Posted on February 24, 2016
Laying my head on my pillow as I started to go to sleep Sunday night I had thoughts of a road trip in my head. Where and when could I go? Before I fell asleep moments later the where and when was answered. Battambang. Tomorrow.
Battambang, my favorite Cambodian city is the second largest city in Cambodia but its old world charm, old streets, old buildings and low number of tourists keeps me coming back for more. Once I had the city in my thoughts a spontaneous trip there was a given. In the morning when I woke Battambang was the first thing my waking brain let lose.
There is only seventy-five kilometers between the two cities but Tonle Sap Lake is situated smack in the middle making the drive on the only road one hundred seventy-five kilometers. In an air conditioned car with a driver you can make the trip in a relaxing two-and-a-half hours. On my moto it takes me about four hours. That is if I don’t get side tracked by exploring. There are no flights in to Battambang. There is an airport in Battambang but it is primarily used for locals riding their motos up and down the unused runway for a fun filled weekend evening.
On the way to Battambang there were two remote temples my list that I wanted to see. They were near each other and only a few kilometers off the main road making it an easy stop on the way to BB. I never complain about a side trip to see something new because experience has taught me that while I may have a destination in mind it is this unknown surprises that make a trip memorable.
The first temple is Char Leu Temple located inside a very deserted pagoda about eight kilometers off the main road. Many remnants of ancient temples are located inside the walls of a pagoda such as this one. When the pagodas were built they left the temples intact building around the remaining structures.
The grounds of this pagoda seemed eerily void of people. There is current construction going on across the way but there is no one to be found. The main pagoda looks like it hasn’t been used in years. There was one obviously abandoned building that had a creepy feel to it which of course drew me to it but it didn’t look structurally safe enough to explore inside leaving me to look and photograph from the outside.
Riding a little bit further down the road through empty rice fields I found Pram Temple right on the left side of the road. Impossible to get lost and no need to bushwhack this temple was one of the easiest to find on my remote temple quest.
It was ‘rush hour’ when I finally made it into Battambang. Nothing like rush hour in a big city but it was surprisingly busy for the quiet town I was expecting to see. I had enough time to make it to my guest house and clean up from the dusty ride from Siem Reap before the sun went down. Now it is time to eat.
There is no shortage of places to eat in Battambang. You can choose from small side street restaurants, larger places that cater to the few western visitors that make it here or you can head out for some street food. Each night at the river end of the main market you can find about twenty stalls of street food just waiting for you to grab something and enjoy.
Wherever you look in Cambodia you will find pagodas. Here are a few images from a nameless pagoda north of Battambang. Each of the pagodas I visit have their own special feeling and attractions. Some are more ornate than others while some are home to many people who live inside the walls of the pagoda.
No matter where I go in Cambodia free smiles are everywhere. Walk down the street, stop at a market or just ride by on a moto and you will be sure to find a smile. Here are some images of some ladies around Battambang that keep me true to my word.
I ran into a long distance bicyclist riding around Asia for about a year. Life on the road and similar philosophies on life made for a couple long breakfasts in Battambang. You can read about his travels on his blog here. A good understanding of German is helpful or a link to Google Translate!
As usual I had trouble leaving Battambang. It happens every time. I stop at the front desk of the guest house in the morning when I leave for breakfast and I ask “One more night?” to which they smile and say yes. Sometimes that goes on for two or three extra nights. For some reason I never seem to want to leave Battambang.