Instead of just going straight to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, we decided to take a detour through Battambang, a smaller city to the northwest that is less visited than the big cities, but still has many attraction and tourist aimed hotels and restaurants. 2 big things stood out to make me really enjoy the time we spent here.
1. The general feeling of community and local life, and
2. the natural beauty of the landscape and earthly attractions, as well as the general aesthetic of the city.
We started off two days here by renting bicycles and riding around to our heart’s content exploring. We rode by the riverside walk, where young and old participated in open dance classes, through lush streets where multiple colorful weddings were taking place and through quieter suburbs among schools and houses. This was a most memorable bike ride.
The next day we hopped around (via tuk-tuk) to all the ‘must-see’ destinations. We started at the bamboo train, where we boarded a wood palette on the tracks and raced along through the countryside, passing farms and the occasional local wandering in a pond. Our bumpy ride was shared with some local men who were just along for fun. Although still used now for shorter distances, the bamboo train had been used during harsher times to travel safely at night with goods and supplies.
We travelled on barren dirt roads with a speedier tuk-tuk kicking up dust in our faces, seemingly in the middle of nowhere to our final destination of the day, the killing caves and temples of Phnom Sampeau and the bat cave. It took us about an hour to march up the steep winding roads of the little mountain to the cave and statues surrounding, to the magnificent temple at the very top, and then back down a looong stone staircase to the foot of the mountain where we would await the bats’ exit. A tour contrasting sadness and beauty, dark and light.
Returning to the foot of the mountain, we awaited the bats’ nightly show, their exit from the ominous hole in the rock. At around 6pm, they began to trickle out. Their screeches were heard overhead and their hungry bodies spotted soaring into the night as they transformed into one giant black looming swarm that made it’s way like a snake across the dimming sky. As we putted back toward the city, we could still see the mass of millions moving across in search of food.
Did you enjoy this post? If so, please consider sharing! What detours have you made that have led to wonderful adventures?