The following morning we woke up and headed to Delux Villa (Lux Guesthouse’s sister hotel), which is much fancier & pricier than our humble abode. Once our bellies were full of a delicious and cheap breakfast we were on our way to the bamboo train. A quick 15 minute drive out of town and we were greeted by a smiling tourist police officer who said he would look after our bike whilst we rode the train the conversation went as followed from there:
Officer: “so where you from?”
Officer: “What do you speak in Australia?”
Us: “Huh? English?”
Officer: “How do you say ‘hello’?”
Us: “Actually, you can say ‘G’Day Mate’”
Us: “G’Day Mate”
Officer: “G’Lay Mate”
Us: “Yeah that’s it, means ‘hello friend’”
We then get the biggest smile from him whilst his tuk-tuk driving friends are laughing so hard at his attempt behind him. The Bamboo Train was much better than I had expected, and felt much faster than 30kms an hour. The whole thing is pretty bizarre; you’re sat on a bamboo mat with a local who is operating a lawn mower engine with a belt to drive the axle along an old train track. What happens when you get oncoming traffic you may ask? Well its simple, one mat and wheels are lifted off the track whilst the other one cruises on past, just like clockwork really.
Justin: “So where am I going to get to the caves?”
Abby: “You can go right here, or keep going straight”
both look right
Abby: “Right’s a dirt road, so although its shorter it’ll end up taking us longer because straight is the main road”
Keeps going straight for 10 seconds
Justin: “Ahh F#@k it, lets go right”
Thanks to this genius last minute decision, the rest of our afternoon was pretty crappy/amusing (depending if you’re a glass half full kind of person or not). The dirt road started a little muddy with some ditches that were an obvious no go zone, but the road was surrounded by local huts, indicating to us it was possible to ride on. Before too long the huts and people disappeared and we found ourselves in the middle of the muddiest road we have come across in our 5 months on a bike. With the thought “it looks like its not as thick up ahead” we kept slugging through the mud until we were at a point where it was harder for us to turn around than to keep going. We had to stop multiple times to clear out the mud from our clogged tyres, which seemed like a pointless exercise because after one acceleration it was clogged again. We made the decision to push the bike rather than ride it, this got us by until we came to an intersection which was not on our map, the road straight ahead looked worse than what we had come through, and the road to our right looked far better. Luckily a woman walking her cows (or transporting them, if that’s what its called) motioned to us that it is impossible to continue straight. We were sure as hell not going backwards and based on the amount of mud on our new lady friend and her cows, it wasn’t possible to go straight, so right became our only option. We realised the road here was much better, although our tyres were so muddy it was too slippery to ride on, we stopped by a nearby creak to wash what mud we could off (not much, but enough to get us by).
After an action packed day we decided the next day we would stick to the main roads (and I would now make important decisions). We finally made it to the Killing Caves where another child greeted us, this time our guide was 14 years old, and his name was Nang. Nang knew a lot about the history of the Killing Caves and the Kmher Rouge, something we will cover more in our next blog where we visit the Killing Fields in Phnomn Penh. After a heartbreaking tour of the cave we went back into town to chill out before getting a tuk-tuk to take us to the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus Show. Which is more of an acrobatic show put on by disadvantaged Cambodian teenagers, you can read more about the program and the wonderful things they do here. The whole show was amazing, and to be honest, it’s worth the trip to Battambang alone.