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Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Another week, another collection of articles I have found interesting enough to pass on.

The articles

  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, says Australians need to get over their obsession with boat people.  I’m a little annoyed about the human trafficking reference though, that’s quite different to people smuggling and confuses the conversation.
  • A fascinating article in The New Yorker about a plagiarist.
  • So apparently women are guilty of sexually harassing men when they look good in their clothes.  Say what?!  Make sure you read the comments, they’re even better than the article.

Blog of the week

  • Brain Pickings is like an online museum of super cool and artsy stuff.
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Not too long ago Elysse and I visited the Silk Farm just outside of Siem Reap. Students live and study here for one year, and upon completion return to their home towns (or to wherever they want, I suppose) to work and train others. They only train in one small part of the very lengthy process, which shall be outlined below.

First, the worms are fed mulberry leaves, which I’m told is the same in Australia. They are kept in cupboards in a wooden building on stilts. The stilts are in water to prevent ants getting in and eating the worms.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The worms are then left to make cocoons, which is where the silk comes from.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

In nature it looks more like this.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Some of the cocoons are kept for breeding purposes, the others are put in the sun. The drying process kills the growing worms inside.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

They are then placed in boiling water. The outside of the cocoon starts to unravel and this is caught up and fed onto a large reel. The thread from the outside of the cocoon becomes raw silk.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The process is repeated with the inner part of the cocoon, making finer silk.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

The thread is then cleaned and stripped of any lumps.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

It is dyed using natural dyes.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

For some reason I didn’t photograph the design part. Some women are trained in marking the threads for the patterns. They tie plastic at various points before dying to create the colourful patterns which are then woven very precisely using a loom.

And then pretty things are made! Check out this awesome cocoon dress!

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

My purchases included a silk pillow case (it had an elephant on it, I couldn’t resist), a silk head scarf, and yes, I’m the person who bought two cotton scarves at a silk farm.

Silk Farm in Siem Reap

Tabby.  She keeps me company during the storms.

It’s a short and late collection this week as I’ve been busy and have friends visiting!

The Articles

  • For those of you who, like me, love journals and empty books but are never sure how to fill them, maybe try a Lifebook.
  • An amusing draft speech in The Monthly for the Prime Minister should President Obama visit Australia again.
  • I don’t listen to the music of Chris Brown or Rihanna, they’re just not my thing, and so I would have no interest in the history of their relationship.  But even I have followed this story and am a bit horrified by the the things I’ve read on twitter, many of which are along the lines of ‘I would let Chris Brown beat me’.  Hello Giggles (a website I’ve just discovered) is just as concerned.
Blog of the week

I’ve been travelling a bit this week, first to Siem Reap, then to Kep. Here are the photos of my week.


Trivia night last week. I think we came 6th or 7th.


Silk worms at the silk farm just out of Siem Reap. A full post will be coming of the silk farm later.


My friend Elysse works at Anjali House (an NGO doing great work with street kids) and they put on a theatre performance over the weekend. It was hilarious and wonderful. We could hardly hear a thing, the lead actor kept his back to the audience throughout the whole play, and the scene changes took longer than the scenes. But when you take into account that they were doing the play in a second language and had probably never seen a western play before, it was hard not to be impressed. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


My local dumpling joint. Mmmm… dumplings.


This is a popular helmet in Cambodia. Looks like it’s made of plastic though. I’m not sure how good it would be in a crash.


At The Vine.


The Sailing Club in Kep.


Read all about the kitten here.

At the end of last year I spent a very fancy weekend at the Four Rivers Floating Lodge in Koh Kong. Very luxurious!

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The Lodge can only be accessed by boat similar to these. We were picked up by the Lodge.

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I’m happy and relaxed already.

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There’s always one.

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There are 12 large and luxurious tents, complete with double bed, couches and arm chairs, a very nice bathroom with plenty of hot water, and a small balcony from which you can dive into the river for a swim.

I was too busy swimming and reading to take any photos once we arrived. Sorry.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook this photo of myself and the cute one day old kitten in our office in the village.

This morning we walked into the office to be told that his mother had been hit by a car earlier that morning. The staff were feeding him, but the food wasn’t great and we (I say we, but my colleague’s concern was much greater than my own as she had nursed two abandoned kittens before without success) were very worried about him. It wasn’t possible for either of us to take him back to Phnom Penh. So we left the office with heavy hearts and no kitten.

But upon returning to The Vine we were told that the staff here would be able to look after him. So after lunch I jumped in The Vine’s big army green coloured four-wheel drive and we rushed back to the office at breakneck speed (or so it felt to me, it was probably only 60k/h). I ran inside to rescue the little kitty who was still alive and seemed well. The driver had seemed a little confused and unimpressed when he had been told where he was driving me and why, but as soon as I climbed back in the truck with the itty bitty kitten he crooned ‘oooh, toooic’ which means ‘oooh, small’.

We then drove the very short distance to the market where they had no kitty formula (expected) and no baby formula (unexpected). They also had no eye droppers so we settled for a baby bottle, although it would be too big. I was then advised to go to the pharmacy, but upon arrival we found they couldn’t help us either. We decided in the end to get condensed milk and see how we went from there.

It started pouring rain on the drive back and it was an incredibly jumpy ride. I tried to hold the kitten still, but he insisted on trying to climb all over me, his little face with his closed eyes nudging at my neck, presumably trying to find food. He also covered my beautiful kroma (a Khmer scarf pictured below) with yellow poo.

Upon our return the staff rushed into action, one of the men heated water to add to the milk, then cooled it down checking the temperature regularly. We then started feeding, I had the honours, but I could see how interested the boys were, so I handed the task over to them.

It soon became obvious that this wouldn’t work, it was too big. So they resorted to spoon feeding him.

After feeding him we looked for Nisa, The Vine’s resident cat, in the hope that she would clean him and take care of him. I laid him on the ground wrapped in my kroma and stood back to see what would happen. Nisa stared at him warily for some time. I had to run downstairs to get my computer and when I came back Nisa was smelling him, but she ran away when she saw me and hasn’t come back.

A friend on Facebook suggested a syringe, and I happen to have my medical kit on me. What else could the syringe be for but to feed orphaned kittens? He’s being looked after by the staff now. Hopefully he makes it through the night! I’ll let you know.

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It’s that time of the week again.

The Book

  • I’m actually going to stop writing this, as although I know very few people read this blog, I’m finding it a little stressful. Stupid, I know.  But as I was finishing The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, I started panicking a little about what book I would read next.  I knew I wanted to take a break from the series, but suddenly started worrying about what people would think of the next book I choose to read.

Someone once said to me that when we worry about people judging us for something, it’s because we judge other people for the same reason.  Maybe I’m a book snob and don’t want people to know I read some trash as well (okay, I confess, I read all the Sookie Stackhouse books in a month and a half last year.  Are they trash?  You tell me.  I really enjoyed them).  I don’t panic about books so much as I do about music.  I find music snobs incredibly intimidating and showing one of them what I’m listening to on my iPod is enough to induce a small panic attack.

I don’t think I’m worried so much as I don’t want my book choice to be influenced by what I think other people will think of me by what I read.  That being said, if you’re interested in what I’m reading (who wouldn’t be?!) feel free to ask.  And if I’m reading a particularly interesting book, I’ll post about it.

For those who want to know, I have recently been reading Call for the Dead, the first book by John le Carre, and the first book introducing George Smiley, the protagonist in the recent film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (excellent film, I highly recommend it). I finished that in two nights and am now reading The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susanah.

Articles

  • Another confession, I am a Brangelina fan.  But seriously, is anyone surprised? Some time last year I came across this photo shoot by the couple.  I quite like it except for a few strange photos that seem to be depicting some violence.  I don’t really get that.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, here is a photo gallery on American poverty from The New Yorker.
  • The Obama Memos in The New Yorker outline why I never want to be the leader of any country.
  • The Guardian on the overuse of the word literally.
Blog/site of the week
  • Tiny Vices is an online gallery.  I haven’t gotten past the home page yet.  It’s mesmerising watching the photos change every few seconds.