Welcome to this week’s travel and traditions this week I will be showing you one of the more developed Sea Gypsy Villages…Koh Panyee…It is just off the island of Phuket and over the connecting bridge to mainland Thailand …
It is a lovely trip because it is not too far and there is a lovely seafood restaurant nestled under the Sarasin bridge called Thanoon Seafood and also quite a few stalls selling local fare are along the roadside there…Lots of fruit which varies depending on the season, dried fish which is very popular here…
It was a calm sunny morning when we set out 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.
Koh Panyee is a sea gipsy 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.
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 gipsy village of Koh Panyee came into view… I was expecting a small village with a few houses on stilts like the sea gipsy village in last weeks post 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. Thai’s 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.
I hope you have enjoyed this trip to Koh Panyee and that I have piqued your interest just enough to want to come back next Thursday x
About Carol Taylor:
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.
The environment is also something I am passionate about and there will be more on this on my blog this year
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
More and more of my blogging friends have joined me on MeWe…A social media site which is fairly new and which promises much without the restrictions some other social media sites are choosing to impose on many of us…Join me if you will on mewe.com/i/caroltaylor3
Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS
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Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a creative week ahead xx