Thursday, 6 February 2014

Out with a Battambang

There is a general consensus among... well, everyone, that when travelling from Siem Reap to Battambang, you should take the boat.
Further, there is a general consensus that taking the boat is a good reason to travel between Battambang and Siem Reap.
So, for my last port of call in Cambodia, I took the boat to Battambang.

At $25 for a 9 hour journey, it is a significant investment of time and money over the 3 hour, $6 bus journey. The boat is fairly small. Not all the passengers will fit inside, and there is no awning on the roof, so half of the passengers will be spending 9 hours out in the sun. This is not broadly obvious from the information one is given, but fortunately, many people seem not to mind sitting out in the noon sun with no shade, leaving a seat inside for me to retire to once noon rolled around with all its usual dry-season in the Delta verve.

There are a lot of floating villages along the river, and the boat occasionally pulls up to someone's home to drop off a passenger, or a small row boat will draw up alongside and another passenger from the village toss aboard their bags and clamber on.
It was interesting to see - I hadn't visited any floating villages, although there are tours available. At least there's nothing overtly voyeuristic about being on the bus through town...

I'm not sure I'd say it was the most scenic river trip I took in Cambodia though. That goes to the start of the trek in Chi Phat.

I'd intended to stay for about 3 days in Battambang, and then head to Thailand. I hadn't managed to book anywhere to stay in Battambang in advance, so I wandered to the area with the two largest hotels, and found a room there. During the wander, the town looked tired and worn. I was probably projecting, but it was enough to make me think that it was probably time to move on. I booked two nights at the hotel, and a bus to Bangkok for the morning after.

Battambang has a small but interesting museum, a slew of cooking courses, many perfectly acceptable places to get tea, and - not to underestimated - there is (randomly) a circus school. Two nights a week, it puts on performances. One of those nights, I happened to be in Battambang.
So I *did* get to go to the circus!
(Which Disney Princess gets to go to the circus? Enquiring minds need to know!)

These guys were awesome. Two of them have been accepted to an international circus school in Montreal (I think).

Cambodia started on a high. Kampot remains my favourite location, but all of it is beautiful, Angkor Wat is incredible, and the relaxed and welcoming attitude of the Khmer permeates the whole place. I've loved it here. But after 4 weeks, I'm now on a tight schedule for Thailand and Laos - especially given I have to spend at least a week in either Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Vientiane to get a visa for China.

It's time to move on.

The Other Side - why do you need a reason?

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