Readers’ wildlife photos

November 19, 2021 • 8:00 am

We’re running a bit lower on photos than I like, so please gather up and send in your good wildlife/travel/street photos. Thanks!

Today we have travel photos from Richard Bond, which will make you antsy to get on a plane. (Well, it did for me!). Richard’s captions are indented and you can 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 this 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. The first photo below 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: see the second photo.

Between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap we stopped at a market. The foods for sale included many stir-fried invertebrates: first scorpions, and then 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. This photo 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.

Here we see 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.)

Here’s 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.

This photo 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.

Here is 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 in in this photo 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.

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. It looks like a very fascinating journey.
    The Kuang Si waterfall photo looks like a gorgeous painting.
    So sorry you were sick but looks like you captured alot from the incredible photos!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the appreciation.. I think that the waterfall might have been better captured by an artist rather than by my photography.

  2. That island on knobs in Haiphong Bay is extraordinary. I don’t know what I imagined HB to look like, but it certainly didn’t include islands of any sort.

    Also congratulations on surviving sepsis. As I suppose you are well aware, the mortality rate is in the considerable double-digits and it’s a major cause of death, partly because of the time required to accurately identify the bacterial species underlying the infection together with the danger in just treating with broad-spectrum antibiotics. (There are efforts afoot to greatly speed the diagnostics, and I’m part of one of them.)

    1. A big problem with sepsis is that one of the symptoms is mental confusion , which means that you do not recognise that you are ill. I probably owe my life to my son, who realised that there was something seriously wrong, plus, of course, the NHS. Why do not people in the USA admit the virtues of a “socialist !!!” medical care system?

      1. Were you back in the UK(?) when you were diagnosed?

        And I guess my fear, which is probably a minority one, is that if US healthcare was nationalized, it would become like the VA system, a view that would probably spark outrage in some circles.

  3. Terrific pictures! What an adventure! I had heard of the problem that China is using a lot of hydroelectric power, which unfortunately depletes the water downriver. I foresee no solution.

    1. China is a modern-day colonial power, and utterly cynical about its impact on its neighbours. I also see no solution.

  4. Very nice photos; many thanks!

    My wife and I took a 3-day junk trip on Halong Bay a few years ago. The boat in your first picture seems to be painted white, as was ours. We were told that a local bigwig with a paint business had leant on the relevant authorities to force all junk owners to paint their vessels white, rather than leaving them a more natural (and attractive) brown. Human avarice is much the same the world over!

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