Battambang, always makes me think of battenbergs for some reason. Haven traded in Ole in for Stephen for a new temporary travel mate, we go through the whole palaver of trying to just get on a bus to where we are going. Well, we finally got on the bus to Battambang and it was no longer looking hot and sunny. We made a brief stop on the way and I had to get straight back on the bus to avoid being sick as just outside the bus door was a bowl (makes me gag typing this) of deep fried birds, feet, beaks…the lot. Ok, moving on quickly. We arrive in Battambang and find a cheap tuk tuk with a couple of others to drop us off at our hostels. The driver naturally tries to sell us his sightseeing service but we nicely decline. We rock up outside the Here Be Dragons hostel and it’s pretty decent for such a quiet town and a complimentary beer on check in is always happily accepted.
Unfortunately though, with it being a small town and also being the New Year celebrations, everything is shut. So we pass a bit of time eating at the hostel and if you’re missing a bit of home food then this is the place to eat in Battambang! I was beyond happy to see scotch eggs on the menu and homemade! Delicious! Feeling a bit bored with nothing to do in town, we flagged down a tuk tuk and headed to the bat cave a bit out of town. This draws a bit of a crowd of tourists and locals to watch the spectacle of thousands, if not millions, of bats flying out of a cave as the sun sets in search of food. So we arrive and plonked ourselves down in front of the cave with everyone else. Even had the pleasure of watching this western guy being bribed in to trying a local delicacy by a local family…bird foetus. This is where they boil the egg somewhere after the bird has started to develop, once he hit a wing he gave up. The local family were laughing at him but couldn’t understand why he couldn’t eat it. Wouldn’t see me trying it! As the sun starts to set more and more bats start circling at the entrance of the cave and then all of a sudden they all swarm out. It seems to go on forever and when look across the sky there is a solid black trail running across for as far as you can see. But don’t make the mistake of standing under the cave entrance, well that’s unless you want to be covered in bat piss. And yes, it really is bat piss that you feel. Maybe time to go back for a shower. Even 10 minutes later, the bats are pouring out the cave it’s an incredible sight to see and mindblowing to wonder just how many bats live in this cave. We hope back into the tuk tuk and head back to town, where there is almost a carnival feel with candy floss and popcorn machines lining the streets, people selling balloons and children playing in the park. As I get off the tuk tuk, I spot a couple I feel like I know but can’t place how or why I would know people in Battambang, especially as I didn’t feel like I met them travelling. Then I realise they are friends of a friend in London and they were even more shocked to see me when I went up to them. Proves that the world is a very small place at times!! The evening was spent having a nice sociable dinner with them, before Stephen and I went to the only ‘tall’ building in the town that hosts a sky bar. As most sky bars around the world are pricey, we thought we would pop in for a beer. But we were surprised it find not only was it happy hour but the alcohol prices were even cheaper than the place we had just eaten in. And a pleasant view of the town to top it off.
The following day, again realising it was still the New Year celebrations so still nothing open, we had another stroll around town before finding a tuk tuk to take us to the other main attraction of Battambang…the bamboo train. You hire a driver and a plonk yourself down on a thin platform made from bamboo resting on 2 axles and then allow your driver to zip you through the Cambodian countryside breaking about every safety rule possible. It’s the same track going up as coming back so if you meet oncoming traffic, one of you has to get off and disable the cart off the track, let the other guys go past and then reassemble. But these things can pick up some speed and adds to the thrill of it when you hit a wonky patch of rails. At the end of the rails is a small makeshift village selling handicrafts and drinks and who should we run into? Only the guys I know from back home! Crazy, so we joined them for a drink and watched the local kids make us crickets from reeds, which were actually bloody impressive. Then we zip back through the countryside back to the start to find our tuk tuk driver ready to take us back to town. The afternoon is spent more or less drinking and eating in various cafes, including another stop off in the sky bar. Can’t imagine this place anything but quiet.
On the final day, Stephen left to head to Siem Reap early morning whilst I hung around until my night bus to Sihanoukville. Following a super lazy morning at the hostel, I went to see if town had picked up the pace and yet again I ran into the friends who were killing time as well. So off we went in search of a great little café and spent a good few hours chatting away. On the way back to the hostel I found a busy little veggie market which was heaving and lively and get to observe the locals fighting for the best produce. The sky darkened and I rushed back to the hostel in time for the heavens to open. Luckily they stopped in time for me to join the guys for dinner and get back to the hostel in time for my pick up to take me to my night bus down to Sihanoukville.