Bird’s Nest in Bangkok

June 16, 2011

Bird’s Nest Soup is one of those strange things that you come across in Bangkok. It’s a Chinese delicacy that is also very popular among the Chinese in Bangkok.

bird's-nest soup

Now, before you venture out to try it, you should be aware of one thing: it’s made out of bird saliva. Yummy!

Certain kinds of swiftlets build their nests out of threads from their saliva. These bird nests are then boiled in water, and it creates this kind of gelatinous soup.

Chinese people believe that bird’s nest provide many health benefits:

  • improve the voice
  • increase libido
  • strenghten the immune system
  • increase concentration
  • aid digestion

From a Western perspective, the nests have high amounts of iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

A nests takes about 35 days to built, and it’s only the male swiftlet birds that do it.

The highest quality Bird’s Nest soup is made from red cave nests that can only be found in limestone caves on some islands of Thailand. These bird nests can catch very high prices on the global market (red blood nest can fetch prices of up to $10,000 USD per kilogram).

Bird Nest

A much cheaper supply of Bird’s Nest comes out of Indonesia. Since the demand for Bird’s Nest is so high, businessmen didn’t to to restrict themselves to harvesting nests from caves. So they started building houses made out of concrete for the birds to nest in. There are several towns in North Sumatra where bird’s nest harvesting is one of the main sources of income, and in total of 0.5% of the Indonesian GDP comes out of the bird’s nest trade.

But also in Southern Thailand these buildings can be found. A couple of years ago, a hotel owner found that the swiftlets nested in the basement of his hotel. He’s now making more money from the birds in his basement then from the hotel guests. Word spread around fast – and people started to build these concrete buildings for bids like they did in Indonesia.

So just snap one up when you’re on a Bangkok sightseeing trip. The prices for Bird’s Nest Soup in Bangkok are some of the lowest in the world – here, a bowl costs around 7$, whereas in other places you’d pay around $30 for a comparable bowl.

 

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