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Monday, November 28, 2016

Battambang, Cambodia

Our destination after Siem Reap in Cambodia was Battambang that was about 3 hours drive. It was raining heavily all though this journey. But to our respite, rains subsided as we entered Battambang town. The first impression of the town indicated that it was far less touristy when compared to Siem Reap. The bus loads of people seen in Siem Reap  were all gone. 

View from our hotel
After check-in at the hotel, we walked to the town centre where we had our lunch at vegetarian restaurant. A tuk tuk was hired to visit the nearby places. A couple from Australia also joined us.

Shortly we realised that the tuk tuk driver had lot of knowledge about the place who also added up as a guide!! First he took us to the Governor’s residence. The French influence on this town was clearly manifested in this building. The interiors of the building was closed but the exterior look was impressive.


We made a short stop at Dombang statue at the centre of a circle. 


Our next destination was bamboo train. It is nothing but a bamboo platform mounted on train axles with a small engine which is used as a tourist attraction. Very cool!! It was a 30 minute journey to the other end where some souvenir shops are located. A completely new experience for us!!


What happens if another trains comes from opposite direction? The one that has lesser number of people will be lifted to give way for the other!! 


There are plans to upgrade this track for Poipet (Thailand border) to Phnom Penh. Once this happens bamboo train will be history.


Completely satisfied with Bamboo train experience we went to Phnom Sampeu, a hill on the outskirts of Battambang. It took about 45 minutes to reach this place. For some strange reasons, tuk tuks were not allowed to the top. We either had to walk up or take a taxi. Walking was not a option as we had less time and also were not in a mood to sweat out. So we hired a taxi.

The taxi was hired by different groups. Since the places to see were spread across the hill, while one group was busy visiting one place, the taxi driver did multiple trip to take other groups. Must say that he did a good job in that!! 


This hill is a confusing place as there are no proper indications about the places. But thanks to our tuk tuk driver, we had nothing to worry. There were some temples and buddhist statues on the top but important place was the killing caves. Cambodia saw one of the worst genocide in second half of 1970’s where  2-3 million innocent people were massacred by Pol Pot, communist ruler of Cambodia. This was one of the place where people were killed and dumped into the cave. Some of the skulls are not kept for display in the cave. It was very difficult experience for us. Our tuk tuk driver also broke down while explaining about the incidents. Considering that 25% of the population was wiped out, every family in Cambodia was impacted by this.



There are some impressive views from the top. 


It was almost dark when we came down to the base of the hill. Here we witnessed one of the most amazing phenomenon. From a cave on the hill, bats were coming out in huge numbers. This happens between 6 - 7PM where bats go out for food. It is said that there are about a million bats in the cave. It would take about 45 minutes for all the bats to go out. They come back before sunrise. A must visit for any person coming to Battambang.



We thought about going out to town centre for dinner but later decided to try out the restaurant in the hotel we were staying. 

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