Published: November 22nd 2006November 22nd 2006
Who ordered the 45 Buddhists?
a truck full of Monks in Battambang
Most people leave Siam Reap bound for Bangkok and to be honest so would we have done, but although stories of 18 hour journeys and over turned buses seem to tick the boxes of some travellers, nearly 3 months into our adventure and we still find the A to B element boring and slightly stressfull, so if an alternative to break up a journey presents itself then we are tempted to take it. We hadn't had a boat trip since Laos and had even started to look back on that particular adventure with some affection, so a 4 hour boat trip to Battambang would allow us to take in the sights of Cambodia's second city and give us an easier onward journey to the Thai border. As well as all this neither of us were in any hurry to leave Cambodia and relished the idea of taking in some more of its culture in one of its less touristy locations.
Our 5.50am mini van pick up was amazingly on time and as we approached the riverside we overtook a pick up truck full of westeners beating them to the boat by a matter of minutes. For anyone taking this journey
Grange Hill on Sea
A waterside school for the kids of the floating villages between Siam Reep and Battambang
the boat is not like the picture (but hey what is in Asia) and is best described as a sort of canal barge/speedboat hybrid that reportedly holds up to 80 people. Overtaking the pick up truck proved to be a god send as we grabbed the last 2 remaining seats leaving the 20 remaining ticket holders with nowhere to sit, except the roof!! Sounds idyllic but a white sheet metal roof with no seating is not the most comfortable place to sit when the temperature is 35 degrees and there is not a cloud in the sky.
The 4 hour journey took 6 (as expected) and the mood remained jolly throughout although it lacked the camaraderie of the Laos slow boat (mainly due to the lack of beer on board) and still I got the same 'Stockholm Syndrome' of all the long journeys we have done where after about 3 hours I start to feel some affection for my captor and by the end I'm almost sorry it's over!
Unlike Phnom Penh and Siem Reap Battambang is unaffected by the westerners that visit it and the only remotely touristy activity to partake in is the
our favourite way of getting round in Bangkok
bamboo railway. The bamboo railway is so called after farmers stuck a wooden platform onto a section of the miles of unused railway tracks and pushed their livestock between villages with a bamboo pole (like a gondola on wheels). The pole was soon replaced by a motor before some local farmer had the ingenious idea of charging stupid westeners 2 quid a time to be sped up and down the tracks at high speed through the surrounding countryside. Being stupid westeners we jumped at the chance and although it wasn't quite the bullet train in Japan it was a lot of fun especially for the local villagers who thought it was hilarious to watch us zoom past at high speeds fearing for our lives.
We spent some of our final evening in Cambodia swapping naughty hand signals with the local motorbike taxi drivers, I taught them f*** off, up yours and d***head, and they showed us the sign for 'I want to kill you' and a similar hand signal to the Vietnamese 'ladies rude bits'. After this Carla agreed that 2 of them could take us to a nearby bar and on the way back we even shared the
The circle is complete...
...as we return to Bangkok under a deep red sky
same bike, although the record still stands at 3 adults and 3 children all on the same moped as seen in Vietnam.
The following morning we set off for the 120km journey to Thailand on a road which reminded me of Emmentel cheese and as we walked over the border we felt sad to be leaving this fascinating country behind. A country that i will remember for so many reasons for the rest of my life
It had been 10 weeks since we headed north from BKK and it felt good to know we had completed the full circle of Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and returning felt like visiting an old friend.
As we were dumped in Khao San road we realised that this was a much busier BKK than the one we left 10 weeks ago and the sights and sounds of the famous back packers hang out were an initial shock to the system. Khao San Road Facts
- 1. Of the many stray dogs there is actually one that has dreadlocks
- 2. You're never more than 20 paces from one of the following - McDonalds, 7-11, Boots, Subway or
The Khoa San road experience
basically eating junk food and writing lists of things you need to stock up on
- 3. Every other bloke wears a T shirt saying ´same same but different´ or advertising one of the local beers
- 4. A walk along the road at night is guaranteed to allow you to hear a song by either The Prodigy, Leanne Rymes or Jack Johnson
- 5. The noise made by the wooden frogs that the tribes women sell will haunt you in your sleep
- 6. And finally, you are GUARANTEED to bump into someone you have met in another country. In our case Janet, a 24 year old Canadian who despite having traveled most of south east Asia on local buses, always has perfectly coiffured Jennifer Aniston style hair.
Because of all of the above a lot of people hate the Khao San road, but if like us you stay just north of it on its quieter more chilled out neighbour, Soi Rambuttri, then it’s a great base from which to explore the city and to catch up on some home comforts not found in many surrounding countries!
We spent the next 2 days doing just that, buying toiletries, drinking coffee, shopping for Christmas presents to send home and generally spending ridiculous amounts of money compared to
Room on top?
If you're late for the boat to Battambang dont forget the sunscreen
the last 10 weeks.
We also hopped on and off our favourite form of transport in BKK, the river taxis, and visited Jim Thompson's house a restored colonial residence with a great lunchtime restaurant if you fancy a splurge, and also went back to Patpong, which looses its charm second time round ‘No I do not want to see a F**kin ping pong show, so please stop prodding me'
We also planned our next 60 days in the land of smiles and booked an overnight train to Krabi to explore the islands on the west coast before heading to Kho Phagnan on the east at Christmas!! Long lazy days and deserted beaches, we both can't wait
There are more photos below