May 2004

So far, my favorite place in Cambodia (Chris Pforr sez Check it out!)

Situated in northwest Cambodia at the heart of the nation's rice bowl, lies the pleasant riverside town of Battambang. With a population of 140,000 (Cambodia's second largest-city after Phnom Penh but much more relaxed), it's full of aging French colonial architecture. After a week in the frenetic tourist town of Siem Riep (gateway to Angkor Wat), I was ready for a relaxing stay in this quiet, friendly place.

Battambang Battambang

Dig those classic buildings!

classic buildings classic buildings
classic buildings classic buildings

Psar Nat, the central market.

Psar Nat Psar Nat

As usual in Cambodia, the natives are friendly...(and handsome / beautiful.)

man Smy

Battambang nightclub / Tiger on a sign (about the only kind of tiger left in Cambodia.)

Battambang nightclub Tiger

USA Computer School.

USA Computer School USA Computer School

Searching for a volunteer P.T. position, I visited three hospitals in Battambang. My favorite was the Emergency Hospital, funded and run by an Italian NGO (non-governmental organization.) By far the busiest medical center in town, it specializes in trauma care, especially injuries from landmines (huge continuing problem in Cambodia.) Unfortunately a new PT from Italy was due to start work the next week, so they didn't want my services!

Emergency Hospital Emergency Hospital

One day I took a moto to Phnom Sampeou, a large hill about 10 km outside town. It is topped by Wat Sampeou, presently being rebuilt.

Phnom Sampeou Phnom Sampeou

...and also (unfortunately) home to a group of "killing caves" used by the Khmer Rouge. Left photo: note cage full of human bones at bottom of stairs. Right photo: Victims were reportedly clubbed to death and then thrown into cave from the hole above.

Khmer Rouge killing cave Khmer Rouge killing cave

My young tour guide seemed not the least bothered by the grisly environment.

Khmer Rouge killing cave Khmer Rouge killing cave

I met an enthusiastic American named David Smith who's busy building a house in the center of a lake he just had dug, in a village a few miles outside Battambang. The Cambodians in his village told me they all love him, because he's providing work for a substantial portion of the population: digging and moving dirt, hauling supplies, picking up tons of plastic trash. David is waiting for the rains to begin so the lake will fill and allow him to start building his house (he will build from a boat.)
Left: new lake with sugar-palm pilings for house / Right: David's ricefield.

David David

After relaxing around town for a few days, I rode the bus back to Phnom Penh.

Chhaya Hotel
118 Phuong 3, Battambang, Cambodia
tel. 952170
Fan room with cable TV & private bathroom $5 US.

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