About Us

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With this website we aim to be a landing platform for people genuinely interested in the Moken and their wellbeing. The content was established with the guidance Moken Tourism Team and the advice of our many friends from Koh Surin.

Please email us with feedback, suggestions and questions at: info(at)mokenislands.com

Moken Tourism Team

As representatives of the Moken community of Koh Surin, the nine members of the Moken Tourism Team have developed high quality tours and activities. The Moken village guides lead respectful walks through their home, introducing visitors to their society in a way that fosters cultural exchange.

The Moken guides are experts in their environment. They how to read the waves in the sea and drive their boats with perfection. They cannot only read the surface of the sea but know exactly where to look for the different species of underwater life at specific times of the day. Snorkeling with the Moken guides is a pleasure for the mind and soul as their swimming and diving skills dwell somewhere at the border between born on land but raised under water. They enjoy a natural comfort in water that most people only experience in the womb. Their knowledge of the ecosystems above the water line is also vast, including medicinal and edible species of the forest and plants used in the construction of their houses, boats, and tools.

Background

In 2010 the inspirations for this website emerged as part of a joint project between Childline Foundation, Andaman Discoveries, and the North Andaman Community Tourism (N-ACT) with input from Greenview Travel and Wicked Diving. To improve the living conditions for families on Koh Surin, Childline Foundation sponsored the project of Community Based Tourism for the Surin islands. The lack of income opportunities on Koh Surin endanger the sustainability of Moken culture and separate families, as the adults need to seek work outside their homes. The project focused on training a Moken Tourism Team, to direct and facilitate community tourism on the islands and connect with the private tourist sector. Working as guides in their own village, members of the team could show their autonomy in welcoming visitors to Koh Surin and function as active role models for their kids.

On our journey through the Moken way of life, guided by the established Moken Tourism Team, we connected with a number of people working with the Moken community on Koh Surin. Different parties included author Thom Henley, photographer Cat Vinton, filmmakers from Project Moken and community advocates from Andaman Discoveries. We formed the Moken Working Group, as detailed below, from individuals who have had the opportunity to learn from, and be inspired by, the Moken. Our efforts do not aim to “save” the Moken in any way but rather to work in solidarity with the Moken towards self-determination for the well-being of their community.

Contributors and Collaborators

Lena Bumiller – lead content creator, creative mind, and free agent of change and justice.

Bodhi Garrett – project coordinator. As a friend of the Moken and local activist, Bodhi works on the infrastructure that facilitates respectful encounters with the Moken.

Tim Davies – website designer. A master of digital visualization and genuinely interested in well-meaning projects, Tim offered his skills to create this website.

Cat Vinton – photographer. Cat had the unique opportunity to live for two months on a Moken houseboat before this way of life vanished.

Project Moken – a group of filmmakers and activist. From their expertise, Project Moken provided unique footage insights into the life of the Moken.

Thom Henley – author of “The Courage of the Sea” (amongst others). Thom contributes with stories from and about the Moken.

Andaman Discoveries – facilitating the emergence of tourism to benefit local communities and supports their way of life.

Greenview Travel – a responsible tour operator, facilitating the transfer and tours between the mainland and Koh Surin.

The Moken Working Group

The first Moken Working Group meeting made visible some of the parties involved in projects around the Moken. We aim to connect with a wider group of Moken supporters in order to find ways to address their struggles and create a system of support that reinforces their vision for the future.
The Moken Working Group:

  • is composed out of heart-connected people who see the value of the Moken
  • does not aim to “save” the Moken into isolation, but rather
  • joins forces to establish a support system of longevity to assist the Moken in making the right choices for the well being of their community

It is about the connections we have – where we can put in a good word. If we are visible to one another, we can make well use of our contacts that peacefully change the power dynamics that restricts an independent Moken way of life.

 

Moken Kids at play
Waterlillies

 

Arrival Moken Islands

 

In the Moken Village

 

Moken Guide Training

 

Guided by Experts

 

Village Meetings

 

Guide Training in the Village

 

Moken Spirit carvings