Still having problems with credit union card – emailed them last night, reply this morning indicating all should be well but no luck. Resorted to getting cash advance on the Visa card. Oh well, it worked last time in Cambodia so I hope my card just doesn’t like Laos and it will be OK next week.
The weaving village itself was fantastic. Just a small street with houses each side but if you listened carefully you could hear the rhythmical clacking of looms. It didn’t take long to find the source of the noise.
Found one place that had a fantastic display of all stages of sericulture and also a great display of various natural dye-stuffs and the colours that they made. The lovely man there spoke good English and I had quite a tour. He was happy to explain all their techniques and give me the Lao word for ikat (mut mee). Lots of fantastic photos too. Bought a small piece of local weaving for 50,000kip.
After lunch I visited the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre. Fantastic display of traditional costumes of many of the ethnic groups in Laos. Friendly English speaking staff were wonderful explaining various textiles including Lao’s version of batik – partem kipung (sic?) which translates literally as bee wax drawing. The wax doesn’t penetrate the fabric as much as Indonesian batik but I guess because indigo dyeing is so fast it doesn’t need to. They had pieces of cotton and hemp on display.
I bought a doll from here too, she’s a new design from the Akha Nuqui ethnic group of northern Laos. Based loosely on traditional designs (well her had certainly is) she is obviously aimed squarely at the tourist with a sense of humour.
Missed the National Museum because they close at 3.30pm. Tony visited there while I was exploring and was gob-smacked. The main hall was beautiful and he also found a display of all the cars that had at one time or other belonged to the Royal Family.
About to head off for dinner and one last look at the night markets.