Saturday, 29 January 2011

ANDAMAN COAST REVISITED- Sea Gypsies And Fishing

Our return to Thailand at the end of 2010, saw us revisiting two of our favourite places from last year.

We returned firstly to what we now, for selfish reasons, call Ko Fruitopia, in the south of Thailand (see Beach Bumming) for some R and R. It's very special for us to meet up with travelling friends in this place- sort of a surrogate family while we are away from our own. The island, and many others in the region, is home to the sea gypsy people, or chao lei, as they are known in Thai. Our bungalows are run by the humble and beautiful sisters, Deela and Rosa, and their hospitality, laughter, singing, amazing cooking, and fascinating attitude to life keep us, and many others coming back year after year.


Deela and Rosa

The chao lei's origins are confused- either from Indonesia or eastern India, and after a traditionally nomadic life spent on boats, they have now been settled in Thailand. Many accept other faiths, like Buddhism and/or Islam, but continue to celebrate the lives of their ancestors. We'd love to go back for the huge festival in March, where sea gypsies from all over the Andaman coast congregate on Ko Fruitopia for a huge ancestor-worshipping party!

Deela is the island's spiritual leader and medicine woman, a role passed down to her when her uncle recently died. There's a lot on her plate, but she is strong, and dedicated to educating the children of the island, so they can lead the way in the future. She is wise and tolerant, and we can all learn a lot from her.


Beautiful Deela


Our Christmas dinner was an unusual mix of Thai food and beer, and sea gypsy dancing and singing. It was very loud and colorful and everyone had a good time. Very nice, as always, to be away from the commercialism in the west during this time of year.



Dancing at Christmas
Dancing at Christmas


We spent New Year's Eve in Krabi, but it was a bit of a fizzer, with some of our party feeling sick and the New Year's carnival in town being way to loud and crowded. Richard ate some bugs, and won a packet of coco pops on one of the games, but we were in bed before midnight, and even missed the fireworks!


Choosing the perfect selection of bugs

Yum!

Another of last year's favorites, Ko Chang, off Ranong (on the Andaman Coast in the south-west of Thailand), was where we spent January 2011. It's all about the fishing here! Well, not all about the fishing...... there are a lot of the usual beachy activities, but the main reason to return was the great opportunity for Richard to fish to his heart's content- either from the beach, or on a boat with the owner of the bungalows, and several other fishing-loving blokes staying here.


The serenity

Return from day's fishing

Day's catch

Dinner

Richard's fish

Although Sally didn't dare venture out on a boat (she gets sea sick on a lilo!), we both made the most of the free fish dinners that resulted from the fishing trips.



Amazing dinner


So it IS still possible to find quiet beaches with no hassle and cheap accommodation (we payed AU$5 for a room/bungalow at both places) in Thailand, although they may have to be sought out. But overall, in South-east Asia, Thailand really wins hands down when it comes to great beaches- something we have learnt from our past travels, and our recent time in Malaysia and Bali.

Having chosen this travelling lifestyle away from our friends and family in Australia and the UK, it's really great fro us to meet up with old friends (and make loads of new ones) whilst on the road, and we've taken advantage of this for the last two months in particular.


Mates on Ko Chang

Ko Chang

The gang on Ko Fruitopia

By the time January came to an end, we were raring to finish up our ridiculous amount of beach time and hit the road again for some "proper" travelling!!


Us

1 comment:

  1. Hi Richard & Sally. It was really a pleasure to meet you and have some chat with you in koh fruitopia. I wish you a nice stay and keep enjoying your travelling life
    Jc & Eva

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