The sound of the calm ocean woke me up as a warm, gentle breeze with a hint of salt hit the tip of my nose. With my eyes still closed, I was reminded that I had just spent my first night on an island.
I guess it is not unusual to wake up in a daze in the first morning when you are at a new and unfamiliar place. My home in Bangkok is a modern condo unit in the heart of the vibrant and hectic city. There, at the very moment I wake up, the world starts spinning fast and my days are like roller coaster rides. Here, whether I was awake or asleep, time slowed down; it moved just like how the sun gracefully moved across the sky.
As visitors, we had to base on the camping site on North Surin Island, which is where the Surin National Marine Park Headquater is situated. The entire Surin archipelago, though, covers an area greater than 140 square metres and composes of 5 islands.
After we had some breakfast, Tommy introduced me to some local sea gypsies or the “Mokens” who were already waiting for us on their boat. He said they were about to head off to the other side of the North island to pick up some Moken ladies and send them to the South Island. They were happy for us to tag along and see some quiet, non-touristy areas of the islands.
Upon arrival at Ao Chong Kaad on the other side of the North Island I encountered 3 dark olive skin Moken ladies. They seemed so cool and solid–almost could look like some island gangsta. I started to call them the “Moken Mamas”
On an average day, while Moken men go fishing, diving (for food), and do general labour work for their families in the village, the ladies stay on shore and look for seashells and crabs. Also, from what I see, sometimes they just simply chill on the beach. Like a boss.
After a short while, we were ready to drop them off at their village in the South island, though we ended up squeezing in a quick stop at Ao Mai Ngam.
Then we headed straight to their village in the South Island which was only 15 mins away on the wooden fishing boat.
This small beach front of South Surin island is occupied by 30-40 huts on stilts and just above 100 Mokens. As mentioned on the short clip in my previous blog post, this island only has electricity from a power generator between 6-9pm–only enough for charging mobile phones and for watching old school TV’s. There is no water supply system and so the large rainfall volume is highly helpful.
It was so thrilling standing on a secluded island amongst these primitive huts, observing the locals interacting and doing their “Moken things”. However, if you imagine yourself inhabiting on this island, it would be different, wouldn’t it?
Would this island still be a piece of paradise when the grey storm clouds thicken furiously? Would golden sunsets still be something to look forward to when you know the sky will turn pitch black right after every night?