You will notice that this post is low on photos, and this is for two reasons: i) Battambang isn’t particularly remarkable, and ii) my computer was stolen at my next stop so I lost the photos that hadn’t been backed up on the cloud yet (no biggie, I anticipated this happening so brought along a really cheap computer. Finding a replacement was more complicated). The few pictures I have here were taken on my cell phone.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the vibe of Battambang and could easily spend a lazy month there. I met a lot of really nice people that had been there for quite some time and looked to be very happy. It’s also an old city, founded in the 11th century so it has some history to it, but not much of an old town. The city is known for its French colonial architecture, but to be honest I didn’t really notice it so it wasn’t all that spectacular.
The city did however, have a much nicer riverfront than Phnom Penh:
For dinner on my first night, I ventured out to the night food stalls along the river. The food looked quite good and was dirt cheap, but the sandwich I had turned out to be pretty awful. The sandwich had more tendons than edible meat and it wasn’t even served as a sandwich, I got the meat on the side and and empty chunk of baguette—I was not impressed:
The following day I rented a motorcycle to check out the main sights for the city which are all along the periphery of the town. The motorcycle trips were actually quite pleasant, 25-45 minutes a piece and Cambodian drivers are relatively sensible as compared to the Vietnamese.
Ek Phnom Temple:
To the south a 20 minute ride away was Prasat Banan:
The food in Battambang was quite good. I had an outstanding dinner on my second night there at Nary Kitchen which also holds great cooking classes. This is their awesome beef lok lak, a.k.a. bo luc lac, beef cubes sautéed with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, pepper and soy sauce, topped with a fried egg:
As a side note to bartenders of the world, that night I encountered what I consider to be one of the best drinking combinations in the world at the Riverside Balcony Bar: a small draught of beer, one shot of whisky and shot of pickle juice.
The following day I rented a motorcycle again for some more exploring. I just ran into this temple on my way so I never figured out the name:
The highlight of Battambang is the bamboo train which will sadly only be around for the next few years as the Cambodian government works to put the country’s rail lines, damaged during the Vietnam war, back into service. The trains are a truly unique experience. There is a single track that extends for about a 30 minute train ride at a speed that I would estimate to be 30-40 kmph. The train is very basic, it’s a bamboo platform, four wheels and a motor small enough to only power a lawnmower. Since there is only one track, you routinely need to get off the train at which point it is lifted off the track to let a train in the opposing direction pass. The train is then reassembled again in about a minute flat. Don’t listen to the critics on Trip Advisor, I was solidly entertained for an hour at a cost of $5 USD plus a $1 USD tip for the driver:
Here are some pictures of the train, I’ll add a video or two later, for some reason Vimeo can’t be accessed in Indonesia:
The last spot I visited in Battambang was Phnom Sampov a short ride away. If you go near dusk you’ll see a huge swarm of bats flying out for the night from the nearby caves. The area is also known for some of the nearby killing fields. I was only able to salvage two shots from the top of the small mountain where Sampov is situated. I’ll leave you with pictures of the view from the top: