about We are Akila and Patrick. Our minds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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Tag: Crafts
lamps at the grand bazaar

Istanbul Grand Bazaar

Lamps in Grand Bazaar

One of the best parts about traveling as we do is that I am rarely tempted to buy souvenirs or random stuff --- I know that anything we buy has to fit into our car and we don't have much car space left.  But, oh, these lamps at the Grand Bazaar were tempting.  I'm kind of obsessed with them, actually, especially because the vendors will sell a full chandelier for only $35 USD.  What do you think?  Worth the car space or not?

Istanbul lamps Grand Bazaar Istanbul Grand Bazaar

Lamps in Grand Bazaar

Istanbul Grand Bazaar Istanbul lamps
Istanbul lamps

Lamps in Grand Bazaar

weekly photo: leafy gates

Savannah's gates

A leafy gate in Savannah

I so want a gate like this one for my imaginary mansion.  I'm just sayin'.

By the way, have you entered to win a 5-night Hawaiian vacation at the Maile Sky Court Hotel in Waikiki Beach?  Today is your last day to enter and, right now, we've got about 150 entries or so . . . . get yours in TODAY!

* This Weekly Photo is part of Delicious Baby's round-up of beautiful travel pictures and #FriFotos on Twitter.

silky stylings

Mulberry plants

Mulberry bushes at Angkor d' Artisans

Five thousand years ago, when modern forms of writing had not yet been invented and Egyptian hieroglyphics were just developing, some farmer or worker or emperor of China discovered silk making.  I wonder what induced that person to look in the mulberry bushes, pick through the tiny silk worm cocoons, and spin them into thread.

Silk moths Silkworms
Silkworms Silk coccoons
Silk worms; moths; cocoons

Silk is something we take for granted, now.  It is another fabric that we can pick up in markets, stores, and boutiques.  We line our purses, wrap our necks, and clothe ourselves in dresses and shirts all made of silk.  We had no idea how much labor goes into producing a small silk scarf until we visited Artisans d'Angkor in Siem Reap.

Silk cocoons in basket weave


The silk moth lays about 500 eggs in a period of four to six days and then dies.  The eggs grow into small worms which became adults in about 20 days.  According to Wikipedia, in order to produce 2 pounds of silk, 3000 silkworms need to eat 230 pounds of mulberry leaves.  The silk worms spin cocoons to turn into moths.  About 75% of the cocoons are used in the silk weaving process and the remaining 25% hatch from the cocoons into moths to produce more eggs.


Cocoons ready to be boiled

The workers boil the cocoons with the live moths inside.  Frankly, I find this disgusting. I know that they are insects, it is questionable whether they can feel pain, and most people don't care if they live or die, but it seems wrong to me to boil an insect alive in the name of fashion.  But, maybe I am just being overly sensitive.  (Apparently, there is a type of silk promoted by Mahatma Gandhi called Ahimsa Silk made from cocoons in which the pupae have been extracted or have naturally flown away.)

Silk thread extraction Silk cocoons boiled
Silk thread extracted Silk thread extracted

Rough silk threads extracted from boiled cocoons

A woman sits with a hand crank all day long to extract the rough silk threads from the boiled cocoons which are then dyed using natural and artificial dyes.  The women spin the silk into even thinner fibers until they glisten and glimmer like webbing from a spider.

Spinning silk fibers Threads from silk
Spun silk threads Spun silk threads

Spinning raw silk into thin fibers

The women then convert the silk threads into amazing designs which is then woven into scarves, ties, and other fabrics with a loom.  Amazingly, the women don't listen to music or watch television while performing these wholly monotonous jobs.

Silk in spools

Spools of silk thread

We also saw no men working in the silk factory; perhaps silk weaving is traditionally considered "woman's work."  (In the same regard, we never saw any female tuk tuk drivers.)  These women work long hours and come from nearby villages to produce the beautiful products we found at the end of the tour.

Weaving silk into a loom

Weaving silk design with a loom

Though we purchased nothing at Artisans d'Angkor, we have gained a newfound appreciation for this labor-intensive and beautiful material.

The silk tour is free and leaves every day at 9:30 and 1:30 from Artisans d'Angkor in Stung Thmey Street, Siem Reap.  It is a fun break from temple visiting and a good place to buy local crafts.

lovely lampang

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

Sometimes, I think tourism is all about the right sort of marketing.  Take Lampang, for example, a town two hours south of Chiang Mai that houses one of the oldest and most beautiful wats in all northern Thailand.

Buddha in temple Incense with money at wat
Horse drawn carriage in front of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang Ceiling at Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
Buddha, offerings, horse drawn carriage, wooden Lanna style ceiling at Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

Day in and day out, Thai tourists ride through the town on funny little horse drawn carriages, meandering from market to market, and wat to wat. Thai villagers and townspeople from neighboring cities fill the few Lampang hotels on Saturdays and Sundays when the town hosts a huge night market.

Naga at wat Naga
Nagas Garuda on wat


But, foreigners don't know about Lampang. Chiang Mai, advertised heavily by the Thai government and most guidebooks, is filled to the brim with tourists from every nation; Lampang, a town more charming and nearly as interesting as Chiang Mai, sees few non-Thai faces.

Nagas and orange flowers

Wat rooftop

In fact, if I put my travel pundit hat on, I would say that in ten years, Lampang will the new Chiang Mai because farangs (foreigners) are going to get fed up with the mass commercialization and cheesiness of Chiang Mai.

Flowers in Lampang Nagas

Flowers and nagas at wat whose name I have forgotten in Lampang

For now, Lampang is just about perfect as it is.  Signs are written in Thai rather than English, there are no restaurants catering to foreigners with pseudo-Thai cuisine, no old men with Thai girls in short skirts, and few people who could speak even broken English.

Mural at Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

Mural at Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

We admired the fading murals, depicting 16th century life and the lives of Buddha, at Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, without the jostling of elbows and the blinding flash that so often marred our other visits to beautiful temples.

Mushrooms on a skewer Thai sweets
Potatoes on a stick Meatballs on a stick
Street foods on a stick

On our first night, we crowded into Aroy One Baht, a restaurant that serves stunning Thai cuisine at embarrassingly cheap prices, with what felt like the entire city of Lampang.  Their fried cauliflower served with peanut sauce remains one of our favorite dishes in all of Thailand.  At Happy Bar next door, we drank whiskey with the locals while listening to Thai pop played by a guitarist.

Lampang Night Market Juices at Lampang Night Market
Guitars at Lampang Night Market Woman at Lampang Night Market

The Lampang Night Market

At the Lampang weekend market, there were no annoying women dressed in hill tribe costumes trying to sell us wooden frogs (believe me, if you’ve been to Bangkok or Chiang Mai, you know what I am talking about).   Instead, teenage girls crowded around the pink accessories table, young children painted pictures on tiny easels, and everyone lingered around the food pouring from the stalls.  It was the only place in the country where, at six p.m., the loudspeakers blared the national anthem and everyone stood stock still to pay respect to the king and country.

Pink stall

Pink stall

Lampang is a slice of Thai life away from the typical tourist trail and we loved every moment there.

December 2009

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