Friday, Feb. 26, 2010

Sop Moei Arts

Thailand's able artisans have created myriad takeaway versions of the nation's craftwork, from silk scarves to lemongrass soaps. But for carrying back something real in service of an honest cause, nothing tops the out-of-the-way Bangkok outlet of Sop Moei Arts, This Chiang Mai–based organization benefits the Pwo Karen people of northern Mae Hong Son province, and the tribe's handcrafted products — wall hangings, scarves, cushions and baskets — somehow sing ancient songs through their strands of color. The prices aren't Chatuchak-flea-market cheap. And the detour to Sop Moei — found on the bottom floor of a tennis-club annex, best reached by mini–pickup trucks from the Sukhumvit end of Soi 51 — may seem like a long ride. But it's a quick shortcut to the finest treasures of Thailand's hill country.