Friday, 23 July 2010


Thursday 22 July: Battambang (pronounced Bat dam bong) is a pleasant riverside town with inexpensive accommodation and I'm in a huge en-suite fan room in the Royal Hotel. Monsoon season is starting and the rain comes in short deluges between long sunny spells which suits me just fine.
Friday 23: A provincial town, Battambang has an abundance of little restaurants and more substantial French colonial buildings mostly falling apart, but the Governor's Residence and one of the banks are well kept. Wat Damrey Sar is not a particularly picturesque temple but has some unusual statues in the courtyard.
Saturday 24: I give up walking and take a moto to see the Bamboo Train a few miles from town. It's unique - a flat bamboo bogie with detachable wheels and small removable petrol engine - and that's it. They run along the narrow warped old French single-track line and when two meet head-on, the less heavily laden one is unloaded and dismantled so the other can pass. The same happens, though presumably a little quicker, if a big train approaches. What a great way to take advantage of an underused railway line.
Sunday 25: The water level is low so the five hour scenic boat ride along narrow weedy wetlands, through floating and stilt villages, to Tonle Sap lake and on to Siem Reap takes eight hours, but despite the discomfort it's a delight.
Photos, Battambang and the waterways to Siem Reap.

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