During our visit to Thailand that’s exactly what we did by booking a boat trip that would take us snorkelling at the beautiful Surin Islands. As part of this trip there were several other stops with one of the first being a visit to what the locals call “the sea gypsies” at Moken Village.
As you approach the island you immediately notice the line of wooden buildings emerging from the beach. These wooden buildings are the houses which the local people have built and live in, raised on wooden stilts away from the water.
With generations of people living a nomadic sea life they are well known in the Khao Lak area as being masters of the sea with honed fishing and hunting skills. They claim to also be able to see clearly underwater and free dive to great depths.
Despite living on the waters edge, not a single villager lost their life during the 2004 tsunami. With many years of knowledge passed down from one generation to the next as the sea retreated they immediately recognised the threat of the sea and moved to higher ground.
As part of Thailand’s rich culture they are now a protected people by Thailand’s government. This allowed them to own the land which they now reside on in addition to being given free healthcare and other benefits on the mainland.
As you wander through the village you will meet the local people, their chickens and cats, and be able to purchase their handmade goods (bracelets, toys and figurines) which obviously form a big part of their income and sustaining their way of life. You’ll also see their school and the other facilities that they have built here.
A visit to Moken Village is definitely worth considering if you are looking for an injection of Thailand’s culture into your stay in the country. Couple this visit up with a snorkelling trip as we did and you’ll get the best of both worlds being able to enjoy your time swimming and snorkelling in the beautiful waters of the Surin Islands whilst also learning something about Thailand’s people.
Are you heading out to Thailand this year and planning to do a boat trip? Let us know in the comments!