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Monday, December 20, 2010

Battambang to the Thai Border

Battambang by the river

Battambang proved to be a dusty but interesting and rather far out town from the tourist routes. It is the second city in Cambodia, although it is small by comparison with Phnom Penh, with a lot of neglected French colonial charm - a little like the Cambodian Luang Prabang.

We were escorted in a minivan from the rivers edge around 11 kms out of town because the river was too high for the boats to get under the bridges of Battambang and ended up in an okay central hotel - at least for a night's stay.

We spent a day walking around town, looking at the temple and river side and dining on vegetable omelets and mini-baguettes at the White Rose Restaurant. For the bus journey to the border see later ...

A panorama of the main promenade by the river

Omelet and baguettes at the White Rose Restaurant

The local temple in Battambang

Four up on motor bikes

The back streets

The central markets

A blind beggar

A monkey band in the market

Half-minute video clip of the monkey band

We had come to Battambang to catch the bus on to Thailand, so we booked a ticket on a through bus with the hotel, somewhat apprehensive after dire stories of the scam through buses between Bangkok and Siem Reap. As things turned out, we were escorted in the hotel minibus in the morning out to a bus station on the outskirts, where we had to wait a while for a local bus. This proved okay, after some arguing to get them to secure the luggage lockers under the bus, which were flapping wide open and threatening to dump our luggage on the road.

The road through to Poipet was one of the roughest we have traveled on confirming the bad tales of airline scams stopping this highway being upgraded. The border was hot and dusty and we had to keep our wits about us to keep any contact with the guy who was supposed to be linking us to the Thai bus on the other side.

Finally after we got through Thai customs, we had to walk over to a bus stop and wait. The shop owner there warned us not to leave our belongings on this bus, and sure enough everyone had their luggage robbed of selected items on the way to Bangkok, by the bus drivers tout in a calculated scam, a saga we will relate in full in the Thailand postings.

Waiting at the 'big' bus station

Passing a truckload of workers

The Cambodian side of the border

Looking through to the Thai side

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