24 May - 26 May 2010 Battambang

Kingdom of Cambodia
Modern and clean double room with wifi for only US 5.50 per night.
Friendly and professional staff.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Royal Hotel in Battambang, which we would recommend, and for directions:


Exploring Battambang’s distinctive early-20th-century CE French architecture, the town's colourful markets and well-maintained Buddhist temples (our favourites: Wat PhiphetaramWat Damrey Sar and Wat Kandal), which survived the Khmer Rouge period relatively unscathed, thanks to a local commander who ignored orders, and meeting quite a number of agents of virtue, often obese, with their characteristic obscene attributes: (i) an expensive, mostly pristine-white 4x4 car with fancy, mostly sky-blue logos attached to both front doors, (ii) a fixed salary with expense allowances which is 5 - 20 times higher than the Cambodian average remuneration, and (iii) the irresistible urge to save the planet smack bang in Battambang by “empowering the disadvantaged youth”, “developing the underprivileged women” and “motivating the local entrepreneurs” (but, according to a Cambodian friend, "...in reality they have only brought to Cambodia two main things, inflation and AIDS...").

  “Oh the sisters of mercy they are not
Departed or gone,
They were waiting for me when I thought
That I just can't go on,
And they brought me their comfort
And later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them
You who've been traveling so long...”

Teaming up with French fellow traveller Christine, hiring Bat’s chauffeur-driven canopied remorque-moto, paying him US$ 12.- for an extended half-day tour and exploring together the tourist sites in the surroundings of Battambang: (i) Phnom Sampeau, a complex of temples on a fabled limestone outcrop, c. 12 km southwest of Battambang, (ii) Phnom Banan whose five towers are reminiscent of the layout of Angkor Wat, (iii) the Khmer heritage houses in the village Wat Kor, (iv) Cambodia’s only winery, Chan Thai Chhoeng, and (v) the inevitable “bamboo train”, basically a 3m-long timber frame, covered lengthwise with slats made of ultra-light bamboo, that rests on two barbell-like bogies with the aft one connected by fan belt to a small petrol engine.

Taking the wooden Sok Chamroen Express boat (US$ 17.- per foreigner, one way), a floating shack, from Battambang to Siem Reap, the convenient base camp for the assault on Angkor Wat, thus (i) following downriver the scenic Sangker River, a brownish life-support system where villagers brush their teeth, fish for their daily catch and defecate into the river’s not-so-holy water, (ii) getting stuck for hours in the mud shallows of the river mouth (with a crew that had an inverse Midas touch: everything they touched turned to shit), and (iii) crossing finally the Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, to the floating village of Chong Khneas and on to the Siem Reap pier in Phnom Krom (about 10 km south of Siem Reap) - altogether a Cambodian odyssey of over 16 hours.

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