Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Apr 27, 2010

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today we took the bus to Battambang (about 3 hoours). On board we met a French-Cambodian couple that moved back to Siem Reap about 2 years ago. He left for France on a scholarship when he was 20 and didn't get a chance to come back because of all the political going ons and she left for France when she was 32, as a polotical refugee. They decided to move back to to Cambodia, the French pension being too low for them to stay in France. They are on their way to visit her mom in Battambang. They invite us for lunch at her mom's place the next day.....
After being jumped on by a dozen tuk tuk drivers upon our arrival we select  one and go to the ...hotel. First hotel of the trip, with a real shower and actual water and not just a trickle of water!!!!! What luxury...and a pool! Cambodia seems to be more developed than Laos and people are less shy. The landscape is all flat with palm trees and coconut trees scattered all over. The Battambang province where we are now is the most agriculturally productive province in Cambodia, growing all sorts of fruit and vegetables.
Let's get back to our lunch....we arrive in Iv and Mo's village and find the right house (not that easy considering there are no street names and no house numbers...). The whole family is there. Mo's mum is 93, her 2 sisters are in their mid 70's, and then all the uncles and aunts, etc...They had a big feast in the morning to commemorate the dad,s death 3 years ago. They make us sit down and serve us lunch. They don't even sit with us because they already ate with the whole family!! It feels a little weird being served like that but they seem to enjoy it so we do too. Needless to say that the food is delicious and that there is too much, like always! We have a wonderful afternoon talking about their lives, sometimes they have difficulties putting everything into words and refer to the whole Khmer and Vietnamese episodes as "the events". They keep a deep resentment to the vietnamese people who invaded them in the early 80's, liberating them from the Red Khmers but imposing their own laws and a harsh regime.
After lunch we visit the few traditional houses in the village and go back to Battambang for a refreshing dip in the pool. Tomorrow we are having a cambodian cooking class in one of the little restaurants downtown!
First to the market with the chef and 8 others tourists to buy all the ingredients, including live fish, and schrimps. Eventhough it all doesn't look really appealing, everything is so fresh. You select your live fish and they prepare it for you. As the chef said, everything is organic....not because it is healthier but because they don't have the money to buy fertilizer. We had so much fun cooking, the girls loved it too. It is always fun to talk to other tourists, exchange experiences and tips. After the cooking we all sat down together and enjoyed the best cambodian meal ever!!!!!
Next day we spent the morning doing some school work and left at 12:00 for an afternoon tour in the countryside, a 40 km long loop, which took us about 5 hours wit the tuk tuk...mainly dirt roads...ended up with a flat tire that had to be fixed before getting to the hotel. It was soooooo hot today, just horrible...and we had to get up 358 steps to see one specific temple, with its killing caves (the red Khmers ust threw their victms down a whole in a cave and now it has become a memorial place). I think today we must all have lost at least 2 kg just sweating....yuk! We met as Cambodian guy speaking French....with a canadian accent!!! Sounded so funny! It was his 1st time back after 27 years in Montreal as a refugee, his whole family has been killed by the Red K. regime. He started telling about it and you see in his eyes he was reliving the whole thing. His Cambodian wife (met in Canada) and kids were left behind in Canada, not enough money for them all to travel together. It is one thing to read about the regime in books and guides but quite another when someone is telling his own story..that something like that can still happen is beyond my would think humanity had learnt it's lesson after WWII but no, apparently it was even worse. The most horrible thing is it is hard for them to forget with all the mutilated victims walking around all over, but especially here close to the Thai border (the Khmer were hiding in the Thai forests when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in about 1979 and planted landmines in the rice paddies and fields bordering Thailand). And still they have a smile for everybody....
Also went to visit a silk farm where they showed us all the steps from breeding the worms to the final product...which we could of course buy...and that we did! Very interesting tour. The farm is now self sufficient after having been under French tutoring for 10 years, employing and training homeless, poor and orphaned teenagers.
Went to dinner to the same place for the third evening in a row, the White Rose and had again excellent fruit shakes for desert (and 2 kg back!!)
Battambang was a really relaxing place eventhough it did not really have much to do. Didn't do the bamboo train, will do it in Pursat, less touristy!
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mama on

Was het lekker dat koken?? Zal wel, hé. Heb je alles opgeschreven, want wij willen dat ook wel proeven, hoor, volgende keer als we komen!

Doei en kus Mams

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