Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Badabing



I'm in the sleepy provincial town of Battambang. Much of the reason I came was the modes of transport involved in getting here, away and around. From Siem Reap you can get here by road in a few hours, but it's much more fun to take the very scenic boat trip which passes through numerous cute villages (some if which are basically a collection of floating pontoons) and small narrow waterways with tons of birdlife.



Seated on the roof, watching the world go by (slowly), the hot sun was just tempered enough by the breezes, though one girl sporting an "everyone loves an Irish girl" T-shirt didn't look in too great a shape by the end of the 9 1/2 hours. A tad longer than the 3-8 estimate mentioned in The Book.


I had been hoping to catch one of the worlds slowest trains out of here towards Phnom Penh, but unfortunately it's only running now once a week and I've just missed it, so will have to settle for a bus on the newly tarmacked road. How dull.

I did get a chance to go on the Norry train, a weird contraption made up of wheels from old army tanks, a petrol engine and some bamboo (giving it it's western moniker of bamboo train). It was a great laugh, especially when meeting one coming the other way, when whoever is deemed to be the lighter load has to disassemble their "train" and remove it - they can be back on the track again in a couple of minutes. Impressive. Especially when the other train is actually the real train...


The countryside around Battambang was very rural and pretty - workers in the rice paddies framed by wats, making for picturesque touring on the back of a moto. The drivers, like most Cambodians, are exceptionally nice and friendly and it's cute the way the kids run after you shouting hello/goodbye, tourism here is still pretty sparse. There were also some more grisly reminders of the recent past, with the "killing caves" complete with a collection of human skulls and bones.

Before leaving Siem Reap, I spent some time sampling the nightlife and ended up out till dawn playing pool (with a prowess I didn't realise I had) with some Canadians, Americans and a bunch of Dubs. A great night out, especially when we hit the seedier bars later and got chatting to some of the long term residents.

Having "mastered" the cuisine of Thailand, I gave the Khmer cooking a try also. It was a good laugh getting the ingredients in the market, the dishes themselves were pretty involved - I'm not sure how well I could recreate my fish Amok and spring noodles if I had to. Still, they certainly tasted pretty good at the time.

5 comments:

michael said...

photos amazing....take good care out there. Raining here now for the 6th week straight..'european monsoon' they're calling it. can't remember what the sun looks like anymore.....joey says hi and mind yourself.

michael said...

ps joey ate two cushions today

seanmullins said...

I thought he had stopped eating those??!!

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