we were both tired but happy… It was a lovely trip through the mangroves to the Sea Gypsy village but so worth it…
I hope you have enjoyed this trip and if you are ever that way hop on a long tail boat and prepare to be amazed.
This trip was part of the writers retreat I was on and we were given a task prior to this trip…We had a lucky dip and had to pick three whatever was written on those three pieces of paper was what our story should be based on…We also had 25 minutes to write: My first prompts were Uruguay, Retired Prostitute and Gracious. the second prompt I chose was “Who is that colourful character.”
My first story was written and it was then our trip to Koh Panyee and another story and the prompt was as above ” Who is that colourful character”
I decided to add to the first story as the second prompt fitted in very well with what I had already written… Interested???
Well, you will have to wait until tomorrow when all will be revealed…x
I hope you have enjoyed this trip to Koh Panyee and that I have piqued your interest just enough to want to come back tomorrow.
If you still want to see even more from me???? Although I am a crazy English lady with a quirky sense of humour…Then I have added some links below xx
Connect to Carol( Moi)
Pinterest ( 1): https://www.pinterest.com/caroltaylor56/pins/
Until next time x