After Angkor Wat and Siem Reap we took the coach South West to Battambang……. which no one understood when we said it. They thought about it and then repeated ‘ahhhh bottombong’ back to us.
Battambang grew on us the longer we stayed. At street level the city doesn’t look much, you have to look up at the architecture. There are some really beautiful French colonial buildings but unfortunately many are quite tatty and need a little looking after. A river runs through the centre of the city and there are grassy areas with exercise equipment by the banks which were nice to use on our morning run.
In the two mornings we were there we followed the two Architecture walks set out in the tourism literature. We dashed between the shade because even at 11am it was 33°C but felt like 37°C due to the humidity. In doing so we stumbled upon some beautiful boutique cafes displaying arts and craft work.
We took a tuk tuk ride through the countryside passing farms growing banana, mango and papaya. The suspension bridge the tuk tuk driver, Jed, showed us made us think about home….until we had to dodge the scooters that came tearing past. The river is a life line for the farmers out there. All along the banks are several pipes and pumps per farm used to irrigate the land… they’re very dependent on this source.
Jed also took us to a local honeypot where hundreds of fruit bats hang in the top of the tree. It was hot and you could see the bats fanning themselves and then occasionally the odd bat flies of to a nearby tree. It was fantastic to see! They were larger than I expected too, about the length of a small cat but a little skinnier.
The tour then took us across the Cambodian plains to the samprov rocky out crops. We had great views of the plains and we visited the Khmer Rouge killing cave but the main attraction was the bat caves. Every evening at dusk approximately 1 million wrinkle lipped bats continuously stream out of the cave to start their hunt for breakfast. They meandered across the orange sky up to 50km away to feast on the crop munching insects. The Cambodians estimate that these bats protect over 200 tonnes of food being munched by insects per year, enough to feed over 20% of the Cambodian population.
One funny sight on arrival to Battambang was again transport related. As the coach pulled off the main road a tuk tuk driver was waiting on the corner with a sign advertising “$2 town, $0.25 per km”. When he saw Beth in the window he began a waving his sign frantically, then when the bus turned the corner he started to run after the bus still waving his sign. We chuckled as he disappeared from view and then a few seconds later, whilst the bus was still moving, the sign appears randomly on the window next to Beth. Beth and I looked at each other wondering how it got there and then burst out laughing when we realised the tuk tuk driver was still there but out of sight running alongside the coach. Funny funny. The lad had good legs on him though, he remained there for the next 30m with the bus travelling at a fair pace.