Day 6 – Moung Ressy – Battambang

Posted by on Jan 21, 2013 in Blogger4 | 0 comments

The first half of today really shouldn’t be written about. We left town on the support bus as the roads were apparently too dangerous to cycle on. Don’t know what they meant. On the 15 minute journey to the start point we only saw two accidents. The first a lorry on its side, windscreen smashed and its cargo divided between the roadside and the field its rear end had come to rest in. Half a kilometer further on a relatively new car on the other side of the road had carved a path through some bushes and was curled sickeningly around a tree.

The dirt road we were on was covered in small but treacherously loose rocks. These eventually gave way to mere half buried rocks set close together. Picture a road cobbled with half to two inch high rocks at an assortment of angles and a couple of inches apart laid by sadistic road builder with a tooth ache and piles and heart set on revenge. Any attempt to cycle at speed was pointless and the constant stop-start movement pushed the legs to the limit let alone the backside. Painful doesn’t even start to describe it and the first half of the day was for me the worst of the entire trip. It took as long to do the first 21km as it had taken for twice that on previous days. Thankfully the surface improved after our first major break and eventually we hit a mettled road which took us in to Battenbang. I can describe very little of the countryside as it took all our concentration to avoid rock after rock and hang on to the bikes over the teeth chattering, bone shaking terrain.

Battambang is Cambodia’s third largest city and after the ride from hell we were all over the moon to find the hotel we were in was the best accommodation since arriving in Cambodia.More good news was to come. Part of the bamboo train route was nearby and was open for about a 5km stretch. Looks like there was still a chance to experience the train. We quickly showered boarded the support bus.

The bamboo train was a great experience. The tacked together ‘carriages’ we sat cross legged on rattled and shook as we headed down the warped tracks propelled by the small petrol motor who’s accelerator consisted of a makeshift stick used to lever the engine away or towards the axle so the drive belt tightened or loosened accordingly. The brake was another scrap of wood suspended from the carriage by old bicycle inner tubes that the driver would push on to the rear wheels when he needed to slow down. About 1000 yards after the start we came to a stop behind five other carriages on a bridge as a train was coming the other way. This Mexican stand off was resolved not by the single train giving way but the six carriages facing it being dismantled and laid by the side of the track until the single train had passed. Once through the drivers quickly reassembled the trains and we set off again. The train is still used for transporting bales of hay and suchlike however it’s mostly now for tourist. It will be a shame when this quirky and fun mode of transport finally gets retired next year. I hope they change their minds.

For now, goodnight all.


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