Friday, May 1, 2009

Battambong to Siem Riep

So I feel like I'm starting to get my traveling shoes back on. I think one of the tricks of this long term traveling thing is to just roll with the feelings you get but keep on going. Also if I just move a bit slower like I talked about it is a lot easier to feel comfortable while always in new places. The last few days in Battambong I also kinda forced myself to do some touristy stuff and ended up having a great time.

After my last blog I didn't do anything with the rest of my day but I did set up a moto driver to take me around the next day. He was a guy who got me right off the bus (actually he rode next to my moto in his moto giving me his speach) and gave me some info on him and a card. He actually worked for the water resource development team in Battambong as an interpreter so that sold me to use him as a guide. He took me to a hill/cave that was used to torture and kill people during the Pol Pot days. Then he took me to an old 11th century tempal on a hill. Next he was going to take me to the Bamboo Train but it started pouring on the way. The roads were terible and I was soked to the bone so I told him to just take me home.
The Killing Cave
The temple

That night I actually met a nice tuk tuk driver who gave me moto prices so I agreed to meet him the next day to go to the bamboo train. The next day his brother showed up but he was nice enough. The bamboo train was really cool. I thought it would be some stupid touristy thing but it was actually a nice thing to see. There are no trains in Cambodia because the railways are so bad so the only thing on the tracks are these little home made things. Its a platform on a pair of axles on the tracks then a little gas motor that has a belt wraped around one of the axles. Then to start the train he just pulls back the motor making friction with the belt and away you go. Another cool thing is that to go backwards they just twist the belt so the axle spins the other way.
The bamboo train, notice the belt is twisted on the second picture

After that I decided to hang out with the driver some more so I went to a winery with him. He showed me some old Khemur buildings on the way and a cool bridge on the way back but the winery was cool. We got there and soon after it started raining so we just hung out talked and drank the wine and brandy that they make at the place. I did buy a bottle of brandy because it was good and I didn't pay for anything I drank so I wanted to buy something.
The winery
The tuk tuk driver on a cool bridge
That night I had a good conversation over dinner with an NGO worker in Battambong. There are so many NGO workers in Cambodia. I've met like 20 by now, and in Thailand I didn't meet one NGO worker. Then after dinner I finally went to the little local bar. I was the only one there at first so I just hung out with the owner and then a couple showed up (one from Spain and the other from France, both NGO workers). We all talked and drank until way to late so that I only got 4 hours of sleep last night because I had to wake up early to take a boat to Siem Riep.

I was going to rent a moto in Battambong and then ride to Siem Riep so I would have the freedom here to do whatever I want. But after that accident I just didn't really feel like riding myself all that way so I opted for the boat instead, plus the guide book says its the prettiest boat ride in Cambodia. It was a really cool ride. We winded up this river from Battambong and there were houses along the river a lot of the way. They were basically shacks built on a platform floating in the water. In some places we would get to towns where there were stores and resturants and everything in these houses along the river. It was cool but at the same time you could tell everyone was very poor. Some people just lived in these little platforms or small boats on the water.
The floating houses on the river

The boat ride was great and there was actually a tuk tuk waiting for me at the end that took me to Garden Village (the cool recomended guest house) free of charge. This guest house is great. One dollar dorm room beds, free internet (but very slow), a rooftop bar/resturant, and a very chill vibe. Right now I just hung out with some locals and people staying here, ate and got on the internet to do this. Cambodia has been harder than Thailand as far as what I see and the desperation of the people, but I've found more of these gem locations where you can just chill and relax for days with mellow people.

Well thats all for now. I'm feeling a lot better but am still thinking I'll just do southern Laos and then go home. One thing I've realized is that traveling is just like life at home, where there are bad days and good days. Just because I'm seeing new things and having exciting adventures doesn't mean that I'll love every minute. Sometimes I may feel like I want to go home but if I just relax for a day and see something new I'll get over it and remember again how lucky I am to see all these different cultures and places. Also I don't think I'll be able to do pictures while I'm here because the internet is so slow but maybe one day I'll be able to. Another thing is the club I went to in Phnom Penh was Heart of Darkness, not City of Darkness (I went back and corrected it). Peace and love to all!


  1. Hey, Andy...

    Jon Kelley called yesterday, during the Kentucky Derby -- oh, my -- what an upset! -- and wished you all the best.Mary's brother Mark reads you regularly, and enjoys the break from his business... there are others, who muse and learn...keep it up!

  2. I definitely feel you 100% on the "good days and bad days" aspect of the long-term traveling. There were days that I wanted to go home really badly, but I am so grateful for the time that I got to spend in SE Asia. I would have missed out on a really life-changing trip if I had thrown in the towel early on (which, at times, I felt like doing). Now that I'm back home, I am nostalgic for SE Asia and can't wait to get back there. I'm glad to hear that even you, a well-traveled guy, has days where home sounds better than anything else! I'll see you when you get back; stay safe :)