On the remote shores of Phi Phi Island and many other Islands in the Andaman Sea, live the Sea Gypsies, I’ve know I keep talking about these people, but they have always fascinated me.
Here’s a bit of their basic history..
The Sea Gypsies migrated to Thailand, Burma and Malaysia from Southern China 4,000 years ago, the Moken traditionally live on hand built wooden boats called kabang for most of the year, they have shunned all material possessions and rejected outside technology, that’s right, there’s no running water, electric, mobile phones and no shops… this is the most basic way of living that you’ll ever see.
From May to October, when the south western monsoon brings heavy rain and big seas, they live in temporary stilt houses on the eastern side of the islands, where they find protection from blustery winds.
They make everything themselves, using both the natural materials they find on the islands and in the ocean, and also waste products that are washed up on the shores, such as plastics.
The only way to reach these remote parts is by boat, or to swim here, there’s also the option to trek through the jungle, but that’s near on impossible due to the terrain, not to mention being eaten to death by mosquitoes, and then there’s the snakes!
Some of the photos below show the Sea Gypsy village, which is near to where we are camped, you can see one of the tribe making fishing baskets and camouflaging them with leaves, you’ll notice theres plastic bottles tied to the baskets, these are used as flotation devices, they collect the plastic bottles and other waste materials from the ocean. Some people think that the Sea Gypsies are untidy and create rubbish, which is in fact wrong, the rubbish you see around them is everything they’ve collected from the ocean which they are reusing, for both fishing aids and building their homes, as remember, they don’t go to a shop and buy anything, especially products in plastic, in fact they create hardly any waste, they must be some of the most environmentally friendly people on the planet.
We have to come this way to get to a near by water source, which is a fresh water well located in the jungle, made by the Sea Gypsies, we have to walk through the sea with back packs fully loaded with bottled water from the well, we do this at low tide as the water is only waist high. As basic of a life that we are living, we still obviously rely on modern technology, such as a camera, mobile phone and a torch, so a question many people ask us is how do we keep them charged, well that’s easy, we have a large fold up solar panel, we charge power banks though-out the day, which is basically a large battery that we then charge our devices from, our bikes also have charging dynamo hubs on the front wheel, but we are obviously not using them at the moment.