Floating Muslim fishing village in Phang Nga bay
Koh Panyee floating village is usually the stopping off point for lunch on a James Bond Island tour in Phang Nga bay. The entire village is on wooden stilts next Koh Panyee (Panyee Island) which provides shelter from the elements.
Koh Panyee history
The settlement itself was first established near the end of the 18th century. Three families, on small boats left Java Indonesia in search of new beginnings, a place to live and fish.
The story goes that the boats split up to search a larger area. When one of the fisherman found the island, which he thought offered excellent protection and fishing, he climbed to the top of the island and raised a flag to signal the other boats to come. Koh Panyee translates as raised flag island.
Modern day Koh Panyee
These days, there are over three hundred families (over 1,500 people) living in the village, all original descendants of the early fishermen and their families.
Fishing has always been, and still is, the main livelihood of the community. In recent years tourism has been introduced and has become very profitable. If you visit the village when every other tour boat is there, the village can seem like a tourist circus. But once the boats depart normal life is resumed.
The community is Muslim and the mosque is the dominant building on the village. You can also see the local school and local shops, just stroll around the raised wooden walkways. Remember to dress appropriately and do not take alcohol onto the village.
Koh Panyee FC
Whilst at Koh Panyee be sure to check out the unique floating football pitch. The story of how it came about has made it very popular. The boys living in the village wanted to play football. It was pointed out at the time, playing football on a village that sits on stilts, in the middle of the sea, might be a little tricky. But undeterred the boys started work on constructing a floating football pitch made from old wood they found. After it was built, it was still not an ideal playing surface for football, the pitch was littered with old bent nails, and they would often get wood splinters in their feet. The goals were very small. Plus the ball would often end up in the seas.
They entered a football competition for the first time; they were initially worried that they were not going to be good enough against the other more established teams. But with their training on such a difficult, they found that they could beat the other teams.
They made it to the semi-finals of the cup. The conditions that day were bad, with heavy rain. The boys were not so used to playing in proper football boots which they found very heavy. They came in at half time two goals down. A little dejected, one boy had the idea to play the second half in bare feet. With the crowd behind them they managed to pull two goals back, against the best team in southern Thailand. With the score at 2- 2 and in the last minute of the game, Panyee FC were caught on the break and the opposition scored the winner. Still proud of their achievements, they finished the competition third overall.