Koh Panyee Floating Fishing Village is a normal stopping off point for lunch, as part of the James Bond Island Tour. Koh Panyee is a fishing village with a difference; the entire village is perched on wooden stilts. The village itself is actually located within the protective bosom of Koh Panyee.

View from the Air
View from the Air

This little wooden village located out in Phang Nga Bay, has several quite fascinating stories to tell. The settlement itself was first established towards the end of the 18th century. Three families, on small boats, left Java, Indonesia, In search of fresh beginnings.

In the search of new fishing grounds, they made an agreement, they should split up and if any of the boats found an ideal place to live, then they would raise a flag from the highest point, thus letting the others know, that a suitable new home had been found.

So off they searched, all around the islands of Sumatra, finding their way into the Andaman Sea, they followed the coastline up from Malaysia, into the waters of Thailand and then into the Phang Nga Nga.

One of the fishermen Toh Bahoo spotted from a distance Koh Panyee and decided to take a closer look. Upon inspection, he decided that this Island would give excellent protection against the elements and the fishing in the area seemed more than adequate.

So Toh Bahoo, as promised to his fellow fishermen, raised a flag from the summit of the Island, indicating to them, that he had found the perfect place to settle. And settle they did, the island became known as Koh Panyee, which in Thai means Raised flag.

These days, there are over three hundred families living in the village; the community all original descendants of the early fishermen and their families have grown into a population of over 1500 people.

The village has up until more recently, relied primarily on fishing to sustain its way of life. And even these days, fishing is its bread and butter; tourism has been introduced gradually and has become quite successful.

The village has a small Muslim school and a Mosque which is situated on the Island and is a main meeting point for the locals, there is also a small market stocked with all the essentials needed.

There are several large restaurants with great views facing out to sea, seafood is of course particularly excellent here, albeit a little pricey. And currently more construction work is being undertaken, as the building of bungalows allowing tourists to able to stay the night is underway.

A real amazing story about Koh Panyee is the story behind its football team. After becoming enthralled by the 1986 Mexico world cup, one of the boys living in the village had an idea that the children should learn to play football. However, as 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 dream gradually became a reality.

Floating Football Pitch
Floating Football Pitch

The boys started work on constructing a floating football pitch made from old wood they found. They would work around the clock, before and after school. After it was built, it was still not an ideal playing surface for football, but this would just make the boys fitter, stronger and more skillful with the ball. The ball would often go flying into the sea, the pitch was littered with old bent nails, and they would often get wood splinters in their feet.

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 teams who were more established. But with the training they had had, and in particular, on such a small hard and slippery pitch and with very small goals, they found that they had the upper-hand on most of the other teams.

They actually made it to the semi-finals of the cup. The conditions were bad with heavy rain weighing the boys down; they were not so use to playing in proper football boots, and with the rain making their boots very heavy, they came in at half time two goals down.

A little dejected, one had a bright idea that they should play the second half in their bare feet, oh and how they played. They dribbled, they passed, and they ran at the other team like their lives depended on it. They managed to pull two goals back, against the best team in southern Thailand, leaving the whole crowd cheering for more.

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.

Panyee FC was born and is now one of, if not the best amateur Football team in the south of Thailand.

Koh Panyee is a wonderful place to visit and the locals are very friendly, but please be aware, like all Muslim villages, there are certain rules to respect. Dress accordingly. No short skirts, shorts, Bikini tops or anything else that might be deemed as in also no alcohol or Pork foodstuff is allowed on the island.

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