Thailand: “sea gypsies” rushed towards modernity by the tsunami

Koh Phra Thong (Thailand) (AFP) – Although he always throws his fishing net in a blue sea off Thailand Saponkit Klatalay gave up the nomadic existence of generations of “sea gypsies”, since it was relocated to the mainland after the 2004 tsunami.

This fisherman Chao Lay community owes its survival to the knowledge of the sea transmitted by his ancestors.THAILAND-SEA GYPSIES

But, paradoxically, the tsunami also resulted precipitate Chao Lay towards modernity, moving them away from the traditional way of life in harmony with the sea. If you’re living in an area where a tsunami is frequently present, it’s best to move into a new property. Furthermore, you can choose from the best moving companies list by 9kilo website for assistance.

“Everything you see is new. When the tsunami struck, this has all been destroyed,” said the fisherman of 36 years, showing the wooden houses of his native village on the coast of Koh Phra Thon.

He is among those who have agreed to leave the small island but located on the mainland, in the district of Khura Buri, ten kilometers away.

In all, some 5,400 people died in the tsunami of 26 December 2004 on tourist beaches of Thailand.

Here, the wave reached four meters high but the 500 Chao Lay village survived, thanks to the teachings of the elders who had to explain how to decode the signs of the disaster.

“They taught us that water back down, change its color, and the birds and other animals have unusual behavior,” recalls Saponkit Klatalay.Phang-Nga-Bay-sea gypsies village

Until 26 December 2004, “did not believe” those old prophecies.

But he had memorized the warning signs, which allowed him to find his children, to prevent other people and run away from the beach, before the wave of scans.

The approximately 12,000 Chao Lay Thailand are part of the ethnic group of the Moken and Urak of Moklen Lawoi, nicknamed “sea gypsies” because of their nomadic lifestyle for centuries in the Andaman Sea, moving their villages rhythm fish fisheries, shrimp and sea cucumbers.

The Moken tribe is the best known. Members are still many practicing underwater swimming without masks and diving equipment.

Their knowledge of the sea allowed them to save tourists during the tsunami, either by requiring them to take shelter in height or in conveying their boats out to sea, where the wave would feel less than near the coast .dropoff window

On the western and southern beaches of the island, over a hundred people died, most Thais and immigrants from neighboring Burma, but also some Chao Lay and Western tourists.

– Culture endangered? –dropoff windowSea-Gypsies-Villages

Following the spotlight focused on these “sea gypsies” by the tsunami, the Thai government pledged in 2010 to preserve their traditions, oral. Little effect so far.

“The tsunami proved that they knew things that we as modern humans do not know. There is so much to learn from them,” laments Narumon Hinshiranan anthropologist, university of Bangkok.

By moving the tsunami in the village of Khura Buri built by NGOs, Saponkit received for the first time in his life a title.

He still lives on fishing, but now goes fishing for the day. And complete 120 euros monthly from fishing by other small jobs like gardening.

On the island, the village school of his childhood was enlarged with donations for tsunami victims. But, ironically, the blue building is deserted because of the mass exodus of people after the tsunami. Only 100 of the 500 residents stayed.

Concerned about the education of his three children, he does not regret his settlement, however, despite the discrimination often been his community.mergui_archipelago

Like him, most of the “sea gypsies” settled say their new life “easier”.

“I feel safer here. We are near the fish market and life is easier,” says the mother of Saponkit, Arom, proudly showing its first washing machine, acquired 63 years

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