After being blindsided by an island full of trashy, drunk partygoers (and on a completely separate note, meeting now-good-friend Peach) in Koh Phi Phi, and getting sick and overloaded in Phuket, I had to get away from the crowds – so I set off for the secluded, floating fishing village of Ko Panyi.
Panyi is a village unlike any other I’ve seen – situated in the waters of the Andaman Sea, on Thailand’s Southern Coast, the entire village is built on stilts sitting above the water. It’s loosely connected to an adjacent rock karst sticking out of the water, but essentially, the entire village is above the water.
I took a bus from Phuket over to the dock where the local boat departs for Ko Panyi. Most tourists going to Panyi opt for the more convenient, but completely tourist-oriented and more expensive day tour direct from Phuket. However, in addition to being tourist traps, those tours are only one day long. I wanted to go to Panyi for an overnight – something that most people don’t do, and that the village is barely setup to accommodate.
After a somewhat confusing bus ride out of Phuket, and a bit of a hike and hitchhike, I finally made my way to the correct dock, and caught the locals boat. I was the only foreigner on the boat, and tried to smooth things over by helping load the boat up with groceries and construction equipment.
Finally on Panyi, the dock floats, so it can track along with the considerable tides in the area. After helping unload the boat, I was on my own to wander around and try to find one of the 3 or 4 rumoured guest rooms available in the village.
And finally, I found above a restaurant the rumored rooms. They were sparse, but for USD$3/night, it was just perfect. The owners of the restaurant were incredibly nice, and I spent a good amount of time sitting with them on the floor watching thai boxing matches on TV.
The village is beautiful, with all of the houses up on stilts. Being constantly surrounded by water, and hearing it lapping at the structures at all hours imparts a profound peace and tranquility on the place. People are milling around, kids are playing, and the water is slowly lulling everyone into a more peaceful state. Pretty fantastic. Of note, the tides are huge. At low tide, a significant portion of the ground under the village is exposed, and it’s easy to see how high the houses are stilted up. However at high tide, the water comes right up to edge of the walkways and houses. In fact, the water breaches the walkway in some spots.
In addition to being a fishing village, Ko Panyi is also know, unexpectedly, for it’s excellent football team. Despite their lack of land, the football team has miraculously made the most out of it, and built themselves into a world-class team. They’re so good, that there was even a short film made about them:
I had the opportunity to watch the Panyee FC practice on their new pitch, which was a very special opportunity. The team practices in the evening after the tourists have left, and they really are very good! In addition to the main team, there are also lots of teams of younger kids, aspiring to be like the older players.
Food on Panyi is fresh and delicious.
The sunsets are beautiful and enjoyed by all.