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Day 4 - Battambang

Our guide recommended an early breakfast to beat the crowds so we were down at 6am. He was right, about 6.45 the place really started to fill up but we were nearly finished. Our hotel is full of wood - panelling, furniture, wall carvings - it's everywhere and beautifully worked. Cambodians seem to love beautiful things; there are coloured lights on bridges and lights in fountains and the temples and shrines are richly decorated.

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We are on the 6th floor and we have a little balcony - the view is pretty good but I'm a bit unsure about standing on it for too long.

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The first stop today was the Governor's Palace. We only looked from the gates but the buildings were lovely. Apparently the King also has a residence in the compound but we couldn't see it from where we were. Rin needed to take a group photo here for his company. There were a lot of young people having graduation photos taken, apparently they had just finished a teaching degree but they kindly allowed Rin to take his photo first.

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I tried to take some photos as we drove through the City to get a flavour of the place but it's quite hard to capture from the bus.

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The city is built around the river which seems to be a common theme in Cambodia and there are quite a lot of trees and some lovely parks and open spaces. Coming back into the city at the end of the day we saw lots of people in the parks and walking along the river promenade. Battambang is less built up than Phnom Penh and has kept more of it's architectural history; unfortunately we didn't have a lot of time to explore the city.

After the stop at the Governor's Palace we drove to Wat Banan Temple, an old Khmer temple about 25km from Battambang. The temple is said to be similar to the Angkor temples but the 400 steps were too much for me so I only saw part of the temple from about half way up.

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The grounds were lovely - there were lots of pavilions around and over the water which can be used for picnics, celebrations etc.

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Next was a "cellar door". This farmer grows grapes and makes red wine, brandy and grape juice. We had a tasting but since I don't drink either red wine or brandy I couldn't tell whether they were good or not. The wine is apparently award winning.

On our way back to the city we stopped at a place where they make Prahok, fermented fish paste. I didn't make it past the door; even holding my nose and breathing through my mouth didn't help with the smell. Laurence went through with some others from the group and took some photos.

We returned to Battambang where the bus dropped us off in an area with restaurants and shops for lunch and free time. We had lunch in a Khmer restaurant - Laurence had satay chicken and I had delicious eggplant and mushroom dumplings.

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After lunch we walked back to our hotel. It was only about 10 minutes but very hot. The humidity is very high and the afternoons feel stormy but we've only had serious rain once, on our first touring day. We found a small art gallery as we were walking along so of course we had to go in and of course I bought a picture. I'm going to need a house with more walls.

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Back at the hotel with a couple of hours to relax before the next round of sightseeing we decided to visit the pool bar. I considered a swim but decided that would make me sleepy. So we had a drink - beer for Laurence, banana smoothie for me - and chatted to one of our group for an hour or so before heading upstairs to our air-conditioned room.

At 3.30 Rin and the bus picked us up for a visit to the Khmer Rouge "killing caves". On the way we stopped at the side of the road at a stall barbecuing rats. Several people tried the bats which are a traditional food for the Cambodians.

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There is a temple at the site which the Khmer Rouge took over and used as a prison. About 100 metres from the Temple are several caves which were used as execution sites, using various methods to kill prisoners. Rin told us that based on the bones found in the caves around 10,000 people were killed at this site.

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The biggest draw of this place however is not the "killing caves" but another cave. At dusk every evening millions of small bats swarm out of the cave in clouds. There are chairs and tables set up and looypts of stalls selling street food, soft drinks, beer and snacks. Every night people sit and wait for the bats. Rin had reserved seats for us and we passed a pleasant hour talking too people while we waited. The bats flying from the cave were actually an amazing sight but hard to capture in a photo.

By the time we returned to our hotel, it was after 7pm so we decided to eat in the hotel instead of going out. We wandered up to the restaurant and they directed us up another flight of stairs to the Panorama Lounge where they were serving dinner. This was a wonderful area to eat. It was open on three sides and there was a lovely breeze to keep us cool. The views were amazing. We had hamburgers (huge) and a couple of drinks before heading to bed.

Posted by Gone Travelling 13:31

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