A Visit to Buddha Island, Rawai Thailand
Buddha Island is one of those places where you instantly know that you have just set foot on sacred land.
For our family Asia is whole new continent. Over the years, I have always wondered about how residing in an predominantly Buddhist country would impact my state of mind. My sense of being. Buddha Island answered all of those questions in a whim.
The Koh Kaew Yai legend
The legend goes that Buddha set foot on Koh Kaew Yai (now commonly known as Buddha Island) before setting foot on the main island, Phuket. An imprint of his footprint is believed to be found here, on the rocky North side of the island. For this reason, Koh Kaew Yai now holds importance in terms of Buddhism, and attracts Monks from all over the world. There’s a small community of local Thai and coming and going Monks living an simple life, taking care of a diversity of shrines here. Facing Prompthep Cape, you find a five meters high Buddha statue towering over the island.
Be kind to all creatures. This is the true religion.
These are probably Buddha’s most elementary words that spring to mind when trying to describe the ambiance on Buddha Island. Arriving in the early morning we are greeted by a flock of enthusiastic puppy dogs. A monk brooms the eating area with great mindfulness. Another busies himself washing orange cloths by hand, and smiles at us. There’s a serenity, a peacefulness in how they go about their daily rituals. At eleven o’clock sharp, the sound of heavy drumming fills the tropical air, and slowly but surely Monks start to appear from the surrounding, junglish area. Although the feeling of intruding the privacy of their sacred lives crosses my mind, I feel accepted in my being. I take the children around the different shrines and statues, and we all say our prayers in our own, unique way. Besides from great respect and a certain courteousness, there is all spiritual freedom. We pass small wooden accommodations, and roam around freely. The surroundings are lush, and the ocean water is crystal clear. Somehow, snorkeling here adds to the meaning of Buddha’s words. Ocean life is beautiful, and part or our creation. Like humankind, the puppy’s playing at the beach, and the fish in the sea.
How to get there?
From Rawai, it takes about 15 minutes to travel the 4 km distance to Koh Kaew Yai. You could take one of the fancier tourist boats leaving from the Pier, but I would recommend walking along the Rawai fishmarket to the far end of the beach where the Sea
Gypsies live. They will happily take you with one of their authentic long tailed boats. Recent trips to Mexico, and the wise words of revolutionist Emilio Zapatista have taught me that ‘the land belongs to those who work it with their hands’. In this case, let’s give respect to the Sea Gypsies who have lived in and off these waters for generations.