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Day 3 - Phnom Penh to Battambang

A last breakfast in our hotel before a long drive to Battambang.

First stop was the wholesale fish market. Cambodians eat a lot of fish and the market is very busy. It was surprisingly not that smelly but pretty chaotic and wouldn't pass any hygiene test in Australia. Very colourful and lots happening. I particularly liked one family's childcare arrangement. They had a netted contraption (almost like a small trampoline) hanging from the roof and in it a small child, probably about a year old, bouncing around. The baby was very happy, could see everything and was quite safe.

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Our second stop was at a silversmith village. In Cambodia most provinces have a speciality so almost all the people in this village work in silver. There wasn't a lot of time to look around but we did buy some small figures.

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Our second stop was supposed to be just a toilet break but the bus had a mechanical problem and a new bus had to be brought from Phnom Penh so the stop ended up being about 2 hours. Luckily it was at a petrol station and there was a restaurant. It was very hot but at least there were fans. The food was local, very good and very cheap. Our lunch cost about $12, including several Cokes and a beer.

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The waitresses did not speak English and the menu was not in English but there were pictures so we just pointed. Our guide had to help us work out the bill, the girls couldn't quite cope with such a big group of tourists. Their customers are generally local and I think thy found us a little intimidating.

Our new bus arrived and we continued on our way to our next stop in a province known for pottery. We stopped at the home of a widow who helps support her extended family by making pottery which she sells to wholesalers. She also makes some small pieces to sell directly to tourists. The family live in a traditional Cambodian wooden house on stilts. There is one room which is usually used for the women and girls to sleep. Most of the family living and cooking is done in the space underneath the house and this is where the men usually sleep. Their main source of income is rice cultivation. We bought a couple of small pieces of pottery.

Our last stop before Battambang was a toilet break at a 7-Eleven. 7-Eleven here is pretty similar to home except here they sell beer. We bought ice cream.

When we reached Battambang we had one final activity - a bamboo train ride. These are flat cars on wheels which used to be used by villagers as a means of transport in the days before roads became more widespread. The tray is made of bamboo and they used to pushed along the rails using a long pole. If a train came along, everyone jumped off and lifted the bamboo car off the rails.

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They are now only used to take tourists on short rides or during harvest for moving rice short distances. The cars are also motorised now; an outboard motor is stuck on the back. The whole system is mechanically fairly primitive. They put down a mat and cushions for us to sit on and we rode along the rails for about 15 minutes past houses and fields. When it was time to come back to our bus we all got off and they lifted the whole flat car up and turned it around, then moved the axles and wheels that had been at the front to the back. It was a lot of fun.

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We headed to our hotel and checked in, then went for a walk along the river to a French style restaurant a short walk away. The food was excellent and the setting lovely but there was no-one else there. We retuned to the hotel for a swim and a drink in the pool bar before bed.

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Posted by Gone Travelling 23:52

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