Sunday, 15 April 2018

Papermaking in Lao: Ban Xang Khong, Luang Prabang

I love to hunt out arts and crafts on my travels, and even better, actually give making something a go. There's already plenty to do in Luang Prabang in Lao including basket weaving, pottery and embroidery (onto Hmong slippers) but of course for me papermaking is a must.

Close by is the village of Ban Xang Khong, which specialises in manufacturing and selling products made from silk and Saa Paper (paper made from the bark of the Mulberry Tree).



Whether you are just passing through, on holiday or looking for a place to source from, this area is where you will be able to fill a couple of hours admiring the handicrafts and stocking up on souvenirs.

Hand painted pictures and cards
Hand bound notebooks

There are a number of little stores run by local people still using traditional methods to create beautiful handicrafts.

What I enjoyed most is the opportunity to see items being entirely made by hand, including the Saa paper.

Ban Xang Khong - paper making
To be able to appreciate the diversity of products, you will have to wander through a number of shops, but the larger ones in the centre have the most variety.

How to get there:
Go to the North station (you can take the little wooden bridge if you go by bicycle). At the North station, continue for about 50 yards, and turn left (just after the petrol station). Then, go straight on. The village is on the left, along the Mekong. A great way to get there is by bicycle.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Key sights: Tirana

Albania's capital Tirana, should definitely be on your list when considering a city break as it ticks most of the boxes and is cheap.

The infrastructure is still being developed, but with its quirky buildings amidst the remnants of the communist regime, there's little indication of its grey past.



It is a very pleasant city with plenty of cultural experiences and a buzz that doesn't exist anywhere else in Albania.

In the Summer months temperatures can reach 30 degrees. So, with the beach being an easy drive away, and an expanse of sand, there's the potential to couple a visit to Tirana with a lot more.