Going batty in Battambang

Another relatively last minute decision and we weren’t to stay long. Yet again the bus dropped us on the edge of town, so we caught a tuk-tuk into a hotel that had been recommended by Lonely Planet. Unfortunately it was booked out, as was virtually every other hotel/hostel in the vicinity. Desperation kicked in and we found ourselves in a horrible hotel which could accommodate us but only with two beds, no windows, and malfunctioning air-conditioning. We tried to haggle the owner down from US$10 to US$9 but he refused, and our stubbornness saw us (stupidly?!) walk back onto the streets. We finally found a dorm room that cost only $2 each – it consisted of an external bathroom, a bed, and a fan so disturbingly close to our heads we turned it off before sleeping in case we accidentally executed ourselves in the night.

For dinner we again relied on Lonely Planet and found ourselves at a restaurant called the Smokin’ Pot.  Our first mishap occurred when I felt something scurry over my foot. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied what I thought was a cat – but to my disbelief, it was actually a rat. I thought rats that size only existed in fairy-tales. The owner came out and chased it with a broom. Later it ran past again – Summer got a fright, which scared James, and he jumped up, which flipped our table. Coke spilt everywhere, and we had to move tables. We shifted (out of sight, out of mind?) just in time for our food to arrive. Summer’s green curry was so inedible that not even James could stomach it – it tasted like it had been marinated in shrimp paste. On the walk home we stopped at the dairy for Summer’s second take at dinner – peanut butter and crackers, always a winner. The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before hiring motorbikes and setting out to the Bamboo train. Basically a bamboo mat on wheels, we set off – us three, our driver and nothing but our hair flapping in the wind. Every time a carriage came the other way we had to clamber off and effectively dismantle the train, taking our carriage off the tracks and waiting for the other carriage to pass. We reached the turnaround point where we stopped for about 15 minutes, giving entire families the opportunity to hound us to buy their souvenirs, and making us pinky promise that if we changed our minds we would only buy from them. We successfully escaped with our wallets still intact. We then headed back into town, stopping for a delectable lunch at Choco L’Art. We completed order forms for our crepes, meaning that they were custom made, exactly the way we desired. We all opted for savoury, saving room for more crepes (Nutella) and the chocolate hazelnut pie for dessert.

After lunch James steered his bike (“Blaze”) and us out of town to the bat caves which were located about 40 minutes away. Once sunset hit, millions and millions of bats streamed from the cave up above – it felt like it went forever. One guy had a drone which he got right up into the cave, accidentally executing a bat in the process – it dropped out of the sky and right into the crowd. It was an incredible sight, something that you can’t quite fully prepare yourself for. On the way home Summer revealed that she was still scarred from her experience the night before, and would be staying home that night to indulge in some more peanut butter on crackers. James and I headed out for our last night in Battambang for a few drinks, food and traditional Khmer massages.

One activity that we didn’t have the chance to do was the circus – something I would highly recommend if you are there on the right nights.


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