What an experience – leaving Siem Reap we hopped on the bus for our 5 hour adventure South to the city of Battambang where we would venture to a smaller village to spend the night at a homestay with the locals to see what rural life in farmland Cambodia is like.
Leaving early morning, we stopped along the way at a traditional rate BBQ, yup, that’s right, you read correctly, a fucking rat barbeque!! Apparently, it is only famous in this region, so we had to stop. I will say it was interesting as they had rats, frogs and snakes all charring away getting covered in dirt and sand as the trucks sped past. Safe to say myself and Leo didn’t go near any of the rat meat, but to our surprise the rest of our group did. ‘’Tastes like chicken’’…more like food poisoning, I’ll pass.
From there we then stopped at the fish paste seafood market which was truly terrible. Great experience but imagine thousands of dead fish bits being crushed in 40-degree heat – I was close to spewing numerous times! Next stop was the rice wine brewery, which was more interesting, but by this stage the number of gross things I have seen today was enough and I just wanted to get to the homestay asap.
Arriving at the homestay was excellent, it is much more developed than our last Homestay in Laos and located in the picturesque countryside and we didn’t have to stay in different houses 😊
From there we walked through the village and so many of the local school kids came to see us and were so keen to play and take us to their school, so we did. We walked to view the sunset before spending about 45 minutes being jumped on by all the local children – it was actually magical despite the fact I generally don’t like kids. From there we had a small cooking class with our host family to learn how to make spring rolls- a technique I won’t forget as they were AMAZING!
Bedtime was early as there isn’t a whole heap to do in the evening but after a long day it was welcomed with open arms.
In the morning we made our way back to Siem Reap but not before experiencing the Bamboo train - a rail system that was built by the French and destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, but is still used by the locals as a simple form of transport. It can go up to 35km/h and it was an experience and a half. Located in the outskirts of town, the bamboo train, or nori, is essentially a bamboo flatbed on wheels, which is powered by a small motorcycle or tractor engine.
The rail line stretches all the way down to the capital of Phnom Penh, but the tracks lie in complete abandon and disrepair, meaning the bamboo ride only runs 7 kilometres in length to a nearby village and back.
We loved it and it was a brilliant way to break up the journey back to the city while experiencing more of the countryside and making our way back to Siem Reap for the night allowed us a few more drinks at our favorite sunset bar!