We have stayed for two nights at Battambang Resort after lots of recommendations on TA, and I can see why. It's a beautiful place to wind down after lots of travelling etc. We had a Lake Room with patio and furniture plus a hammock!!
On our first night we went to Battambang Circus. OMG,it was fantastic, very entertaining and the young people so skilled and enthusiastic.
We had one full day of sight seeing and the Hotel arranged an English speaking driver and tuk tuk called Happy.
We thought we would be out for the morning, back at the Hotel to chill out early afternoon then out to see the bats in the late afternoon but we were out from 8.30-18.30!! The cost was $40 for 2 and included the Bamboo train and sticky rice- more about that later.
We went to the Bamboo train and Happy kindly took the tuk tuk seat/ cushion for us to sit on. it's an 8km trip with the brick-making factory at the end.
Happy told us about how they used " scissors,paper,stone" to decide which train would lift off the track when facing another train on the single track- maybe he was kidding but they can't toss a coin as it's a coin-less country.
Anyway our carriage was dismantled once but twice more other carriages were dismantled to let us pass :)
We went to several temples - can't tell you their names- and a Big Buddha. It was unfinished as it had been built too big, 13m instead of 11m. Still quite impressive though with several gold statues inside....and grazing cows outside. There were some ruins of a temple which we clambered over on our own except for a local lady telling us all about it; we gave her a dollar then she disappeared as she told us to go around the other way!
Happy took us around the local villages as he lives in Battambang. We went to see a lady who made sticky rice in bamboo. We got a lesson on how to prepare the bamboo and then got to eat some. The lady's son must only have been 2 or 3 years old and one minute was playing with his toy tractor and the next minute was using a meat cleaver to cut the bamboo!! They learn young.
We were taken to the Fish Market and were shown how they make fish paste- very smelly- and how they bake the fish spread out in the hot sun to dry.
We went to the river to see the fishermen throwing out their round weighted nets to catch fish and it was a good day with lots of fish and everyone was very happy.
I asked about buying a local broom/brush made from reeds or something similar and Happy took us to another market where I bought two for something like 6,000 riels..so cheap and I gave $2. The long one just fits my case with the bristles bent round. I'm sure it will recover ( fingers crossed)
Lunch was at an NGO restaurant. We. bought Happy his lunch whilst we continued to chat..he could be called Chatty Happy,he was so interesting and keen to learn from us too.
We visited another village, apparently nick-named the Rice Paper village as many families made rice paper and we saw the process- very labour intensive.
Because Happy lives locally he obviously knows the area well and took us where the locals go to chill out near the rice fields. A lady was cooking some food and Happy told us she was not cooking rat today, just snake (!) which we saw fried and we ate with lemon S&P. The bones we fed back to the fish in the rice fields.
We stopped to watch some children doing acrobatics into the river from a bridge, so happy and carefree.
We were interested about rice growing as I was conscious that I simply open a packet of rice to cook. Happy has a farming background and took us to a field with "good rice" and explained how it grows. Fascinating and I will think about our experience every time I cook rice.
Happy told us about more temples and Killing Cave up a mountain that we could go to either by walking or moto and these were close to the Bat Caves.
Needless to say, we sat pillion on a moto to go up and planned to walk down. At the top it was 150m and there were good views to be seen, of the rice fields and Battambang but there was some low cloud but it was still beautiful. There are several temples, and monks present. There were also some monkeys watching over us. Down a lot a steps,we saw where people had been killed by the Khmer Rouge and there was a display of skulls and our guide was able to point out it was possible to see how the person had died through the nature of the damage to the skull. Very graffic.
The cost of the moto and guide,up and down the mountain was only $6 for us both, so why walk down at that price? It was great fun zooming pillion down the mountain and gave us time for a beer and some card tricks from Happy whilst waiting for the bats to come out at sunset. I was surprised how many others we're waiting until they came out. OMG.. it was spectacular, thousands and thousands of bats flying out to catch the flying insects. All in a wavy line. So we watched them there then we followed them to another place to watch them from the roadside. It was a thrilling end to a great great day.
Before this day, I just thought BB had the bamboo train and the Circus but we were lucky enough to see so much more.