An adventure with a breathtaking backdrop: Taking a boat from Battambang to Siem Reap and spending a horrible night
The main reason why I visited Battambang was, that I wanted to take a boat from here to Siem Reap. In some travel blogs I have read about how unique and extraordinary the journey should be.
The ticket was rather expensive at $20, however was supposed to be worth the the 7-10h (!!) ride 😅 . I was curious and was looking forward to the adventure.
Yesterday I looked at where the jetty of the ship in Battambang is. Except for a small shed and a temporary staircase there was not much. Well ok then.
Departure by boat was set at 07: 00hrs. I left my Hostel at 06:15hrs with my luggage. The walk to the jetty took about 15 minutes.
Of course, when I arrived at the jetty, the Swiss was again the first one on the spot 🙄 One should stay true to the clichés.
At about 07:30hrs all were finally on board and the ship started. We were about 20 tourists and a little less locals on board. The journey by boat is still a secret amongst tourists. As the journey is not cheap, many backpackers choose to travel by bus. Which, however, is supposedly a lot less pretty.
At Battambang, the shore was still lined with normal huts. However, the longer the journey took, the more water villages we crossed. The scenery was almost surreal. To see how people live somewhere out in the nowhere, in a huge water landscape on the water in stilt houses is unbelievable. Where do people get their food from? Well, an option is via the ship we were traveling on. The ship had loaded a lot of food, which were unloaded repeatedly on along the way. One reason why the ride took so long.
On the way we were again and again cheered and called by the children with enthusiasm.
After about 3hours into the ride we stopped for lunch in one of those water villages. In a small kiosk-like raft there was rice with vegetables/sweet/sour.
Further along the ride, the captain suddenly headed for a very narrow river. Dar River was now only a few inches wider than the ship (which was 3m wide and 12m long). In addition, on both sides high dense bushes were now surrounding the boat. Completely unexpectedly us sitting on the roof, had to completely lie down on our backs, for us not to be wiped into the river by the branches. This ended in a fairly hectic situation and great laughter. Nobody expected something like that 😅. Apparently, the boat is above the bushes and trees during the rainy season, that’s how big is the difference in water level is depending on the season.
The hours passed, farther past water villages, countless lotus blossoms and surreal landscapes.
During the last hour of our journey we crossed Tonle Sap Lake.
The horizon was so flat, and the sky seemed endless. Tiny objects were blurred in the distance. Fishing boats shimmered, hard to grasp, as did the smooth fish they wanted to catch. I felt like I was somewhere far out in the ocean.
Slowly but surely the shore moved closer. A hill appeared on the horizon. A sign that we approached Siem Reap.
After an 8h boat ride we were sure happy to have reached Siem Reap. There was already a bunch of TukTuk drivers waiting for the new arrivals. The peace and reverie of the river were behind us, but by no means forgotten.
The TukTuk ride to my hostel took about 20 minutes. In order to save money, I had chosen a particularly cheap ($ 1.50 per night) hostel, which, however, seemed to shine through its great reviews. Seemed 🙄 The hostel is a family business. Very small. The owners’ babies playing in the yard. The little boy, without diapers and pants, peeing wherever it suited him.
Once I arrived in the hostel, I was just standing there a bit lost. Nobody seemed to care about my arrival. Somewhat reluctantly a lady (apparently the owner) did the check-in with me. When showing me the room I was again really put off. The room was incredibly stuffy and smelly. I had been assigned a bed upstairs in the bunk bed. Which was wonderful, because the heat rises 😣 The room was without air conditioning, which was ok at that price. However, all the fans in the room were broken too. The stinky stifling air made it almost impossible for me to fall asleep. Hardly in bed, I was drenched dripping wet. Sometime around 02:00hrs in the morning, I was on my phone watching some Netflix, I suddenly heard a bang. A biting smell rose in my nose and I noticed an orange light flickering beneath me. I got a bit freaked out. So, I lay over the bed and looked into the bed under me. The young man was sleeping while just above his head the fan was on fire. I jumped off the bed and shook the guy in bed and screamed 'Fire! Fire!'. This woke the other 5 people in the room with us. It was a big rush. We searched for water to extinguish the fire. Fortunately, we soon succeeded. But sleep was even more unthinkable. The biting smell, the heat, the many mosquitoes in the room and the agitated mood made this impossible.
Back in bed was the moment where I immediately looked for another hostel (I would have booked 2 more nights here). At this point I didn’t care anymore that the new hostel will cost a bit more. My life is worth it.
I'm going to move to Onederz in Siem Reap tomorrow. I have in a Hostel of the same chain back in Phnom Penh, which was great. And here I will stay now until the 22nd of November to visit thetemples of Angkor Wat.
Have a look at some impressions of this trip📸