We awoke early to embark on what the Lonely Planet described as "Cambodia's most magical boat ride!" Armed with our cleverly purchased peanut butter and baguettes we wasted time waiting for the bus doing our Asian morning stretches. It's quite common for the bus drivers to hop off the bus at rest breaks and launch into violent side swinging stretches. Dan has developed quite the talent for it. After successfully trapping a few nerves we got onto our minibus to make the journey to the harbour. It was quite a pleasant journey despite the queasy feeling of sickness stirring in our alcohol filled tummies. I know you must all be worrying that we've turned into full blown alcoholics, but we haven't I can promise you, we're actually quite boring! When we arrived they piled us all onto a boat with particularly uncomfortable plastic benches and we sat starring at the person opposite us bracing ourselves for the 8 hour ride.
To begin with it was interesting as we zoomed past local floating villages, something either of us had seen before. They were fascinating, whole lives lived out on the water, hospitals, shops, houses, you name it. I was captivated ... For the first village. After 4 hours and hundreds of identical villages, the magic was disappearing. Lonely Planet you lied. I think they Cambodia's most boring boat journey would be more fitting. Perhaps we had been spoiled with the incredible journeys we took in Laos but I was pulling my hair out. The highlight of the day was when a young girl opposite had an excellent case of nodding dog and was flailing around. You can see how bored we were!
Eventually, we made it to our destination, Battambang. We were immediately ambushed by a hoard of touts all seemingly flogging the same hotel, which as it turned out was a real dump. But, a bed is a bed and we were quite enjoying lazing around watching films. I had picked up the flu somewhere along the way and was quite poorly for a couple of days. I managed to get up for our first and only day in Battambang to join Dan in visiting temples, a winery and the killing caves. Odd mixture for a mini tour!
We were quite cross as we had had a rather belligerent tuk tuk driver take us from the dock to the hotel the previous day who we had told we didn't want to take us to the temples etc and had arranged it with a very sweet local driver. When we got up in the morning the horrid first driver was there and we later found out he had threatened the nice local not too take us! They are run by gangs I believe and they saw it that he was stealing his job even though we had specifically asked him. Anyhow, we set off with the other chap and he wasn't so bad but the tour itself was a little odd. We were only really interested in seeing the killing caves but got taken to a random vineyard and all sorts of places. He very kindly, though we expected him to want a tip for it, bought us each sticky rice in bamboo, it's delicious. I think they mix it with coffee beans or something as well but it's really tasty. We visited a few temples that were pretty but I don't think I really appreciated them as I was so busy trying not to sneeze. By the time we made it to the killing caves my eyes and nose were streaming and I was a bit past it but I'm glad we went. The caves are atop a mountain so two young locals took us up there on their motorbikes. One of them spoke incredible English, he was only 16 but near fluent and told us a great deal of the history. It was again a very sad place, horrifying to think that the murders committed there only occurred 30 years or so ago. The Khmer rouge killed mostly intellectuals and children in this particular cave by pushing them off the top. The fall would not have been enough to kill them so they would have laid at the bottom with hundreds of others waiting to die. There was a stupa in the cave full of the bones and skulls recovered from the cave kept as a memorial to those who lost their lives. Oddly it was quite a peaceful place, as there is now a temple at the site and a few of the monks were trying out their English on me! I was quite nervous as I'm never sure whether as a girl, I'm supposed to speak with the novice monks. They were very friendly though. Goodness knows what they must have thought of the sweaty, bunged up English girl dying of the flu on the bench!
For the rest of the afternoon Dan played nurse whilst I slept. He's such a sweetheart when I'm poorly! I wanted to try recover as the next day we were doing another mammoth bus journey to a coastal town for a bit of r and r.