The whole reason I wanted to head to Battambang was to ride the bamboo train but I actually started to regret this decision as we made the 5 hour journey from Phnom Penh instead of heading straight to Siem Reap (also 5 hours from Phnom Penh but in a different direction!)
We had planned on taking a shuttle, after all we were trying to do things on the cheap but after talking to our hotel reception we realized the price difference between the shuttle and a private taxi was only $13.
Matt & I were both kind of relieved that we would be getting a taxi as opposed to spending probably more like 7 hours in a shuttle bus although as it turned out the drive itself wasn’t all that pleasant.
Lots of potholes, the usual overtaking and horn honking but with one extra element we didn’t experience while driving in Vietnam; the torrential downpours thanks to the rainy season, which didn’t seem to phase our driver who continued driving at one speed…fast!
When we finally arrived in Battambang our driver took us straight to our hotel, or so we thought. Pleased to be out of the car (and to have made it in one piece) we went to check-in and drop off our luggage.
Immediately I felt like something was wrong, the hotel did not look at all like the pictures from the website but we continued checking-in. My suspicion was heightened when it appeared they weren’t expecting us, although they didn’t let that on to us, but it was obvious as they started whispering to each other and trying to work out a room to put us on.
Then it was time to see our room. There was a giant hole in the ceiling, probably 2 foot wide where all I could think about was I wonder how many rodents would be sharing the room with us! Eden then went to wash her hands and as she turned the faucet on she realized that there was no drain and the water was simply running straight onto the bathroom floor.
Matt & I just kept repeating “it’s only for 1 night”.
Just before leaving the hotel in search for lunch I quickly used the wifi to show Matt what I thought the hotel should look like, he agreed we were definitely in the wrong place. It was then we worked out the mistake; the driver dropped us off at the Asian Hotel NOT the Asia Hotel, that tiny ‘n’ on the end made a big difference!
We found a tuktuk to drive us 2 km’s into the town where our the hotel we actually reserved was at and checked-in (again) then Matt rode the tuktuk back to the first hotel to retrieve our belongings.
Finally having our accommodation sorted for the night it was time to explore Battambang and it quickly became clear that Battambang was so much more than the bamboo train.
It was raining on and off but we didn’t let that stop us from exploring the temples within the town centre, via tuktuk of course!
We visted 3 temples; all were beautiful, different and also similar and we were thankful for our driver who had a vast knowledge of the temples & their history.
Unfortunately after the 5 hour drive followed by the hotel mixup this was all we had time for before it was dinner and bed but we arranged for our driver to pick us up early the next morning to take us to the bamboo train.
The bamboo train was ridiculously fun & definitely a tourist attraction although this was not always the case. The bamboo train came about in the 1980’s as Cambodia was getting back on its feet after the Khmer Rouge craziness and was used to transport people & produce at a relatively low cost.
Not the most comfortable train ride we have ever had, in fact I would go as far as saying it was the most uncomfortable train ride I have ever had but like I said, its ridiculously fun. Sitting on a cushion on the bamboo platform, the driver whizzes us along the single train track.
While I am sure it wasn’t going all that fast we did pick up some speed and we all had plenty of giggles!
We rode the train to a small village where we were greeted by lots of eager kids trying to get us to buy their homemade items. We were told by the police before boarding the train not to buy from them and you will see posters all over Cambodia saying similar things.
Unfortunately the journey back on the train wasn’t as thrilling as we never had the opportunity to pick up the same speeds, for a very good reason; we had to keep stopping for our driver to help oncoming trains dismantle to allow us to pass.
Yes thats right, since there is only one track, if a train is coming towards you one of you have to get off the train which means disassembling the train to let the oncoming vehicle past before reassembling it!
After the train ride we didn’t have a whole lot of time before our driver was picking us up to take us to Siem Reap but we managed to fit in a quick trip the the crocodile farm; which the girls absolutely loved.
Unfortunately after our trip to the croc farm it was time for us to head back to the hotel and await a private taxi to drive us a few hours to Siem Reap.
As it turned out I am so incredibly happy we went to Battambang despite my initial feelings, in fact I actually wish we had spent another 24 hours to spend there as there is plenty more I would like to see from temples to bat caves.
I guess it just means we will have to return but for now we have one last stop on our amazing SE Asia adventure…Siem Reap (which I will be posting about shortly!)
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