Life In A Sea Gypsy Village.

August 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Out There

Life In A Sea Gypsy Village, Koh Lanta Yai, Krabi.

Blog By : Eugene Tang.

Right on the southern tip of Ko Lanta island in Krabi Province, there is a Sea Gypsy settlement in a small traditional fishing village called ???Ban Sangkha-U??. The name “Sangkha-U” means “stingray” in Chao-Le dialect. The unique lifestyle of the Chao-Le (sea-gypsies) in Ko Lanta?? has been almost completely unaffected by the booming tourism on the island. They still retain their own unique language, traditions and ceremonies.

Life In A Sea Gypsy Village (Ban-Sangkha-U) at Ko Lanta Yai (Krabi)

Daily lifestyle at Baan Sangkha-U (Krabi)

Man mending fishing net at Baan Sangkha-U (Ko Lanta, Krabi)

Sea gypsies are called in Thai as Chao Le or Chao Nam (People of the Sea), and are known as the minority group of “Thai Mai”, meaning new Thai People. Nowadays, they are entitled to Thai citizenship, social welfare etc; they have settled along the coast in stilt-built wooden houses erected in the sea more than 500 years ago. They make a living catching and selling seafood. They mix very little with the general Thai population, speak their language (does sound like Malay) and have their very own supernatural and traditional beliefs and rituals as seen in their traditional ceremony “Loy-Rua (Floating Boat)”.

A happy father and son at Baan Sangkha-U (Ko Lanta, Krabi)

Kids at play under the stilt-wooden houses (Baan Sangkha-U, Ko Lanta)

During the festival, the village men will build a symbolic boat and place wooden statues of themselves in it along with nail pairings, hair and popped rice. By performing this ritual, they ask for forgiveness from the sea gods and for any offences they have made to the sea. It is believed that all evil is carried away in the symbolic boat.

??Sea gypsy keep pigs in stilt-wooden cages ( he was gone during my last visit)

To learn more about the Sea gypsies? Visit the small museum situated in Lanta Old Town features the unique culture and heritage of the three distinct ethnic groups of islanders ??? the sea gypsy people of the Urak Lawoi clan, Thai Muslims (Siam Malayu) and Thai Chinese.

??A Sea gypsy Spirit house in the cemetery

A sea gypsy grave at Ko Lanta (Krabi)

Catch of the day at Baan Sangkha-U (Ko Lanta, Krabi)
Best time to visit the village: Late afternoon
When the village men return from the sea with their catch of the day.

Festival Hightlight:
The ???LaanTa???Lanta??? Festival is now being held at the old town of Lanta Yai Island of Krabi around March. It features several cultural heritage and local lifestyles of the islanders. Residents and tourists are seen enjoying demonstrations of dessert cooking and learning about the multi-culture of the residents who have been living together peacefully. The sea gypsy lifestyle at Sanga U community is also another charm of this island. The annual festival is also aimed at promoting the cultural heritage and tourism for the Lanta Island.

Cats are a common sights??in the village

A gorgerous sunset at Ko Lanta (Krabi)

Article from Tourism Thailand Blog (

Sung Ka Uoo JOB2DO

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