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Backpacking Cambodia: Day 04 (15-Feb-2019) 

A Laid-Back City

From Siem Reap you can either take a bus or a slow boat to Battambang. While the bus takes only 4 hours, the boat crosses Lake TonlĂ© Sap lake and takes you close to the floating villages and reaches the destination in 10 hours. Due to less water content in the lake, there was a doubt if the boats would ply during this season. I did not bother to enquire much about it though Nick had made me aware of this facility.

I woke up early again and checked out of my hostel by 6:15 AM and then walked to the  office of Capitol Tours. They had a bus at 7:30 AM and I booked a seat on it. Almost all hostels in Cambodia arrange transport and tours but they always take a commission of 3-4$. For example this ticket, If I had booked through hostel would have charged me $8 but as I directly walked into the office, it cost me only $5. In most cities, the bus station is a few kilometres away from the centre and these operators have shuttle service running from their offices in the city to the station. I was soon taken to the bus station. 

It was a pleasant journey. When they stopped at some place for food, I had some cold coffee and bought some local fruits. Mangosteen is delicious. Longans are amazing. 

At Battambang, I took a tuk-tuk from the bus station to Lucky hostel. The hostel is super cool and the staff were very friendly. After settling down, I looked up on google maps for a vegetarian restaurant. There was one on the street behind the hostel - Monorom Garden. This became my favourite restaurant in Cambodia. This place serves pure vegetarian cuisine.  They have lunch buffet and you could pick whatever you want and get it weighed to pay accordingly. Obviously, I had  a lot of questions that the staff tried to address as much as they could with their knowledge of english. Eventually, I became friends with them. I had something called Bacheyos that resembled a dosa but stuffed with grilled vegetables. That came with a plate of salad and some much needed tea. I think tea is offered for free here. 

After lunch, I walked to the market area. The colonial buildings by the river are impressive. I tried a Malpuri like dish. It is made of deep fried rice batter. Rice cakes are also very popular here and many road side stalls were selling it. 

At a monastary nearby, a funeral was in progress. People had gathered to show their last respects to the deceased. A tuk-tuk driver used google translate to tell me what was happening. Later, I met a group of school students who were let out of school early to attend this funeral of their friend’s uncle. They explained to me what was happening. The coffin was displayed in front of the monastery while the monks chanted some prayers and then it was transferred to a chamber and cremated right there. 

The kids were curious to know about me and India as well. It was fun chatting with them for a while before I chose to head back to hostel. In the hostel, I met an Italian traveller who had just arrived there after a long trip of 8 hours from Siem Reap. He had taken a slow boat. Apparently, as there was not enough water, only two-third of the journey was covered by boat and then they were transferred to a bus. He told me that it was long but interesting as they came close to stilt houses and also witnessed some wildlife. 

As Monorom Garden closes at 7:30 PM, I chose to go there early and sketch. I had made friends with all the servers there. I ordered a delicious Empanada kind of dish along with some coffee first. I sat there continuing my sketch and also talking to the servers. The boy there listened to Bollywood music. He showed me some old Kareena Kapoor song. He said he likes them. He also shared some of their music with me. 

At 7 PM,  I ordered a rice variety for dinner. It was spicy but delicious. I simply loved this restaurant and I was also beginning to like this simple and quiet city. 

I took a walk by the river side and the night market. The night market at Battambang or anywhere else in Cambodia is not as good as the one in Siem Reap. Another interesting thing I have noticed here is that there are almost no beggars. That is interesting considering that the country is economically backward. I enjoyed my walk around the city and headed back to hostel. 

My Route - 

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