Back in Phnom Phen we visited a few more of the cities sites, including visiting the Killing Fields, shooting an AK-47, shopping at the Central Market, visiting the National Museum and ate some unusual food at Romdeng Restaurant.
Choeung Ek Killing Fields
A chilling reminder of the atrocities during the Khmer Rouge regime, of one million people were executed in the area with many mass open graves located in the area. Today there is a memorial marked by a stupa which encases the skulls of those that were murdered.
Thunder Ranch Shooting Range
Located nearby Choeung Ek is the Thunder Ranch Shooting Range run by a unit of the Royal Cambodian Army. For forty dollars I had a taste of a noisy AK-47 assault rifle.
National Museum of Cambodia
A nice museum with plenty of Buddhist statues of devas and deities. The photographs below were taken in the surrounds of the museum.
A nice way to finish Phnom Phen and our Cambodia trip, unusual foods were no-uncommon in Cambodia, having already tried fried tarantula and fresh lotus seeds. That night we order a jackfruit salad, lotus root salad, a beef dish with fried tree ants, among other dishes.
Our second day in Battambang we decided to hire a scooter to explore some of the outer around Battambang regions.
1. Killing caves of Phnom Sampeau
After arriving at Phnom Sampeau hill we first visited the killing caves, the killing caves was a natural cave with skylight opening that was used by the Khmer Rouge to toss victims through the skylight to their death. Inside the cave are glass cased memorials of skulls and bones.
2. Wat Phnom Sapeau
We continued up the Phnom Sampeau hill and reached Wat Phnom Sapeau. The surrounds of Wat Phnom Sapeau is home to a bunch of macaques monkeys, which at the time were being fed by monks, this presented some good photo opportunities.
3. Wat Banan
From Wat Phnom Sapeau we headed to Wat Banan which was an ancient temple situated on a hill near the Sangker River. Wat Banan has a five tower design similar to Angkor Wat, as well some well preserved stone carvings.
4. Bamboo Train
One of the more enjoyable experiences was the bamboo train. The bamboo train is a rudimentary train consisting of no more than two axels, a metal base lined with bamboo and an small engine. All components could be lifted with two persons, though the axels which they were lifting individually were extremely heavy. As it is a single track, the protocol for two trains going in opposite directions, meeting is for the least passengers and cargo to disembark and disassemble to allow the other train to parse.
5. Wat Phnom Ek
A ruined eleventh century temple with some well preserved stone carvings. Nearby is a newly built temple and sitting Buddha statue.
During our stay in Battambang we decided to explore the city by following the free walking tour produced by the Battambang Municipality.
Along the walking tour the city’s French and Khmer history is seen in building’s architectural style.
Whilst interesting, having arrived from the Angkor region, the city was a little underwhelming.
The walking tour is broken into two parts, Central Battambang and South Battambang.
- Wat Pipetharam
- Building of the Cantonese Association
- Psar Nath
- Shophouses next to the Chinese Temple
- Chinese Temple / Chinese Spirit House
- Corner Building and Villa
- Street 2 ½: Series of Shop Houses
- Chinese School (opposite of White Rose Restaurant)
- Buffalo Alley
- Battambang Cinema (on Street 2)
- School Pi Thnou
- Apartment Building
- Sangker Cinema and Battambang Warehouse
- Department of Land Management
- Wat Damrey Sor
- Former canal south of Wat Damrey Sor
- Exhibition Hall
- Provincial Museum
- Boxing Stadium (Sports Ground)
- Post Office
- Electricity Company and Department of Water Authority
- House for the Vice Governor of Battambang
- Provincial Court
- Former Prison Location
- Wat Kamphaeng and Stupa of 1840
- Kamphaeng High School
- Sport Centre (Au Circle Sportif de Battambang)
- Sala Khaet
- Royal Residence (Royal Bungalow)
- Department of Tourism
- First Concrete Bridge
You may download GPX way-points of the above maps by clicking on the GPS icon in the bottom-right corner.
Unfortunately, the Battambang Heritage website is temperamental, you can use these links to download the Central Walking Map and South Walking Map.
After four days exploring the Angkor region, we were quite templed out, the idea of a ferry from Siem Reap to Battambang was a welcome change. A shared bus picked us up early in the morning, and did a round collecting tourists till the bus was full, and dropped us off at a small tributary entering the Tonle Sap Lake. The dryer season meant that the boat had to start a lot closer to the lake than normal, with the bus covering initially following the shallow tributary. The boat was a colourfully painted wooden boat, with a very loud engine, do not sit at the back.
During the boat journey we came across a lot of interesting birds, animals and of course the local floating villages. Amazing to see how people lived on the Tonle Sap Lake. After seven hours we reached Battambang and greeted by comical taxi drivers on the shore all after our business.