The Floating Village

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Phnom Penh - Battambang, Cambodia

Our driver was early for our trip to Battambang, so he had to wait while we finished breakfast. We were on the road by 8.15 with a full bootload, including our packs plus random parcels to be delivered on the way. With some skilful packing, everything squeezed in and we were on our way.

We had arranged to stop at Kampong Chhnang, a floating village en route to Battambang. The driver spoke little English so handed the phone to me to confirm arrangements with his boss. It took about two hours till we reached Kampong Chhang and we found the floating village easily. A bit of bargaining saw the price for two boats and four people for one hour drop from $25 to $15 - a much more realistic rate.

The driver decided he's like to come along for the ride so he hopped in front of Jonno and Simon with an enormous grin and phone at the ready to take pictures. Georgia and I shared the other boat.

We set off through the waterway streets of the village.

We could see right into people's houses as they laid on hammocks, ate meals, cooked food, watered their pigs and dried fish. We spotted one man washing his hair whilst another bathed in the river. Not sure how clean it would be as we didn't spot any sewerage systems. It was a fascinating insight into village life for this community. Our boatman spoke little English but was able to inform us that these were Vietnamese people.

In a little under an hour we were back at the dock - and felt that we had spent enough time perched on the little wooden blocks that served as seats.

We set off again, and stopped for lunch at Pursat in your typical roadside diner, that was immaculately clean and offered a range of precooked meals. We tried a few, and they were ok but none of us managed to finish them.

We reached Battambang My Homestay around 3pm and rested for an hour or so - with good, strong wi fi, and then borrowed bicycles to explore the town. We returned the bikes and walked the 2km to Cocunut LyLy, the restaurant we had chosen for dinner. We thought we had better try it so that we could work out what we wanted to cook as we have booked a cooking class there for Friday morning. The fish amok and the beef loc lac were both very good, though not the top rating (which is still held by Cafe Malay (loc lac) and Rikitikitavi (fish amok). However, they were the best value for money.

We had passed a supermarket on the way in so stopped to treat ourselves to magnums and watch the fireworks that were being let off for Liberation Day - being the day that the Vietnamese entered Phnom Penh and overthrew the Khmer Rouge. However, as our waiter said at dinner, "it wasn't really liberation as they took Cambodian land and made us a landlocked country, so we are not happy but the government says we should be."

Off tomorrow for a ride through the countryside.