The second stop on the $10 Countryside Tour in Da Lat was the silk farm! This stop came after the rose farm and the minority village where gender roles are reversed and gigantic spiders roam. You can read more about the first part of the tour here.
Silk is made by silk worm pupae that create a cocoon out of silk. To extract the silk, the cocoons are boiled and machines are used to unravel the silk and collect it. It is then turned into balls of fine silk. If the pupae were to hatch, the silk would be damaged which is why it is necessary to kill the pupae in the process of harvesting silk. Luckily, these pupae are considered a delicacy and are sold for food once they are removed – nothing goes to waste!
This entire process was explained to us at the silk farm. We got to touch the cocoons and see every step of the silk making process! We were also told some interesting facts, such as there is no such thing as 100% silk. Silk is extremely fine and if it was used on it’s own to create a scarf, it would fall apart immediately. Anything claiming to be over 80% silk is probably fake – at least that’s what we were told at this farm.
It was incredibly fascinating to walk among the workers and look over their shoulders. They were very nice and let us stick our cameras and GoPros right into their work. There was a conveyor belt that sorted the cocoons, washed them and prepared them for harvesting.
Another lady, wearing a typical Vietnamese rice hat, took the dead pupae out of the silk and put it in a bucket to be taken to the market. Silk worm pupae are a popular food across Asia, including China. Even in Shanghai, where insects are considered gross and not food, silk worms can be found in restaurants.
They seem to be in a separate food category and are commonly served spicy on a stick. You’re supposed to peel the skin off and only eat the inside but I prefer to eat the entire insect, chili-pepper free.
If you’re wondering where eating insects stands now that I’ve adopted an almost vegan diet, well, I’m confused about that myself. I still feel like eating insects, especially those that you farm yourself, isn’t as cruel as eating animals. Especially since some scientists believe that they don’t feel pain. Either way, eating insects is not vegan and although there are entovegans who incorporate insects into their otherwise vegan diets, it’s a very controversial topic.
Anyway, back to the silk farm! Silk is another popular business in Da Lat and silk trade is a blossoming business. Real silk is incredibly expensive, so beware of cheap silk on your trip to Vietnam. It is likely that the silk is fake or that the percentage of silk in the product is very low.
Next stop: Buddhist pagoda and the Elephant waterfall!