Cambodia: Battambang

Tomb-raiding and temple-hunting complete, we headed west to Battambang, a town known for its French-style colonial architecture and chilled riverside vibe. This post is a disappointingly short one (huzzah, I hear you all cry!), as it wasn’t quite the roaring success I hoped it’d be: I had a raging fever and dodgy stomach throughout our time there, so I couldn’t really leave the room much. Still, a few thoughts to share.

The Battambang riverfront

I did manage to escape for a few hours to do a heritage walk of the city. This is free to download and recommended by Lonely Planet, and was a good way to get orientated around Battambang. Google it when you’re there for the most up-to-date version. Impressions were of a fairly quiet place, refreshingly not built for or geared towards tourism in the same way as some of Cambodia’s bigger cities. It’s a mish-mash of French and Khmer architecture, peppered with a few markets and cosy little restaurants and cafés.

A French concrete bridge and its Khmer guardian lion
Cracking into some fresh coconut water at the market

We frustratingly arrived in Battambang to discover that the biggest attraction in the place, the bamboo railway, had just closed until February for relocation. It hadn’t come up in our research, I suppose because it had only closed that week, but maybe double check top draws to a destination before you endure the bumpy bus ride… Speaking to the locals, it seems the closure of the railway might also be a major reason for how quiet the town felt, which is a shame.

Manners maketh man no matter where you are in the world…

Aside from these, other reasons to visit Battambang include visits to caves and temples just outside the city, and my friends did a half-day cooking class at a restaurant called Coconut Lyly which they said was excellent. After a market visit, they cooked up a feast of Tom Yam soup, spring rolls, fish amok and coconut pudding, in a class with only 2 others – a tasty bargain at $10 each.

So, that’s a snapshot of Battambang from my very limited experience, would be interesting to hear any different experiences of the place!

Until next time,

Number of strangers I’ve spoken to today: 1, the friendly and sympathetic hostel receptionist who took pity on me in my quarantine.
Interaction was: quite sweet, and good practice being polite when I was sweating like a piglet and my stomach was twisting itself into knots.

One Woman and her Backpack x

Follow me @ellielfield

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