Saturday, January 19, 2013

A silver pagoda and a golden quilt

We visited the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, and though I marveled at the ornately carved surfaces and colourful, crumbling friezes and giant Buddha footprints, I was distracted. You see, on the way there I met a quilt. A beautiful, golden yellow quilt with a striking medallion pattern and pineapples in the corners. I saw it in a store called Mekong Quilts, which is an NGO that trains and employs women in Vietnam and Cambodia, offers them a fair wage (often double what they made before, allowing their children to stay in school), and provides a safe and comfortable working environment. We had seen another of their stores when we were in Hanoi, but we didn’t even look at prices, because we’re backpacking, and a quilt is not exactly a practical purchase, and shipping is expensive.

But we were in Phnom Penh, and my parents had brought an extra suitcase to send home some other hand-made souvenirs we’ve gathered, so what’s a little king-sized quilt thrown in there? So I looked at the tag: $227. Impossible. You can barely buy the supplies back home for that much, let alone the work involved. And we all know it’s going to be another decade before my quilt is done. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. So after our visit to the Silver Pagoda we went back and bought it. But it gets worse. They had a special promotion: spend $300, get a free small quilt. So… we bought a second quilt (an baby quilt), thus enabling us to just qualify for that free quilt. So that’s three quilts. But they vacuum pack them so they become (relatively) small, so… really, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Ok, it IS as crazy as it sounds, but come on, where else can you get such a beautiful hand-made quilt for that price and support a great cause at the same time?

A purchase bigger than my entire backpack. Oh dear.

I should have taken a picture of it in the store; here it is on the double bed in the
hotel - it will be better on our queen bed, and will still have some nice overhang.

Pineapple designs in the corners  :)


  1. The quilts are beautiful! I am drooling over the stitching!

  2. Haha, that's hilarious! If you just buy ONE MORE quilt.....

  3. I would not have been able to resist either! That's amazing. And you had a way to get it home! so you thought it through! I think.... haha