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Khmertrip – Stage 2: Poipet to Battambang

Monday, November 30th, 2009

© Frank P. Schneidewind

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This is Michael, hailing from England on his first Cambodiatrip. He was in good humor, even two full hours after a tout disappeared with his 25 $ for the promised front seat in a shared taxi. He was helplessly stranded in downtown Poipet but hope has vanished for him. That was his second Siem Reap scam on this day, he came here with an early minivan from Khao Sarn Road, but the connection in Poipet he missed and they left him there, offered was a spot in tomorrows transport.

I informed him, that 25 $ exceeds monthly salaries of qualified workers here and he bid his task to get to Siem Reap today farewell. We told him about our plan to catch a ride to Battambang or at least Sisophon, dirt cheap for 3 $ or 12.000 Riels on the back of any roadworthy pickup-truck.

He was really enlightened when he learned that there are presumably direct and scheduled boats going from Battambang to Siem Reap, although Battambang is really out of any direct way to Siem Reap.

We got lucky and found such transport opportunity, finally hitting the road shortly after luchtime.

Stefan found a good use for his new headscarf, sitting on a pickup-bed, overloaded with sticky jam-like preserved fruits underneath us gave the flight instructor and college teacher (in his real life) a totally new horizon in traveling, especially with the horrendous road conditions between Poipet and Sisophon. Potholes is the wrong term because pots aren’t big enough!

The road remains to be in the sorriest condition of any transit route thinkable, even with the other national roads all being finished recently or under construction.

Wind in the face doesn’t bother me if it’s not laced with too much dust.

Michael, our trip buddy for this segment was amazed at the new blacktop road after Sisophon leading South to Battambang, his butt was not taking the treatment of the previous stretch of road anymore, so he said.

This is Battambangs main bus terminal, it also serves the shared taxi gangsters, that sell the passenger seat in the front twice and backseats at 25 % of the bench per head. Business as usual in Cambodia.

The big white building right near the terminal was also a guesthouse, we all checked in and needed a shower badly

The rooms were pretty basic but cleanliness of mattress and bedsheets were taken into very close inspection, the fan-room had a shower/toilet in a sideroom and two large wooden beds. The spider inside on the ventilation insect screen there was big enough to have had deserved to be named. Stefan and I decided to leave the light there on and alarm the other, if spidey disappeared from there in the night.

   

But before nightfall we ventured into Battambang and tried a variety of possible transports for us. The colonial buildings here on the riverside are quite impressive, the pics below show us on the typical cyclo here.

We opted for some waste of money and the benefits of motorized transport.

At this motorbike shop, we booked their only 2 Offroad bikes for the following day (above), 7 $ per 24 hours was reasonable for the 250 ccm Hondas offered.

Jewelry and woodcarvings are a speciality here, the carvings are brought here from many surrounding areas and are rather inexpensive.

Note that Stefan wears a grey shirt, it was indeed much brighter (and less smelly) than the white one he wore on the pickup!

Gas Stations fill by the bottle here, this is very common anywhere outside the Capital.

We couldn’t be much attracted by the street food here, but the salesladies gave us a lot of grins and smiles:

Dental problems could be helped 24 hours on any day, we were glad not to have any for sure!

The winner of the day was a moped-taxi with comfy trailer, we choose him to spent the rest of the night with us and tour us around.

 

Below we got stuck for dinner and wondered about the cannabis smell everywhere!

 

The “happy herbs” are known elsewhere as Marihuana or grass, but here they were kitchen herbs and reason for many to come to Cambodia. A big bag of maybe 500g was offered nearby for 5 $!