We arrived in Battambang thoroughly knackered but managed to drag ourselves across the road for some dinner before bed. We arranged a tour for the morning
starting at 7am
We were picked up by Tong, a 22 year old tuk-tuk driver who spoke good English and turned out to be much more knowledgeable than expected!
First we were headed for the Bamboo train and as we were the only people there had to pay $10 for the whole thing to ourselves – but we didn’t mind! We were surprised at how fast the thing goes. We stopped after around 20 minutes where we chatted to an old lady and her husband and some village children. As theres only one railway track, if theres another train coming in the opposite direction the rules are that the train with the least people has to be taken off the track. So when we saw another train full of people coming the other way we had to stop and hop off while the two drivers dismantled our train, took it off the track, drove the other train through and then put ours back together again! We were particularly pleased that we
got to ride the bamboo train as in 2 months time they will be repairing the railway for the proper and the Bamboo train will be decommissioned!
Next stop was Banan temple (apparently built before Angkor Wat) where Tong informed us there were only 350 steps so we should be alright. After the crumbling temple we drove to a mountain to see the killing cave. This is where Khmer Rouge soldiers would bludgeon prisoners to death and then throw their bodies into the cave, sometimes they would throw people down alive. Inside is a reclining Buddha and a small memorial containing some of the skulls and bones found in the cave. On top of the hill is Phnom Sampov temple, a new shiny temple with colourful paintings covering the inside walls and ceiling telling the story of Buddha.
After a brief stop at the hotel for lunch we drove over to Khmer New Generation Organisation, a charity that teaches English and other vital skills to poor children in the area. We spent 3 hours volunteering, helping the children with their English.
We had planned to go to Bangkok the next day but our few hours at KNGO
made an impression on us and we decided to stay for one more day of volunteering. We spent the morning walking around town and visiting the market before taking a tuk-tuk in the afternoon to KNGO which is based in a small village just outside Battambang. Before dinner Angelo fulfilled his promise to try a frog choosing a BBQ’d one from a street stall – Debbie even tried a little! We are ashamed to say that although it didn’t really taste bad we couldn’t bring ourselves to eat the whole thing.
The morning bus picked us up at 7.30am and we began the long journey back to Thailand’s capital. The border crossing was rather busy and unlike others we had experienced with on site resort and casino…. Just in case you fancy a wee gamble on your way in/out of Cambodia. All in all we were at the border for around 2 hours, waiting to get stamped out of Cambodia, then into Thailand, then waiting for the bus for what seemed like forever! When we finally got into the minivan, however, the Thai driver kept his foot down and we made it to Bangkok in no time.
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