The next stop was Battambang. This involved a 11 hour overnight journey on 2 sleeper buses that had serious aircon issues as they were so hot!! Again the beds seem a decent size but when there’s 2 of you sharing them it’s not so spacious. Luckily our buses weren’t full so me and Nat got out own beds which helped a bit but we still didn’t get much sleep.
We arrived in Battambang at 6.00am and got a tuk tuk to the hostel where we were able to have another sleep up on the rooftop. We arranged to meet the tuk tuk driver who took us to the hostel at 11am to head out to see some sights.
The first stop was the bamboo train. This was created before the Khmer Rouge period, it wasn’t used during it but was set up again afterwards to transport goods across the countryside but now it’s just a tourist attraction. It’s basically just a flat bamboo bed that you sit on which has a petrol engine and goes surprisingly fast. Because there’s only one track and they go in both directions when you come face to face with another train they just stop, get you to stand up, take off the top bed type thing, pick up the wheels and then put it all back together once the other one has passed! At the turn around point we got to stop off at a small village which had a rice making factory, 2 children showed us round and explained what was happening while also trying to sell us bracelets which we did buy in the end.
We then had a long trip out into the countryside. It was really nice to see how Cambodians really live and see the villages and the people. The children were so friendly and kept waving and saying hi to is which was so nice. We eventually got to ‘Wat Banan’ which see some temples built on a hill, they were originally built in 11th-12th century but looked liked they had been restored over the years and at that age I’m sure they needed it!
We had to walk up 350 stairs to get to the top, at the bottom 2 girls started following waving fans at us. I thought they may get bored half way up but they followed us right to the top and back down again (a lot fitter than us) We knew they were doing it for money but the air actually really helped and they were very sweet so we have them a bit afterwards.
After going through more countryside we reached another temple which is perched on one of the biggest hills we could see. We had to get a guy on a moped to take us to the top, it was quite steep and windy and he was driving pretty fast but I kept thinking ‘he does this so many times every day, it’s fine!’. At the top of the hill was also a killing cave where the Khmer Rouge used to kill people and then throw them into the cave. You could walk into the cave which now houses a reclining Buddha and some of the bones and skulls found in the cave. Again we had 2 boys who attached themselves to us and explained this all to us and also asked for money at the end so we gave then some too.. It’s so hard not to!
From the top you could see so far and the land was completely flat!! Barely a hill in sight. The land is all rice paddies and because it’s been the dry season most of it was brown which just a few patches of green. It was an amazing view.
There was more to see in Battambang but we had friends to meet in Siem reap and wanted to get there so only spent the night there and then moved on but it’s a really nice city (although more like a town) and it was nice to go somewhere that’s not touristy and to just watch everyday life as it’s easy to get around as a tourist but it’s not aimed purely at tourism.