The Sea Gypsies of South East Asia.
A glance at a map of South East Asia reveals more blue than green, more sea than land. Sea Gypsies - tribes of semi-nomadic boat people - continue to live in the spaces between the land, following a hunter-gatherer lifestyle based on the changing currents, seasons and fishing opportunities.
A chance meeting on the east coast of Sulawesi leads Sebastian Hope to set out in search of the elusive sea nomads. He is taken into a family of Panglima Sarani, a chief of the Bajau Laut tribal group. Over the course of three moths the two men, so widely separated by age and culture, form a unique bond, becoming not only finds but also partners in the fishing enterprises by which the Bajau Laut live. They share laughter and companionship and together face the troubles of hunger and sickness that visit their floating world.
Three years later the author returns to look for Sea Gypsies in other parts of South East Asia, visiting Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago and Thailand's Andaman coast, the swampy eastern seaboard of Sumatra and the Riau-Lingga Islands, Sulawesi and the Sulu Archipelago - Sarani's home waters. Along the way it becomes apparent that the true motivation behind his wanderings is the slim hope of finding Sarani and his family once more.
Sebastian Hope's enchanting tale of his travels among the Sea Gypsies reveals a culture clinging to a precarious existence in the modern age. He recounts both his frustration and his delight in their simplicity, as he immerses himself in a way of life both alien and irresistibly alluring.
- Publication Date:
- 02 / 05 / 2001
- 155 x 237mm