Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 15 ... Around Battambang (aka "Oh those stairs!")

Ran into a Qantas flight attendant at breakfast who knew Len Sales & Stu McKenzie – small world!

Shanthai picked us up as planned at 9.30am and after dropping off our laundry we headed out of town passed the Blasck Stick Man. 

First stop was the norry (bamboo train).  What a blast that was.  Not sure how far the track runs, but it is dead straight and only one set of rails so when someone is coming the other way, the norry with the least passengers has to get off the track.  This is done simply by lifting off the bamboo platform and the 2 sets of wheels, rolling the other guy passed and putting it all back together again.

At the end of the ride you get off and have a bit of a wander round.  There is a brick kiln there.  60,000 bricks are fired at a time, powered by rice husks (complete recycling).  It takes 15 days to fire, 10 to cook and then 5 to cool.  Three little poppets (sister, sister, friend aged between 5 & 8) gave me a ‘tour’and it cost me three cans of drink.  I realise this is not particularly good for their teeth but that’s how business is done. 

After the norry we headed for Wat Phnom Sampeau, a temple on the top of an amazing limestone outcrop.  Lonely Planet describes it as a long hot climb and they are right – we were both dripping when we reached the Wat and stupa at the top. 300+ stairs and my quad muscles felt every one of them!  Amazing views from the top.  We decided we didn’t need to see the killing caves so we bought another bottle of water and headed back down where Shanthai was waiting.

We headed off on a dirt road, potholes big enough to eat a tuk tuk, and full of water from yesterdays big storm.  We bumped and bounced our way for about 25km, passing some really pretty land, still flat as a pancake, rice paddies as far as you could see  and dotted with little villages (painfully poor) and cattle tethered on the side of the road munching away on whatever they could reach  Next stop was Wat Banan.  Built in the 11th century it’s in a pretty poor state of repair, but to get there we had another set of stairs to climb.  The pictures say it all!

Storm clouds were gathering again but we managed to avoid it – perhaps the storm was headed elsewhere, but we arrived back at the Bus Stop about 3pm and tucked into a home made burger (very very good) and a beer.  Picked up the laundry (next door to the Bus Stop) and home for a swim, a late nanny nap and some internet before we head out for dinner.

Are planning to hit the food stalls by the river tonight. 

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