Photo: No shortage of these in Ko Klang.

Ko Klang

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Women in handmade batik skirts crack open roasted cashews. An old man teaches his grandson how to carve a boat. Fresh fish are laid out under a heavy sun, goats and water buffalo grazing in the fields. Across the river from Krabi town but a world away from mass tourism, Ko Klang has preserved the old ways of Southern Thai Muslim culture.

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Ko Klang is a flat, 26 square-kilometre-island surrounded by rivers, canals, mangrove forest and the Andaman Sea to the south. Part of the larger Khlong Prasong district, the name means “Middle Island” thanks to two wide estuaries on either side. To the east flows the Krabi River, which can be crossed by a five-minute ferry hop from Krabi town.

A local transports <i>bawb</i> (some kind of palm product) for making oil. Photo taken in or around Ko Klang, Krabi, Thailand by David Luekens.

A local transports bawb (some kind of palm product) for making oil. Photo: David Luekens

Most visitors arrive in the northwest, at Tha-Lay pier, in the largest of Ko Klang’s three villages. A stripe of white concrete shoots inland and then cuts south along the coast, ending at Laem Kham, a small cape in the far southeast. No cars are allowed on the island but there are quite a few motorbikes, with or without sidecars.

Ko Klang is home to nearly 5,000 residents, with a rural landscape that makes this number hard to believe. Rice fields blanket much of the interior, many sewn with khao sang yod, a prized organic purple grain grown in a mix of fresh and salt waters. We were told that Ko Klang and Phattalung are the only places where it’s cultivated.

Water buffaloes in dry season. Photo taken in or around Ko Klang, Krabi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Water buffaloes in dry season. Photo: David Luekens

Side lanes diverge to small clusters of houses, tiny schools and several mosques. Nearly all of the locals are devout Muslims, and Islam’s traditional moral guidelines have not been relaxed here—including for travellers. Signs posted throughout the island make this perfectly clear. Calm, quiet and traditional: Ko Klang is the antithesis of nearby touristic party spots like Ao Nang and Ko ... Travelfish members only (Around 900 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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