We arrive in Battambang after a 4 hour coach journey, thrilled to see some signs of life after our desolate Home Stay experience in Siem Reap. The streets are so busy so straight off the bus, we went out and had a look around. Our hotel was called Seng Hout and was situated right next to the Psar Nat market and the river. The hotel cost £13 for the 2 of us per night, which is amazing considering it was an actual hotel and not a hostel! They gave us free waters when they cleaned our rooms, there was a coffee shop in the entrance, a massage parlour on floor 2 and best of all, they even made little swans out of the towels on our beds! We loved it here and would definitely recommend it!
Nary's Cooking Class
We booked Nary's Cooking Class for that day, as we had read some really good reviews about it on Trip Advisor. It was only round the corner from us too so that was a bonus. The class was so good and we'd recommend anyone choosing the same company. The host was hilarious and it's definitely worth the $20 we paid for the 2 of us. Firstly, we went to the market with one of the instructors and he bought and talked about some of the ingredients we would be using that day. If you have a weak stomach, suck it up as you venture knee deep into that market!! Picture this, you're standing there trying to listen to someone tell you the history of a spring onion, when blam! Fish heads flying all over the place to your left, fish actually being gutted to your right, skinned whole ducks sprung across baskets in front of you, flies having the time of their lives... EVERYWHERE. The market trip was a great addition, but I'll be lying if I said I didn't want to get back to the classroom fairly quickly after!
In the class itself, we made fresh Spring rolls, Fish Amok, Beef Lok Lak and a Boiled Banana desert. The food tasted absolutely amazing! It was so fun to cook too. We learnt one thing about Khmer cooking too and that was - if in doubt, add 50 spoons of sugar!!!! My word, we both gawped at the spoon as the host was adding in to the dishes, it went into everything - even the meat dishes! We now know why the food out here tastes so good but it's much to our dismay as we are both trying to stay in shape whilst travelling (as you can read about here).
After the cooking class, we ended up meeting two lads from the UK. We had a few beers with them (KS - a few too many in my case oops) and went to this place called the Container Yard. It was really good there and great if you're looking for a cool place to drink in Battambang.
The next day, after spending the entire morning in bed sweating off one hell of a hangover, we headed to Phnom Sampov to see the infamous bats fly out of the cave and to see the killing caves. We spoke to a few TukTuk drivers at Psar Nat. They all tried to charge $20 for the journey (there and back - 4hours total), but we found $13 to be the lowest we could get them down to. On arriving at the bottom of the mountain, you are greeted by lots street food vendors and little bars so don't worry about there not being any food there. It cost $4 for the two of us to go to have access to the temple at the top of the mountain. We took the stairs to the top of the mountain, which was a sweaty climb considering the heat but wasn't too bad at all! However, if you don't consider yourself to be very fit, don't worry - you can take a motorbike taxi or 4x4 up the side of the mountain via the roads (for an extra cost).
The top of the mountain was great for scrambling around on the rocks and sight seeing. Battambang looks so beautiful from the top! On our way back down, we came to the killing caves which were used during the Khmer Rouge. This was a really sad experience and definitely opens your eyes to the unforgivable actions that took place there.
At around half 5, we settled down just below the bat caves. For anyone that wants to go - they come out at around 6 o'clock so try and get a good seat around half an hour before, although it wasn't that busy to be honest. At a little past 6, they came out in their millions! It was absolutely amazing and definitely a must see if you are in Battambang. They flock out of the cave for around 25 minutes and you can see them for miles and miles after in the same formation. We even saw them on our TukTuk journey home! One thing we did learn though - try not to sit directly under the caves like us! Inevitably.. Bats have gotta do their business too and they don't mind if it lands on your head!
Overall, we had a wicked time in Battambang, even with the fact we didn't get to ride the Bamboo Train. We would definitely recommend Nary's Cooking Class if you are looking for a fun way to spend lunch or dinner time, and the bat caves goes without saying!
We'd recommend spending 2-3 nights here unless you love the gym as they have an awesome one called Monurum Fitness Centre that we went to everyday. Even better it costs 1500Riel each, which is...wait for it...26p!!
There are some great temples to explore like Phnon Banan and Ek Phnom Pagoda, some of which are older then Angkor Wat and a fraction of the price to go and see. These are also mostly empty of tourists so although we didn't go we'd recommend this if you want a more authentic explorers experience!
We initially booked to go to Battambang because we had seen and read about the world renown Bamboo train. However, we were sadly disappointed to hear that it had been closed down to make a new train line. Apparently, the old line is still running but you only get to ride 200m on it, so it's not really worth the price you pay.
When we're free