Saturday, June 19th Pailin-Battambang
19.06.2010 - 19.06.2010 30 °C
After a restless night due to strange jungle noises infront of our fragile looking door which woudn't close properly, we were relieved to get up at 6am and catch the 6.40 am bus to Battambang. The bus didn't leave until 8 am, but that was only a minor detail for the Cambodians. After half an hour of driving the driver got hungry and pulled over at a small hut on the side of the road where we had a 30 min break.
The 'highway' was also extremely interesting- it was more like a small dirt track and when we wanted to cross a river we saw that the bridge had collapsed completely. A van had fallen off and lay in the river, upside down. Coen and I clenched our teeth and held onto the bus as tightly as we could as the driver took an alternative route -down a halfpipe shaped track which steeply descended down to the river and then back up to join the road on the othere side!
Finally, after about about 5 hours, we arrived in Battambang where we were picked up from a tuktuk driver from the 'Royal Hotel' . He showed us pictures of fancy rooms but assured us we could have a $3 room. The lady at the Royal Hotel insisted on showing me about 10 nice rooms before taking me to the $3 room on the rooftop. The cleaniless of the room was even better than the room of the prior night, although the other one had cost $5. However, the loo and shower were shared with the kitchen staff. A mere bucket filled with water and a scoop replaced the flush, it smelled awful and it was impossible to lock the door. There was no mirror insight anywhere, which proved to be very interesting for putting in contacts! Thank God we had the reflection of our mobile.
Our tuktuk driver picked us up in the afternoon and took us to the fish market. It was a really big market with stands selling all kinds of fresh and dried fish as well as fish paste. A family that has a business there, earns about $10,00 pa. This is extremely high for Cambodian circumstances. A normal worker in Camodia earns between $1,000 and $1,200 pa.
Afterwards, we visited a local business led by two women who produce rice paper. Rice paper is used for the outside of spring rolls. It was fascinating to watch them. in one day, they are able to produce 2,000 sheets of rice paper. Rice paper is sold in bundles of 500 sheets on the local market. Every bundle costs $1. Their combined profit is less than $3 a day. However, their business is dramatically affected by the rain season since the paper needs to dry outside for about an hour.
Our next stop- the bamboo train- was extremely much fun! The railtracks were put down during the French colonial era but the train was recognized as an offcial mode of transportation by the Cambodian government in 2000. It consists of a very light bamboo frame, powered by a 6 horsepower gasoline engine which runs on a single track railway. Wheneever a train approaches from the other side, the less loaded train is taken off the tracks to let the other one pass. The ride was extremely bumpy and quite fast.
We also saw a woman who produced bamboo sticky rice. This is cooked rice with coconut milk and black beans, inside of a bamboo cylinder. It tasted very nice and we even bought two!
In the evening we found a little backpackers bar. It was the only place in town which was not already closed at 8.30pm . We sat on the side of the road an watched Holland play Japan. The game was projected on the side of the opposite building.