A bone shaking ride
Battambang Travel Blog› entry 183 of 254 › view all entries
We had arranged yesterday, through the guesthouse, to leave Siem Reap by bus and go to Battembang. At 6.45am, we went down, as instructed, to wait to be picked up. As we were paying we mentioned the bus to the guy on the desk, who seemed to develop a paniced look on his face. He didn't say anything to us. Instead he casually spoke to another man in Cambodian who then zoomed off on a motorbike. We paid and were told to wait in the restaurant area for our pick up. We sensed something was amiss but waited anyway. At 7am we were still waiting. The man on the motorbike returned and the other guy went out on it. Now there was no English speaking staff to ask. About 20 minutes later someone came and handed us their mobile phone to speak to the guy who had gone off. His story - "Due to New Year the bus is full so can you get a taxi." The real story - "I forgot to book your bus yesterday and now it has gone, so can you get a taxi?" We agreed that we could as long as it wasn't too expensive. He returned about 15 minutes later, said we would need to pay another $4 and that the taxi would come soon. We finally left about 8.30am, having been well and truly fleeced - but never mind, this is Cambodia.
We got in a taxi - sharing it with 3 other people - one in the back with us and two sat in the front passenger seat. We drove out of Siem Reap and soon left the tarmac roads behind us. The lack of tarmac didn't seem to bother the driver, we continued at the constant pace of 120km/hr - occasionally slowing down for the odd cow, pothole, sharp detour in the road or motorbike in front. The journey was ok though, we had a karaoke DVD to watch (where the driver's rear view mirror should have been) and the woman in the back with us could russle together some English to point things out and tell us things. She was a teacher in Battambang earning $57 a month. Emma didn't tell her how much she earned as a teacher. The two sat in the front were quiet - manly because the girl spent most of the journey being sick - either in boyfriend's hat or in the courtesy plastic bags provided by the driver.
We arrived in Battambang at lunchtime and booked into the Chhaya hotel. After we checked in we booked two motos and drivers for tomorrow to see the sights around Battembang. Battembang is much less touristy than the other places we have visited in Cambodia, fewer westerners and much more authentic looking eating places - it is good to be away from the tourist trail again.
In the evening we ate at the popular restaurant, the Smoking Pot, where we had some good Khmer food and a beer. Finally the prices reflected the fact that we were in Cambodia - and they were given in the local currency rather than the dollar. It was good not to be paying extortionate prices for good food.