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Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our trip to Battambang wasn't as smooth as we would have hoped! First, Kevin forgot to set the alarm and instead of waking up a relaxed hour before our pick up time of 6am we were woken up 10 minutes after 6 by a knock on the door.  This luckily gave Kevin a lesson i had been unable to instill which is to pack the night before if we have an early bus to catch!  We felt a little bad when we picked up 10 more people who had been waiting for the bus, but when we were still in Siem Reap an hour later having gone round the houses changing buses and picking more people up we felt less responsible for the overall lateness!  We eventually made it to the boat which was our method of transport to Battambang.  Our second incident of the journey happened a few hours into the boat journey.  Our boat had been having some problems so when there was another boat coming the other way the driver stopped and motioned for it to help.  However instead of helping the other boat drove straight into ours - head on collision! Our guys spent the next half hour hammering bits back on the boat and never did get the original issue looked at!

In total the boat trip was long (9 hours) but really interesting, first through the Tonle Sap lake and then along the river.  We passed through countless floating villages and saw the locals at their daily work of fishing and rice farming.  The majority live in floating houses that we saw, although some of the poorest live in house boats.  Everyone here is incredibly friendly and we spent a lot of the trip waving at people - adults and children - smiling at everyone.  As we found the next day on a tour of the villages its hard not to spend all day smiling here - its infectious from the locals!

We only had one day in Battambang and ended up doing a tuk tuk tour with Anna and Henrik, a Swedish couple we met at breakfast.  This included the bamboo train, a drive through the villages, a couple of temples, fruit bats and the killing caves. The killing caves were a strange experience.  It's one of the places the Khmer Rouge soldiers used as a mass grave when they bludgeoned people to death.  Now it's a very peaceful quiet place, only the monument displaying some of the skulls and bones give you any indication that something horrific happened there. 

One of our main reasons for visiting Battambang was the Bamboo train, which is a form of transport that a few Cambodians still use, although will soon be stopped as its not very efficient and with upgrades in the rail system will become more dangerous.  As you will see from the pictures it's effectively a wooden board on 2 axles with an engine which you sit on and it goes whizzing down the tracks!  The novelty if this isn't enough is that when you come up against a train going in the opposite direction on the single track one party simply gets up, the train is dismantled, the other train passes by and the dismantled train is put back together so you can get back on your way.  Good fun although for people using it to transport goods all the way to Phnom Penh this must get slightly irritating. 
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