On my second full day in Siem Reap, I visited the Angkor Silk Farm. It was threatening rain all day, and after getting heatstroke the day before from spending too much time in a tuk tuk, I decided to book a car. The drive out to the farm took around a half hour. Traveling in a car meant that I was more distanced from Cambodia, but it also meant that I could chat with my driver. He also has a daughter around Rhiannon’s age, and we chatted about school and education for Cambodian kids. He told me about growing up in Cambodia in the civil war and the aftermath.
Arriving at the farm, I was taken on a free tour. I saw Mulberry Trees, which provide food for the silk worms.
I was shown the worms at various ages. Then I saw the baskets in which they spin their cocoons. About 20 percent of the worms are allowed to survive. The other 80 percent of the cocoons are placed in trays and then put into the sunlight to kill the worms inside.
The cocoons are separated into raw and fine silk. Raw (if I recall correctly–the memory is starting to fade) is the exterior silk of the cocoon. The fine silk is the interior. The two types of silk are separated as in the picture above and the two different silks are processed separately. They boil the silk/cocoons and then spin the silk into thread. Thread is wound thicker and into skeins.
If needed, the silk is dyed. The three types of thread to the left are raw silk, the one to the right is fine silk.
The silk is woven. The tassels on some types of products are rolled by hand.
You then exit through a museum (pictured) and a gift shop.
I really recommend this tour if you have any interest in silk production. Artisans of Angkor is a company that reinvests profit into the educational training it provides to young Cambodians. They are bringing back the traditional art forms that were almost lost in the reign of the Khmer Rouge and the Civil War, and those whom they employ are paid a fair wage.
You can see the rest of my silk worm farm photos (and some videos) here.