Once upon a time there was a man who built his house upon
a rock. This was no ordinary rock; it was a stone pinnacle that rose out of the
sea. The rock was just large enough to accommodate a thatched hut and one large
You might ask why a person would choose to live in
such a difficult and inhospitable location. After all, he had to carry all
his food and drinking water up on the rock in order to survive.
The real reason he lived there wasn’t a secret. His
job was to spend his days and nights sitting on his small rock guarding the
big rock that was behind him. The big rock was special because it contained
hundreds of swallow’s nests hidden in the cracks and crevices of the
vertical rock wall. Several times each year they harvest the nests and send
them to China where they create a culinary delicacy called “Bird’s Nest
Soup.” The nests are worth more than their weight in gold. We were told
that they are more expensive than gold on a per ounce basis.
How do you guard a giant rock that has five million
dollars worth of bird’s nests sitting in plain sight? It’s easier than
you might think. The guard has a high powered automatic rifle to keep
thieves at bay. A few rounds of ammunition shot into the air from his
Kalashnikov or AK-47 lets intruders know they should keep their distance.
He doesn’t need a No Trespassing sign to keep unwanted visitors away. A few
bullets ricocheting off the rock wall usually does the job. If someone
would be so foolish as to climb the rock face, he would be an easy target
with a high powered assault rifle.
As we sailed by the rock on our yacht, we didn’t see
the guard or hear any warning shots. We just kept a safe distance and
satisfied ourselves with only pictures.
How do they harvest the swallow’s nests on the big rock? The photograph
shows the answer. They use hundreds of bamboo poles to climb the rock
wall. They lash the poles in the cracks and crevices of the rock face
leaving the bamboo scaffolds permanently in place. When harvest time
comes, they risk life and limb on a pilgrimage up the bamboo poles.
Harvesting swallow’s nests is not for the faint of heart. Pregnant ladies
and people with cardiac conditions should avoid this line of work.
Nevertheless, if you are willing to do whatever it takes, there is gold at
the end of each bamboo pole.
The folks who guard and harvest the swallow’s nests
are a lot like you and me. They are living their dreams. Harvesting bird’s
nests on rock walls in Thailand may not be your dream. But whatever your
dream is, there is only one way to make it happen - you must be willing to
do whatever it takes.