Before leaving for Siem Reap, my mom and did some research on organizations who produce water hyacinth products. We came across Osmose, an organization that not only makes baskets from water hyacinth, but gives workshops on weaving as well. My mom and I were so thrilled when we learned about this. We set an appointment with Mr. Vang Vorng, the Water Hyacinth Handicraft Project Manager.
We arrived at 9 in the morning and we started the workshop immediately. The Osmose ladies taught us how to weave placemats and coasters. It was nice to learn weaving styles that are different from what we know. We paid close attention as they guided us with each step, making sure that everything will be remembered.
After three hours of weaving, I managed to make this:
With continuous weaving, this can become a coaster, a basket, or a bag. They also gave us tips on how to add color using organic materials. We were really excited after the workshop. I was already thinking of new designs that we can use for our products. 🙂
Our group wanted to visit Tonle Sap since we heard from friends who have been to Cambodia before that it’s nice to capture the sunset while at the lake. We left at 1 in the afternoon and paid $20 for the boat ticket.
Tonle Sap, a combined lake and river system, is very important to Cambodia. In 1997, it was designated as a UNESCO biosphere and is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. With these merits, we were hoping that the trip to the lake will be worth every penny but I have to say it wasn’t. We didn’t get to see the sunset because we were too early and the driver of the boat said that if we extend for one more hour, we will have to pay extra. We were also required to purchase food as a “donation” for the children at the orphanage.
I have to admit, it was heartbreaking to witness the situation of the people living in the area. Imagine living for days in a house that gets support from four wooden posts that aren’t even high enough to keep itself dry once the river overflows. Babies live on boats because their parents bring them along as they ask for money from tourists. It really saddened me that these children have to live in this kind of situation. When we were paying for our “donation”, I prayed silently that the kids will really receive what we bought for them.