journey to and in battambang
23.04.2011 34 °C
from siem reap we took a boat to battambang leaving our hostel at 6:30 am. we were told the boat had air con and was a scenic 4 hours, however as with most of asia, we were told wrong. the boat was an old beater with not even a fan let alone air con or windows. and 4 hours turned into a 13 hr hot sweaty journey. in fact after i had heat stroke, so that was fun. the journey was scenic and beautiful, even though we kept getting beached on the side of the river bank as the water level was so low.
first it went through a floating village, literally schools, houses, churches were all floating on barges. a few kids boated up to us holding snakes charging $1 to hold it. no one held the snake but lots of ppl gave the kids candies, i gave them dentistry by handing out a toothbrush and paste. from here we went through many other floating villages picking up rural passengers as we went. the agriculture used here was pretty fantastic both in the water and along the river banks, so it was interesting to see this way of life. we towards the end of the day people were out bathing in the river naked (mostly the children) waving frantically as we boated by.
upon landing in battambang we grabbed a tuk tuk to phka villa and bargained down the room price from $50 to $25. in this fabulous hotel we got a poolside room with our own western toilet with hot water, a soft bed with 2 pillows, air con, a tv with western channels, towels, free water, and a free large breakfast. it was heaven. he first day we spent in the pool swimming, in our room watching tv (such as the movie bicentennial man) or reading our books. it was a great day and a welcome change to $2 lean to shacks with communal squat toilets. we ordered pizza to our room and got quite a chuckle when they brought it to us with ketchup (being as i had asked for ketchup to go on my eggs earlier they figured we were ketchup crazy), but soon enough we were dipping our pizza in it so go figre.
the next morning we swam until checkout then got pucked up by a tuk tuk who took us to the khmer rouge killing caves. we hired a a young boy (grade 6 he said) whom they called lady boy (yes he had painted toe nails, necklaces and braclets on) to show us around the caves. he spoke great english and was able to tell us a bit more about the caves. people were held here like concentration camps taken from doing something wrong, whatever the khmer rouge decided was wrong, tortured and killed being thrown down the entrance of a giant cave, some already dead and some left to die. the bodies have been for the most part removed only a few bones are kept in a shrine on site. we went back down to the base area to have a coke when another tuk tuk man joined us. he informed us he is studyng english and told us many jokes and told us many tricks. he also is the first cambodian to use the words "knarlÿ, cool beans, dope, easy peasy lemon squeezy, etc" he was very personable and we enjoyed his company as we waited for the bats.
our tuk tuk took us to another cave entrance that the bats come out of and told us more about the khmer rouge and burial rituals in cambodia of the differant ethnicities. we were shocked to learn that 50% of cambodians are part chinese and that is why their culture is very influenced by chinese tradtitions and art. soon the bats, millions of them he said, came swirling out of the cave and into the sky like snakes. it was crazy even as we drove away they looked like giant tubular smoke clouds. it was really neat.
after that we waited for the night bus at 1130 to come pick us up, got on to arrive at phnom pehn, then had to arrange another bus at 6 this morning to get to sihanoukville, we arrived around 1 this afternoon.