Battambang Day 1
Bus Ride to Battambang
The bus ride from Siem Reap to Battambang is not a smooth one. Through classes at MIIS we have learned about the lack of sufficient infrastructure in developing countries, but nothing illustrates the need for better roads than a 5.5 hour journey spent in the back of a cramped bus on an unpaved road that may very well predate Angkor Wat. Having a small bladder and zero stops along the way really drives it all home. During the rainy season, many Cambodian roads take a beating-potholes and construction zones are commonplace, as are wandering cows. In any case, “suboptimal” was the word of the day. However, I did appreciate the bus ride for the fact that it gave us a moving portrait of the Cambodian countryside. I loved seeing the water buffalo and rice paddies, along with occasional strips of road lined with huts on stilts. The economic poverty of the Cambodia is obvious, but the country is rich in beauty.
Dinner was at a local Khmer restaurant called “Cold Night,” a very ironic name. The restaurant was very tropical looking, and had a parrot in a cage that spoke Khmer. There was talk of freeing the parrot, but that never happened. I ordered a spicy green mango salad marinated in garlic dressing with dried salted fish that just made my life better. I was a bit hesitant to try anything too fishy at the beginning of this trip, but fish is really a (delicious) staple here, along with rice, noodles, and fresh fruit. We always eat until we are stuffed to the brim, but the food doesn’t leave you feeling heavy or uncomfortable.