As we travelled through the Cambodian countryside we noticed large apartment blocks with small windows and were confused.
Were they homes for factory or farmer workers? Were they prisons and if so, were there lots of tiny criminals in Cambodia?
We asked our driver who explained that these were bird houses for Cambodian Swiftlets. A highly-prized bird known for their nests.
Swiftlets make nests from their saliva which are then gathered and sold to the Chinese to make bird’s nest soup.
Apparently the Swiftlet Houses play the sound of swiftlets at high volume to entice birds to nest there, they then stay and hatch babies who in turn make more nests and the cycle continues. Neighbours are not too keen on living near a Swiftlet house and noise pollution is a big concern.
As for the end product, call me conservative but I’m not too keen on eating a bird’s nest made from saliva which dissolves into a glutenous mess in a soup. I think the nests are probably best left for their owners to reuse.