River Villages & Smiling Children.
Battambang Travel Blog› entry 31 of 105 › view all entries
October 23rd, 2009 – by: louietravels
Awoken at 5.30am by my requested alarm call. Hopped on the bus with a Dutch girl also taking the boat journey from Siem Reap to Battambang. The bus found its way down the city's bumpy roads picking up those heading for the pier. The boat left at 7.00am but we seemed to have time to stop for a breakfast at 6.45. At 6.55 the driver hit the gas and sped with the horn constantly blaring, hitting the road's bumps at full throttle and weaving past tuktuks, motos and local school chlidren on bicyles. The boat was comfortable with space to lounge on the roof. The sun was shining and the sky dotted with clouds. To be honest I was dissapointed with the first hour as we saw nothing but water and these green plants which littered the water. I had heard that this was one of the most picturesque boat journeys through Cambodia and was hoping the $20 was worth it as opposed to the $6 bus fare. I read for a good hour and a bit until we started passing small floating villages. The children waved from their rickety houses and were sent into an ecstatic frenzy when we waved back, giggling the throwing their arms from side to side, happily watching us go by. There is only one bus taking this route in either direction per day so we were alone on the water apart from the locals. Suddenly we entered stunning scenery. Lush green vegetation, coconut palms, grassy banks and wooden houses lined the edge of the water. Cattle wondered eating masses of dry grass, even though they appeared incredibly thin. Young chlidren, less than 11years in age paddled across the river on their boats, undertaking various chores such as checking on netting. Bare chested men, their bodies gleaming with sweat (hope that doesn't sound too gay) worked in the late morning sun fixing their boats. Kids ran to the rivers edge to shout hello and wildely wave at us. Literally every one. Even the real youngn's. Everyone with an easy smile on their face and a gentle look in their eye. The first minute of taking all this in made the $20 worth it. Jumped onto land and took a tuktuk to our hotel (which included a short race with another tuktuk, blocking each other from overtaking) where me and the Dutch girl secured a room at $1.50 each. Sharing the costs to save money, only for a night so the basic state of the room and its facilties were perfectly fine. Who needs a hot shower and Asian TV anyway? Took a tuktuk to the well know bamboo train which is this wicked rail track connecting Battambang with various villages and another populous area where markets and so forth are situated. Locals transport all sorts of goods and themselves to and from he different places along its tracks by way of the bamboo train. Purely a bamboo board which lays across two sets of wheels and is then powered by a motor which shoots the passengers and goods across the rail at quite a speed. It was much fun although the parts where the track pieces did not properly connect caused big bumps. Had to slow down for slow dogs and cattle which didn't seem to understand they were in danger from this flying piece of bamboo on wheels. As there is only one track, bamboo trains will meet each other as they try to reach opposite sides of the track. The rule is that the train with the most occupants stays put, while the other needs to be carried off the track to let the larger group pass before continuing. The 10-12year old boys who were driving our bamboo train argued with the driver of the other train until eventually convincing them to get off the track. 60minute ride cost us $3, although this was after arguing that $4 was too much. $3 is too much but there was no space on the bamboo train carrying the locals which would of only set us back $1. We then took the tuktuk through various local villages, past hundreds of happy children shouting their greetings, flashing their smiles and waving their hands. Past paddy fields and rivers until reaching a field filled with lotuses and a pretty garden which was being used as a wedding spot for photographs. Pretty Cambodian girls stood holding flowers and dressed in coloured dresses as the sunset behind them. Went out to "Smokin' Pot" restaurant where i ordered a Cambodian dish, called Fish Amok which is quite delicious and basically fish in a fantastic blend of sauces and vegetables. In addition to that; a banana, pineapple and lime fruit juice. Shared a table with a Swiss French speaking couple we had met that day. Next to our restaurant, the wedding party celebrated the occasion with food, drink and music. A Cambodian band played on a set up stage while locals dance, kinda strangely on the dance floor. It was all synchronised and lacked any enthusiasm but as the drinks flowed the dancing improved and their was some life in the movements. Interestingly much of the food ordered could be made "happy" such as the "happy chicken soup" which is chicken soup sprinkled with marijuana. A young couple sat at the table opposite us. Beautiful girl who suprise suprise turned out to be Brazilian. We joined them and headed to our hotel for drinks on its rooftop bar. Weirdly we passed a homeless bloke obviously high on drugs who was walking in quick circles on the street then preceeded to pull down his pants and releave himself on the road. Had a beer and chatted until my eyes became to heavy to hold.
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