FEBRUARY 10th 2015
8.30am start in another private coach and we set off for Battambang. Bob isn’t well. There has been a flu like dose going through the bus and it has really flattened him. Last night I suggested some meds and again this morning but he says no. Half way on our journey he’s now roaring for some paracetamol, this virus seems to be 24 hour dose that has really flattened the men
On the way to Battambang we stop at Arts of Angkor. There is a centre for stone and wood carving. The people who work here are mostly deaf and or have other disabilities. We are taken through their various workshops, lace, carving, cutting, polishing and quality control., ?Then we were given the opportunity to browse in the showroom. Their goods are amazing and quite a few bought, however, ever conscious of travelling light I pass but the polished Buddhas and the photo frames really caught my eye
So back in the bus and we’re off on our journey again. In Battambang we have been told we will be staying in the Asia Hotel and that there are no windows, all along we’ve expected to be in a windless room and I’ve been dreading it so it appears our luck has ran out. Lunch stop first and then a walk to our hotel. It is extremely hot, roasting and due to the lack of parking at the hotel our luggage has proceeded us. Towards the end of lunch Bob leaves to try and get some air, it is not apparent that he is running a fever. I ask Filo if it is possible to pay and leave lunch early. He phones ahead to the hotel and advises them we are on our way and organises a tuk tuk. All poor Bob wants to do is sleep. At check in the receptionist asks if we are booked for a twin or a double – double! Ok there’s a double on the first floor, I should mention this hotel has no wifi, with no windows, however very they do have one with windows on the second. Its the only double room in the hotel with windows. Talk about being lucky! I grab the key and off we go. The room is massive and is a corner room at the end of the building with huge windows and very close to balcony access. Bob gets into bed, meds taken and I make coffee and head to the balcony. I watch the rest arrive to the hotel, it is incredibly hot, well into the mid 30’s with no wind
Battambang is a very small place, very laid back with colonial architecture. A river rinse through it and there are many laid back cafes. There is noting to do here yet it is quirky and charming. With Bob now out for he count I decide to do the Bamboo Train Ride, this is to tie in with bats flying which I’d happily skip, so some of us are doing both and others are just going to visit the bats. This afternoon turned out to be another adventure where we all laughed and laughed but also where we were once again humbled by nature
Into the tuk tuks we went and meandered through the countryside until we arrived a O Dambong on the East Bank, 3.7km from Battambang. The train bumps 7im southeast to O San Lan along warped, misaligned rails and vertiginous bridges left by the French. Each bamboo train – known in Khmer as Nori or Lorry consists of a 3 metre long wooden frame covered lengthways with slats made of bamboo. It cruises along at 15 km/hr or is supposed to. Ours was a bit slow to get going but when we did we flew along until…. as this is a single track if you meet a train coming the opposite direction the train with the most least passengers stops, disables the train and stands track side to let the larger one through, then rebuilds their train again. It happens! We arrived at a small village. A wedding was taking place and we visited a brick making furnace. I gather this is what sustains the village people. A year ago the floods washed everything away and they lost everything. They are starting up again. Soon it is time to return to our trains and head back. We had to stop on the track for ages – a train – I should explain that each ‘train’ sits 4 people on cushions but 3 or 4 of these trains will leave together so a train coming against us was deemed to have less passengers to they ceded but when all the trains met together it became apparent that we had the most people. There was much laughing and picture taking as we continued through. It was time to get back into the tuk tuks and head to see the bats
I cannot believe I almost missed this. It was fantastic. Just before 6pm 3 million plus bats fly out of the same cave. It takes 20 mins for the cave to empty. They fly in formation and is a wonderful sight. Once more humbled I returned to the hotel.
Bob still not great and he has decided he will stay in bed, try to sleep as much as he can and might try to go out for soup later. The Vietnamese Homestay dinner was so brilliant that more chose to go to tonights Cambodian one. It could not have been any more different. A long table was laid out in the garden ? maybe or certainly an open space in front of the house but within their walls. For Cambodians it really was a lovely home. A couple of times I went to have a stroll outside and it looked like an extremely upmarket area. Hmm, I’m not so sure that this isn’t a type of special restaurant. It does not have a 100% home feel to me. We didn’t meet the children and it all had the feel of being in an exclusive restaurant. I felt so sorry for our group who elected not to do the one in Vietnam feeling it would be too touristy but after hearing about the fantastic night we had deciding to do the Cambodian one which in my opinion wasn’t a true homestay. Dinner was different, a Cambodian BBQ, think Swiss fondue but it’s a bbq. Three of us were vegetarian that night. As the meat is cooking, tofu in our case, soup is heating around the outside and juice from the meat runs into it. It is lovely and warm and everyone enjoyed it. Then the karaoke started. Oh Dear! Try as we might it was very difficult to get an upbeat fast tempo song. They were all slow love songs and by everyone singing 2 lines in rotation we did murder quite a few! Back to the hotel to book a breakfast – roll and jam – again TG for my kettle and mug, pack and get ready for a very early start