Siem Reap – 4

One night we attended Beatocello, a concert put on weekly by Dr. Beat Richner. He is a Swiss national who has built and is running 5 children’s hospitals in Cambodia. He would play short pieces on his solo cello, and then speak about the work the hospitals do. The statistics and stories he poured out almost without pause were heartbreaking. And I have never heard anyone play the cello the way he was playing. He played several pieces by Bach, his own compositions, and a piece by Pablo Casals, the great Spanish cellist. All the pieces were played clearly and strongly, without any subtlety. He seemed to rush through the pieces, even ones typically played slowly, and he would almost toss away the endings as if in a hurry to get on to more important topics: the need for imploring the audience to support the work at the hospitals. The concert was free, but he said they annually bring in more than five million dollars. If I was to endorse any organization I came across in my travels, it would be this one. I bootlegged the entire concert, but don’t feel right to post any of it online. If you would like to hear what I have, I will happily play it for you, but only in person. The link to his work is here: Dr. Beat Richner.

Near Kbal Spean is the Angkor Center for Conservation and Biodiversity, a really well-run rescue center for animals taken for poaching or illegal pets. Many of the animals they have cannot be released into the National Park the center is in, but they have breeding programs for releasing offspring. The tour guide took us past ??? bird, like an eagle, and several species of monkeys, one of which sounded to my ears like a cat (picture above). The guide told us that most of the poaching results in small parts of the animals being sold for ‘traditional medicine’ uses in China.

Here is the call of the bird above, a Bramanee Kite.

And below, a pileated gibbon monkey, quite the loud howler.

Our tuk tuk drive to the floating village took us past some fields that had a rice harvest. Most of the fields we saw were bone dry, only inhabited by skinny white cows. Below is a clip of the tuk tuk ride while we were still in the town.