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Asia - Cambodia
06 June 2010

A lonely flower on the pavement in Battambang

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Around Battambang there was quite a lot to see actually. We met a couple from the US we shared a tuk-tuk with that drove us around for a whole day. We went to the Wat Ek Phnom ruins first, that stem from the 11th century. Right next to it we saw a giant buddha statue which construction however had been put to a stop by the government for negatively influencing the site's timeless beauty. On the way south, back to Battambang, we stopped at an old Pepsi factory from the 1960's. The faded logo on the façade looked great and considering the fact that the factory had been closed since 1975, the whole complex looked pretty well. We sneaked in through a hole in the fence and took a look at the old factory halls and found an incredible amount of dusty empties with the old Pepsi logo from the Nixon period on it in one of the halls.

South of Battambang we took a famous bamboo train for half an hour over an incredibly bad track.The bamboo train was a once in a lifetime experience. The rails are warped and misaligned and passes some vertiginous bridges left by the French. The bamboo trains (norry or norí in Khmer) are made of 3 meter long wooden frames that are covered with light bamboo slats that rest on two bogies. An old lawn-mower-like engine drives this vehicle with a fan belt that is stretched by moving the engine backwards! You'll have to stop and get off a few times though when people approach you from the opposite direction.

Later we climbed another hill up to Prasat Banan that is slightly reminiscent of Angkor Wat in layout and that offers fantastic views over the surrounding plains... if it weren't for the trees that block your sight..

In the end of the day we went to a monastery that had been build next to a gaping hole in the hill where the Khmer Rouge had dumped hundreds of dead bodies from their cleansing actions. It is called the Killing Caves of Phnom Sampeau and down in the grotto, glass-walled memorials contain the bones of some of the people that were beated to death here by Khmer Rouge cadres.