Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boat Trip to Battambang

We decided to take the scenic route rather than the cheap and quick route to our third stop in Cambodia, Battambang. We bought our boat ticket through our hotel for $18 and woke up at 5:30 am Friday to catch our boat at 7:00 am. The boats were a little different than we had immagined, but, no matter, we hopped in and took off for Battambang.

First thing first, we headed into Lake Tonle Sap, the largest body of water in Cambodia. Here you can see a floating village in the distance, but we weren't close enough to see much of anything and we started to get bored quickly. We started to wonder if we made the wrong choice in choosing to take the boat rather than the bus...

But, finally after about an hour, we got to the other side of the lake and got into the next river to take us to Battambang. Now we started seeing the floating villages up close. They were really amazing. Truely villages on the water, we saw all sorts of storefronts like clothing stores, convienience stores and boat repair shops all on little house boats floating. People going about their everyday lives stopped to take a look at the tourists going down the river, probably as curious about our lives as we were about theirs.

About two hours into our journey, we hit this patch of weeds. While the rest of the river was clear of these nasty buggers, here they had been allowed free reign of the river and every motor boat passing though was getting caught up on the weeds. The motor-less boats, on the other hand, sailed right through with no troubles at all. We were stuck in this muck for about 1/2 an hour, getting the propeller going again to go 10 feet to get it stuck once more. The locals just looked on curiously, but didn't seem interested in helping. This must be their daily entertainment. No TVs, just boats full of tourists stuck in the weeds.

Finally we were free and we left the weeds behind us as we started again to head up the river. One thing is for certain here. There are a lot of kids around and they all look pretty happy. Whether they were playing in the river or waving excitedly to us as we passed I saw more smiles here than I ever see at my hagwon. I think I was starting to forget what happy children looked like, so I took lots of pictures of them to remember.

It made me feel happy to wave back to them too. It made me remember when I was a kid and I used to wave to people in other cars on the highway and see if they would wave back to me.

After about 5 hours on the river it was time for our lunch break. And about time too, there was a toilet on the boat, but nothing I was willing to venture. Of course, as soon as the two boats docked there was a mad rush of women for the toilet. The line was so long that the boyfriend convinced me to eat lunch first.

This was lunch. I wish I could tell you what it was that I ate, but I cant. And I have a feeling I don't want to know what I ate. But, I was hungry, so I just ate it.

The line finally grew a little shorter for the bathrooms so I got in line and finally made it to the "bathroom" to find this. Yes, this is a hole in the floor that goes straight into the river. Because, of course, we were on a restaurant boat, even if it didn't feel like it.

We arrived in Battambang after 8 hours of traveling, 1 hour longer than expected. Do I suggest it? Well, if you've got lots of time to spare, definitely. If you're in a rush, probably not. It is a really long ride, and even longer if problems arise. But, if you've got lots of time, it's a beautiful ride with plenty of interesting sights along the way.

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