Mergui Islands Myanmar have been regarded as the lost paradise thanks to the fairy beauty, incomparable peace, soft sandbank, etc., and the interesting sea gypsies or the Moken people. While the archipelago is ideal for various outdoor activities like sea swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, and even night fishing, the opportunities to meet the Moken group are valuable.
Mergui Islands Myanmar – Home to the Native Moken People
Photos of the most beautiful beaches in the world are often packed with the myriad of beachgoers. However, things are different in the Mergui Islands which remain pristine, picturesque, and peaceful. It seems that this is the less-known natural attraction in Myanmar. Included in the archipelago are around 800 stunning islands which are homes to the Sea Gypsies or the Moken group. On the islands, people live without Wi-Fi and air-conditioners. This offers the opportunities to get immersed in Nature and steer clear of the city pressure.
Some of the best things to do in Mergui Islands are swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, walking, night fishing, and visiting the fishing villages of the native Moken who follows the simple, modest lifestyle. In the local villages, you come to meet the sea gypsies of Myanmar and see how they are diving and catching fish in a miraculous way. And if you can capture the right moments, get ready to be marveled by the sea gypsies that jump up from their boats and spear the fish. There are around 2.000 Moken people living among the 800 islands of the Mergui archipelago. According to the Moken’s mythology, the islands were detached from the mainland due to the mystic flood.
Know that the islands of Mergui have been opened to tourist since 1996 when the local tour operators begin offering the registered boats to the off-shore sites. And, people often get there from October to the end of April when the weather is best for outdoor activities. During the voyage, you can expect to meet the Moken dugout canoes, the “kabang” (the 10m-long boat on which the sea gypsies inhabit), and the long-tail fishing boats.
Discover the Mergui Sea Gypsies’ Old Ways
Regardless of the cultural erosion among some Moken, the Mergui sea gypsies’ old ways still exist. You will admire how the Moken kids swim and move in the ways like the fish, not to mention how great the Moken adults are. Besides, catch your chance to see them spearing the fish with the awesome efficiency and accuracy. Along the Mergui travel episodes, you’re likely to meet some Moken families living on their “kabang.”
Their sight under the water is fantastic as they have plenty of time to dive day after day. From generation to generation, the sea gypsies in Mergui have widened their pupils by overruling the reflex of the eyes, resulting in the better underwater vision in the Andaman Sea. Spearing the fish in the old way based on their improved sight, the Moken uses the simple tools of fishnet and spear to find food from the sea. The leftovers are dried on their boats and later used for the exchange of goods in the local markets. Regarding local religion, the Moken in Mergui only follow the ancestor worshipping, without a religion.
The nomadic people of Moken roam around the sea in search of sea cucumbers, fish, pearls, and anything that supports their livelihood. Often, the Moken families hop from island to island, and they rarely settle in a place except when the sea becomes rough in the monsoon period. In particular, you can find ways to the Ma Gyun Galet Salon (Moken) Village on Bo Cho Island, facing the Lumpi Marine National Park during your Myanmar Tour!
The Mergui Islands are accessible by air from Yangon through Kawthaung Airport, so get there and meet the sea gypsies of Myanmar if you ever wish.
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