After just a few hours by bus from Siem Reap we arrived in Battambang, this place is often overlooked by travellers. We only stayed a few days but quickly discovered the city had lots to offer. We checked in to The Royal Palace Hotel which sounds extremely grand! though still only cost us a measly $7 for a beautiful room, booked a private tuk tuk for the next day for ourselves, with a lovely local named Ola.
After browsing and sampling some of the Khmer cafes and Ash the many cake shops dotted around town we were ready for lots of exploring with Ola the following day. For just $9 each for the whole day Ola would take us where ever we wanted and share his wealth of knowledge with us about his home town for the day.
First we visited a crocodile farm! We walked along a cement walkway about five feet above the pens, no barriers to prevent you from jumping (or falling) into one of the pens, uk health and safety would have had a field day here!It was crazy, there were so many crocs ranging from unhatched eggs to fully grown 40 year olds. We held one too!!! But only a 6 month old, that was scary enough for us!
Next we were driven through many villages where all the kids ran out of their houses (shacks) waving and shouting at us, it was amazing! Ola took us to a beautiful temple, unfortunately we had hundreds of steps to climb before we could see it, still it was a nice sight!
We then made a quick stop at the only winery in the country where I managed to get Ash sampling the different wines and juices!! I loved it, not sure about him!
Next we visited Battambang's famous bamboo railway which once stretched across most of the country. Here there was a single track that used to transport goods years ago out in the Cambodian countryside. We were told to sit down by a police man along some planks of bamboo, with only a thin rug to comfort our bottoms, and introduced to our driver before we set off! Hurtling down a railway on nothing more than bamboo with the carriage going over the joints in the track hurts! we were thrown in to the air holding on for dear life most of the way! It was like a raft on wheels, our driver sat at the back of us using what looked like a lawn mower motor to propel us! It was so much fun, and an experience not to be missed by anyone visiting the area!
After all this fun we explored some of the historic remains of the Khmer Rouge reign, some of these including killing caves one for adults and a smaller one for babies and an old temple which they had turned in to a prison. Here there was a memorial filled with the bones and skulls of some of the people bludgeoned to death by Khmer Rouge before being thrown in to the caves. Looking up high above you to the opening of the cave and imaging the Cambodian people falling to their final resting place, hoping they were dead before they were pushed over the edge - No words can explain how we both felt after seeing this.
To round off the day Ola took us to see The Flight of The Bats, seeing 4 million plus bats flying out of their cave was just incredible. Our photos of this definitely do not do this sight justice. Unforgettable!
We found Battambang very charming and so pleased we made a stop here we would recommend a stay here to anyone!