Battambang was the first stop on my little four day excursion I just returned from. I left Phnom Penh early Monday morning, taking about a 5 hour bus ride up to Battambang. The main reason for this side-trip to Battambang was so I could take the scenic boat ride to Siem Riep, but Battambang has some attributes of its own that make it a nice stop. The primary one is its French colonial architecture.
I decided I wanted to just spend the afternoon walking around, so I spent about 3 hours wandering along the riverside (pictures above) and seeing most of the town.
The buildings really were interesting in some parts of the town. For the most part, they were rather dilapidated or covered in advertisements, so you don't get the feeling from the buildings that you would in say New Orleans (or France I would imagine?). But there are some that are quite impressive.
There were also some really neat wats (temples) around the town, and of course cows.
I also did a little wandering through the marketplace (pictured from the outside below), finding a great deal on a fake designer purse. I also discovered a hair salon bearing my name, but refrained from exploring that one any further.
The day in Battambang was really, really nice. Everyone was super friendly as I walked around, saying hi and smiling, not trying to sell me anything. Even the moto drivers left me alone. I had dinner at a nice training restaurant and met an older lady from Boston who I chatted with. Then I had some dessert on the rooftop of my hotel, looking out over the town and watching the lightening. There was this terrific, cool breeze and the whole thing was just great.
My wonderful Battambang experience continued in the (early) morning. The van for the boat was leaving the hotel at 6:30 so I got up early and went to this nice coffee shop down the street to grab some breakfast for the road. I sat and chatted with another older lady from the States who is with some church group. She is the Cambodian coordinator for volunteer groups that come over and do things like build basketball courts and then do camps for kids. Not sure what else they do, but that's what her current group was doing. I got my breakfast and then got on the van, at which point some guy from the hotel I stayed at brought me a scarf and a bunch of bananas for the long boat ride. Not bad for $5 a night. I think everyone got a scarf, but the bananas were a special treat for some reason. I must have looked extra hungry.
So then to the boat....