Battambang isn’t as touristy as I thought it would be. We had a few things we wanted to do and see so we asked our hotel if they have a Tuk tuk Driver. I’m glad we did because they called Mr Thean! A soft spoken guy who speaks great English and understood what it was that we wanted. We agreed on a price of $20 for the day which seemed high to us but he assured us that he’s not just a driver but a guide as well. We asked him if he would show us something cool, he said “yes” and left it at that. Then I guess it’s settled.
He picked us up at 10:30am and we started our tour. Straight to the Bamboo Train.
For $5 per person, you get to ride on a bamboo train that goes way faster than you would expect it to. Kristi got nervous and may have pooped her pants a bit.
There’s one track and people going both ways. Rule of thumb is the train with less people on it has to derail and wait for everyone to pass.
At the end of the line is a village with very pushy sellers. One young girl tried to sell me a bracelet and I told her “I don’t need one” and she quickly replied, “You don’t need one, you need two!” rather matter-of-factly. Smartass.
The best thing to do is backtrack a bit and find the pathway into the village. There’s not a lot to see but nobody will bother you.
At the end of the line when you get back, someone else comes up and says, “Tip for the driver?” I’m confused . Our driver didn’t even speak English. Someone tried to ask him a question and he responded “No Speaking”. I think I’ll pass on this one and save my tips for real tipping services. If he wanted to talk about the farmland and village and be a guide, I would have happily tipped.
Thean was napping when we came back, once we woke him he excitedly asked us if we had fun. Actually, he asked us if we had a “bloody good time”? Turns out he’s picked up some slang from past tourists. I like it. Other Thean-isms included using the “loo”, “easy peasy” and “bees knees”.
Our next stop was Wat Kor House which is a traditional Khmer house where they offer a “free” tour of the house and they give some history. I say “free” because there is a donation box but after the tour, I had no problem leaving a small donation.
Cambodia has a winery. The winery is here in Battambang. Kristi and I love wine. Enough said.
We went straight for the tasting. They have one red wine, one grape juice and one ginger juice. They charge $2 for the tasting. We opted to share a tasting at this price. I assume that they have to charge $2 for a tasting because nobody buys this fermented grape alcoholic beverage once they’ve tasted it.
You win some, you lose some. We lost this time. Though, I did gain something positive from this. I am truly grateful to live in an area with 4 great wineries all within 15km from my house. If I had to drink this on a daily basis, I would opt to be sober. Thean helped save the winery experience a bit by telling us about the history of the winery and how it came to be in 1994 and the first harvest was in 2004 so it’s still quite new by established winery standards.
From here, Thean took us through the back roads by a couple villages and beside a military camp. He slowed down and yells out, “Look around! No Tourists!” This is cool. The opportunity to see something your everyday tourist skips on is always special.
Our last stop has a couple attractions. We ate lunch here, a very good lunch with local prices! They had a homemade sweet chili sauce on the table that is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. They have a “delicacy” here. They take a fertile duck egg, let the fetus grow in it, then cook it. Some of them have feathers.. it’s just really gross. Thean ate one telling us it’s good for man and will make you strong.
They also blend up really good coconut shakes for a dollar. Thean insisted we have 2 straws and he take some pics of us.
After lunch and a nap in the hammocks, we bought tickets ($3 each) and hiked up to a view point. 350ish steps up, past some really run down and poorly maintained temples is a viewpoint. All of the dust and the farmers burning garbage left the sky a bit hazy taking away from the view but I imagine in the wet season when everything is lush and green that this is a really nice view. Our pictures didn’t turn out well with the haze.
Back at the bottom between 5:30pm-6pm we join the crowds of tourists to watch the bats come out of the cave. To me this sounded like one of those “meh” attractions… until the bat started coming out. They come rushing out in the tens of thousands creating a bat river in the sky.
I take back all of my negative feelings. This is amazing.
Some of the tuk tuk drivers would clap which would cause the bats to spread out a bit and I think literally scare the shit out of them since I was standing off to the side and when they spread out, I think I got shit on.
The bats continue to flock out for 40 minutes.
Thean takes us back to our hotel shortly after 7pm. What a great way to spend a day. An extra big thank you to Thean for making it slightly more special than everyone else’s day! If you’re in Battambang, give him a call!