05 October 2008

Saliva Soup

"Quality A" little bunches of bird spit.

In China (and Chinatowns and Chinese territories), you will find, in health shops, expensive packets of birds' nests being sold. They are used to make soup that apparently balances the body's constitution.

Ronnie, our caretaker. Also a busyador (nest gatherer).

Seeing these in Macau and Hong Kong made me think of my recent trip to one major nest source, the El Nido group of islands in Palawan. The place had been visited by Chinese traders as early as the Sung Dynasty (mentioned in books more than one century BC!) owing to the abundance of resources such as the small bowl-like formations of hardened swiftlet spit found in the caves.

This paradise was called Pa-Lao-Yu or "Land of Beautiful Harbors" by the Chinese, and named El Nido or "the nest" by the Spanish.

El Nido cliffs.

Among these jagged and beautiful limestone cliffs and mountains of El Nido are caves where bats and swiftlets or balinsasayaw abound. There are views that nest collection is endangering the birds. People often to collect beyond the prescribed period. as the thing commands exorbitant prices on the market. Creating any kind of shelter or useful thing out of bodily excretions is indeed a talent, which we shouldn't ever lose to commerce.

Here are some, on a spinning plate. That really cracked me up.

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