Battambang | Travel Blog


Published: December 28th 2023

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Wobbly but impressive staircase up to our roomWobbly but impressive staircase up to our roomWobbly but impressive staircase up to our room

When we arrived at the pontoon outside Battambang our boat was met with a swarm of tuk tuk drivers all offering a ride into town. Steph cleverly managed to nab a driver inside the boat who took us to our hotel Oh Battambang. Another social enterprise, this hotel offers training and employment to people from vulnerable backgrounds or with disabilities. After checking in we found somewhere to enjoy a light supper then crashed out.

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel with the most delicious jam ????We then walked into town to see the sights which included some French colonial buildings; 3 huge Chinese schools; a market; the governors residence that now houses a museum, and several Buddist monks. There is a centre for educating monks in the city and all males from 16 years old are encouraged to serve some time as a practicing monk. We also found the post office where I could buy stamps – this was certainly much less traumatic than in Bogotá ( see previous blog ) ????We stopped for a drink and chocolate cake at the Lonely Tree cafe which is run by the same social enterprise as the hotel. We chilled

Bananas growing in the hotel groundsBananas growing in the hotel groundsBananas growing in the hotel grounds

at the hotel after walking back then went by tuk tuk to eat at Bar Ang. This lovely place is run by a Canadian, John, and his Cambodian wife Anut with their daughter welcoming guests and seating them. She was very confident until Steph asked her which beer she would recommend ????. Anut recommended 2 dishes which we shared and they were yummy. We also got to taste some homemade coconut ice cream but couldn’t manage a whole portion as we were so full. A half hour walk back was much needed ????

On 23rd we had a relaxed morning then early afternoon we were picked up by tuk tuk and taken out of town to the original bamboo train. This unique single track railway line used to transport people and rice on warped and misaligned tracks left by the French. The bamboo trains are ingenious as they can be dismantled quickly should you meet another train on the track.The train, or norry in Khmer, consist of a metal frame topped with bamboo slats balanced on 2 barbell like bogies and powered by a 6 horse power gasoline engine. We met 2 other trains so had to hop off

French colonial buildingFrench colonial buildingFrench colonial building

and watch our 2 ‘drivers’ dismantle the norry to let them pass. The journey passing rice fields, water lilies, farmers and cows was brilliant. We went quite fast but the trains were stable and the tracks have now been replaced with newer and straighter ones. This is fortunate as the main line has opened up again from Battambang to Phnom Penh with passenger and cargo trains using the same line. We reached the end of the norry line where we had a drink and then witnessed a passenger train thunder by on the same line bound for PP much to the horror of an Australian lady who didn’t realise they ran on the same track ???? It was a unique and fun experience and yes, I did buy a t-shirt.

After the thrill of the bamboo train we then headed to Phnom Sampeau which is 12km from BB. Here is a stark reminder of the awful time Cambodia endured under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Despite a period only lasting 3 years, 8 months and 20 days until ousted by the Vietnamese, almost 2 million Cambodians were murdered, and then a civil war then raged until 1999. The

Going to school Cambodia styleGoing to school Cambodia styleGoing to school Cambodia style

site of Phnom Sampeau is one of the places where the Khmer Rouge tortured and killed people then threw their bodies into a cave. A reclining Buddha lies next to a glass memorial case filled with the bones and skulls of some of the victims. There is a small temple complex and the area offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

We then headed down the hill to witness the amazing spectacle at dusk of thousands of wrinkle lipped bats leaving a huge hole high up on the cliff face to their feeding places near Tonlè Sap. It was incredible to watch these mammals fly in a long procession across the moon into the sunset. After a day of differing emotions with shrieks of laughter followed by quiet contemplation and then cries of ‘wow’ , we got dropped off for dinner in the centre of BB. Delicious main meals were followed by banana&chocolate pancakes for dessert ????A walk back to the hotel was,again,much needed.


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