Dalat, Vietnam has a number of silk factories, and it is absolutely worth it to tour one. The moment Lulu and I walked through the dusty doors of the building, I started gasping.
Top Right: Baskets and heaps of finished cocoons!
Second and Third Down, Right: Women boiling the cocoons in steaming hot water, then getting the end of the cocoon into a slurping-out-then-winding-around machine to unravel then spool the silk from the worm home! Lulu asked, “Why do you think it’s only women here?” I correctly guessed: “Small hands!”
Fourth Down, Left: My glamorous self forcibly modeling a silk spool around my neck… Lulu threw it on me and grabbed my camera!
Fifth Down, Right and Left: Silk drying outside (in front of a junk heap and a motorcycle!) that has just been dyed vibrant colors.
Sixth Down, Left: Bolts of finished yards of colored silk!
Sixth Down, Right: Stunning clothing fashioned (usually in Hoi An, Vietnam) out of the silk made in the factory
What really took my breath away was the juxtaposition between the royal refinement of the silk and the down-and-dirty mechanics of how it’s born. I mean, you can’t get much grubbier than the following list: larvae, mating bugs, people toiling for hours over scalding water and wet insect homes, rickety old machines clacking in the dust, clotheslines in front of flea-bitten dogs and refuse, and all of this in a decidedly rustic setting. I had no idea it was like this!
This, however, illustrates why it’s so irritating when men idealize a gorgeous woman and put her on a holy pedestal without really getting to know her. (“Huh?” you say, “Where did that come from?” Hold on and hear me out, people.) Just like the silk, even the most precious-looking glamor usually has a story behind it with some dirt.
Rather than diminishing the beauty, learning its dusty past actually adds to its value!