Day 267 – 268 (28th & 29th May) – Battambang

18 06 2011

Even before we set a foot off the bus we wanted to get the hell out of here…

The main advantages of being a tourist out of season are its quiet and there is no need to book ahead. However in economically deprived Battambang we become a scarce commodity; and this is why we were greeted with banging on the bus windows and shouts of ‘stay at my hotel’.

Walking around town in the brutal heat and humidity looking for something of interest or at least worthy of a photograph was wholly unrewarding. You see Battambang is a bit of a dump – it’s what’s around Battambang that people come for. So we soon found ourselves a scooter and were soon making our way out of town. The first stop was the ‘Bamboo Train’. Supposedly a locals and tourist train, but we saw no locals, only a couple other tourists. Also not really a train, more of a flying carpet. We sat on a mat atop a bamboo frame which was connected to a steel axle and small steel wheels which ran along a standard railway line. All of this was powered by a small 6hp engine at the rear. The track had seen better days and was buckled, warped and very uneven – making for a bumpy, but very enjoyable 22km Bamboo Train ride. What was interesting was there was just the one line, so when we met another bamboo train coming in the other direction one of us had to get off and dismantle the lightweight train, and therefore allowing the other to pass.

Back on the scooter we went looking for an orphanage where we were hoping to offer our services for the afternoon teaching. Unfortunately after a lot of riding around in circles and down country tracks we failed to find the place. We made our way to Phnom Sampeau, (Sailingboat mountain) for sunset and to watch 1 million bats fly out of the caves. The Killing Caves are where 10,000 Cambodians were slaughtered by Khmer Rouge and their bodies dumped in the cave. On a brighter note, the steady stream of bats flying out of the cave was impressive and had planned to watch them all come out, however we were told this would take 1 ½ hours, so just settled for 20 minutes then made our way back to Battambang.

The countryside was great, even more ‘rustic’ then Vietnam and full of very friendly people; and something we are glad we saw in our brief time in Cambodia. That said we were glad to be leaving Battambang in a taxi for the Thai boarder.




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