Batambang – Angkor Whaat?! A week of stones and temples

Enough palm trees and beaches for now. Back to the real world.
I took a “hotel-bus“to Battambang from Sihanoukville. This was the best nightbus I’ve ever had! The beds were actual beds, where you could completely lay down.
I had a one-person bed for myself and my neighbours, a couple from Scotland shared a two-person bed. They were less lucky: they must have had food poisoning and were basically throwing up the entire ride
I slept like a baby and was full of energy when I arrived in the charming Battambang.

Battambang

Battambang, the Cambodian Dalat for me.
For those who just started reading my blog, check out my post about Dalat – Vietnam
Battambang, a charming small city where the balance between tourist/expats and locals is just right. With a population of 250.00 it’s funny to say that Battambang is the second biggest city of Cambodia! From a touristic point of view, there isn’t so much to see, but it’s one of those places you either fall in love with or leave the day after you arrive.

Things to do/see in Battambang

  • Killing cave
    One of the places where the Khmer rouge used to execute people
  • Bat cave
    Every evening you can see a stream of 1 million bats leaving the cave to hunt.
    It’s an impressive sight to see!
  • Bamboo train
    A ride on a wooden frame on a single train track trough the jungle
  • Sightseeing in the countryside
    Rent a bicycle, follow the river and you’ll be ambushed by kids shouting “hello!” while seeing about six pagodas/temples

I was staying in the BTB hostel, an interesting big hostel. It used to be a restaurant, which explains the unique design of the reception.
In the tuk-tuk to the batcave, I had the pleasure of meeting Laura and later on Thomas and Alexandre. Our French/Belgian Siem Reap team was created! Together we left Battambang to Siem Reap.


Siem Reap

Siem Reap, a busy touristic city with his own “pub street“. It’s also the new home of Joren (or “Hugo”) and Sam , two friends from my hometown. Finally some people who really speak my language 😉
Long time since somebody called me “Matske“. Joren recommended us to stay at Angkor Sun Siem Reap Hotel, a hostel run by really nice Turkish owners. It’s not the most modern hostel but definitely the most welcoming one! Joren is also the organiser of the couchsurfing meetups in Siem Reap. These events also find place at the Angkor Sun hostel, so we were lucky we were invited to the CS-BBQ.

Coming from the charming and peaceful Battambang in to Siem Reap, is a hell of a difference! With Angkor Wat just around the corner, Siem Reap is flooded with tourists. An interesting mix of Chinese tourists, European families, backpackers and retired Americans.

Besides Angkor Wat, there are a couple of museums and silk farms in the city. We visited the War museum, where we were allowed to hold old guns and climb into old tanks! Our guide talked about the khmer roughe, the people during the war and the political situation today in Cambodia.
Definitely a recommendation to visit when you come to Siem Reap!

We also discovered the party game “Heads up”. A mimicking/guess who game for android which I highly recommend to play!

Angkor Wat

There is the great wall of China, the colosseum of Rome, the great pyramid of Giza and there is Angkor Wat of Cambodia. An enormous temple complex and the largest religious building built in the 12th century. With around +2 million visitors each year and the recent price increase for the tickets, you can easily say “Angkor whaaat?!“.
Since 1/02/2017 the price for a one day ticket went from 20$ to 37$… A big amount of money for the average backpacker… You can also buy 3-day and week tickets for the temples. It is an enormous complex and it’s impossible to visit everything in one day. There are lots of different options to visit Angkor Wat:

  • Bicycle (4$)
  • Motorbike (7$)
  • Tuk-tuk (20$)
  • Mini bus or bus (?)

Piloted by a french-speaking tuk-tuk-driver, we left for the temples at 4.30am to see sunset.
Matthew, an American BMX-pro who staid at the same hostel as Laura, also joined in. The early morning and the heat predicted a long day. When you visit the temples, you have the option of doing the small circle or the big circle. The small circle was big enough for us and guides you by the following places:

  • Angkor Wat
    The biggest and most famous one
  • Angkor Thom
    A big temple, famous for it’s Buddha towers. The face of buddha is carved on each side of the tower
  • Ta Phrohm
    A temple overgrown by mother nature. Really beautiful to see! Famous from the Tomb Raider movies
  • Banteay Kdei
    Similar to Ta Phrohm but mother nature was less merciful with this one.
  • The Terrace of the Elephants
    A natural terrace, decorated with carved elephants on the side

These are the most import ones from the small circle. Read more about the small and the big circle.

At the end of the day, we waited for sunset at the top of Phnom Bakheng. But because Chinese are Chinese, and only 300 people are allowed on the temple, we weren’t allowed to the top. We still enjoyed a bit of the sunset with a great view.


Laura never saw Kung Fu before, so I gave a little demonstration for my friends and 50 other Chinese on the mountain. What happened next, really made my day! A Taiwanese family stood next to us when I did my moves. By big coincidence, the two sons also practiced Shaolin Kung Fu. They both showed us what they had learned! Afterwards we had a chat with the parents and took some pictures with the Kung Fu Kids!

 

These were some really funny and awesome days!
Thank you Laura, Thomas, Alex, Joren, Matthew and the Angkor Sun crew!
Hope to meet you again in the future!

Tomorrow morning I’m taking the bus back to Bangkok, the city where my trip started.

2 Comment

  1. Hey! I’m happy to follow all your posts 🙂 nice photos and explanations of the sightseeings! I didn’t get how to play the heads up game, you’ll have to explain me this game when we meet again…A big hug!

  2. Hello Mats,
    You did the best in Cambodia. And also to my school. we are Cambodian would like to say very huge thanks to you for visiting our country.
    Best wishes
    Sophea

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