Taking the Long Way travel blog

A masked me

Heading out to Phnom Sampeau

Petrol stop

First sight of Phnom Sampeau, clouded in dust!

Villagers on my way up


Looking down over the villages

At least it was a paved road for part of the way...

One of the killing caves. The banners each represent a child killed...

Heading into the lower caves

Golden stupa in one of the caves filled with skulls


Morning market

Fancy a kilo of rat??

Every part of the pig is usable (apparantly)

Fried chilli ANTS

Veggies for sale

Franand I heading to the cooking class

Pounding the tumeric

Preparing the ingredients

Making banana leaf bowls



The finished product

Lok Lak with pepper sauce


Tom Yum Soup

The deluge begins

The street about an hour into the rain.

Battambang is very quaint city with very little concession to western ways or the influx of tourism. I walked around for at least an hour and was yet to find one resturant with a menu AND prices in English. An added challenge is that only 3 streets seem to have names and all the rest are unmarked, so landmarks are the only way to go. The roads in the centre of town are sealed but mostly they are dirt or rock, which makes for a very dusty place. I am starting to doubt that it is the 2nd biggest city...

I hired a guy to take me on his motorbike out to Phnom Sampeau, and the 14km ride took about 45min. The unseaded roads were incredibly bumpy (I was nearly bounced off the bike a dozen times by potholes the size of basketballs) and so laden with dust, or 'Cambodian snow' that I had to stop and buy a facemask to wear.

Phnom Sampeau is a mountain full of limestone cavities and memories of genocide. The caves there were used as slaughter chambers by the Khmer Rouge and still contain the skeletal remains of many victims. The victims were beaten or stabbed inside the caves or bound and dropped head first from the top inside deeper caverns.

I hadn't realised that the motorbike would stop at the bottom of the mountain and it was quite a steep hike, in thongs and without water, to get to the top. The view was remarkable and the countryside there is very reminiscent of Africa.

I went to a cooking class today and it was fanatstic value. It was $10US and Sampath came and met me at 8am at the hotel where I slected 3 dishes from a menu that I wanted to make. We walked to the nearby market and purchased all the ingredients then caught a tuk-tuk back to his house where he and his wife do the classes. Not only did they provide copious amounts of bottled water they also brought out mosquito coils and bug spray when they noticed me vigorously scratching my ankles. They were really lovely and nothing was too much trouble.

I made Tom Yum soup (can't get poisoned if I make it myself!), Chicken Amok (which is a coconut dish) and Pork Lok Lak with pepper sauce. It was all alot of fun and delicious at the end. A fantastic time overall and then dropped back by Sampath back to the hotel at the end, very full and hardly able to move.

As I'm sitting here in the internet cafe a MASSIVE downpour has started and while most people are taking cover, one forward-thinking woman has stepped out with a soapy rag and is washing her motorbike, lol.

I'm heading to Siem Reap tomorrow, taking the boat up the Stung Sangker which takes only 3 hours in the wet season but wll probably take 8-9 hours this time of year. There is a bus that would be faster but the boat trip is supposed to be spectacular, and besides, my trust in buses is at an all time low!

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