Connect with us

Thailand

Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break

Thaiger

Published 

 on 

Phuket’s sea gypsy communities are getting a much needed break after the Covid tourism standstill have their traditions a break from the tourism onslaught. 42 year old Sanan Changham says now there is an abundance of fish and shellfish to eat. Tourist boats have been docked at the quay, making fishing easier for the Chao Lay, or “people of the sea.“

“We don’t dive as deep as before, so it’s less dangerous.“

More than 9 million visitors came to Phuket in 2019, impacting the sea gypsies and their way of life, mostly located at the southern end of the island. The booming tourism brought a decline in fish stocks, decreasing fishing grounds and loud construction of hotels. And the traffic. Such hotels signal an even bigger threat to the 1,200 Chao Lay in Rawai, as property developers have tried to evict them from their ancestral strip of land that faces the sea.

Ngim Damrongkaset, a Rawai community representative, says he hopes the area where developers have taken a stake is abandoned.

“They want to drive us out of our homes, but also to deny us access to the sea.”

For the Chao Lay people, the fight to keep their land has been unequal as most are illiterate and were unaware of the fact that they could register their land, but the government is trying to help them. One way for authorities to buy the land and entrust it to them.

Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, says the government must seize the opportunity provided by the pandemic to rethink their vision on Chao Lay.

“Covid is an opportunity to change mentalities. Mass tourism in Phuket has been a catastrophe for the sea gypsies.“

The land in Rawai was originally claimed by Indonesian ancestors of Sanan, before the island became flooded with international travellers. But since tourism has become more profitable, authorities have cracked down on the sea gypsies unless they are sailing in protected marine reserves.

“Before, we risked being arrested by a patrol or having our boats confiscated.“

For the animist Chao Lay the beach is a vital space where they keep their colourful wooden boats and where they pray and give thanks to their ancestors. But not only their unique cultural heritage has helped them navigate the waters.

The Chao Lay people are experts at detecting any abnormalities in the water, as such they were able to escape before the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hit, while saving loads of tourists. Furthermore, Children of the Moken have 50% better visual acuity in the water than their European counterparts, according to a 2003 study.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Roger Bruce

    Monday, November 23, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    I am so happy for the Sea Gypsies
    If only they could live the old ways
    However soon millions of Chinese will return and upturn their simple lives again
    All for profit
    Very Sad

  2. Avatar

    eLizabeth

    Tuesday, December 8, 2020 at 1:22 am

    It would be great if Thaiger could become a bridge between the tribal minorities of Thailand and the other endangered and newly revitalized tribes around the globe..

    You have readers on every continent with similar interests to mine..

    D
    If done right such and endeavor could easily soften your current image of being primarily a tool for foreign tourism and real estate sales and development….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)27 mins ago

Dole pineapple factory has 34 new Covid-19 cases, 413 total

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Chinese Sinovac vaccine debuts in Singapore to high demand

Drugs3 hours ago

Drug smuggler caught in Kalasin with 300 kg of marijuana

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Politics4 hours ago

Amendment to reform Constitution rejected by Parliament

Medical5 hours ago

Gender Health Clinic opens in Bangkok for transgender needs

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

30 million baht added to vaccine side effects compensation fund

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Plan for 16-week gap between AstraZeneca vaccines dropped

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

CCSA: 120 day reopening will proceed with conditions

Tourism11 hours ago

Sandbox latest, CCSA says all regions reopening must reach 70% local vaccination

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 3,667 new infections and 32 deaths

Politics14 hours ago

Thamanat elected to role of head ‘fixer’ in Palang Pracharat party

Expats23 hours ago

List: China has over 50% of all foreign-owned condos in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Government plans 10 million vaccines for July

World1 day ago

Thailand News Today | Vaccine deaths investigation, PM heads to Phuket, BMA extends vendor licences | June 18

Thailand1 day ago

1 million AstraZeneca doses arrive, Anutin says “more” on the way

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending