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Cambodia – Battambang – 4th/5th February

We had a sleep in to recoup some energy from the past few days and then had some breakfast in the room and ordered some bread and jam from the restaurant downstairs. Our pickup mini bus arrived at Sweethome at 10am for our 10.45am bus journey to Battambang. The bus pulled up into the station and it looked pretty battered from the outside and the inside wasn’t much better. The vents were just open holes and the seat in front had no real back support so was almost in Dave’s lap. After a delayed start, we left 45mins late and headed off on our journey.

Upon arriving in Battambang we were hounded by the tuk-tuk drivers however as Battambang is quite small its easy to walk to where you want to go and not have to pay a few dollars for the privilege. We checked out a few hotels however they had limited rooms and were over $12 so we kept looking for something cheaper. We ended up at the Chhaya Hotel which cost $5 a night for a twin, it was a decent size with a bathroom, looking and feeling a little cell like, but it did the trick. We continued with some more blog work and headed out for some food. The White Rose restaurant is in the Lonely Planet and we stumbled across it, their cheap menu has lots of choice and for a reasonable price. The fresh spring rolls were OK, lacking in flavour a little, the curry was a large portion with plenty of vegetables and Helen’s dish we think was something different to what she ordered but it was OK; the mixed fruit shake was a good call!

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

The 5th February was another day of exploration via the transport medium of bikes, we will surely have thighs of steel by the end of our trip. We headed along the river and found old villages around 2km out of Battambang itself, Wat Kor Village contains some of the oldest houses in Cambodia, some of which you can pay to have a little tour inside of, we just cycled by and took it all in. Dave’s bike suffered from a puncture after 4km which was treated by one of the many small repair shops that are on the side of the roads. They fixed the leaky valve for 500r and off we went, however within a few hundred meters the tyre was flat again so we decided to head back and get a new bike from the hotel. Frustrating to say the least. New bike selected and we started again, searching for the Bamboo Train which was tricky to find as the signs aren’t that frequent and the locals all told us or pointed us in the opposite directions to the last person we asked.

Upon searching for the train Dave’s second bike suffered from a fatal haemorrhage with the inner tube bursting through the front tyre! There was no quick fix for this and it would surely be pricey. Helen went ahead and Dave pushed his bike and finally we found the station for the “train”. $5 each on a bamboo fence panel, engine and two axles that held us onto the tracks. It was a good experience and is fun when you meet on coming traffic. If the oncoming bamboo train has more people, weight (rice delivery etc) or multiple trains are coming through you have to jump off and the driver deconstructs the train within seconds. There are no bolts or clips to be undone, it all just fits together! We had to disembark 5 times, but that’s half the fun. The tracks are in terrible state, however apart from rattled bones, no injuries were sustained.

At the end of the tracks we stopped and were greeted by some local children and market stalls. The driver would not leave his hammock until we bought something from one of the vendors so with a drink purchased he hopped onto the train and off we went. We sorted out some tuk-tuk transport back into town with the bikes rammed in and only paid the hotel for hire of one of the bikes, which they agreed was fair. Relaxation time and sunset on the roof of the hotel and then for our evening meal we headed to the The Smokin’ Pot restaurant and even though the portions appeared small, they were enough to satisfy. Lemon juice, curry and rice.

Related posts that may be of interest to you:

  1. Cambodia – Battambang – 6th February Today we gave up on the idea of yet more bike riding misfortune and decided to use our legs. After an early morning run around...
  2. Cambodia – Koh Kong – 2nd February Up early we made our own breakfast in the room and headed out to find some half decent bikes for a good price. We tried...
  3. Cambodia – Siem Reap – 7th February The bus journey from Battambang to Siem Reap took around 3.5 hours and opting for a cheap ticket, only cost us $4 each. Again packed...
  4. Cambodia – Angkor Wat – 8th February We got up at 4.30am and would have been ready to leave by 5am if Helen hadn’t contracted a pretty bad tummy bug over-night, hmmm...

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