SPECIAL REPORT: The “Spirit of Roaming” no longer roams at Moken community on Surin Island

Suriyan “Hook” Kla-thalae, a 36-year-old Moken born on Koh Surin, keeps dreaming that he’ll get his community’s boat, known as a kabang, back out on the Andaman Sea. 

But it remains anchored on shore on the island, which lies 60 kilometres off the Phang Nga coast, waiting for tourists who rarely ever come. 

A few years ago the kabang took a few tourists around the island as part of a pilot eco-tourism programme that was intended to inject some vigour back into the disappearing Moken way of life. But concerns over safety and tourism-related regulations forced the boat back to shore.

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Piyaporn Wongruang