Reader’s wildlife photos

July 14, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we have travel photos from Richard Bond, whose captions are indented. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Since you accept travel photos, perhaps you might like these: a few of the high points from a tour through four cities in SE Asia.

The seven-headed cobra is a common motif in Cambodia, and the first photo shows an example that I liked very much in the balustrade of steps leading to a temple near our hotel in Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh lies mostly on the west bank of the Tonle Sap river and the much larger Mekong. Unsurprisingly, river traffic is important. This photo shows boats at the southern tip of the peninsula formed by the confluence of the rivers. I believe that people live on these boats.

Ferries are a necessity:

Between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap we stopped at a market. The foods for sale included many stir-fried invertebrates. The first photo shows scorpions and the next a much larger variety; the pale things in the right foreground are silkworm grubs.

I really liked Siem Reap. It is most noted for the Angkor Wat complex of temples, but there are many more features of interest. The photo below shows a home on the nearest of the many floating villages on the Tonle Sap lake. This lake was filled annually when the Mekong floods caused the Tonle Sap river to flow backwards. Today China diverts so much of the Mekong for its own use that this no longer happens as formerly, and it might be that the lake will become so polluted that the floating villages will no longer be viable.

The photo below shows a man in a workshop that produces examples of typical Cambodian art. This is not tourist tat: these people are real artists who take great pride in their work. I preferred this photo to some that I took that showed faces because it exemplifies the total concentration of these fine craftsman.

Near Luang Phabang we visited a rice farm, where we saw all stages in the production of rice from preparing the paddy to polishing the seeds. I was amused by the “scarecrow” made from rice stalks; nothing goes to waste. (Yes, I fully admit to an idiosyncratic taste in what is interesting.)

The photo below shows a water buffalo dragging a rake with huge tines to churn the paddy into mud for planting. As it shows, we were invited to take part in the fun. The man in the green shirt was our guide here, and he was outstanding: totally expert and spoke fluent English with almost no accent.(All of our local guides in all three countries were excellent.)

The Kuang Si waterfall comprises a series of cascades through tropical forest. Thought not particularly high or of large volume, it really is very beautiful. My photo does not do it justice.

The photo below was taken in an enclosure near the bottom of the falls that houses Asiatic Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus) rescued from tiny cages where they are “milked” for their bile for use in traditional “medicine”. Many of them were captured when young, so would not thrive if released into the wild. In any case, they are extinct in the area and for hundreds of kilometres around, so there is no wild population that they could join. The enclosure is large and packed with trees and wooden structures to give full scope for their arboreal habits, so it was quite difficult to get a good photo. This was the best that I could manage.

I was not in much of a state to appreciate Hanoi and I took hardly any photos. I was unexpectedly tired. It transpired that I was suffering from severe anaemia caused by a condition that later landed me in hospital with sepsis. On top of that I was starting with the worst cold that I have had for a long time, probably caught from a pushy gaggle of Chinese tourists in a Luang Prabang museum. This was a pity, since Hanoi looks interesting. However, I did enjoy a boat trip around Haiphong Bay (no walking!). These two photos show a couple of the nearly 2,000 islands.

Below you see a local fishing boat. Some fishing areas are in dispute between Vietnam and China, with Chinese gunboats armed with water cannon disrupting the Vietnamese boats (according to the Vietnamese).

The islands are limestone, and one has a cave complex. I did not feel well enough to tackle what looked like an intimidating flight of steps, and anyway I am claustrophobic, so I stayed on the quay while the rest of the party went to the caves. After a while I noticed the boat below that turned out to be fishing litter out of the water. I suppose that anywhere popular suffers from people dropping litter (probably Chinese tourists) but such an effort to clean it up is commendable.

11 thoughts on “Reader’s wildlife photos

    1. Yes. I felt that I got to know enough about Cambodia that I have tentative plans to go there on my own, but an organised trip was a good introduction.

  1. That waterfall looks really pretty! Nice pics! It’s a pity that you were sick during your trip. Now that I passed my 30s I feel like I need an extra day on the vacation just to rest or take a sick day (especially if you go to places with different food). I did a kayak activity on my last vacation and I had to spend the next morning in bed taking ibuprofen.

    1. I managed ok most of the time. My problems only hit when compounded by the cold that got going in Hanoi.

  2. Thank you for these photos! I am so sorry to hear were sick but glad to see some wonderful places there.
    I love that waterfall and the bear enclosure.

  3. What a fantastic set of pictures! That market picture of stir-fried arthropods is (to me) one of the most remarkable pictures shown in Reader’s Wildlife Photos. Well done!

  4. Thank you for those interesting pictures. I haven’t managed to get to Cambodia, but my better half and I visited Vietnam a couple of times, when my eldest daughter and her partner (now husband) were living in HCMC. The second time we spent a week in Hanoi, including a three-day junk cruise round Halong Bay. It was at a time when a local paint manufacturer had a pal in the Politburo, and got him to pass a decree that all Halong Bay junks should be painted white! Didn’t affect our enjoyment of the trip, though.

  5. Thanks for this nice vicarious journey. I think Cambodians and other SE Asian cultures are ahead of their time when it comes to eating bugs. Bugs may well be the food of the future. I’ve eaten termites and crickets…not so bad once I conquered the mental leap.

    1. While I was still a vegan, I gave Mum an insect-themed cookbook for her birthday. It included several suppliers, including a number of addresses in the nearest several cities.
      For some reason … I don’t think she has ever consulted it.

  6. I was amused by the “scarecrow” made from rice stalks;

    Was it whispering “I am Groot”?

  7. Great pix. I visited SE Asia sometimes as a young man (from Australia) but many of the countries (1980s) didn’t accept tourists. In Bangkok I went to the Cambodian Embassy to try to get a visa but it was closed. And burnt out! Just like Cambodia then. The area has come a LOONG way since and I’d love to go again…. scorpions and all.

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