Right before the entrance to Phnom Santuk is a sign on the right side of the road for Santuk Silk Farm.
It's set about 10 metres down the dirt road on the left. Tour groups occasionally come through, we were told, and they provide lunch if you let them know you're coming three days in advance. The organisation employs 15 local women from Svay Kal village and is run by husband-and-wife team Bud and Nevin, who formerly ran a silk weaving co-op for amputees in Preah Vihear.
In 2006, they opened this business. Tours are free, and they will show you their plot of mulberry trees, whose leaves feed the silkworms, then take you into the room where the worms live and explain the whole egg-through-molting process of making silk, which is quite interesting. Then you can see where the silk is boiled to make it soft and finally see how the women spin the silk and eventually weave it. There's a restaurant and shop where the silks are sold, but we encountered no pressure to buy. It's a pleasant stop if you're planning to visit Phnom Santuk anyway.
Nearby is the carving village of Svay Kal which is famous for its carvings from sandstone from the local hills, so if you're passing this way it's definitely worth a peek. Bear in mind that this village with its abundant supply of stone has created Buddhist and Hindu images for centuries (as well as more recently elephants and assorted animals), so you could well be looking at the descendants of the guys who created the wonderful statues and lintels found at Sambor all those centuries ago. (Most of the spectacular statues found at Sambor are now located in Phnom Penh's National Museum.)
By Mark Ord.
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