First a short conclusion before I leave Phnom Penh. As so often when you arrive in Asia, you are at first overwhelmed with all the impressions, the climate, etc.
However, once you get used to it, you discover a Phnom Penh which has its rough side but can also be charming at the same time. In addition, the city seems to have still escaped the mass tourism, which gives you the change of great encounters with the locals.
Of course, I have seen the shady streets with the contact bars and their western gentlemen with Cambodian young ladies on the arm, the poverty which unfortunately prevails, but also the beautiful waterfront promenade on the Mekong river where the locals meet for snacks and evening dances, the beautiful temples spread throughout the city and of course the delicious street food 😋
I like Phnom Penh somehow and find the city quite charming.
But it is time to leave Phnom Penh and travel further north. I really looked into thoroughly researching and planning my journey from Phnom Penh to Battambang (296km). Airplane was not an option for me because I want to see the countryside. Private transfer by car was an option first. But then turned out to be too expensive at $ 80. So, there was the option to travel by bus ($ 12). However, you can read a lot of horror stories (of totally crowded buses, buses catching fire, etc.) 😅 But I had to get there somehow and so the bus was the cheapest and most suitable option for me. I'll be okay 🙈 I decided on the company 'Mekong Express'.
The bus was scheduled to leave at 07:30hrs. Between 06:30hrs-07:30hrs I was supposed to be picked up at the Hostel. Hence I was ready at 06: 30hrs. The bus was there to pick me up at 07: 00hrs in front of the Hostel. From there we went to the bus terminal to pick up more guests. Other guests is exaggerated. There was only 1 other local men joining the bus. He sat down next to the driver. Which meant I’ve had the whole small bus (12 seats) to myself🙌🏼 I could hardly believe my luck. In addition, the bus (for Asian standards) was relatively new and air-conditioned. I could even stretch out my legs. Just great. We left at 08:00 in Phnom Penh and arrived at Battambang at 14:00hrs. 6h for 296km is ok. On the way we stopped briefly for lunch and a few more short times for pee breaks ☺️ The ride has indeed been a bit tiny bit scary at times. But I already know the Asian driving style 😅 The guys in front found my reactions in certain situations extremely funny.
In terms in scenery, the ride is not really worth it. The landscape is monotonous and not really exciting. Again and again you drive through small towns which, however, gives you a great insight into Cambodia.
Arrived in Battambang, I was lucky that the bus stopped 5m next to my Hostel. This was not even planned. So much luck in one day is scary 😅 I dropped my bag at the Hostel and headed out into the city. Anne, whom I met in Phnom Penh, told me about a great cooking class here in town. I really wanted to try that. I found 'Coconut Lyly' about 200m away from my Hostel. In the cooking group we were 5 'students'. We first went to the local market accompanied by Lyly (the young owner of the restaurant) to buy some of the ingredients. Lyly has done the buying, because he simply gets much better prices and can bargain far better than us tourists 😂 In the market Lyly has told us fascinating info's to local vegetables and fruits. One thing I did not know for example was, that watermelon is first a vegetable and only later becomes a fruit🤓 Once we’ve had all the ingredients together, we went back to the restaurant to cook (which also seems to be the living room of the family). There Lyly's sister has taken over (under the stern eyes of Mama😁). We cooked Amok (the national dish of Cambodia (a curry steamed with coconut milk in a banana leaf), raw green Mango salad, spring rolls and a coconut Lyly for dessert. God was that delicious. The cooking was great fun. From curry paste to dessert we made everything ourselves from scratch out of the fresh ingredients from the market. Just great. The course lasted 4 hours and this for $10 only. Just great.
That was enough of experiences for a day. I was pretty exhausted after that and in bed at 20:00hrs 🙈😁
And here are the pictures to this story📸