11.03.2016 - 13.03.2016 36 °C
Day 25 - 11 March 2016
The bats at Battambang
Tom, angkor driver himself, picked us up at our hotel after breakfast and checkout, in a motorcar, none the less. He offered to drive us to Battambang, the next stop on our cambodian adventure and be our tour guide there. For once on this trip, it was nice to travel in a bit of a luxury and comfort and to be escorted around at the same time.
When we arrived in Battambang, about two hours west of Siem Reap, it was near lunchtime when we checked in. We went for a short walk in search of a restaurant and we filled ourselves up on noodles and sandwiches.
At about 430pm, tom collected us and brought us out to see the killing caves which were up a rocky hill and could only be reached by motorbike. Ciara hopped on the back of one bike and I got on the back of another and off we sped to check out these caves. During the Pol Pot mass genocidal killings in cambodia in the 70s, lots of educated people and those who were perceived as a threat to the regime, were used as farm slaves and then pushed down big dark holes into the killing caves. There was a big box of skulls and bones in the cave that were apparently left over from these very sad and tragic times for alot of its citizens.
We continued onto the top of the hill where we could see out right across the countryside and mountains across in the distance. There was also a temple there, Phnom Sampov, where some of the people were kept as prisoners before being killed. When we returned to the base of the mountain, we sat and watched thousands of bats fly out of the bat cave, which is a daily occurrence around sunset as it is cooler for them in the evening. We also climbed up a rather steep ladder to see the giant buddha face and to give us a better angle of the bats flying.
Tom brought us back to our hotel where we got ready for dinner. Not knowing the city that well, we just strolled around until we just stumbled upon an indian restaurant. The food was really good and fresh as is nearly all of the food in South East Asia and we were both fairly content after. And so ended another eventful day in Cambodia.
Day 26 - 12 March 2016
Tom picked us up at the hotel at 8am and we headed out to see what this bamboo train was all about.
Ciara and I sat on cushions that they had laid out for us on a Bamboo train which was a square plank of bamboos stuck together with a little diesel engine and ran on heavy duty steel bars with small wheels. We travelled for nearly 7 miles between ou dambong and ou sralau and I have to say that it was a pretty awesome and memorable experience.
The train uses an old train track that has not been in use for sometime but apparently maybe opened up again for commercial use in the future.
The funny thing about the bamboo train is that there is only one set of tracks so if it meets a train coming towards it, one of the trains has to be removed from the tracks to allow the other one to pass.
When we arrived at Ou Sralau, we were instantly surrounded by children trying to sell us bracelets which is common place in Cambodia. We hung out at this place for about 10 minutes before hopping back on the train and returning to the starting point, passing by a few other trains that were at the edge of the tracks, making way for us.
We drove onto Prasat Banan which is a famous temple on top of 355 steps and provides a good vantage point with which to see the surrounding countryside. Even in the mid morning sun, this was a feat and we got some sugarcane juice to quench our thirst and cool us down after the climb.
Next stop of the day was to the Banan winery and grape farm. We sampled white and red wines aswell as their ginger and honey juice and a finger of brandy, which were all quite strong tasting and definitely an acquired taste.
And that's all we remember about this day!!
Tom dropped us back to our hotel, we said our goodbyes and grabbed some streetfood (chicken on a stick is so common but it tastes really good) and ice cream.
We availed of the chill out area of the hotel with its own swimming pool until the sun was almost gone.
That evening, we ended up walking all over the city, crossing the river and back again in search of restaurants but, after nearly an hour, we returned to the area that we had eaten the previous night and went to one of the other restaurants there.
And as has become somewhat of an onerous but a very necessary task, we booked our onward accommodation.