16 March 2018 – Battambang, Cambodia – Day 3 – Busy Day

We arranged with Peter to take us around again today. He was picking us up at 9:00 am. No sleeping in for us as we had a full day planned. We headed back to the bakery and Café Amazon for breakfast. Didn’t have a lot of time so I brought my iced vanilla latte back with me. Here are a few pictures I took as we rode along.

Our first stop was at the local village Farmer’s Market. Peter explained to us what many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs were. So many items we had never seen before. Lots of fresh seafood too.

From here we went to another little village, where we stopped to see a small family run village bakery. It was quite something to see. Not something we would have ever seen on our own or if we did, we would not have known what it was. They were in the process of making coconut cakes and egg noodles. The first lady cracks open all the eggs and then separates the yolks from the whites. Most of the yolks go to the egg noodles and the whites are for the coconut cake. They use the whole coconut including the shells and husks for one thing or another. Not all in the baking. Some parts are used for the fire to cook the items.

We sampled the egg noodles and they had a great texture but were sort of sweet. Sweetened from the coconut milk I guess. They only took seconds to cook as it was very hot oil and a very thin stream of batter which was poured into it. The end result looked liked Mr Noodle’s noodles, but not even close in taste.

We had asked Peter earlier on what happened to someone when they died here as we had seen no cemeteries. Cemeteries aren’t a common sight in Asia, but we have seen some. He explained to us that the body is cremated and stored in an urn which is sometimes placed in a stupa if the family has enough money for one in a temple compound. He had mentioned something about the Chinese not wanting the locals in the same areas as them and the result of that, but we can’t remember what it was.

Next up we headed to Wat Samrong Knong (Killing Fields). This is a really depressing place. They were referred to as killing wells but are actually small lakes now.

The torture room still stands and is a small museum now. The history is depicted in many carved and painted graphic pictures.

From here we headed to the Crocodile farm where we both got to hold a baby crocodile. After this we wandered around the ‘farm’ for a few minutes to view the adult crocs in the pits. That’s all it took. Plus the place was smelly.

Next up was the rice wine ‘factory’. A shack on the side of the road where they made assorted rice wines. They explained to us how they make the wine. There was a regular rice wine, a silkworm wine and a snake rice wine. Doug sampled them all, including the cobra wine. I tried none of them. Our next road side stop was a Rice paper factory (wooden shack) where Peter explained to us the process of making rice papers. Now I know why they have the pattern on them that they do. It’s from the drying racks. While I was ordering a fresh and a fried spring roll, Doug was chatting with a couple who were sitting at the same table as we were. Next thing I know he’s standing there with a piece of BBQ’d rat in his hand. He ATE IT!

They sell a lot of BBQ’d rat along the road side out in the country here. I guess they eat what they can. The next morning Doug’s stomach wasn’t feeling 100%. Wonder why not? Maybe the weird wines or the rat? He recovered quickly though, thank goodness.

We had seen all of this and it was only 12:30 and we were headed back to the hotel. Peter would come back for us at 3:30 to continue our day. After a bit of a rest we headed out to find some food. Guess the rat wasn’t very filling. We wandered through a few markets and decided to search out a place called Fresh Eats Cafe that was recommended in the Lonely Planet book. Not sure if it is no longer there or was just closed up tightly, but we could not find it at the address maps.me was giving us. We decided upon a hostel that had a small restaurant.

We got back to our hotel just in time for our 3:30 Tuk-Tuk pickup to go to Phnom Sampov Killing caves and Bat caves. It was about 12 km, but a great ride.  We just love traveling in Tuk-Tuks. Peter parked his Tuk-Tuk, negotiated a price and we transferred to a pickup truck that would take us the rest of the way up the mountain. We were given the option to sit inside the cab or in the open back. Living on the wild side we chose to sit in the back. They had to put out a step stool and help me up into the back. Wasn’t an easy task! This road was very steep and twisty. Really had to hang on. The pickup stopped half way up and out we climbed, as he headed back down to get more people. This guy was doing a great business.

At this level there was a temple and a path to the killing caves.  This was originally an area of Buddhist temples.

Peter explained the meaning of all of these statues that were along the path. There were many of them and they are all based on Karma and the people’s beliefs.

These pictures were taken at the steps looking down into one of the caves where the people were pushed to their deaths. I’ve read that there were at least 10,000 people killed here. Peter is pointing to another level even further down.

Once down to that level I took these pictures. This man sits here making and selling bracelets to help maintain the site. We were told that he will also explain about the caves if asked. There are also many skull and bone remains.

We headed back to the area where the pickup had dropped us off and back it came for us. Dropped off another load of people and we climbed into the back and continued on to the top of the mountain to tour the Pagoda.  I was really starting to regret the decision to sit in the back. Really had to hang on as the road was steep. Once up top we got out to climb the rest of the way.

There were so MANY monkeys here that it was almost scary.

We continued past the monkeys and up the next set of stairs. The view from up here was spectacular as was the pagoda.

Once again the pickup came back for us while dropping off a new load of people. Back down to the bottom of the mountain where we were steered towards an outdoor café with overhead fans, tables and chairs. They just happened to serve food and beer. We would now wait for the Bats to fly out of the mountain. Peter disappeared and so we ordered a beer and waited. While we were waiting we saw a middle-aged Asian woman (dressed with a coat on) climb the steps up to the unfinished Buddha. The Buddha is in the upper right quarter of the first photo below. Peter had told us a little bit about it. The man who had been carving the Buddha fell to his death while working on it. No one has ever finished it since. I think that is partly because there is no money to pay someone to finish it. The steps may not look too steep but they were VERY steep. The Buddha is also very high. Out of all the hundreds of people there, no one else attempted to climb up. The woman climbed down the stairs backwards holding onto the rungs as she descended down. A very brave woman in my opinion and I don’t think this was her first time doing something like this.

What a site when the bats started coming out. There were hundreds of thousands of bats. They actually say there are millions of bats. It probably lasted a good 10 to 15 minutes. As fast as it started it stopped. It was definitely something to see.

This is the entrance / exit to the cave.

Peter reappeared and asked if we wanted to go see a dragon snake. We weren’t sure what he meant by that, but went for it. Turns out, if you are fast enough you can get to the area where the bats are flying and it appears like a dragon or snake in the sky. Unfortunately tonight they had gone in a different direction and we didn’t see the snake. The good thing was we beat the traffic jam of all the Tuk-Tuks leaving the cave site. It would have been Tuk-Tuk rush hour.

When we got back to town we treated our Tuk-Tuk driver, Peter to dinner at the Nary Kitchen. He picked this restaurant and he really recommended it. Funny thing was we had looked at it this afternoon for lunch but thought it was a cooking school. Turns out it is both. Doug had fried rice, vegetables and chicken. Peter and I both ordered the noodles with vegetables and chicken. Food was good. I also ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. Can’t say that drinks were their specialty.

Over the last few days we had talked quite a bit with Peter. Of course we asked him if he had a girlfriend as he’s a pretty good looking guy. His reply was “no money, no honey”. He went on to tell us that a lot of the local girls go for the white men. The larger the man, the more money they think he has, as he is able to eat plenty. It is kind of sad the number of young local girls that we saw with old white guys. Peter said the girls have no interest in him as his skin is darker and they relate that to a farm worker and no money. Our guide the other day had explained to us that it is up to the youngest male in the family to support the parents in their senior years. He had mentioned that in some cases couples end up divorced because of their obligations to care for their parents. This can happen when both are the youngest in their families and there is no male in the woman’s family to look after her parents. At least I think I have that right. If not, it was close to that.

Peter asked if we had been happy with the service provided and would we give a review of him and his company on Trip Advisor. Of course we would. We enjoyed our two days touring with him so much that we actually gave him $50 US instead of the $20 US it was supposed to cost us. These tours in North America would have easily been double that per person. The total of $75 that we paid for the two days would pay his half of the rent for two months. He shares a one room apartment with a friend and had to buy all his meals as they have no kitchen. He also isn’t able to get work every day due to the fact that there are so many Tuk-Tuk drivers and only so many tourists requiring their services.

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