THE SEA GYPSIES OF MALAYSIA
The Bajau live in stilted houses built on coral reefs in Borneo. French photographer Réhahn Hoian tells Marie Claire about the scenic paradise of these water-loving people
Why do the Bajau live at sea?
The Bajau I met are from the Philippines. They fled to Malaysia but were not allowed on land due to their immigrant status so decided to build their houses in the ocean an live their lives at one with the sea.
What draws you to your subjects?
I thin photography can change the world. with these photos I wante to show somethin different. any places are overexpose and I like to show something new. Also I as curious to see these people living in the middle of the ocean.
Which was you favorite land?
I loved Tatagan village in Borneo the most. Upon seeing me, children jumped into their boats to sail out to meet me and some families invited me to share lunch; it as lled ith great moments.
What is your most memorable moment with the children?
They stay on their boats all day, jumping in and out of the water and swimming. I remember this three-year-old girl alone on her very small boat. I was surprised to see her on her own in the middle of the sea. She was a little bit scared to see me at rst but became a funny model later.
A three-year-old Bajau girl on
The children spend their days outdoors
The Bajau make a living from fishing and wear ‘borak’ – crushed tumeric mixed with water – as sunscreen