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

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FILTER - Com­piled by SYLVIA McK­E­OWN and SARAH KOOP­MAN

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

her boat

TOP

The chil­dren spend their days out­doors

ABOVE

The Ba­jau make a liv­ing from fish­ing and wear ‘bo­rak’ – crushed tumeric mixed with wa­ter – as sun­screen

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