Phuket Snapshots: Rawai’s Sea Gypsy Village
Curving along the south-eastern tip of Phuket, the northern shore of Rawai beach is the home of sea gypsies known as Chao Lay. The sea is their life and livelihood.
Children splash and shriek floating on plastic ice box lids and pieces of broken board alongside long-tail boats anchored to the beach by long lines, bobbing lazily in turquoise waters.
Rickety wooden stalls hug the beach, facing stores and seafood restaurants across the dirt road dividing beachfront from village. Long strings of varying hued pearls dangle with displays of shell handicrafts blowing in the salty, fish-scented breeze.
A rainbow of freshly caught fish lie lifelessly on metal counters alongside plastic trays packed with shellfish on ice. Over-sized, water-filled tubs placed on the ground in front of stalls crawl with live crabs and crayfish.
Locals and tourists browse and buy seafood then cross the road to one of the open-fronted restaurants where, for a small fee, the kitchen serves it up in the dish of choice.
Check out my post Phuket Snapshots: Rawai Beach and Local Life at Rawai Beach on the informative Jamie’s Phuket Blog.
Also, read the eye-opening article Tourism imperils way of life for Thai sea gypsies to learn about the plight of the Chao Lay.
Sea Gypsy children playing in the sea
Sea Gypsy children playing in the sea with ice box lids and pieces of broken board
Beachside vegetable stall
Beachside fish stall
Close up of colorful fish
Another fish close up
A little girl’s feet show the size of lobster swimming in a tub at a seafood stall
Array of fish at a beachside stall
Freshly caught fish on ice
Beachside shellfish stall. Prices are in Thai baht per kilo
Children playing behind the stalls
Beachside shellfish stall
Fish trap on the beach
Old house near the Sea Gypsy village
Long-tail boats (“ruea hang yao” in Thai) moored off the beach
Dead puffer fish stabbed on the shaft of a long-tail boat engine
Close up of dead puffer fish
Beachside shrine under a tree. Offerings include bottles of red Fanta soda and a model ship to protect the fishermen
Long-tail boats moored off the beach
Fish traps by the beach
Sleeping fisherman next to beached long-tail boats
Long-tail boats moored off the beach and children playing in the water