The bus from Phnom Penh to Battambang was usual SE Asian style. 40 minutes late leaving, 3 hours late arriving. But uneventful, and we actually were on a bus this time! Upon arrival Will decided to play his new Make The Tuktuk Drivers Jump game. It involves getting off the bus, and telling all of the clambering scrum of drivers to wait. Most keep milling around as we get our bags, and once we have our bags, Will turns around and yells out the name of our hotel. This invariably makes them all jump and rush towards him shouting phrases like “yes yes” “me sir” “I know I know!” After asking the group how much, a bold driver thinking of selling us tours offers to take us for $1. Perfect!
Battambang, at only 140,000 in population, is Cambodia’s second largest city. In the centre it certainly felt like a large urban city, but combined that with the feel of a small town. The city is spread across the banks of a small river with parks and recreational spaces either side where you can see lots of people doing aerobics, running, playing badminton etc. Our first evening was spent having a beer or 5 at a local cafe followed by a sugar cane drink and noodles on the side of the road for dinner for the pricy sum of $1.25 for both of us.
The next day, we had come down with a cold that had been threatening to hit us for a couple of days. A bit of bad timing seeing as we only had one full day in Battambang. But oh well. We spent the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon exploring the city, walking down random alleyways and through hectic markets. The remainder of the afternoon was spent recuperating in bed in preparation for Siem Reap the next day.
Despite our brief explore of the city, Battambang is our favourite place in Cambodia so far, and by some margin. We have noticed how Cambodian people are unbelievably friendly and happy, and in Battambang this seemed to be the case even more so. It’s certainly one of the places on our trip so far that we would love to come back to, maybe even to live one day. However, tomorrow brings Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor. We don’t quite know what to expect…the temples are so hyped up, and said to be so unbelievably full of tourists, that initial thoughts suggest that we may not enjoy them as much as Sukhothai or Wat Phou. In a few days we will know.