Friday, July 19, 2013

The Floating Village of Koh Panyee




Koh Panyee is a tiny little fishing village built on stilts that juts out from the base of cliff. As we approach its colors become more vivid and I spot the golden domes of a mosque hovering behind peaked roofs, which adds to the intrigue.



The village became famous for its soccer team which held practices on a floating field and ended up winning the Thai championship.
The first thought that came to mind upon visiting this place was, why does it exist? The organization of it seems so illogical without easy access to doctors, markets, dry land, or anything else. I cannot find a very good answer to this question, but there appears to be a lot of construction, so one can assume its inhabitants thrive off the fishing and tourism industry that is so prevalent here.

The main path through the village is concrete and seems maze-like although there are very few places you could actually end up before hitting water. Homes and restaurants extend from this main path out over the water, and the floor become wooden planks fitted loosely enough as to provide a glimpse of the sea below. The houses (at least the two I went into) are also lacking in a back wall and instead might drop off right into a watery back yard or provide an unobstructed view of the surrounding cliff. 
As I was walking around, I imagined what it must be like to live in a floating village such as this. Koh Panyee is dirty. Trash is piled up and stuffed into any available corner. When the tide goes out the smell of the sewage below the stilts is lifted to the homes above, providing a malodorous backdrop to the otherwise placid surroundings. I observe little kids roaming around, sitting on docks, looking for things to do and people to sell postcards to. I wonder about their confined little lives and what their perception of this world must be. 
I find myself soon at a dead end as the path hits the water and confronted by a group of boys. I feel momentarily apprehensive as a tubby boy stands to face me and cocks his head to the side. I smile and nod then stand stupidly in front of them. Are they going to push me into the water?
He steps forward and points at my necklace. This particular necklace seems to attract a lot of attention due to its odd shape. It is a miniature telescope. I offer the boy a look and soon I am surrounded as they all take a peak through my necklace.

The evening feel peaceful as the water settles and the sun sets. People clean dishes and cook from kitchens that hang out over the water. The shops close down and the main pathway becomes barren as people retire into the homes for the night.