This week I came up to Laos to check out some new hotels and check in with my office. There were also some new tours I wanted to try, so with both kids in school in Cambodia it seemed like a good time to head North.
My first day I was signed up for Ock Pop Tok’s new one-day weaving course. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous the night before, you see while I love silk and am lucky enough to be around weavers a lot, thanks to Nikaya, I wasn’t all that confident I would be any good at it. In the name of research I gave it a shot, and what an amazing day.
You start the day by going to the Ock Pok Tok store, which is worth a visit in its own right. From there a tuk-tuk takes you to the beautiful weaving center. Overlooking the river Ock Pop Tok, translated East Meets West, was developed by a pair of women, one from the UK and one from Laos as a place that tourists could come and really get a lesson in the amazing arts of natural dying and traditional weaving.
My morning was spent learning which plants make which colors and dying my own silk with the expert help of my English speaking guide Morn and the expert colorist (not sure if that’s the right word, though he is similar to the lovely lady who does my hair and pretty sure she’s a colorist…though I am glad my hair is not the color of the silk I dyed…but I digress) Mr Kim.
After an amazing lunch of local food overlooking the river I was shown the basics of weaving and I got to work. I have seen so much weaving in the last year, but still didn’t appreciate the complexity and intricacy of it. Because I had to focus so hard on each motion I had no room for other thoughts and there was no way to do my usual multitasking, I had to be completely focused on the movement of my hands and feet and the pattern I was creating. The truth is it was the closest I have, and probably ever will come, to meditation. My guide helped me figure out the movements and then a professional weaver watched over me and helped when threads broke or I made a mistake, but otherwise I was on my own. Around me the professional weavers chatted and laughed in Laos, calming and pleasurable without having to understand the words.
By the end of the day I had made a placemat that I intend on framing for my bedroom, a reminder of that perfect day on the river where I actually did one thing at a time.
Ock Pop Top information: www.ockpoptok.com or ask Journeys Within Tour Company to book a weaving day for you!
Actual travel date: November 15, 2008
posted by Andrea