We got into Battambang on Monday and have been staying at the Royal Hotel (sounds more luxe than it is). We managed to sniff out somwhere good and inexpensive to eat within the first 20 mins, and they do Ice Cream floats, mmm. Garath was a happy boy, with ice cream all over his chops!
Tuesday we wento to the Phare Ponleu Selpak circus. Eight refugee's from Battambang have taken what they learned in a cultural workshop during their time spent in a refugee camp on the Thai border. They are based on the outskirts of Battambang and combine a circus with music, as well as providing school for over 400 local children.
Wednesday we went on a Tuk Tuk Tour around Battambang. Our first stop was the Bamboo Train. The train line from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap has not been used for 10 years. The "Bamboo Train" (the Khmers call it a 'Norry') is part Khmer ingenuity, part Khmer necessity.
Cobbled together with a wooden frame, bamboo planking, a four-stroke upright engine and reused military tank wheels and axles, the Bamboo Trains haul passengers and freight between Battambang and the spur lines of Phnom Penh. The train drivers are all different ages, ours was 12 yrs old. There is only one track so when 2 trains meet the agreed-upon custom is that the Bamboo Train with the least amount of passengers must give way to the one carrying more. Furthermore, the conductor of the winning Bamboo Train must help the losing train disassemble their train and remove it from the tracks so that the other may pass, this is quickly done and happened to us 3 times in our 40min return trip.
The next stop on our tour was a Noodle Factory. They make a big rice pudding sort of paste, then grind it smooth, then drop streams of the paste into hot water making noodles. fun to watch but they do it all day from 5am to about 7pm, they didnt look happy, and this is all outdoors in the heat.
We visited a lady making Sticky Bamboo Rice, we had some it was nice but I wouldnt want more than 3 mouthfulls as its very sweet and stodgey, like rice pudding but sweeter and in a piece of bamboo.
We visited a so called 11th century pre Angkorian temple (rubble).
We went and saw some 100 very hot crocodiles at the crocodile farm, they were mostly submerged in the green manky water.
Last but not least we visited a Pepsi Factory. It has not been used for the last 30 years, as it was cleared out and then used as an ice factory by the Khmer Rouge. It was rather creepy as one area of the factory still has empty Pepsi Bottles stacked up to the roof.
Tomorow we are off to Sihanoukville by the coast.