October 10, 2010
In the light of day, the room at La Villa is quite nice, sizable to the point of being cavernous. We have a balcony with a view of the river and a bathroom with a huge cast concrete tub. I wish we had more time here to enjoy the hotel (the pool looks lovely too) but we have to get moving to try and do some things we’d planned on doing yesterday before getting stuck on the boat.
Our room rate included breakfast, which we took in the garden. Then it was time to pack it up and wait for Mr. Kim. We left our bags in a corner of the lobby and waited for the tuk tuks with Nora and Mark to arrive. Once they did, we were on our way out of town to where the Norry trains run, about a 20 minute ride. Along the way, we pass the big statue representing the city of Battambang, the guard Dambong, holding the magic staff (the Bat Dambong) from which the city gets its name.
Next up was a ride on the Bamboo Train (aka the “Norry” train). I hope my explanation below will do it justice, but please watch the video I put together for more details and to get a feel for what it’s like to ride the rails so close to the ground.
Cambodia used to have a train system which ran throughout the country. When the Khmer Rouge came to power the entire country’s infrastructure fell apart and the trains pretty much stopped running. There are supposedly trains which run infrequently now, but I’ve never seen them or met anyone who has ridden on them. Once the fighting stopped, the locals did whatever they could to move people and goods from village to village and