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For those of you following the story of the kitten, he is still alive and well. The staff at The Vine named him Samnang, which is Khmer for lucky, and it seems he has lived up to his name. I did not make it to the village earlier in the week as planned, so I did not get to see him.

When I arrived at The Vine yesterday afternoon one of the staff approached me tentatively and told me that the kitten had died. Before I could react with more than open mouthed, silent shock, another staff member quickly intervened and told me this was not actually the case. A cat in the village had recently given birth and Samnang was taken to her for some much needed mothering. It seems the first staff member, upon not seeing him, had concluded that the worst had happened.

So, on the plus side, he is being cared for. On the negative side, I don’t get to see him, and I’m told he was starting to open his eyes. Oh well, I have to care about what is best for the kitty, not for me.

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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

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.

I’ve spent a bit of time in the village this week, so there are many photos of The Vine Retreat where I now stay when I’m in the village. The running water and electricity was a little too tempting. The photos of where I used to stay can be found here.

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The view from the balcony.

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This is Titi. I remember when he was such a cute little puppy. I wish they stayed puppies.

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The Vine Retreat from the back.

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The swimming pool.

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