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Text and pictures by Bernhard Heiser

    Part 12:  Battambang  -  Trip to Phnom Sampeau and Kamping Poy
Now we are again in the north of Cambodia. What happened during the last couple of days? From Kampot we took a shared taxi to Sihanoukville, where we spent 2 days. We took the bus back to Phnom Penh and stayed there another 3 days. Christmas party in the Heart.

This morning I took a shared taxi to Battambang, where I arrive now after almost 6 hours. I am glad that I can stretch my legs again. I take a room in the Chaya Hotel. Later I have dinner in the White Rose restaurant, they have a good menu and reasonable prices here.

The first action today is moving to the Royal Hotel, where I can get a much better and cleaner room for only 5$. I have breakfast on the roofterrace (photo above), from where I enjoy the view over the green surroundings to the mountains in the west. I spend the rest of the day with looking tv, writing my diary, checking my emails, icq, eating and drinking. In the internet cafe I print some pages about Pailin. Sounds interesting, I should go there.

Today Andre arrives from Phnom Penh and while we have dinner in the Phkay Pruek restaurant we plan to go to these mountains tomorrow.

We leave the hotel at half past eight. Our motodrivers choose a little backroad out of the city. After a short 15-20 km ride we reach Phnom Sampeau, also known as the Battambang Killing Fields. Soon we find out why. One of our drivers joins us for the walk up to the top, where we first visit the caves with all those skulls and remains of human bones.

More than 10.000 people have died here under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. They were murdered or simply thrown in the caves alive, where they starved to death. The area is safe since Ieng Sary and his fighters surrendered to the government in 1996.

We go on and walk to the top of the mountain. There are a couple of Buddhas and this little statue. Our driver tells us the bewildering saga of the princess with the long hair.
From here we can already see the temple on the other hill. From the hilltop we have a great view around.
After a couple of minutes we reach the canons. Some people say they are still secured with landmines, so its a good idea to stay on the path!

700 steps lead us down to the restaurant again, where our second driver waits for us. We have our lunchbreak before we continue to our next destination.

Again we use the road to Pailin, then we turn right into a small road. We see little villages, fish ponds and ricefields. At the canal we turn left and after a while we reach a huge dam. We are at Kamping Poy now. When we climb the dam we realize a huge lake on the other side. This is a very popular spot for locals, who come here at weekends to have a picnic and a swim. We are greeted by some small children. Of course they insist on a photo...
After a while some students from Battambang join us. They bring some huge truck tubes and we have a lot of fun playing in the warm water.
We walk back to the many wooden shacks where our bikes are parked. This must be a very busy place at weekends, but today there are only a few families selling food and drinks. We say goodbye to the small girls and return back home to Battambang.
Almost back in the city, we turn left. Here seems to be the local entertainment area. We pass two brothels and reach a couple of small bamboo huts at the end of the road. They serve as bars and restaurants, the perfect place to invite our drivers for a beer. We're just right to watch the sunset behind the ricefields while we have two jugs of Anchor beer.
Later we have dinner in the Smoking Pot, the restaurant next to the White Rose. They serve excellent Thai and Khmer food in simple but very pleasant atmosphere. The Bopha Tip nightclub doesn't offer anything exciting except the usual karaoke and Khmer linedance.

It's time to say goodbye to Andre who has to leave Cambodia tomorrow because his visa is expired. We will meet in Bangkok soon. I stick to my plan to visit Pailin. Don't miss the city of gems and my motoride along the Thai border to Poipet on the next page.


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© 2003 by Bernhard Heiser
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