Photographer Adam Docker says of his first impressions: “It feels like you’ve arrived at a long-lost tribe like the ones on the BBC.” The gypsy village of Bajo is located on the island of Borneo, near the city of Semporna, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters, coral reefs, the barn huts look simply amazing.

gypsies baggio

Docker came to this village to make a documentary about the plight of the Roma around the world. Fortunately, getting to the village is not that difficult. Bajo live on stilts, which are located in the immediate vicinity of the island.

gypsies of the island of borneo

The rich reef zone is an ecologically valuable area between Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Malaysia and Timor Leste. This area is also famous for its marine biodiversity and deservedly bears the name “Amazon of the Seas”. More than 120 million people directly depend on fishing in these places.

When it comes to fishing, Baggios are noted for being excellent swimmers and fishermen who can hold their breath for up to 5 minutes and swim up to 20 meters deep. They develop these abilities from childhood. This is not surprising, because the Baggios were practically born in the world.

The ability to hold your breath for a long time is not the only distinguishing feature of Baggio. Their eyes are also adapted to see better underwater and spearfishing.

One of the worst parts of the human body is the eardrums. In Bajo they are often torn, sometimes deliberately, at an early age. Divers often die at great depths.

No one knows for sure where the Baggios came from and why they lead an aquatic lifestyle. Two different theories suggest that they may have come from the Philippines or Johor, (Malaysia), while a third theory claims that they came from the Riau archipelago of the Indonesian islands. Some Bajos believe that they are descended from the royal guards of the Sultanate of Johor.

Women cover their faces with a paste of crushed tapioca leaves and water to prevent sunburn.

Despite the fact that the village is only an hour from civilization, it seems that it is hundreds of miles away from the real world.

Tourists often come to the village to see for themselves the amazing lifestyle of the locals – this is another income for Baggio.