Battambang (Cambodia)

How cool is Battambang?
Well, it’s hot as shit yet it is one cool mellow Cambodian town.  To really take in this place, it’s best to stay outside of town and take the 15-20 minute bike ride thru the ricefields/local villages from Battambang Resort into town for the best experience.

Battambang is Cambodia’s second most populous city but has a unique small town charm.  It is a tranquil respite from the hustle of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.  Battambang offers travelers a taste of laid-back rural life.  It is popular with tourists because it offers a mix of modern city, small-town friendliness and some colonial architecture, which works together to give the town a unique charm.  Battambang has the potential to be as funky as Thailand’s Chiang Mai, minus the hordes of tourists.  To sum up the Battambang experience, Battambang is not a place to see but rather a place to simply be.

On my previous post, I touted the amazing Cambodian national dish called Fish Amok.  Well, the Fish Amok gods have kicked my ass and the loose stools index finally plummets to the lowest levels since we dropped out of society.  It is really too bad, because I had intentions to pull the trigger on this Fish Amok soufflé many times over during my remaining stay in Cambodia and now I must put that on hold despite it staring at me in my face on every single menu.  However, I jumped into action and dipped into my prescription Lomitol for the first time.  Now I am backed up like the Bronx River Parkway, so all is good.  Once this passes, I am right back onto the Fish Amok bandwagon.

Battambang is also where the mosquitoes are finally really getting to Barbie.  They are biting her ass off but for some reason they are not biting me at all.  And of course, it’s my fault. Barbie is a also suffering from dry skin.  No issues for BFD as my skin is nice and moist.  My only nemesis is the loose stools and I am tackling this head on without placing any blame being the mensch that I am.

We are staying at a real nice tropical resort outside of town.  The resort reminds me of the movie called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  It is filled with a bunch of older foreigners from every country but the United States and it is interesting watching these foreigners move about.  The resort is a real retreat away from the more busy town.  Most travelers elect to stop over in Battambang for 2-3 days but I took the risk and pulled the trigger for 5 nights here and it proved to be a great decision.  There are lots of relaxed fun activities to keep you busy or you can simply choose to hang at the pool at this green oasis.

Some of the activities include taking a tuk tuk tour into the villages to see local life and watch them make rice paper, fish paste, bamboo sticky rice.  A visit to the very sad Khmer Rouge Killing Cave.  Bike riding around the villages was real fun and quite eye opening witnessing how life can be so basic for the locals yet seemingly so pleasurable.  I will never forget the smiles, friendliness and the joy of daily life that surrounded us.  Just a real cool simple lifestyle without the normal modern day pressures that many in other countries have to endure on a regular basis.  I feel seeing this sort of lifestyle is so important to really put things into perspective.  It really is such a valuable experience and it is what makes this journey so great.

The other big activity in Battambang is riding the Bamboo Train.  The term “train” is used loosely. It basically is a large bamboo platform mounted on train axles powered by a small go-kart engine.  It is difficult to put into words what a real trip riding this thing was, but the video below may help illustrate the smiles it put on our faces zipping thru the ricefields on this honky tonk bamboo train.

We also visited the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus.  It is not an animal circus but a human circus where where many of the Cambodian performers in this circus go on to perform in the Cirque du Soleil shows around the world.  Barbie says the show should get 4 stars and I say 3 1/2 stars, so 3 1/2 stars it is.

The other highlight for Barbie was getting made up to look like a Khmer Traditional Dancer.  It was a very elaborate photoshoot.  I was going to be a Cambodian Prince but it was just too fucking hot.  My big ass just could not handle the makeup and outfit in the Southeast Asian sweltering heat.

So far, I can say Cambodia is the new Thailand but will hold off on the official proclamation until we visit the beaches and islands down south.  Us beach gurus are heading there next.  But, I will have to take a stance and proclaim that Cambodian woman are the best looking in Asia.  Bye Bye Thais, you have been displaced as the top seed.

My time is up…..the Fish Amok Souflee kicked my ass and now paying a high price.

Taxi drivers and basically any drivers (including tuk tuk drivers) in every city in the world I have visited in my lifetime are usually ripoff artists and notorious dirtbags.  This is just not the case in Cambodia.  I am pretty good at reading people and can say that drivers in Cambodia are honest, and genuine nice guys.  A welcome relief.

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