Leaving Cambodia’s hottest tourist spot, Siem Reap, behind, I make my away down to Battambang.
Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city and is one of the largest rice growing areas in Southeast Asia. The name Battambang or Batdambang, literally means “loss of stick” referring to a legend of the Preah Bat Dambang Kranhoung (Kranhoung Stick King).
A couple of key highlights:
Nories for Fun:
A Nory in Cambodia is a bamboo train and it was not at all what I expected. In essence, it is a bamboo mat on top of two sets of railway wheels and these days have a generator.
I really got a kick out of this experience! When two trains are coming in opposite directions on the track, the operators take one apart, let the other pass, and then reassemble the one taken apart.
Have a look for yourself here. Nowadays, this is a very touristic thing to do, but it does provide employment for a few locals.
On a collision course:
What to do when you want to pass:
What to do to get back going again:
From Fun to Torture:
On Phnom Sampeou Mountain you’ll find one of hundreds of caves and locations and killing fields, throughout Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge tortured and killed thousands of victims in the 1970’s.
It was in Battambang that I began to learn more about the Khmer Rouge, which I’ll touch more on this in my next update.
When I arrived near the caves, the brutality and sadness immediately overwhelmed me. In a similar way I mentioned I immediately felt the energy in Thailand at the Great Monument of King Naresuan Maharaj at Muang Ngai, it was the same here but in not in the positive sense. It was as if you could feel the pain of the individuals who were tortured and killed.
Also at Phnom Sampeou Mountain, I had the opportunity to see bats, millions of them.
It was an amazing site to see. The bats at Phnom Sampeou are Asian wrinkled lipped bats and there are over a million in this location. At about 6 pm they began to fly out in droves.
Did you know these bats:
- fly up to 50 km [~31 miles] from their home to hunt insects
- eat 50 -100% of their own body weight [~15 grams] each night
They obviously provide a tremendous role in this region controlling the insects which would otherwise harm the rice fields. Check this out:
From Thailand to Cambodia, driving just continued to go from bad to worse. My goodness I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d lose my life, on flat straight and roads, mind you!
En-route from Battambang to Phnom Penh, I offered my seat in a mini-van to allow a couple to sit together. Unbeknownst to me, their seat was the front passenger.
The woman later apologized several times and even offered to switch back as, as she stated ‘the driver is driving crazy fast’ even for them sitting in the back. I stuck with it.
Here and many other Southeast Asian countries, it appears there are no rules to the road.
I was incredibly fortunate in Siem Reap and think I had the safest tri-shaw driver in all of Southeast Asia when I made my way to the Angkor temples.
He is the first and only that I’ve seen use hand signals and didn’t drive like a maniac.
Thanks Mr. Tom; a funny a coincidence!
As Myanmar’s architecture was remnant of the British influence, it’s quite obvious that Cambodia’s is remnant of the French.
Check out additional photos of Battambang below.
I mentioned in my previous post about the volume of unexploded landmines throughout Cambodia. It’s nice to see some organizations trying to assist these individuals in earning a wage. I visited Seeing Hands Massage in Battambang on two occasions while I was there and they did a fab. job.
A last side note, just like Myanmar, Cambodia’s process of applying for a visa online was incredibly efficient.
Love & light,
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