Battambang Cambodia

Battambang is a city in northwest Cambodia.  It is in Battambang province which was founded in the 11th century by the Khmer Empire.  In 1795 this province was annexed by neighbouring Thailand.  It was under Siamese rule until 1907 when it was ceded to the French as part of their French Indochina colony.  Today, it is a major rice producing region.

below: Teenagers are the same wherever you are!

a teenage girl rides a motorcycle while talking on her cellphone and laughing

a boy stands beside a bike, holding its handle bars, it is much too big for him, on a dirt road by a wooden building

a chicken pecks at a metal frame on which rice wrappers are drying

An outdoor shop selling hats and skirts, under a faded red coca cola umbrella, two women,

a store on the corner of two dirt roads in Cambodia, palm trees behind, a tuk tuk is driving past

below: Hundreds of fish drying in the sun.

Hundreds of fish, heads removed and fileted, drying in the sun

below: Nothing is wasted.  Fish paste, or prahok, is made from the “left over” parts of the fish.  Fish bits are crushed, sun dried, salted and then fermented between 20 days and 3 years.

A man carries two buckets filled with the makings for fish paste, on a pole across his back

A hello Kitty purse hangs from a piece of wood beside 4 small electrical boxes with switches and outlets

A blue wood door, a red banner with gold Chinese lettering, and a silver holder for incense sticks, many reddish incense sticks in it

a light yellow house with blue shutters, a ladder made of poles leaning against the side of the house, laundry hanging on a rope beside the house

a young girl sits on the back fender of a bike ridden by a boy. She is wearing a pink dress and she is looking back at the camera. The boy is dressed in orange and only the back of him can be seen

Men rest in the shade of a makeshift shelter beside the road.

below: Like many parts of the world, the mannequins are very white.

Two lines of white mannequins with black and white hair painted on, modelling men's shirts, in front of a store

below: How many monks can ride on one motorcycle?

from the back, three or four monks in orange robes riding on the same motorcycle.

A group of people, women and children, selling vegetables beside the road.

below: Pop pop seeds.
Add a bit of water to the pods and they explode open, releasing the seeds.

an outstretched palm on which there are some seed pods. Some of the pods are popping are releasing seeds.

below: The Sangker River flows through Battambang.  The house on the riverbank is built on stilts because in monsoon season, the level of the river can get that high.

river, on the riverbank is a house on wood stilts, at river level is another house that is floating on the water. Two flat boats are docked by it.

a banner outside a rough wood building, an ad for a Cambodian radio station 89.70, Wellness FM,

a roadside store selling clay pots

below: Sunset over the Sangker River, countryside beyond.

sunset over the Cambodian countryside, river in the foreground, dirt fields and a few trees in the background.

One of the legacies of the French was a network of railway tracks.   Although many were destroyed by the Khmer Regime (Khmer Rouge), some tracks remain.  There has been talk about replacing and updating the rail network but so far little has been done.  In the area around Battambang, only the Bamboo Train runs and it’s only there for the tourists.

below: The ‘cars’ consist of a flat bamboo platform on two axles.  They only go forward.   If two cars meet going in opposite directions, one car has to be disassembled and removed from the tracks to allow the other to pass.  It can then be reassembled in a process that only takes a few minutes

riding the bamboo train on old train tracks from the French colonial days. Parts of train 'cars' are beside the track.

below: You can see the condition of the tracks.  Sections are misaligned and tracks aren’t straight – it all makes for a bumpy ride!

people walking along old train tracks, small fires burn in the bush beside the tracks.

below: Old pop bottles – a very common way to buy and store gas in Cambodia.  Here, an engine on one of the bamboo train cars is being filled before setting out.  The train near Battambang takes tourists to the site of an old brick factory that is no longer in production, and then it takes them back again.  It’s about a 20 minute each way.

A boy fills an engine with yellow coloured gas that was in an old plastic pop bottle

below: Wat Samrong Knong.  The older, abandoned temple is in the foreground while the new, more lavish temple rises up behind it.   The old temple building had been turned into a prison by the Khmer Rouge.  Over 10,000 died here and were buried in mass graves on the site.

two Buddhist temples, an older one in the front and a newer more lavish gold one in the back

below: A stupa was erected to tell the story of those who lost their lives during the years that the Khmer Rouge were in power.   Some of the bones that were exhumed from the mass graves are in the top part of the stupa. It sits on a base that has been carved with scenes depicting the story of the people who had to live under Khmer Rouge rule between 1975 and 1979.

top part of a stupa, pagoda shaped, glass window in the side where you cansee the bones of dead people

below: Children were taken from their parents.

bas relief sculpture of children being taken from their parents during the Khmer Rouge regime, in stone, bottom part of a memorial stupa

below: “The torturers split open their victim’s chests and abdomens, remove their livers and cannibalize their organs.”

scene depicting torture by the Khmer Rouge, sculpture on a memorial stupa, Wat Samrong Knong

In a park in the city is a metal sculpture, ‘Naga for Peace and Development’ by artists Toun Thorneakes, Ou Vanndy, Ouk Chim Vichet and Kim Samdy, and Sasha Constable.

sculpture of a naga, a seven headed creature, in Cambodia

From Wikipedia: “In a Cambodian legend, the nāga were a reptilian race of beings under the King Kaliya who possessed a large empire or kingdom in the Pacific Ocean region until they were chased away by the Garuda and sought refuge in India. It was here Kaliya’s daughter married an Indian Brahmana named Kaundinya, and from their union sprang the Cambodian people. Therefore, Cambodians possess a slogan “Born from the naga”. As a dowry, Kaliya drank up the water that covered the country and exposed the land for his daughter and son-in-law to inhabit and thus, Cambodia was created.”

close up of Naga sculpture made with parts of destroyed weapons. - three of the heads.

This peace monument commemorates the commitment, efforts, and hopes of the Cambodian people in breaking away from the violent past and establishing a peaceful, non-violent society.  It was created with weapons collected from Battambang Province.  The weapons were destroyed in public ceremonies between 2005 and 2007.
close up of Naga sculpture made with parts of destroyed weapons.

below: Frangipani in bloom in a temple yard.

Frangipani flower in bloom

a man on a motorcycle in front of an outdoor store

A father and daughter on a motorcycle. The girl is in front. The man is waving.