We were tossing up whether to do Battambang (local people pronounce it budam-bong) after Siem Reap or before, and decided because we had to go through Phnom Penh to get to the South Coast of Cambodia that we would do a loop and start at Battambang first. A quick stop due to it being off season and the rivers being low.
Whilst going to Siem Reap you have plenty of choice when it comes to transportation, none (that we found) of the western tourist buses go direct to Battambang, instead only a handful of local bus services. We chose Capitol Tours on recommendation of our Taxi driver from the airport and the trip cost $6 each. The bus was scheduled to leave at 10.30am but it was closer to 11 before we actually left the station. They have quite a few services throughout the morning and early afternoon, but we wanted to arrive before dark.
Capitol Tours station was pretty full on. Heaps of people, packages, buses everywhere – some kind of organised chaos. Motos dropping off parcels.
The bus wasn’t bad, no chickens, passable air con and we had our allocated seats, although the 6 hours plus of Cambodian karaoke might be enough to tip you over the edge if you don’t have ear phones. We keep hearing the songs that were played on that bus trip when passing weddings, apparently it is wedding season and last count was 15 weddings we have passed.
No one spoke English on the bus, so when we finally got to our destination which turned out to be over 6 1/2 hours rather than the advertised 5, we weren’t sure if it was the spot. The crazed tuk-tuk drivers demanding we get off because it was Battambang so we did. Lucky for us, they weren’t fibbing and a $3 tuk-tuk ride we were in our Hotel.
I am astounded by the quality of service the Cambodian tourism industry has, we stayed at a lovely resort that only has 8 rooms – Sanctuary Villa – it’s a bit out of town but with plenty of Tuk-tuks available it wasn’t a problem. We were greeted with cold drinks, fresh fruit, a coconut desert thing and cold wet face towels. This has pretty much been the norm for all the hotels we have stayed in.
Dinner that night was our first taste of Khmer Cuisine at a cafe recommended to us by the hotel owner (and also a popular choice in the lonely planet) – the white rose. The place was a typical Cambodian eatery, a little dated and run down, street beggars would approach us occasionally. We had a peppercorn chicken and a banana flower seafood salad, absolutely stunning food and our total bill (including many beers) was under $10.