Thailand is one of the top fish producing nations in the world, with over 3,000km of coastline, hundreds of islands and waters abundant with marine life. In fact, one of the first ever inscriptions found in the Thai language from the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai references fish, so there’s no surprise a strong connection to the sea remains.
Here in Khao Lak we are on the coast of the beautiful Andaman Sea and fishing is one of the most important industries for the local economy, generating 3.6 billion baht “approx USD118 million” a year in Phang Nga. Not only does the province boast idyllic beaches, coral reefs for diving and shallows ideal for snorkelling, but its deeper waters beyond provide a bounty of fresh seafood loved by locals and visitors alike.
This region was built on the produce of the sea and is still home to many local fishing families, many of whom belong to the Baan Nam Khem fishing community. Located at the mouth of the Takuapa River this coastal village is home to a fleet of fishing vessels that are moored at several piers along the coast. Around 15 minutes’ drive north from The Sarojin, the village is a gateway to the bountiful seas beyond and home to a mangrove forest which offers refuge and nursing grounds for juvenile fish, crabs, shrimp and molluscs. You can visit the village during your stay, or even volunteer alongside our team to help plant trees that will maintain the precious mangrove ecosystem which is so vital to the local community.
Seafood is also at the core of some of Thailand’s most famous dishes, from Tom Yum Goong – an aromatic soup made with juicy shrimp – to traditional Thai crab curry. Here at The Sarojin, we pride ourselves on serving fresh local produce direct from ocean to table, so work closely with Phang Nga’s fishing community to source seasonal and sustainable seafood. Some of the most popular dishes created by our Executive Chef Gogh at the resort include Lemongrass Wrapped Crab Cakes, Phad Thai Goong with river prawns and Phuket Lobster Curry.
To discover more about the importance of seafood in Khao Lak, here we speak with local fisherman Khun Kung, who has supplied produce to The Sarojin for over 10 years:
“I have lived in Khao Lak my entire life and I spent many of my teenage years learning to fish from my father, who would take me out on his boat every weekend. I have now been a fisherman for 30 years and it’s my main source of income to support my elderly mother and son.
A day at sea begins early and by 4:40am I’m on the water. I travel out around 10 miles from the coast to fish and in the afternoon, I return to the shore to sell my catch. You can find many different types of delicious seafood in Khao Lak, including Red Snapper, Grouper, Longfin Cavalla, Mackerel, King Prawns, Blue Crab, Dollfus Octopus, Rock Lobsters and Bigfin Reef Squid – many of which I sell to The Sarojin!
Here in Khao Lak, we have a strong connection to the sea and fishing has been a huge part of our community for many generations. As fishermen, we are all taught to believe three very important things; take, give back and share. We take from the sea but only what we need, we give back by fishing only sustainable produce and we share what we can with those around us. This includes maintaining a reasonable price for our catch so it can be enjoyed by all.
Locally, people prefer seafood over meat and fish is integral to our diet. Whether fried with turmeric, slow cooked in a hearty soup with ginger and shallots, mixed into a traditional Thai yellow curry or simply wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled, there are so many ways to enjoy it. My favourite dish is a recipe from my mother of deep-fried fish with garlic and peppers. I grew up on this meal so it’s very nostalgic for me.
The life of a fisherman isn’t always easy, and in Khao Lak, we have faced even more challenges since the tsunami in 2004. Not only were our shores, reefs and mangroves all damaged, but the human cost of the disaster was enormous. I sadly lost my wife and daughter and many other fishermen had similar experiences. Whilst the pain of this time can never be erased, what we can and have done is pull together as a community to help rebuild our natural environment. To restore the delicate marine ecosystems that are so vital to our way of life, we work with the local government and hotels, such as The Sarojin, on many regeneration programmes. These include the planting of mangrove forests, beach cleaning and the repopulation of fish to newly restored areas.
For visitors to Khao Lak, there are also many ways to help support our fishing communities beyond enjoying the produce we catch. Excursions by boat or fishing experiences are popular but tourists can also volunteer their time – The Sarojin has a number of different ways it helps its guests give back to the people of Khao Lak through its Sarojin Cares initiative.”
To find out more about Sarojin Cares and how you can volunteer during your stay, speak with our team or visit: www.sarojin.com/en/blog/khao-lak-resort-the-sarojin-cares/
Other marine activities available at the resort include Deep Sea Fishing by local long tail boat, our Catch Cook and Dine experience including a personalised cooking class and our Little Amazon Mangrove excursion on a traditional pleat boat. For further details, see our Adventure and Discoveries brochure here: www.sarojin.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/TS_AD_Menu2020.pdf