Tuesday, August 9, 2011

City of the Lost Stick

I've gone into detailed and loving rants on my love of trains on this blog before, so it should come as no surprise that I immediately wanted to go visit Battambang's main attraction: The Bamboo Train. The train won't be around for much longer, maybe two more months. Cambodia is building its rail network again, and these less than sturdy contraptions on the same track as speeding freight trains is indeed a bad idea.

The bamboo train isn't much of a train. You've got two sets of wheels, balance a bamboo platform on top of it, set in the same type of motor that powers a motorcycle, and off you go. It gets up to a fair speed, maybe thirty something kilometers an hour, and goes through pretty Battambang countryside.

It is less than pleasant when two seconds after you start the rains come down and batter your face for twenty minutes as you fly through them. The ride back was lovely though. It was also the most ridiculously touristy thing I've done in quite a while.

Battambang itself is a lovely town, small and sleepy on a river despite being second only to Phnom Penh in terms of size. I went with my friend Becca for the weekend, and we spent day 1 (after a long nap, those night buses are less than restful) exploring the countryside with new friends and an excellent tuk-tuk driver. Day 2 was spent at the tasty Café Eden, wandering around town and into galleries, and having fresh orange juice from the famous Battambang oranges.

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