Well we’ve been in Battambang for almost a week and yet to discuss when we shall leave? The only time we’ve given it any thought is when reception ask when we’ll be checking out? Even then we don’t think much, “a few more days” the usual response. Today is day number six and we start it with breakfast at a very arty cafe which is locally quite famous for it’s desserts. We agree to come back and check them another time, maybe later on even, as we don’t have plans as such other than chill, a rest day after the last few days of being active.
Over brekkie I agree to the KP’s suggestion of checking if the croc farm is open today. It’s only about a ten minute ride and the short trip is not a waste of time, as just as the KP hoped it’s open, we pay the $2 entry. Upon entering it’s just like someones back yard, considering it’s only $2 I’m expecting to see a few crocs in a small pond and we’ll be on our way. We climb a small set of steps and can see immediately it’s a very big set up, which is confirmed by the guide. There are over 2,000 crocodiles here varying in age and size, all the way from a couple of months at 10 inches in length, right up to 20 year old eight footers. There’s a series of pens and ponds containing the reptiles lazing in the sun.
The lady guide showing us around who actually looks like the boss explains that they breed them, later selling them to the Thai’s for handbags, Vietnamese for medicine & Indonesian’s for food. It’s looks a busy operation and slightly over crowded for the crocs, but somehow strangely I don’t feel too bad about it, which I suppose is wrong, as there are a number of species endangered worldwide. However maybe this is helping the situation as they are breeding them and therefore a source, possibly saving those in the wild? I’m not sure, regardless the KP is enjoying it! It’s quite a sight actually, especially if you’ve only seen crocodiles on discovery before. We leave the facility and take a short walk up the lane to another area they utilise to house the crocs. It’s here they keep the highlight of the KP’s visit. The baby crocs just two weeks old, and just as the sign said, it’s possible to hold them. The KP wants to take one home and if they stayed at their 4 inch length, they’d be very interesting fun pets. However here are also the largest reptiles they have and their huge, a reminder that they should really be in the wild, even tho’ they are highly dangerous killing machines. The extreme power they have can even be felt when holding the baby (yes I had a go also), each breath pulsating the palm of your hand.
That’s enough activity for today, we’re on the search for somewhere new for lunch. We settle on the two dragons, a backpackers place so it should be lively. It’s a very nice bar aided by the fact they’ve got Beer Laos and cheap cocktails. Whilst enjoying our burgers a group of girls arrive, all looking worn out and heavily sun burnt. Never nice to see, but we are pleased to hear that they’ll just arrived from Siem Reap by the boat and none too happy about it. We celebrate with beer for not making the same mistake, It’s not too long after my last dose of too many rays on my ginger skin, we both remember it well. The scooter gets dropped off at the hotel and we return for some cocktails before heading out into the evening, looking for a new venue and change of scenery. We find it, in a place galled Ganesha, there are many of the hindu symbols adorning the restaurant and bar next door. There’s a pool table with a weekly saturday night competition, also a cinema room with daily screenings. Both findings once again reinforce the feel of community in the town.
When awaking we understand the cheap cocktails were not such a good idea, it takes ages to get out of bed. Once we finally do so, we’re on a mission to find food and Bloody Mary’s which never fail in the hair of the dog stakes. There’s a local place we stop at, unfortunately the noodle soup is a let down, the drinks not so, the BM’s are cracking, following a few they achieve their goal which enables us to search out more food. We want something different and remember seeing a chinese noodle dumpling place, where was it again? The gridded street system allows us to find it in a short time, the main man is easy to spot as he’s there out front stretching and spinning the dough.
This time the food is great, both the noodles and dumplings, delicious. Noodle guy really is top, the food being fully authentic and fresh. It’s always good when you can see the food being prepared. That is if you don’t happen to look into a greasy dirty kitchen on the way to the bog, which has happened a few times this trip. Here now it’s good as the cooking station is out in the open, no doubt it’s a big attraction for this eatery.
Following the late lunch we stroll a bit about town, the Chinese school is impressive plus a selection of other buildings, including a temple with the famous Banon temple faces at the entrance. Then we need sleep it off, waking a bit late and when heading out in the evening it’s almost ten so the selection of food is limited, even a pizza place has stopped serving. We find grub in the local pub on the corner as everywhere else is closing down for the night. We also close down for the night, or at least head back to the digs as I remember that the city are playing and want to check them out on the internet radio for only the second time in more than a year. We lose 3-2 and it sounded very bad, it might have actually been worse than it sounded, which is often the case. Not that it really matters, we are back in our rightful colours and I once more feel connected to the club, which in all honesty is in a right mess! Those that are responsible know it, that’s for sure.
Unfortunately for the blog and yourselves we fancy another lazy day. Still on the list of things to do is the man made reservoir and also the killing caves which we’ll get to tomorrow and beyond. For today we’ve decided to check out some of the galleries and the museum. Here’s a selection of some of the art, as you can see we particularly liked the Dali type offerings.
The museum was quite disappointing, but what was of interest was the information regarding locals whose lives were affected by the Khmer Rouge. The photos are there once again with the faces staring out at you in fear, all stories on both sides of the fence are compelling. Even some of those involved with the Khmer Rouge, also lived in a state of fear. We then stroll along the riverside and back to town grab a pizza and check out a few more bar type art galleries. In the evening we finally start to discuss when we should leave and the plan for our remaining days. We want to get back to Thailand and the Island where the journey began. It was the original intention of where we would finish our three month trip. We’re already way beyond that date but sticking to our original idea as much as possible, plus it’s a great little spot which we miss & on top of that we are going to meet up with Billy and his Mrs for a long weekend. We found the place last March thanks to his recommendation but he’s yet to see how cool a place it is, we’re excited to get back there. We just need to confirm when and importantly how. We’ve told the hotel we’ll check out after another two days or so, but need to confirm if it’s possible to get a visa on entry at the land border. Enquiries are made both verbally and online, we’ll know soon enough if the plan to travel by road is possible. Our immediate plans for our remaining time is the reservoir tomorrow, followed the day after by the killing caves.
So after a couple of days break, you’ll be happy to know we are back on the scooter for more adventures. It’s not the best, but they never are. This one’s like most others we’ve rented, the back brake ain’t too hot and needs to be compensated a bit with the front and as I’ve said the speedo’s out of action. We’ve managed okay tho’ by taking it easy on the throttle and being aware as much as possible. Today we are heading out the Kamping Pouy reservoir about 30Km out of town, 8Km wide and 15Km long and left over from the Khmer Rouge, being constructed during the time of the regime to supply additional water to the paddy fields, ten’s of thousands lost their lives during the construction. Today it’s meant to be a very popular picnic spot with the locals and very busy on weekends. Without a decent local map that goes beyond the city limits, it’s a quick check of google maps for the route. It looks easy enough so I memorise the route before setting out. We turn off the main road as I remembered, but the road is immediately a dirt track. A quick check of the GPS and we’re on the right road, so we continue onwards. A while later it feels as if we are going the wrong way, a quick check of the GPS tells us fuck all, the battery has gone, no juice. It’s a prime example of how myself and many others, including you maybe? In this day and smart phone age people can be so unprepared and not smart at all! Thankfully we’re not at the top of some mountain range in the Brecon Beacons, also thankful it’s not dark. Being not so far from town, only about 8 clicks, we return to charge the phone, heading back out once it’s got enough juice. We got it correct first time but then missed a small right, which we now take. The red dusty surface is not the best to travel on, it’s uneven with lots of loose gravel, not to mention the amount of dust that is created when a truck passes you by. After about forty five minutes the GPS map directs us away from the main road, alongside a water channel, the road reduces to a dirt path littered with mini dippers, that’s potholes big enough to drive through. We continue driving alongside the channel and pass a number of small bridges.
We continue on, it seems like we are going for ages & ages. We stop to check the GPS again, a youth who was bathing in the water clocks us near one of the bridges, soon later we see another eyeing us as we pass. With this interest from the locals, my mind starts to wander and wonder if we are in bandit country and maybe just a little too far from the beaten track, like 20 miles too far? The stupid mistake we’ve made of not getting new Cambo sim cards is ringing in my head. We have no means of contact and who knows where the fuck we are? Nobody that’s who! We continue on and the road widens out once more but it also goes back to gravel, this time crushed stone, and much larger pieces, hence the driving conditions are more treacherous, especially as it’s not been compacted a great deal. I’m still wondering about bandits that may be in the area, then all of a sudden, bang, we are both sliding on the deck in the gravel, fuck it we’ve crashed – The result of combining a wandering mind and a school boy error. The bike veered slightly off into the shoulder and it’s much deeper gravel, naturally I tried to slow down whilst keeping the bike straight, but too much on the front brake to assist the back and the wheel went from under us. Stupidity of the highest order resulting in our first accident. My first concern is the KP and she gives the ok. I’m also ok just light grazing up my right arm and elbow, hands are also grazed including the KP’s, we both need our minor injuries cleaned up. How much the helmets helped you’ll never know but they remained on and must have done some work, it looks so due to the dirt and dust on them. We dust ourselves down checking there are no broken bones. Not one(s) to give up easily we continue onwards with greater determination. Due to the shock of the crash I forgot to take any photos of the bike in the gravel, the second school boy error of the accident. One at the beginning that created it, another at the end by not recording it. The nearside front of the bike is scratched and the wing mirror is all out of place. Now even more determined to locate our destination and within a few minutes we can see the dam up ahead, but the road stops and reverts to a dirt pathway towards a dwelling and then nothing. There’s no way through to the dam on the bike, if we went by foot it seems we would need to wade through the water. The GPS shows there’s another road around, which is back up the gravel road. Let’s try that then, so we go back the way we came then take a left after about 10 clicks. It’s another gravel road going off into nowhere, we follow it hoping to get around to the dam, the determination in my head says fuck the bandits. We travel so far and then it’s a grassed path, we plough onwards, up, down and around trees and stumps, until we can go no more. Well we could but it’s becoming more and more ridiculous with each passing metre. It’s time to accept defeat, maybe we should have done so 30 minutes sooner, at least we tried, but retreat to the digs to get cleaned up we do. Myself feeling like a complete tool on the way back, having been undone by a mound of gravel and imaginary bandits :-). Travelling back we can’t believe how far we’ve come, the road goes on for ages & ever! Eventually the main tarmac road is reached for us to return to town, stopping at one of the shops. We collect Vodka to clean our wounds, but also Baileys and Kahlua which will help make the most of the vodka after a shot or two gets the dirt out of our wounds. To aid in that task we also get some antiseptic shit and dressings. The injury sustained is minor and too embarrassing to post a photo of, it looks more impressive patched up. Which we manage to get done before we hit the white russians for a drunken night in, cool tunes provided by a mate back home who’s getting right into mixing once more. He’s yet to confirm if we can share his vibes here, I’ll double check with him and let you know.
We find out in the morning how we can get back to Thailand, the Kazakh passport strikes again, as it’s not possible to get a visa on entry at the border. It means we’ll need to fly, so back to temple town it is for a day or so before flying once again into Bangkok. No bother, the plus side is that we won’t be on a bus for half a day or longer :-).
Now for today’s plan – It would have been the killing caves but due to the minor disaster of yesterday we just have to make it to the dam and the reservoir. It seems we will miss out on the killing caves as we both need to know where, how & why I fucked up. The answer to why – It’s always easy to be an idiot! The answer to how – Technology and following the digital map even when it began to look a bit of a stupid idea. The answer to where – as soon as we left the city!
The answers are provided by the same Tuk-Tuk drive who took us to the bat cave. We leave the city in a southwesterly direction, opposed to northwest the day before. It’s not as scenic a route, but there’s a tarmac road and plenty to keep us entertained during the lengthy trip. A quick check of the GPS shows we are heading towards the same goal, just less of a direct route. It’s comical as we stand on the top of the dam viewing where we were yesterday.
There’s a few stalls set up and barbeque venues, it’s not the weekend and therefore quiet today. There’s loads of guys offering to take us out for a trip out on the lake, we eventually agree upon a $10 fare. We relax a bit first, have some food and beers and check out the dam, sluice gates and their valves before our captain comes to take us out on the massive expanse of water.
We get pushed out into deeper water by the bamboo, passing lots of lotus leaves and the occasional flower, then it’s the motor to take us around. There’s a few huts (home page) on sparadoic bits of land which are either used for fishing or protection from the sun. I suppose you could have lunch here if you had prepared a picnic, which we haven’t. There’s a wide selection of birds on the hunt and others doing a fair bit of relaxing. The captain is back on the bamboo and guiding us right into the lotus lilies. Surprisingly the captain plucks an open flower from the water and presents it to the KP, then adds another three which are closed. As she’s preparing them into a bunch the colourful leaves of the flower get blown away, a sign from above that maybe the flower should have been left alone :-).
Following much laughter from us all we continue onwards through the lilies and back towards the dam and our awaiting Tuk-Tuk. It’s very scenic and relaxing, a great way to chill out, if it wasn’t at the hottest part of the day we would have stayed on the water longer, but head back to town we do.
The journey back has it’s usual array of interesting sights which are much easier to see from the back of a Tuk-Tuk. I can also get some shots off on the move.
When we return to town and find another place to eat, a quick look at the net turns the bad travel news we received in the morning, into good. TwitTwot informs me that one of the boys from back home is currently in Siem Reap :-). It’s good we haven’t booked flights yet, we might as well stay a while then now. It will be good to have a catch up or two over a few pints or four in temple town. Who knows we might even do a temple this time?