Ko Sirey – a new destination in Phuket. Away from it all.
Stretching a mere 20km and home to the largest village of Sea Gypsies in Thailand, Ko Sirey is definitely one of the smaller unique destinations of Phuket.
The channels are filled with fishing boats and mangroves- but don’t let the dirtiness turn you off. Despite some unsightly locations, some of the coastal views and calm roads are a truly tranquil and superb trip. On top of that, families of monkeys are often seen running around playfully amongst the mangroves.
Ko Sirey isn’t one of the most iconic travelled destinations of southern Thailand, but seeing as its only fifteen minutes away from Phuket Town, why not pay a visit? After all, as Robert Frost put it- you’ll take the road less travelled by, and that will have made all the difference.
For generations, Ko Sirey has been home to countless of sea gypsies and fishermen, all with their own culture and values, superstitions and beliefs. However, since the destruction of the village in the 2004 tsunami, the sea gypsies has had to rebuild themselves back up with the help of NGO’s. Today, the village looks almost identical to what it once was and as if it had been there for the past 80 years.
Despite the traditional values the village upholds, even the sea gypsies and fishermen succumb to the ever-growing tourism industry in Phuket. Expect to see 20 or so stalls selling shells and other assortments of products along the area, if not more.
On top of that, real estate projects have dramatically increased in recent years, with villas and sea-view houses being built on the shorelines, as well as the Westin Siray Bay hotel that opened up a few years ago.
Ko Sirey Temple
As far as large Buddhist statues go, the Big Buddha of Chalong takes the gold medal. However, with all the hype and the spotlight primarily shone on the Big Buddha, many don’t ever get the chance to admire the giant reclining Buddha in Ko Sirey Temple. Foreigners may find it peculiar to see a Buddha statue in a reclining position, but in truth, the legend behind it makes its posture very significant. Legend says that Buddha statues lying in this pose alludes to the story of Buddha and a particular giant, who refused to bow down to him. The Buddha then lied down and was seen to be larger than the giant. He then showed the giant the wonders of heaven and the size and grandiosity of it, as well as all the figures that were larger than the giant- therefore humiliating the giant. The size of this statue is very significant once taken into the context of this legend.
After exiting the temple, you may want to take a look at the view over Phuket. Although standing a mere 60 meters above sea level, the hill at which the temple sits on offers quite a unique view of Phuket and its surroundings. Coming down, Ko Sirey also offers a couple of local seafood restaurants with great views and fresh food. The beach is quiet, clean and soothing- undisturbed, and perfect for an afternoon stroll.