Let me just begin by saying that I love Battambang purely because of its name. I love how it sounds! Apart from Chantal no one was overly fussed about going but with plenty of time on our visas we decided to give it a go, and I’m so glad we did! To our surprise there’s quite a lot to do in the city and we had such a good time, resulting in a well-deserved “See! I told you it would be fun!” from Chantal.
Wasting no time after checking into a cheap hotel we went straight to Battambang’s famous (or some would say notorious) bamboo train. It costs $5 and takes you on a four kilometre journey through Battambang’s beautiful countryside, stopping off in a village where you can buy food, drinks and touristy souvenirs.
The ‘train’ is made from a bamboo pallet (with some pretty cushions on top), a noisy motor and steel wheels which sit on two axels. It can be assembled and disassembled within seconds and I’ll tell you why that is in a minute! We sat four very comfortably but some carriages had families of six or seven.
We picked up some serious speed! With no belt or harness and only the top of the pallet to grab onto it felt more like a mini-rollercoaster. Every time we went over the joins in the track it would make a mighty cludunk noise and the chances of derailing at any moment felt very high. So much fun though! It was definitely the most thrilling and unique train ride I’ve ever been on!
The hit-and-miss feeling of the train was completed by what happens when two trains come face to face. As there’s only one track, when there’s an oncoming train the one with less passengers has to be disassembled and moved off the track to let the other past. Everybody stood at the side of the track laughing and waving as the other carriage slowly drove past. You’ve got to love not having any health and safety regulations sometimes!
The four kilometre journey whizzed past what seemed like endless fields of greenery. We passed many friendly locals and saw children happily splashing around in muddy field ponds.
When we found out we could go wine tasting in Battambang our eyes lit up! We’re all massive winos, sorry, I mean wine lovers. I think visions of luscious Italian and French vineyards with exquisite fine wines clouded our ideas of what to expect. The grounds were beautiful but the drinks weren’t so nice. We tried four drinks: red wine, brandy and two juices. The wine was nice but the brandy was terrible, although I hate brandy so it was never going to go down well! My favourite part was the mini-sunflower field next to the vineyard.
We finished the day with a barbecue buffet. It was huge place full locals and for $6 you can eat as much as you want. We shouldn’t have paid that much for dinner really but the word ‘buffet’ just screams ‘eat me!’ Needless to say we made the most of it and filled our boots, which resulted in nearly having to roll ourselves back to the hotel.