After an extremely satisfying buffet breakfast at the Tohsang Khongjiam Resort & Spa, we set out for the Ban Pa Ao Silk Weaving & Brass making Village.
Located about 12 miles north of Ubon Ratchathani City, Ban Pa-ao has a long history as one of the premier handicrafts villages in all of Thailand. Today, it is one of the last villages that still uses the “Lost Wax” technique of molding brass vessels and ornaments. In addition to some more modern designs, the village metal workers have preserved ancient patterns like the Ban Chaing pattern originally produced in Lao.
While we did not take advantage of it, visitors can spend more time in the village and get hands on experience in the technique through a home-stay overnight service.
When we arrived in the village, we first went to a local silk weaving workshop, another handicraft the village is well known for producing. From there, we moved on to the brass works facility where we were shown how a form is covered with wax and then that is covered with a mixture of buffalo dung and mud. Then hot molten brass is poured into the mold. As the hot metal moves through the form, the wax melts and the void that it leaves is filled with brass. Once cooled, the dung and mud covering is broken away and the remaining brass pieces are trimmed and polished.
In addition to the traditional shapes and patterns, the workshop also works on pieces commissioned by builders and designers. In the small shop at the facility we found some drawer handles that had been made in the shape of elephant heads that we couldn’t leave the village without buying.
From the village, our next stop was in Ubon Ratchathani City where we had a great Vietnamese lunch at Indochine Restaurant and Pub. This is a beautifully rambling romantic restaurant and everything we ate was terrific at very reasonable prices. There are rooms next to rooms underneath other rooms; all filled with teak furnishings. Lunch time is full of activity and we found ourselves sharing a table with what we think was a local couple.
After lunch we checked into the Tohsang Ubon Hotel and took a nap so we would be fresh for the Illuminated Boat Procession that night