One of my favourite activities when I visit developing Southeast Asian countries is to go artefacts shopping. If you have the patience, it’s not difficult to find some rare and unique items. Although most of the artefacts, which I had bought nine years ago when I first visited Siem Reap, are no longer available, I was still able to make some worthy purchases on my recent trip and lug them back to Singapore.
My greatest find this trip is this unassuming tiny store, No. 71, at the Noon Night Market. Tok, a friendly and young Cambodian guy, runs this shop that sells reproductions of stone cravings, Buddhist figurines and copper daily household items.
Tok, the owner of store No. 71 at Noon Night Market
What caught my eye was this huge bronze elephant bell. The Cambodians made their elephants wear these bells so that they know the location of their elephants, and also for decorative purposes. I was also told that the sound of the bells also helps the elephants to identify the leader of the herd and the younger mammals to find their mothers.
Although the store is no bigger than 15m2, it’s possible to discover some gems if you are willing to spend some time looking through the lot. The occasional bronze frog ashtray and old candle holders are excellent display items and conversational subjects. The best part is that they are much more affordable than those sold in the upscale shops.
Candle holder for rituals
Another shopping destination is the Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre. This place sells mainly clay household items and personal accessories. The pottery items are so well made that some of the leading hotels in Siem Reap use them.
Interior of Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre
Besides retail, Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre also conducts daily pottery classes for visitors. Each lesson is about 1.5 hours and participants get to bring back a couple of their art pieces the following day.
Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre sells a range of pottery products
For those with a bigger budget, Tiger Lily has some exquisite items. I always manage to find interesting items whenever I visit the store located within the FCC compound. Tiger Lily’s curators transform ordinary items and made them house or hotel worthy. They also work with local and foreign artisans based in Cambodia to develop some of their merchandise such as paper mache lotus jewellery box and exquisite wood candle stand.
Tiger Lily at FCC Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Even though the items are more expensive than those at the old market, they are better and more delicately made. It’s definitely worth every penny.
paper mache lotus jewellery box
Hence, for those who enjoy collecting Southeast Asian artefacts, do visit these stores and see there’s any interesting stuff that catches your eye.
Store No. 71
Noon Night Market, Siem Reap
Street 7, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre
Vithey Charles de Gaulle (Temple Road)
Khum Slorkram, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tel: +855 063 210 004
FCC Angkor, Pokambor Avenue,
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tel: +855 063 761 446