It’s often overlooked or just a mere stopover to or from Siem Reap, home of the famous ruins of Angkor Wat but Battambang Cambodia should be on your radar of places to visit in this country. Full of Khmer culture, early 20th century French architecture and a unique charm unlike anywhere else in Cambodia. Join me John Saboe for an exploration in and around Battambang, Cambodia in this episode of Far East Adventure Travel Podcast.
Probably the number one site to visit in Battambang, Cambodia is the world-famous bamboo train. Made from left-over tank wheels, small-powered engines and a bamboo platform it’s a metaphor for the people of this country who’ve adapted and overcome incredible devastation and hardship to their culture and way of life.
But this town, the second-largest in the country has so much more to offer. On my last trip through Cambodia I stayed in Battambang for several days exploring the town and discovering it’s charm.
To find out a little bit more about Battambang from a native’s perspective and why it’s so appealing I spoke with artist Kchao Touch, who also owns the wonderfully eclectic Jewel In The Lotus Antique and Arts Shop in the arts quarter.
The sounds of a memorial can quickly fade out to a wedding celebration, sometimes lasting for three days. Most Cambodian weddings are now only celebrated on a single day. This memorial in Battambang lasted for several days.
Another uniquely Southeast Asian tradition respected every day in Battambang is the morning alms. For good luck lay people bring a food offering to the local Buddhist monks that wander the town in return for a blessing.
A mix of well preserved and slowly fading French provincial architecture along the river makes for some wonderful strolls beside the Sangkae. Battambang is also home to many Khmer artists and singers and has a burgeoning arts scene that has revitalized the historic quarter of town.
Further outside of Battambang there’s opportunity to experience traditional rural life and some significant sites like Wat Ek Phnom which includes it’s partly collapsed 11th century temple.
Like most people I took refuge riverside in the late afternoons to cool down and enjoy the laid back atmosphere of the town over a drink and some food at the night market.
Although Battambang doesn’t offer many activities in the city itself you’ll have no hesitation just passing the time hanging out by the river or in a cool cafe in the arts quarter. Further away from Battambang more awaits for your discovery, some things distinctly and uniquely Cambodian.
Cambodia won’t challenge France or California as a great wine-growing region but a trip to this winery adds a certain cache to your exclusive wine travel stories. Now how about some bat to go with that shiraz?
The revitalization of Battambang is underway with new hotels, restaurants, cafes and a growing art scene. The charm really lies beneath the french architecture and new growth.
The people, tradition, the slow pace, even a forgotten railroad all contribute to this intangible quality that makes for great experiences, great stories in the heart of beloved Cambodia.
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That’s it for this episode of Far East Adventure Travel Podcast. Thanks so much for joining me. Until next time this is John Saboe, safe travels and Namaste!
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