Every year we've come to Cambodia, we've visited Battambang. I'm beginning to think it's one of Cambodia's best kept secrets. It isn't on the itinerary of most travellers we meet, yet everyone we've encouraged to go has raved about the wonderful time they had.
Battambang is the 2nd largest city in the country, yet you'd never suspect it. It is rich with charming remnants of French colonial days, and the relaxed pace contrasts so boldly with the frenzied 'tourist-y' atmosphere of Siem Reap.
We love the boat trip there, the thrill of the bamboo train, and the many other sights and experiences around the countryside. Mr. Kim, our tour guide, and now our good friend, makes our entire experience memorable. Each year, he adds something new to the repertoire, and this year was no exception.
This year, we were enjoyed sharing our time there with Susan, the founder of Honour Village Cambodia, who is a delightful travel companion. We also spent some great times with two other groups of travellers that we'd arranged to meet there. From early morning to late at night, every day was filled with activity, sight-seeing, shopping, socializing, and lots of good eating and drinking at our favourite haunts. By the time we got back 4 days later, I had bottomed out...and I had the most delicious 2 hour nap, followed that night by 11 hours sleep!
And now, one day later, we're raring to go and ready to begin our work at Honour Village. But how can I call it 'work' when it's just so much fun?!!! Stay tuned for updates...
Here's some photos of our Battambang trip...Enjoy!!
|The water was much higher than in past years, which made for a shorter boat ride. Notice the tree trunks are under water.|
|Cambodia's telephone service is stricly mobile phones. No land lines. Here is a floating mobile phone shop.|
|A floating pagoda. Boats pull up and people visit the pagoda by mounting the steps that go down to the water.|
|A boat coming to meet ours to bring on a new passenger.|
|Some people sit on the roof of the boat, unaware that they are getting too much sun which reflects off the water.|
|Only one boat per day passes by, and the children especially wave to us. It's often their only opportunity to connect with the world.|
|Our tour guide, and friend, Mr. Kim|
|French colonial architecture abounds in Battambang|
|Riding the bamboo train!|
|We had to get off the rails to let another car pass.|
|At the end of our ride, twin 12 y/o sisters help run the concession stand. I remember them from last year.|
|They make 'origami' stars, bracelets, rings and these amazing grasshoppers from grass stalks.|
|Swing bridge across a chasm|
|There are a few gaps in the fencing on the sides of the swing bridge....|
|....and in the boardwalk. One board flipped up and trapped my foot for a few scary moments!|
|A new addition to Mr Kim's tour - mushroom farm!|
|Our first day touring ended at Cambodia's only winery, where we enjoyed tasting wine and brandy. The brandy won hands down.|
|Our favourite breakfast at the Psar Natt market - delicious noodle soup with chicken and vegetables.|
|We watched ladies harvesting rice - all done by hand - hard, back-breaking work, but they are all so joyful!|
|A road-side snack of fried beetles and crickets. Gordon tried some. I still can't come to grips....|
|A steep trek up to the Killing Caves....which was followed by 500+ stairs going down. Two days later, my quads still ache. The old grey mare ain't what she used to be :-)|
|A little boy who lives at the pagoda|
|Bones of the victims of the killing caves. Gruesome, yes. And also a sad reality that most of the world isn't even aware of.|
|An early morning procession of monks|
|A treat of bamboo sticky rice to eat on the bus ride home|
|Snack food for sale at our bus stop. Deep fried birds of some sort, deep fried crickets and beetles, and those curled up things on the right are barbequed snakes. We opted for fruit & cookies.|