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Trains, temples, tumbles and bats

sunny 34 °C
View Great Escape to the East! on Tam-Jo's travel map.

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Our big day of sightseeing began with what can only be described as another health and safety nightmare, something akin to a wooden rollercoaster on a track that's seen better days, Cambodias only stretch of railway that runs something called the Bamboo Train. The train gets its name, we assume, from the bamboo platform that is laid upon two sets of wheels and attached to a motor engine, and not from the forests of bamboo that our fellow train passenger wrongly assumed we would be travelling through. Instead we hurtled along a very rickety track at what seemed like 100 mph, attempting to take in the views of scorched fields and bewildered cattle. We only had to stop twice to dismantle the "train" to allow people on the return journey to pass. When we got to the end we settled down with a Diet Coke and had a lovely long chat with the lady that owned the local stall we were sat at, whilst her children made us bamboo jewellery. Then back again on an uninterrupted journey to our lovely tuk tuk driver who took us onwards!

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After a brief visit to a fishing village and winery (Cambodian wine is an acquired taste!), we stopped for lunch outside Banan Temple. Supposedly, Angkor Wat was based on this temple which was built 100 years earlier than Angkor. There is definitely a resemblence, although this couldn't be admired until our post lunch walk up to 357 steps to the top of the temple hill! After a saunter round up there, and a rather amusing photo shoot, we started the treacherous climb back down. I say treacherous because half way down I had a spectacular tumble down a flight of steps, only to come to a grinding halt because Tammy was in my way! My stiff British upper lip came into play when the German couple nearby were asking if I was OK - "sure, I'm fine. My flip flop looks worse for the fall than me" (my flip flop did actually look pretty sorry for itself!). But by the time I had limped the rest of the way down the hill (with Tammy's help) I was feeling pretty sick and dizzy and in a lot of pain from a sprained ankle. But when has that ever stopped me?! Inca trail on a twisted ankle - tick! It's just not a real trip if I don't twist or break something!

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So, after being berrated by our tuk tuk driver for looking sleepy (I was actually just trying not to throw up!) we hopped back in our vehicle for the most bumpy (and painful!) journey of the day. We were heading to Phnom Sampeou, another temple on a hill. After arriving, our driver helpfully hinted that the hill was steep and long and that perhaps we would rather take a motorbike and driver - yes please! So on we hopped, Cambodia style - driver, me and then Tam, all very cosy! Our driver showed us the Killing Cave, a horrible place where the Khmer Rouge brutally murdered yet more people. It was upsetting. The temple was beautiful as the sun began to set, and the views across the surrounding flat farmland were fantastic. We also witnessed a monkey steal a lunch box from an unsuspecting local, and the retrieval that followed - highly amusing!

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After sharing a coconut at the bottom of the hill, we gathered alongside the road with a number of other tourists to await a phenomenon that our hostel owner had assured us would be one of the most memorable of our whole trip away - the mass exodus from the local bat cave. We weren't expecting much and were therefore blown away by the sight. It was one of the most incredible things we've ever seen - for an hour from 7pm every night a steady, and thick, stream of bats leave this cave in the hillside to hunt in the fields. The swirling band of bats is incredible to witness, and watching the black ribbon make its way across the flat farmland was amazing! What an end to the day!

A quick freshen up and change back at camp and then we were off out for our final farewell dinner with Dan. After this we go our separate ways. Our travels will never be quite the same without the promise of bumping into him somewhere along the way!

Tomorrow, although we can't believe it, we leave Cambodia and head back to Thailand. The last few weeks have gone so fast and I think we will miss this country, despite it's harrowing past. But it is safe to say that we are in need of some mental R&R!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 07:26 Archived in Cambodia Tagged battambang

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So good to see your blog making a return! Hope the ankle's fully recovered now Jo.

by Mum and dad venables

Ankles and wrists...what are you like! : (

Glad your ankle has recovered ok! xxx

by Adam

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