We eventually settled in a cafe that had free popcorn and fruits with your meal. Leah had Khmer noodles (US$2) and I had Khmer fish soup (US$2.25). This is by far my favourite meal in Cambodia. The fish soup has chunks of smooth fish, green leafy vegetables, pieces of yam and sweet potato. By now, we have realized that everytime they name a food Khmer, it means it has this special blend of Khmer spices called Amok.
Khmer fish soup
After having lunch, we decided to visit the workshops that make traditional Khmer handicrafts. These workshops often hire people who are handicapped or have been injured in the Khmer Rouge regime and could not have found a job otherwise. The first one we went to was Senteurs d'Angkor.
At Senteurs d'Angkor, we saw people making baskets out of palm leaves. Baskets made of palm leaves are very common in Cambodia. They are used for packaging bought goods, just like plastic bags! There, they dye the palm leaves and others weave the palm leaves into baskets.
women weaving palm leaves into baskets
dyed and drying palm leaves
baskets made of palm leaves
At Senteurs, they have their own herb garden that boasts of numerous local herbs such as lemongrass, betel, tumeric, chili and others. They grow the herbs, harvest them, and grind them. Senteurs also uses its own herbs to make aromatic candles, soaps and oils.
lemongrass in the gardens
We also visited the packaging department, where all the soaps, oils, spices, jams etc. were packaged. The women working there were very friendly too. It felt like a comfortable and relaxed working environment for the staff.
At the end, we were also served tea and coffee at the cafe. I had iced lemongrass tea. It was so good. Its no surprise what I got at the store. :)
After Senteurs, we got the tuk-tuk to drive us to Artisans d'Angkor. Artisans, like Senteurs, also hires mainly handicapped people who cannot find jobs elsewhere. At Artisans, we had a guide who took us through all the different workshops. The first workshop we went to was the wood-carving workshop. Here, the sculptors are basically interning at Artisans before they open their own workshops elsewhere. We were told these internships usually last about 18 months.
copying a wood turtle from the cement original
tools of the trade
Moving on, we also visited the sandstone sculpting workshop. There are many different types of sandstone. All the sandstone used in the workshop is brought in from different quarries in Cambodia. The special and rare green sandstone is used only for restoring sculptures at Angkor.
the different types of sandstone
sandstone elephant wearing the sculptor's safety glasses
Next, we visited the metalworks workshop. They were making silver-guilded bronze jewelry boxes.
decorative pumpkin leaves to be put on the jewelry box
Jewelry box filled with resin for engraving
Leah tries her hand at working in metalworks
At the Artisans store, there is a section full of pink, purple and orange things. The silk there was so smooth too, but everything just cost alot, even for American standards. Love the store! :)
love this silk bed!!
silk bags and scarfs
silk scarves of all colors