Battambang is the second biggest city in Cambodia and as per Lonely Planet has the best preserved French period architecture in Cambodia. I’ve heard it being compared to Kampot which is a beautiful riverside town and was my first stop in this country. I’ve only spent 3weeks in Cambodia but it’s been tiring to get from one place to the other. I’m not sure if it’s because the roads are worse than in Vietnam or all the bus journeys of the last 2 months are finally catching up to me. Either ways, I really needed a quiet town before heading to Bangkok. My first thought when I reached Battambang was, “Where the hell are all the beautiful buildings I was promised?!” And the tuk tuk drivers! They are the worst I’ve come across in this country. They just don’t understand “No” when they hear it and keep following you asking you the same question in different ways until you lose your temper and tell them to leave you alone (they also leave you alone when you stop responding to any of their questions and pretend they don’t exist). So needless to say, my first impression wasn’t very good at all. But after spending a few days just chilling and walking around, somehow, the city grew on me. I began to notice the colourful colonial buildings, the traditional shop houses and the relaxed pace of life. It’s no Kampot, but the city has it’s own character.
I didn’t do much in the 5days I was there, somehow I was just too tired to do anything. But I watched a lot of movies including all 4 from the Bourne series (which made me miss my me-time in my flat in London so much!) and for part of the stay I treated myself to a stay in a hotel (with an awesome bed and a massive, clean, fully functional bathroom, a TV and an air-con! 😀 ) instead of a hostel and watched a few hours of Nat Geo. Only thing missing was room service but oh well…can’t ask for too much for $15 a night. Another thing I really enjoyed was the Cambodian cooking class where we learned some traditional Khmer dishes (I’ll be adding the recipes to the blog soon) using the freshest ingredients we bought from the local market earlier in the day. One potential downside to fresh food is that if you are buying meat you sometimes see you “food” alive while buying. When we stopped at the fish stall to buy snake fish, they were in a very shallow pan with no water and were just flapping around in it. One actually managed to jump out of the pan and onto the market floor and was literally trying to get away! It was one of the most pathetic things I’ve seen. And our cooking teacher pointing at the fish and saying “that’s your food for today!” made me wish I didn’t remember this sight while eating my meal. You’d be glad to know that I had completely forgotten about the poor creature until after I had devoured my Fish Amok curry.