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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong 1995,
What to take Where and when to go Health Travel Accomodation
If you travel a lot on buses and boats you want to take as little as possible. For a six week trip, we each took a large rucksack for clothes and a small pack for day use. We used the small packs on our 'trek' in Thailand and left the big packs at the guesthouse.
In Vietnam, US Dollar bills were very handy and you could get crazy rates of exchange. I was briefly a millionaire when I changed a hundred dollars.
Lightweight walking boots are a necessity for slogging through the forests. Otherwise a minimum of clothes is required - most hotels can do laundry within 24 hours
A Swiss Army Penknife, a money belt, a water bottle and a few medical supplies are about the only other essentials
We both have Opticron 10 x 42 binoculars - the 'High Resolution' and Sequoiah models. A telescope would have been handy at Krabi and Mai Po in Hong Kong for identifying waders.
'A guide to the birds of Thailand' by Lekagul and Round is all you need. However this was very expensive in the UK and I managed to get it in Bangkok for 880 Baht at the time.
This was our first trip to the Far East and we mainly went sight-seeing and to visit a friend in Hong Kong. Work really dictated that we took our holidays March/April time which was Ok weather-wise but not the best for bird-watching.
In Bangkok, like any capital city, there are few bird-watching opportunities. However at Wat Arun and the Grand Palace there are a few gardens. Lumphini park is a little patch of green amongst the sky-scrapers which would be promising early morning. Around Chiang Mai in the north, Doi Inthanon National Park was very good. Shop around for the 'treks' though. We were persuaded into going on one where the guide was more keen on rushing on to the village bar rather than waiting to look at birds. Ask around and if possible, go on your own or with a group of other birders.
In the south, at Krabi it is essential to go on a boat trip with the famous 'Mr Dai'. In a few hours we saw more birds with him than the rest of the holiday altogether. You can book from the quayside restaurant and he takes you into the Mangrove swamps and mud flats in a small boat. He can whistle up various species including the elusive Mangrove Pitta, Ruddy Kingfisher and Masked Finfoot.
Bit of a bird desert, with the after effects of the War and people trapping anything that moves, there are not many birds here at all. Fascinating place for a holiday though. The only real birdy spot we found was Bha Ho waterfalls, a few kilometres south of Nha Trang off the main highway. We saw Blue Whistling Thrush there. Also in thick fog in Hanoi we experienced a fall of Siberian Stonechats which seemed to be in every bush.
Mai Po marshes is the main birding attraction in Hong Kong. However you do need to get permits and unfortunately our friend over there just got us on the tourist trip, which was full of shouting locals pointing at the mainland. I've no idea what the situation is now - there was talk of filling the whole thing in for a container depot but I'm hopeful that with International pressure it will be preserved as a Reserve.
Common sense dictates that you stick to bottled water and watch what you eat. Otherwise we took no special precautions apart from the recommended jabs.
We flew Manchester - Dubai - Bangkok and returned Hong Kong - Dubai - Manchester flying with Emirates Airlines. Pretty good flights with individual video screens which give you a choice of in-flight movies. Reasonable food as well but a bit mean with the drinks, still at least you know where Mecca is all the time with the handy moving map.
Bangkok is one giant traffic jam, but the water buses are brilliant although you have to be quick jumping off and on as they don't hang around.
We went from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by the overnight bus - not for the faint hearted. Our bus had numerous dents in it and we also saw a dead body on the road. We arrived at 7 am black and blue - needless to say we flew back.
From Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) and Saigon - Nha Trang - Hanoi we flew with Vietnam Airlines who lease planes off Thai Air - fantastic in-flight meals of Crispy Duck. From Hanoi to Hong Kong we were fortunate to fly into the old airport which was a real experience swerving round skyscrapers then screeching to a halt before you end up in the sea.
Thailand is totally geared up for backpackers and touts will approach you all the time with offers of accomodation. Phuket was horrible but we went across to Phi Phi Island where there are no vehicles and a bit more laid back. You can also see the coral reef just out from the beach which saves going on organised 'cruises'. I expect this will all change this year as the film 'The Beach' is released which was filmed there, and the whole place gets totally commercialised. Every inch of the 'James Bond' island featured in 'The Man with the Golden Gun' is covered in trinket stalls.
Vietnam is a little bit harder as fewer people speak English, especially in the north. Also the food gets progressively worse as you head north but there's always baguettes and cheese. (also the cheapest beer I've ever come across)
Hong Kong was fantastically expensive in comparison although
we were staying with a friend on Discovery Bay. After the handover in 1997 and
the economic crisis things may well have totally changed.
Species seen during our holiday starting in Bangkok, round Thailand and then up Vietnam to Hong Kong. All sites are in Thailand unless otherwise stated. The 'trek' was a three day trip from Chiang Mai - one and a half days walking in the forest, then a day downstream on a raft.
The naming convention is taken from 'An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region' by Inskipp, Lindsey and Duckworth.
1 Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 2 Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Picoides canicapillus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 3 Streak-breasted Woodpecker Picus viridanus 28/03/95 Krabi 4 Coppersmith Barbet Meglalaima haemacephala 31/03/95 Wat Arun, Bangkok 5 Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 6 Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 28/03/95 Krabi 7 Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 8 Brown Winged Kingfisher Halcyon amauroptera 28/03/95 Krabi 9 Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda 28/03/95 Krabi 10 White Throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 11 Black Capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata 28/03/95 Krabi 12 Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis 28/03/95 Krabi 13 Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus 08/04/95 Suoi Tien, Nha Trang, Vietnam 14 Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus 04/04/95 Tay Ninh, Vietnam 15 Chestnut-bellied Malkoha Phaenicophaeus sumatranus 28/03/95 Krabi 16 Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 17 Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis 30/03/95 Kata Beach, Phuket 18 Himalayan Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 19 Edible-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus fuciphagus 24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket 20 Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus batasiensis 14/03/95 Lumphini Park,Bangkok 21 House Swift Apus affinis 13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok 22 Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis 13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok 23 Red-collared Dove Streptopelia tranquibarica 31/03/95 Wat Arun, Bangkok 24 Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata 28/03/95 Krabi 25 White-breasted Water Hen Amaurornis phoenicurus 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 26 Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 27 Black Tailed Godwit Limosa limosa 28/03/95 Krabi 28 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus 24/03/95 Phuket Docks 29 Western Curlew Numenius arquata 26/03/95 Krabi 30 Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 28/03/95 Krabi 31 Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 11/04/95 Ba Ho, Nha Trang, Vietnam 32 Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus 28/03/95 Krabi 33 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 24/03/95 Phuket Docks 34 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres 28/03/95 Krabi 35 Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris 28/03/95 Krabi 36 Red Knot Calidris canutus 28/03/95 Krabi 37 Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva 28/03/95 Krabi 38 Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 28/03/95 Krabi 39 Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis 26/03/95 Krabi 40 Great Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii 24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket 41 Black-naped Tern Sterna sumatrana 24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket 42 Common Tern Sterna hirundo 24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket 43 Little Tern Sterna albifrons 28/03/95 Krabi 44 Black Kite Milvus migrans 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 45 Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus 23/03/95 Kata Beach, Phuket 46 White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster 29/03/95 Kata Beach, Phuket 47 Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 48 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 49 Little Egret Egretta garzetta 28/03/95 Krabi 50 Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes 28/03/95 Krabi 51 Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra 24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket 52 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 53 Great Egret Egretta alba 26/03/95 Krabi 54 Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 08/04/95 Suoi Tien, Nha Trang, Vietnam 55 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 28/03/95 Krabi 56 Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 28/03/95 Krabi 57 Little Heron Butroides striatus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 58 Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel 24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket 59 Mangrove Pitta Pitta megarhyncha 28/03/95 Krabi 60 Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 08/04/95 Nha Trang, Vietnam 61 Black-billed Magpie Pica pica 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 62 Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 14/03/95 Lumphini Park,Bangkok 63 Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus 19/03/95 Chiang Mai 64 Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 65 Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 66 Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 67 Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 68 Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 69 Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus 28/03/95 Krabi 70 Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius 15/04/95 Discovery Bay, Hong Kong 71 Blue Whistling Thrush Myiophoneus caeruleus 11/04/95 Ba Ho, Nha Trang, Vietnam 72 White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx montana 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 73 Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica 28/03/95 Krabi 74 Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok 75 Slaty-backed Forktail Enicurus schistaceus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 76 Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura 14/04/95 Hanoi, Vietnam 77 Black-collared Starling Sturnus nigricollis 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 78 Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok 79 White Vented Myna Acridotheres cinereus 19/03/95 Chiang Mai 80 Brown-throated Treecreeper Certhia discolor 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 81 Dusky Crag Martin Hirundo concolor 26/03/95 Krabi 82 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok 83 Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica 23/03/95 Kata Beach, Phuket 84 Wire Tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii 04/04/95 Tay Ninh, Vietnam 85 Red Rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica 27/03/95 Krabi 86 Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus 11/04/95 Ba Ho, Nha Trang, Vietnam 87 Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 88 Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 15/03/95 Chiang Mai 89 Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 90 Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 91 Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus blanfordi 14/03/95 Lumphini Park,Bangkok 92 Mountain Bulbul Hypsipetes mcclellandii 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 93 Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosa 13/04/95 Nha Trang, Vietnam 94 Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong 95 Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis 08/04/95 Nha Trang, Vietnam 96 Ashy Tailorbird Orthotomus sepium 28/03/95 Krabi 97 Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 98 Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 99 Masked Laughing-Thrush Garrulax perspicillatus 15/04/95 Discovery Bay, Hong Kong 100 Red Faced Liocichla Liocichla phoenicea 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 101 Rufous-winged Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 102 Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 103 Rufous-backed Sibia Heterophasia annectens 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 104 Black-headed Sibia Heterophasia melanoleuca 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 105 Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trigonostigma 27/03/95 Phang Nga, Krabi 106 Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum 14/03/95 Lumphini Park,Bangkok 107 Brown-Throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis 28/03/95 Krabi 108 Olive-backed Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 109 Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park 110 Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 12/03/95 Bangkok Airport 111 Plain-backed Sparrow Passer flaveolus 02/04/95 Ho Chi Minh City 112 Grey Wagtail Motacillia cinerea 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek 113 Richard's Pipit Anthus novaeseelandiae 08/04/95 Suoi Tien, Nha Trang, Vietnam 114 Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 19/03/95 Chiang Mai 115 Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala 17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
If anyone wants further information, please E-Mail me at Tony@tonyc.demon.co.uk
The Birds of Thailand
A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia