Saturday, January 30, 2010

Educational day in Dalat

I regret that I didn't get a better photo of this woman spinning cotton in a very ancient fashion. We were in her tiny home as one stop on the tour we took with a guide from our hotel in Dalat, The Pink House Hotel. This was a fascinating day and we learned so much about the area that we would never have known if we had not lucked into this hotel. What she is spinning is not cotton as we think of it, but the fluff from a kind of tree that they harvest and extract the large seed from before they can spin it. With the fine cotton thread they weave large squares of fabric used for clothing.They dye them with various plant materials in blue, gold and green. We did not have room in our suitcases for one of these pieces of fabric unfortunately. Now I know how my parents felt when they had to turn down a large NW coast carved wooden mask for lack of space on their sailboat. That mask now resides in a museum in Seattle, as these weavings will also probably end up in a museum some day.
These are coffee blossoms that look and smell like jasmine. I imagine that they are in the same family. I was surprised to learn that these flowers smell so sweet, but it was a pleasant surprise as we drove through miles of coffee plantations and some tea, as well. There had been three days of rain just before our visit, which is very rare, but good for the plants, so it will be a good year for coffee. Our guide told us that there had been big parties to celebrate this good fortune. Wish we had been there for that!
Another stop along the way was at a silk factory. I have been to some in China filled with big, loud machines, which are not that fun to see. I really liked the way that these cocoons are set out to dry on big bamboo baskets. I learned that there are larger cocoons that have two pupae and these are separated out, as the silk they produce is thicker and more coarse.
I also learned that the price of silk varies here from the wet season to the dry season. Cheaper in the wet season, but still quite reasonable by our standards.
Yes, we even stopped at a cricket farm. Hard to read, but this is the "cricket menu" that was up on the wall. I had decided to forgo the cricket tasting, but our guide gently suggested that I should try them. Since the cricket farmer so generously fried up a fresh batch for us, how could I resist? I even ate two, and they are kinda crunchy. Not bad. We did pass on the cricket and scorpion wine, however.
This enterprising farmer also raises scorpions, grubs and flies.
While in the market later that afternoon, I couldn't resit this photo of various kinds of rice. Who knew there were so many different varieties--at least twenty or more.
Well, this turned out to by my "white post" from Dalat! But haven't you learned something new?


  1. Cynthia, I'm enjoying each of your posts, all the colorful and white photos, stories and information. You'd make a great tour guide.

  2. Crickets! You are more adventurous than I might have imagined. Love all the photos and tales of your travels, Cynthia.

  3. Thanks for your comments and for following along on our journey. I appreciate each and every one of you, and it makes me feel closer to home when I read your comments. Can you tell I'm feeling a little homesick?