Battambang is the second city of Cambodia and not really that big, but the surrounding countryside area of the region is extensive. It was taken over by the French in the early 1900’s (I think) and so is famous for more of a French colonial style of architecture than elsewhere in the country. Had a few slow and happy few days here. Having only been travelling for one week it was already good to stop somewhere with a leisurely pace.
I had one of the best days I can remember with a fellow traveller, Luisa from Berlin, when we hired $8 motorbikes and headed off right into the countryside. Pretty sure we weren’t supposed to go quite as off road as we did judging by the looks of peoples faces as we pootled our way around winding side roads and tracks 50km from town. My goodness what fun. If I don’t like cycling, then I’ll just get a motorbike instead 🙂 So liberating.
The area around Battambang was once a key stronghold of the Khymer Rouge and was deeply affected by the overspill of confict from Vietnam in the 70’s. In particular the area is still gradually being cleared of landmines that once littered the land, although the number of casualties and found mines has dropped drammatically in very recent years thanks to thorough clearance programmes. As we rode through we saw many signs around the fields marking clearance zones. The roads are clear obviously 🙂
The trip wasn’t without incident and those that know me won’t be surprised that we ran out of petrol (twice) and I fell off face first into the mud when trying to ride through a road that shouldn’t have been ridden through. Had to be pulled out of the mud with the bike on top of me by amused passers by. No injuries and my inner hobbit was very happy about this.