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The Boat to Battembang

CAMBODIA | Thursday, 15 January 2009 | Views [1272]


The boat ride to Battembang was incredible and I'm so glad that I did it. I had heard mixed reviews - some saying it was fantastic and others saying the boat had to turn around and head back to Siem Reap after a few hours. 

I woke up at 5:30am and headed down stairs to wait for the van to pick me up and take me to the boat docks. I started talking to two Londoners in the van whom had also been staying in my guesthouse, Charlie and Greg.

The van ride to the boat docks took about half an hour and  the van filled with other tourists along the way. The boat wasn't really what I expected. It had two levels, the bottom one with a bathroom and a few seats and the very top (the roof) of the boat with was piled high with luggage and also had a few people sitting up there.

I decided to sit up the top so I could take some photos and better enjoy the scenery, and I was soon joined by Greg and Charlie, who turned out to be amazing company during the trip. We talked about politics, family, British comedy and everything under the sun (literally - I got terrible sunburn sitting on the boat!)

The journey was truly incredible. I loved watching the people in the floating villages and fishing boats jugging past noisily. Kids screamed and waved as we past, some running after the boat and giggling as we waved back. It was a lovely journey.

Once we arrived in Battembang (eight hours after we left!) Greg and Charlie asked me if I'd like to join them and we decided to stay at the same hotel - The Royal Hotel - in town. We checked in and went out for dinner at a wonderful Khmer restaurant. I had a traditional Khmer curry with fish, which was simply delicious. 

After dinner we strolled through the practically deserted streets of Battembang looking for The Riverside Bar, a place that has gotten pretty good reviews and is apparently frequented by the likes of Angelina Jolie. If it's good enough for Angie!

The bar was actually really lovely, with soft acoustic music playing in the background and a cool breeze blowing through the bamboo veranda that hung over the riverbank. We had a few beers, talked and I lost a very long winded game of pool. (I could lose pool professionally I'm that good!)

When the evening was coming to a close (which was when the bar closed) we had to get back to our hotel and was confronted with the choice of moto riding or walking. I wouldn't of minded walking but it would've been a LONG way and I was tired and feeling a bit worse for wear after the boat journey. So...I got on the back of a motorbike for the very first time in my entire life. I swore I never would but I did it. The driver was actually very good and Greg kindly told him to take it easy and go slowly because it was my first time on a bike.

The roads were empty and the ride was relativity comfortable and really not as scary as I thought it would be. I couldn't stop smiling when I got off...doing something you NEVER thought you would do and doing it at the spur of the moment...well it's quite amazing. Although riding a motorbike is not that daring a thing to do at all...for me it seems that way. I am glad that I faced my fear. It was the perfect end to a wonderful, adventurous day.

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