Norry on the Norry train

Trip Start Aug 14, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did
Bamboo Train
Phnom Sampeu

Flag of Cambodia  , Bat Dambang,
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

We arrived in the early afternoon; our guesthouse in Siem Reap had arranged for us to be picked up at the bus station by tuk tuk, which saved a lot hassle. He took us to a hotel that we actually wanted to go to and whilst Kate was checking the room, I was asking him about tours and we arranged for one for the next day. In India, I was guilty of picking a couple of bad places to stay and Kate let me know about it. Well, the place she had just okayed didn't even have a sink!!! Just a shower and a toilet! But it was brand new and nice.

We headed out into the afternoon heat, but only to find some lunch. The food was excellent and there was only one occasion that we didn't have lunch or dinner there - that evening, which we regretted! After lunch we walked around the town, it was lovely and peaceful. We saw some beautiful old French colonial buildings that were lucky enough to have survived the Khmer rouges attack against outside influences.

The next day we had our tour planned but when we went downstairs to the lobby to meet our driver, he was trying to get someone else into his tuk tuk! We told him that we were ready to go and then he tried to get Kate and I to share the fare with another customer, even though we were going to completely different places! We eventually set off, just Kate and I, and we headed to the bamboo train or "The Norry Train" as it is also known! The bamboo train is pretty much the base of a double bed made from bamboo, then it's placed on two sets off wheels. Finally a small engine is placed on top of the bamboo and then we were off! We travelled on the train for about twenty minutes before we arrived at a small village. On the way we had to stop a couple of times due to oncoming trains. Both trains stop and the drivers help take one train off the tracks so that the other can continue. There wasn't much to see at the village apart from a few shops selling drinks and snacks to tourists, a rice mill and some local children who wanted to show you the mill and then ask for money afterwards. We headed back on the bamboo train, it was an ok experience it was just very uncomfortable!

Once back in the slightly more pleasurable tuk tuk, we headed to Phnom Sampeu. It was mainly a Buddhist temple and monastery on top of a large hill, which also provided an excellent view. During the war, the Khmer Rouge used the monastery as a prison and would eventually throw the people through the opening shaft to their deaths in the cave below. At the base of the cave there was another stupa filled with skulls of the victims, yet another reminder of the blood stained history of a country of such beauty. At the base of the hill we stood waiting for half an hour, along with fifty or more other tourists, in front of a large opening in the rocks. We were waiting for the bats to emerge, I was hoping that they would be giant tropical bats but they were the same size as the ones back home. About fifteen minutes after the sun had set the bats emerged, and there were thousands upon thousands of them! They streamed out of the cave for a continuous twenty minutes, causing the sky to darken. We had never seen anything like it before, it was an incredible sight.

On our last day we arranged a bus to a small fishing town called Kep, sat and watched monks collect alms and just chilled out, because sometimes travelling is very, very hard work.
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