Tin Tin in Cambodia

Trip Start Jul 01, 2013
Trip End Jul 01, 2014

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Where I stayed
Central Mansions
What I did
Bamboo train
Bat Caves

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We are now heading to Battambang on the other side of Tonle Sap Lake. We had two option of travel to get there Bus or river boat. Being the rainy season now and rivers swollen, and not wanting to take a bumpy bus ride through the country side, as the roads here are like spring thaw in Edmonton. We decided on the boat trip even though it was 3 times as long. The boat was a long narrow ship with a roof doubling as a viewing platform. The river is almost not recognizable as the surrounding fields are flooded by the constant rains. We weave our way through the fields, stopping at floating villages along the way to drop off people and packages. The happy cambodians, waving and smiling as we floated by was very cool to see. The kids are adorable and wave at you constantly while swimming and playing on the shores. We decided to go up top on the sun deck, which provided much better views and comfort from the cramped gully below. We chatted with a nice British couple from London, while the time ticked by oblivious to the sun breaking through the clouds. By the time we made it to Battambang we were well done on all appendages not sun screened. My legs and Kim's shoulders outside the tank top. At least the boat ride was an adventure and worth the burn for sure. 

Upon arriving at the boat dock, we were swarmed by Tuk-Tuk drivers. They actually boarded the boat, blocked people from retrieving their luggage and constantly asked which hotel we stay at and if we need a tuk-tuk driver. It took everyone by surprise and made the whole thing quite chaotic. Kim told one of the guys to go away and wait outside while we get our bags and we will talk to him then. Surprisingly, he did as she asked and we had him drive us to our resort which was a lot further then we originally planned so good thing we had a tuk-tuk. I felt a bit for these guys as it is low season now and not many tourists, especially because the hotel lined up our driver for the next day as well. 

We stayed at the Battambang resort, where we had our own concrete bungalow, very modern, nice and in a jungle garden. They are located just out of the city, which is something we have been doing a bit lately, it is quite nice and quiet although sometimes we miss just walking down the street to grab some snacks or an ATM. But, the hotel grounds, rooms and restaurants have been worth the distance from the town for sure. This hotel did not disappoint, the food was amazing, and Cambodia has been impressing us with the food for sure. They draw off Thai, Vietnamese and Indian styles and do it quite well. Truly some of the best meals we have had in a while from many disappointing ones in China.

We only have a short time in Battambang, so we planned a busy day of Tuk-tuk touring, luckily our hotel knows of a great driver to show us the culture, countryside and sites. We started on the tour early in the morning, our driver Tin Tin arrived, introduced himself and showed us the plan for the day. Our first stop was to the bamboo train. In the past farmers built a small railway, called the bamboo railway, that helped supply the local countryside with rice, cattle and other supplies. It eventually ran all the way to the Thai border and was about 400km's long. Now still in limited use, it is more of a tourist site where you can ride the train about 7 km's to the next station where you see how adobe bricks are made. The ride is bumpy but, awesome as you fly through the overgrown rail line. Our train driver was cutting the overgrowth as we drove by with a machete. The stop is at a small village, with some hawkers and kids. The little girls latched onto Kim immediately, with some nice scarfs and then showed us how the local bricks are made. It was actually interesting and the girl knew very good english and was very pleasant so it was nice to have her "guide" us. 

We then stopped at a couple temples which were interesting. We also stopped at a Rice Wine making hut. Where we were shown how they make the rice wine in a small stile. I was surprised to see that a lot of the local people us Rice husks to burn instead of expensive firewood. We also got to try some rice wine which was not that bad, similar to a mild whiskey, but Kim thought it was horrible. We stopped for a quick snack of sticky rice made in a young bamboo stock and cooked beside a fire inside the bamboo, it was quite delicious. The last stop of the morning was at a rice paper making hut, where we briefly witnessed the paper being make, similar to a crape, steamed then place on a whicker board and dried by the side of the road. Tin Tin then whisked us back to the hotel for lunch before continuing on for the afternoon stops. 

The first stop of the afternoon was at the killing caves. We should explain her i guess about the Khmur Rouge. In the 1970's there was a government party that used deception to gain power of Cambodia. During this time, there were much distress in Cambodia, around 2 million people were reported killed, but the numbers are not 100% known. The Story of the Khmur Rouge was kind of a new one to us, we researched it quite a bit after talking with Tin Tin, as he was directly effected by the Khmur Rouge. It is truly horrible what happened and i implore you to do a google search, as there is far too much to write about in this blog, plus i like to keep it as light as possible... with that said. 
The killing caves are situated atop a mountain temple just outside of town. The Khmur rouge often converted temples into prisons during their regime. This temple was situated atop the mountain beside several caves. These caves were used for disposing of numerous bodies over the years of oppression. They have formed a couple glass vaults that now house alot of the bones from the cave which was a bit surprising. It was a sobering site for sure, and one we will remember for many years. 

After we walked down from the temple, we made our way to the Bat caves. There are 2 caves located on the mountain which house millions of bats. These bats leave the cave every night to venture out and eat copious amounts of insects. The small brown insect bats can be seen flying in a snake like line leaving the cave and dispersing into the country side. Like a plume of smoke they drift into the setting sun for roughly an hour. We caught the tail end of the nightly commute and it was pretty awesome to see. 

After a day full of site seeing, tin tin dropped us off and said goodbye. We settled into another wonderful meal at the Battambang hotel. Before retiring for the evening and getting ready for a long 6 hour bus ride tomorrow through the Cambodian Country side to the Capital city Phnom Penh where we plan to spend a couple days.

Well, the 6 hour bus ride, turned into an 8hour one due to heavy traffic near Phnom Penh. We managed to survive, and made our way to the Central Mansion hotel, actually more of an apart/hotel. We have liked these in the past and they are quite cheap as well. This one was very nice, with a very new renovation that still had the room smelling like new. It is also located within walking distance to the central market and river front dining.   
The next couple days we worked our way through the markets and did some good shopping before mailing another package home. We laid low for most of the time, enjoying Phnom Penh and its wonderful attitude, atmosphere and restaurants. We throughly enjoyed our time in Cambodia, and are very happy we decided to come back. The temples, dark history and wonderful people have left their mark on us and we will not forget this amazing country anytime soon.  

We now are heading to Lombok via a 3 flight day of travel. Luckily not long flights, but some very tight connections times. We will see how everything will go and we look forward to Lombok / Gilis and doing some more underwater exploring, as well as possibly hiking an active volcano. Not going to lie, we are pretty pumped. 
Until then, Much Love 

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LdC on

So pumped for Mt. Rinjani!!!! Hope you guys can get there!

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