Today was a very busy day in Battambang! We started the morning with a ride on the bamboo train. This train is not the normal train one would think of, but rather a bamboo platform where four people would ride. The train moved by a motor operated by a local. There is one track, so there gets to be a problem when two trains meet head on. The unwritten rule is that the heavier load has the right of way. As a result, the lighter load disassembles their train and everyone hops off and waits for the other train to go by. At the other end of the train track, we were bombarded by cute entrepreneurial local children selling bracelets. Their various sales pitches included: pinky swears, stalking, puppy dog eyes and becoming very upset when you would buy from their competitors. As we were trying to leave, the prices dropped dramatically! They started at 2 bracelets for $1 and when we were about to leave, we were offered 10 bracelets for a $1. Needless to say, we couldn't resist their sales pitches and ended up with too many bracelets.
For the rest of the morning, we took a float (which some may describe as an intense kayaking experience) down a local river. The brave 9 kayakers expected it to be a half hour, but turns out it was an hour and a half. After about an hour, the majority of kayaks hitched a ride with the motor boats. It was a good workout and our sore muscles will thank us with a relaxing bus ride tomorrow!
The evening was a more sobering experience. The destination was a cave on the top of a mountain. This cave was used during the Khmer Rouge as a disposal point for their prisoners. The prisoners were lined up over the hole of the cave and were then hit in the back of the head so that they would fall into the cave. Sometimes the fall killed them, but other times they would be knocked unconscious and starve to death. On the return trip down the mountain, we had the chance to see flocks of bats exiting another cave nearby. These bats leave their cave between 5:45 and 6 pm every evening and it takes the millions of bats an hour to exit the caves to feed. In the picture, the line across the sky is all bats!
We are sad, and excited, that tomorrow we will return to Phnom Penh for our last days before the return flight home!
Anna and Claire