A couple of days in Battambang

Battambang Travel Blog

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bedroom, First Hotel

My next stop was at Battambang and the minibus departed Phnom Penh at a punctual 8 am but the first 30 minutes or so was like a ride in hell as the road was being constructed and it was very dusty, and even for the next two hours the road was finished but it was very bumpy as we were shaken from side to side and up and down in the minivan. Luckily there were only 7 passengers so we had plenty room to stretch out. We stopped at the halfway point, just near Pursat and of course there was no choice but to buy refreshments anywhere else as there was just one restaurant which must have been affiliated with the min bus company. I did manage to get a papaya for a reasonable price as the Cambodian food on offer was not to my liking.

First Hotel
Once the driver and passengers were ready we continued north towards Battambang but now the road was level and it was a comfortable ride for the rest of the way. The minibus dropped us off at their office near the market and after studying the map I proceeded on foot to the First Hotel that I had made a reservation with weeks before. It was a ten minute walk and when I arrived at the reception I was greeted with a friendly smile, signed in and took the elevator to the fourth floor where my room was located. It was clean with a comfortable bed, table, TV and bathroom. Outside was a terrace where you could watch the action on the street. After discussing possible tours with the very helpful receptionist I decided to take a walk round the town with the help of the Battambang Heritage website.
wat

My first stop was at Wat Pipetharam , a little north of the market. The Wat was built in 1888 when that part of Cambodia was still under Thai rule and you can see influences of Thai Buddhism, Especially the roof of the temple. The Wat had been renovated in 1920, 1969 and 1993, but unfortunately there was no access as it was locked up. So many temples were locked during my Cambodian trip which I found rather disappointing. I passed by the building of The Cantonese association and visited the market which was constructed by the same engineers that built the famous Central Market in Phnom Penh. It was built in 1936 and there are two symmetrical halves as it used to be divided by a road #2. It is known as Psar Nath and you will find fresh produce, food stalls, clothes and jewelry inside it.

Wat

From the Market I headed along Street#1 by the river and came across some shop-houses charactarised by the louvered shuttered windows, folding wooden shop doors, pitched roof, columns and pilaster, arched windows and air ventilation above the front door. The original owners emigrated to France before the Khmer Rouge took over, and after the fall of the Khmer rouge they were taken over by the Provincial Department of Arts and Culture, one of the buildings used as a printing shop. Next door is a Chinese Temple and Spirit House and is the oldest building in the area, being over 150 years old. Huia Bao Cu Miao means “the Felling of Protection Temple” and in the olden days Chinese settlers used to come here to pray and make offerings, asking for prosperity and luck.

Wat
It has been renovated several times and is now under the control of the Khmer-Chinese association of Battambang.

In Street #2 1/2 there are a series of shop-houses on each side of the road, several of them are now restaurants, and this is where I took my lunch break. The restaurant where I enjoyed a special Lak Lok was called “Above the World” and was run by s friendly local guy who was a wealth of knowledge. The restaurant was well decorated and had a few artistic objects that were for sale. After lunch I continued my walk and came across “The Smokin’ Pot” so I had to take a photo and ordered a shake. The restaurant has been around for years and offers cooking courses.

I then passed by the old cinema, not quite sure if it was still in use, one guidebook said it was but it certainly did not appear to be, in my opinion.

market
I reached Wat Damrey Sor, (White Elephant) which construction was initiated by one of of the wives of the Thai Lord Governor Choom in 1904. Many sculptures of white elephants can be seen in the temple grounds. On my walk I saw many other older buildings but the next stop that I found interesting was at Sala Khaet, a magnificent house built by Italian architects from Bangkok under the orders of the last Lord Governor from Thailand in 1905. In 1907 when the French insisted the province should be returned o Cambodia the Governor sold all his houses to the French authorities, including Sala Khaet that he had never lived in. Since then the building as undergone several renovations but today it still looks splendid. Next door to it stands the Royal Bungalow which was constructed in 1960 by a famous Cambodian architect named Vann Molyvann, and accommodates the Royal Family when they come to visit, but last seen in 2007.
market
Near the building couples come here to take their pre-wedding photos, as is the tradition in some of the SE Asian countries. My next stop was at the river to see the first concrete bridge, built in 1916 by the French. Nowadays it is only accessible to motorbikes and pedestrians, but you can see the kilometer 0 marker stone, as well as two lions guarding it on the west bank. My final destination for my walk was the old railway station where the clock had been stuck on 8.02 for many years. I was too tired to explore the nearby warehoses and sheds but i am told thatthey contain old rolling stock. 

Now it was time for a beer so i discovered the Delicious Restaurant where Happy Hour was from 3-6 pm (or maybe longer). There were a few expats hanging around and looked as if it was there regular watering hole.

market
The menu looked interesting so i vowed to return the next morning for breakfast.  In the meantime i found a guest house which were offering tours the next day so i signed up for one at the low price of $8, but i was told that the tour would only take place if there were enough people. I returned to the hotel and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Next day i got up early and returned to the Delicious restaurant for my breakfast which consisted of eggs, bacon, tomatoes and bread for the price of $2.50 if i remember correctly. I wandered back to the giest house which was offering the daily tour but found out to my disappointment that nobody else had wanted to sign up. Walking along the road i was about to enter another hotel that advertised tours and as luck would have it the tuk tuk driver who was just leaving asked me if i was interested in a tour, so we settled on a prive of $15 for a four hour tour of the places i wanted to visit.

market
 

First stop was at a roundabout where there was a huge statue of a god where people would come to pray and make offerings. Ta Tumbong as he was known,  sure looked fierce. He is known for his powers and perhaps is the founder of the city, according to legend. 

Next stop was a visit to the bamboo train one of the main reasons for visiting Battambang. This is now operating only for tourists but perhaps there is another section that the local use. We paid $5 per person, then two sets of wheels were placed on the track waith a bamboo platform plced on top of them, an engne and a chain. Everyone climbed aboard, sat on cushions and the Bambbo Special started racing down the track at 40 kph. Ten or fifteen minutes later we were stationary at some souvenir shops where we were pestered by aggressive vendors.

Shophouses
The bamboo train was taken apart and we were toold to reurn in ten minutes for the return trip. Rather than waste my time at the souvenir shops i wandered around and came across three old furnaces for making bricks, but they had been out of use for years. 

Next stop was at the Ancient house where the grand-daughter of the original owner showed us round the hiuse for free, but there was a donation box at the end of the tour where i left one dollar. It was rather sad as her family had been educated and rich so the Khmer Rouge had murdered over 100 of them and only 10 survived those terrible times. 

We then drove out of town to the Killing Caves where the Khmer Rouge marched people to the top of a hill, made them stand next to a hole, bludgeoned them to death and their bodies fell into the cave below.

Chinese temple
Apparently 10,000 people suffered this fate. Today there is a temple at the base of the hill and several structures at the top. You can go inside the cave where you can see a memorial of skulls and bones placed inside a glass compartment. There is a magnificent view from the top and a coiule of ladies selling cold drinks and snacks. I had seen all i wanted to see so we returned to Battambang and i asked the tuktuk driver to drop me off at Street 2 1/2 where i had spotted a mssage parlor the day before. I had a traditional foot massage for about $5 and it was well worth it as i felt my feet were rejuvinated after many days of walking along the streets of many places i had visited in Cambodia. That evening i returned to the Delicious Restaurant for a tsaty plate of mushrooms and rice, and of course a few Happy hour beers as well.
2 1/2 Street
A Frenchman who lived in battambang told me of a restaurant pub called the Woodhouse so i headed by there on the way back home for a couple more beers. It was quite busy withn tourists and expat residents as it was opposite the Royal Hotel. There were plenty seats outside and a pool table inside. Next day would be my final journey back to Siem reap before flying home.

davejo says:
Thanks Viktor, appreciate you taking an interest
Posted on: Sep 14, 2017
vicIII says:
You are a brave explorer I must say!
Posted on: Sep 13, 2017
davejo says:
Yes, Sylvia it was easy to sit on the platform, and the massage was good
Posted on: May 19, 2017
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bedroom, First Hotel
bedroom, First Hotel
First Hotel
First Hotel
wat
wat
Wat
Wat
Wat
Wat
market
market
market
market
market
market
market
market
Shophouses
Shophouses
Chinese temple
Chinese temple
2 1/2 Street
2 1/2 Street
Above the World Restaurant
Above the World Restaurant
Lak Lok with a difference
Lak Lok with a difference
the Smokin Pot
the Smokin' Pot
monks at the temple
monks at the temple
sculptures at the temple
sculptures at the temple
the white elephant
the white elephant
the temple
the temple
temple roof
temple roof
Royal residence
Royal residence
Sala Khaet
Sala Khaet
pre wedding photos
pre wedding photos
the first concrete bridge
the first concrete bridge
the first concrete bridge
the first concrete bridge
the station
the station
8.02 for years
8.02 for years
the station
the station
great breakfast at Delicious Resta…
great breakfast at Delicious Rest…
Ta Dumbong
Ta Dumbong
Ta Dumbong
Ta Dumbong
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
bamboo train
old vehicle
old vehicle
brick furnace
brick furnace
local
local
ancient house
ancient house
owners of ancient house
owners of ancient house
ancient house
ancient house
ancient house
ancient house
the killing caves
the killing caves
temple by killing caves
temple by killing caves
killing caves
killing caves
memorial at Killing caves
memorial at Killing caves
killing caves
killing caves
the hole where the bodes were thro…
the hole where the bodes were thr…
view from killing caves
view from killing caves
foot massage
foot massage
my mushroom meal at Delicious Rest…
my mushroom meal at Delicious Res…
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photo by: Mezmerized