The Mergui Archipelago with its 800 islands is one of the last "terra incognita" in which otherness ethnic and biodiversity still have a meaning. The presence of the sea gypsies (the Moken) the development of a tradition within the Myanmar fishing community, and a nature still to be discovered makes this place one of last paradises on earth. They live a traditional lifestyle on the Southern part of the Myeik Archipelago, off the coast of Myanmar.
The Moken are also known as "Sea Gypsies", since they live on boats and inhabit in the sea. They are an ethnic group with about 2000 to 3000 members who maintain a nomadic, sea-based culture. Their language is origin from Malaya and likely immigrated to the Myanmar and Thailand areas from China 4000 years ago.
Their knowledge of the sea enables them to live off its organisms by using simple tools such as nets and spears to forage for food. What is not consumed is dried atop their boats, then used for trade at local markets for other necessities. During the monsoon season, they build additional boats while occupying temporary huts.
Many of the Salone are still nomadic people who roam the sea most of their lives in small wooden boats.
They are expert in swimming, diving and submerging in the sea, thus the name 'Sea Gypsies' or 'Men of the Sea'. Recent scientific studies have shown that the Moken have an extraordinary ability to see underwater and stay underwater for long periods of time; much more so than any other group of people in the world. Their senses are especially in tune with the ocean. The Salone people most likely lived on the Malay Peninsula in ancient times, before scattering throughout the Myeik Archipelago when displaced by Malaysians.
The Salons are the among the smallest minorities in Myanmar. The Salone nomads have well established cultural values, and their self-sufficiency contrasts with the economic subservience of expeditious natural resource exploitation proffered by modern society. Today, the Salone culture remains intact only on the coastal islands around Kawthaung, formerly Victoria Point, the southernmost town of Myanmar.
Every year during January, the Salone Festival is held in the Myeik Archipelago, Tanintharyi Division in Myanmar. Tour packages, boat registration, diving tours can be arranged for such occasions.