Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
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Sun - Sat 9am - 7pm
Checked cotton Cambodian kramaThe most quintessential Cambodian souvenir must be the checked cotton krama that you will see around the necks, heads or waists of every Cambodian you meet. Cambodians like to boast that the krama has a dozen different uses -- some clever, some cute, some cringe-worthy. The most popular way to wear the krama is as a handsome scarf and a symbol of national and cultural pride, hung loosely around the neck over a pressed dress shirt. However, head out to the villages and you'll see local farmers wearing them wrapped around their forehead to soak up the sweat, while village women will wear them as a head-dress. I've used mine as a belt. They're handy for wiping the perspiration from your brow while scrambling temples in the sticky humidity.
You'll see kramas sold everywhere and in the Old Market they start from as little as US$1, however, these are generally made from a polyester-cotton mix and don't do the trick. I love the authentic, quality cotton kramas sold at boutiques like Wa Gallery, which is where the ones above are from.
over 4 years ago
Shop for quirky art, crafts and design objects
Owned by arty expat French couple, Marie Fabre and Frédéric Escudier, quirky Wa Gallery is a must if you're into art and design. Marie and Frédéric love to travel and the carefully-selected objects here include a combination of exotic curios they have picked up on their trips around the world, especially in Asia, as well as paintings and pieces crafted in Cambodia. You'll find wonderfully kitschy mementoes, such as garishly painted Buddha and Ghanesh statues and Perspex salad servers and fabulous jewelry made by the couple, including Frédéric's colorful mango wood bangles. There are also collectable works of art, such as those by Bangkok-based Christian Develter, a regular visitor to Siem Reap, who is known for his color-saturated Andy Warhol-esque canvases of exotic Asian faces (there are some hanging in Miss Wong bar). Easier to transport home are Develter's limited edition lacquered boxes by Cambolac, a social enterprise that trains and employs hearing-impaired and disadvantaged young adults from villages in Angkor Archaeological Park. Marie (in colorful caftans) and Frédéric (wearing fluro) are often found in the shop and can answer questions about local art and crafts. They have two shops in the FCC arcade and another around the corner at Cassia, beside Shinta Mani Resort. Shipping is easily arranged.
over 4 years ago
As you'd expect from both a Buddhist nation and a country with a long rich history of carving and artisanal crafts dating to the Khmer Empire, there are beautiful Buddha statues in abundance. You'll find more traditional stone and wooden carvings at Artisans d'Angkor, however, I love the more contemporary creations, such as those at French-owned Wa Gallery that are painted in wild colors.