After a lovely week in Siem Reap, we were ready to move and start making our way to Phnom Penh. Next stop is Battambang. The second biggest city of the country.
We booked our bus ticket with Capitol Tours. The cost was $3.75 per person with buses from 9:30am to 1pm. We hopped on the 9:30am bus. At about halfway through our 3 hour-journey, the bus dropped us off in front of a restaurant and left with our belongings still in the bus – good reminder to always keep our important items with us – and came back 20mins later.
We made it to Battambang city center by noon and got a tuk tuk for 3000 riel ($.75) to our hostel: Here Be Dragons. The hostel is maybe 1.5 km from the center, about a 10mins walk. It is on the opposite side of the river and close to the statue of the stick-wielding farmer.
Here Be Dragons is a very cozy hotel with lounging chairs everywhere (though beware of mosquitos), great place to meet other travelers as there really is no nightlife or bar streets in Battambang. The hostel offers en-suite bathrooms in private rooms and fan. The rooms are basic and clean. They have a nice rooftop to relax, enjoy a beer and the breeze, which was nice as it got really hot in our room. We stayed two nights for $8 per night per room.
While strolling around the town, we also kept an eye open for the Rain Gamblers. They are the ones with multiple phones, always looking up in the sky wondering where and when it will rain, for how long and how much it will rain. We were unlucky in our quest, as gambling is illegal, but we are not giving up. We are keeping an eye out for them while in Cambodia!
We didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to do the activities in the area. In order to see the attractions of the city, we could either hire a moped (for $6 not including gasoline) or go with a tuk tuk. We ended up hiring a tuk tuk for $10 (which, we probably could have negotiated for $8) for the entire morning. We chose a tuk tuk to ensure we would not get lost going to all these different places and so we would not have to drive on unpaved roads for the entire morning, prior to our departure scheduled after lunch. The tuk tuk driver agreed to take us to the see the following:
– Bamboo train,
– Wat Ek Phnom (entrance fee to the temple is $3 per person)
– The fishing village (which the tuk tuk driver decided to add on his own, which we thought was nice, though not essential)
and drop off to the bus station after we grabbed our bags from the hotel.
The genocide temple was our first exposure to the Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia. It is hard to grasp that the atrocities that happened in this country under Pol Pot’s regime were barely thirty years ago.
We had a great morning going around the area of Battambang. Everything was going according to schedule, until it was time to grab our bags from the hostel. The tuk tuk driver did not want to drop us back at the bus station unless we paid him a dollar more. Not that we didn’t want to pay but we had already negotiated the whole package and now he wanted to charge us more. We ended up agreeing to an extra 3,000 riel but he never came back for us. Another good reminder to always write down the places you want to go to, sometimes verbal agreements can be confusing and misunderstood.
We hailed another tuk tuk for a $1, headed over to Capitol Tours. We booked our ticket from Battambang to Phnom Penh for $5.50 per person. We grabbed lunch nearby, hopped on a 5 to 6 hrs bus ride ready for a night in Phnom Penh before heading to the beaches of Sihanoukville.