Tuesday, 16 February 2016

February 13 - Silk farm and Kompong Phluk 2

For some unknown reason, I was unable to add any text to "February 13 Silk farm and Kompong Phluk ". So..... this is the commentary. The other entry in my blog with this same title has the pictures
Started out the day very early. At about 3:30 am I was awoken by a sound in my room similar to a bird chirping. Lying awake imagining, things I wasn't sure if it had been a dream or not - then I heard it again. I turned on the lights and saw nothing unusual. After starring at the walls for awhile I decided to go back to sleep. Lights off, under the covers and I hear it again. I grabbed my phone and Googled "do cockroaches make sounds?" - yes they do, but not bird like sounds. I then see a shadow moving on my ceiling. .... I have a gecko living in my room. This is the first time I have heard sounds from a gecko, and although it is not unpleasant, it is certainly loud. Geckos are good things to have in a room as they eat bugs - probably not as large as the cockroaches that I had imagined, but bugs nonetheless.
After breakfast I wandered around and met Mr. Sat a Tuk-tuk driver. He drives a pink Tuk-tuk which makes it very easy to see when a large amount of Tuk-tuks are congested in an area.
Mr. Sat drove me to a Silk Farm just outside of town. A tour guide led me through the step-by-step  process in creating silk. Approximately 25-30% of the silk worms are used for the silk process. Fields of mulberry bushes surround the processing plant. The staff go through a 6 month training period and usually they continue working for 3 to 6 years. After the silk worms reach maturity and enter the cocoon stage, they are boiled. If a person wanted to eat a boiled silk worm the guide would allow the opportunity. Not me!
As the silk worms are boiling and stirred,  the outer cocoon becomes unraveled: this is a low grade silk. A second boiling process is used to remove the inner cocoon which is finer and considered a higher grade of silk. Each step was demonstrated. It was explained that it takes 2.5 days after the silk is boiled, made into yarn, died, and patterns created for 3 meters of cloth to be made. At the end of the tour the obligatory visit to the sale shop occurred.  Beautiful items were for sale.
After lunch I made several attempts to withdraw money from local ATM'S.  Most don't accept foreign cards. Eventually I found one that would dispense US money - in fiftys and hundreds. So a trip to the local  bank was necessary to get smaller bills. This is more complicated than it sounds.  Cambodian people do not speak a lot of English. I found the "take a number" machine, but it had 6 options - none that said change US money into smaller bills or Cambodian Riel.  I made my best guess and sat down. Numbers are not called in sequence - it depends on what the "option"  you chose. Eventually I figured it out
At 2:30pm I joined a tour to a local village, Kompong Phluk . Only 9 people were in the tour van; a couple from Ireland, a couple from Switzerland,  2 girls from Sweden and 2 men from Argentina.....and me.
We had a 40 min. drive through the country side before we reached the village built on stills along the river. On a high point of the village is a beautiful Pagoda and a monk's residence. Three very young monks, approximately age 10 - 12 were present as well as some older ones.
The village has a population of about 3,000. There is an English school sponsored by a ministry. The homes are built very high on stilts and the homes are decorated with flowers and new years decorations. The children appear to enjoy following the touists, hoping for a candy or two. An agressive group of young mothers (ages 18-25) are desperately trying to receive donations of school books and pencils - of which they are holding and waving in tourists faces.
On the other side of the village is a boat launch area. We load into a boat and it churns up the waterway/stream into the lake. The water is very low this year. High water level usually rises 5-7 meters, this year the rainy season brought less than two meters. As well, Laos built a dam on a major river into Cambodia and this has restricted the water flow. The river and lake  is much lower than it has been in years. It is a concern as this will impact on the fish breeding and fish harvesting.
We moved through the river to a small group of floating buildings including a restaurant. We observed the sunset from here. On our way back to the village, the village  youth on our boat jumped into the river.  It is only up to their waists.

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