The Gypsy Aquanauts

The flyer from Esperanza’s Rooftop Jumpoff reminded me of a story that I wanted to include with an email I wrote to some friends a few months ago. I couldn’t remember where I had read it at the time, but the other nite I was diggin’ through my magazine stash and came across it. The story is about the diving methods used by the Urak Lawoi people of the Andaman Sea, commonly referred to as “sea gypsies”, although that term encompasses other ethnic groups in this region as well. I did my best in the email to describe their insane diving methods to retrieve their fishing traps, but the story and pictures below do a much better job. Anyways, I thought you’d all enjoy giving this a read. I don’t post too much about where I live here in Southern Thailand and this offers a nice glimpse into some interesting local culture.

In my email, I was discussing that one of my favorite spots to frequent in Phuket is Koh Sirey. An island separated from the mainland by the Llong Ta Jin mangrove swamp and accessible by bridge. The hills on the East side of the island and Wat Koh Sirey located atop a hill offer amazing views of Phuket Town and Ao Phang Nga. Koh Sirey is one of the homes to the Urak Lawoi people mentioned in the story below. Their village is along the shores of Laem Tukkae and, if you’re ever around here, it is well worth your time to pay them a visit and check out a culture that is, for certain, very different from your own.

“The Gypsy Aquanauts”, Gordon McEvoy; Action Asia, Nov. ’08

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