They went north, we went south

Most visitors get up very early in Siem Reap and head north to see the sun rise at Angkor Wat.  We rose very early and traveled south to see birds in rural fields at their most active time of day. 


We discovered that the Sam Veasna Center (SVC), a nonprofit bird conservation group, offered a half-day guided bird walk that nicely fit into our schedule.

Sam Veasna was a pioneering Cambodian naturalist who tragically died of malaria in 1999 aged 33 while surveying the Northern Plains of Cambodia for the now extinct Kouprey. During his short life he was responsible for discovering and cataloging many of the most important sites for conservation in Northern Cambodia, including the discovery of large numbers of Sarus Crane at Ang Trapaeng Thmor. The Sam Veasna Center was set up in his memory to promote conseration (sic) throughout Cambodia and find ways to continue his work protecting the endangered species of the country.”  – from the SVC website

For us, a bird walk is never only about birds.  We see the birds’ environment, observe rural area land use, and learn a lot more from our guides than strictly knowledge of local birds.



The SVC guide, Vanh Tharath, met us at our hotel at 5:45am in a tuk tuk.  After a short ride south on a rough, rural, dirt road we started to hear birds.  The tuk tuk stopped, we pulled out binoculars and, in the next few hours, saw 21 bird species as we walked down the road.   Ten of the birds we’d not seen before, among them the plaintive cuckoo, the Javan pond heron, the white-breasted waterhen, and a lesser coucal.


The SVC guide, Vanh Tharath

We ended on a muddy road bordering a field of lotus.  Vanh Tharath picked a lotus blossom and some pods.  He showed us how to remove the lotus seeds from the pod. We ate our first fresh lotus seeds, and they were tasty! 




Siem Reap, Cambodia offered us many options of interesting activities. We’d put a bird walk with a guide from the Sam Veasna Center high on the list.

December 2013

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Cambodia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to They went north, we went south

  1. Merrill says:

    Im learning lots from your posts. Would you mind sharing your Cambodian itinerary with me as well? Thanks!

    • We spent 2 weeks in Phnom Penh first, then 2 weeks in Siem Reap. We’d recommend 1 week in PP and 3 in SR if you’re into visiting archeological sites. (And we are!) The hotel we stayed in SR was the Golden Temple Villa – a wonderful place for $26 – which included a great breakfast and free bicycles.

      • Merrill says:

        Yes, I already picked up on the Golden Temple and will check it out. The distances are so great in SE Asia. I’m trying to determine what to leave off of the itinerary. I had Battenburg and Sihanoukville on my itinerary. I want some time at a gorgeous beach and there are many to choose from in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, but can’t visit them all. We are limited on time. Now that we are here wish we could extend our time – or move here, but that could change as the weather gets hotter.

      • Not only hotter but rainier. Can’t do everything, so have to make tough choices.

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