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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aaron update # 4

I've talked to Aaron a couple times since my last post... but decided to wait and compile all the info into one post.

So, they arrived in Battambang yesterday afternoon, after a 7 hour, packed boat ride.  They sat on the deck of the boat and said they were smooshed the whole time!  The boat was supposed to hold about 30, but the boat would stop at every city along the way and pick up more people!  Aaron said there were at least 60 on board by the end of the trip!  Gotta love Cambodian transportation!

When they got into Battambang, they headed over to a restaurant where Aaron said there were over 200 menu items... the biggest menu he'd ever seen!!  Sweet irony that the 2 of them both ended up ordering the same exact thing... Pineapple Chicken!  He said Battambang is way less touristy than Siem Reap, and they're not being hounded by the local kids begging for them to buy postcards or other touristy items.  They're both enjoying the laid-back-ness of the city!

Today they woke up early, took a tuk tuk to see the fruit bats, which are a local delicacy in the region!  Yes, Battambang locals eat bat, along with fried taranchula! mmm

Then they headed over to Wat Banan temple, which is perched on a 400m high hill and reached only by climbing up 359 stairs!  It's actually even older than the temples surrounding Angkor Wat and was originally built between 1050-1066.  It's still used as a Buddhist shrine.

After exploring Wat Banan, they headed over to the killing caves on Phnom Sampeau mountain. The cave is the site where lots of people were killed by the Khmer Rouge. The bones and skulls were collected and exhibited in a cage as a monument.  

There is a place, in the mountain, where they could see where children were thrown into the deep cave, their bone splinters still visible to this day. 

On a lighter note, they took the famous bamboo train, "the norry" for about 40 minutes through town!  Despite the long civil war in Cambodia, the 1930s railway tracks around Battambang are surprisingly still pretty usable. There is a REAL train which goes between Phenom Penh and Battambang once a week, but during the rest of the week, the locals use these bamboo platform trains to carry goods, people, motorbikes and sometimes a cow or 2 to the next small town, moving 35-40km per hour!  Leave it to these creative and innovative people to use what they have to create something useful for themselves!

The bamboo train is a 4x2 meter platform, powered by a small generator motor on a fan belt! Aaron said that when another bamboo train appeared on their same track, coming towards them, the driver would cut the power and the "train" would slow down very quickly.  Everyone got off and the driver lifted the structure and removed the axles from the track and re-assembled it on the other side of the oncoming train.   The rule of thumb is... the one with the most passengers gets the right of way!  Fair enough! 

This afternoon they are taking a 6 hour bus ride to Phenom Penn!  Not too sure what they'll be doing there, but they both seemed to be really excited about it!

I'm off to a girl night at Truchen's place!  :)

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