Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Battambang

Although we were only able to stay in Battambang for one night il always remember it with fond memories thanks to the afternoon we had doing exciting activities. Once we had arrived at the guesthouse we sped straight off in a tuk-tuk to get the Bamboo Train. Whilst that might create visions of grandeur I can assure it it's nothing of the sort. A nori, or train in Khmer, is made up of a frame made from bamboo sat atop barbell-like runners with an open engine at the back. Once seated on threadbare cushions we careered down the warped single track, bumping over misaligned rails for around 30 minutes; at one point we were whizzing down the line at around 15km/h! The train line was hot property so at certain points we had to hop off to easily dismantle our cart to let others in the opposite direction pass leaving groups stood by the side of the track like meerkats peering over the shrubbery to see if they could begin the adventure once more.

The views were of an average countryside and we chose an overcast day to do it on but it was pure unadulterated joy to throw caution (and health and safety) to the wind and do something a little reckless and exciting for a change. We were both buzzing from the train journey as we zoomed across town to the circus which is performed by students from the Phare Ponleu Selpak association. The name, meaning 'the brightness of the arts,' aptly describes the opportunities provided; artistic and cultural activities are available for underprivileged children and families to support national peaceful development. Although I had read good reviews, I wasn't sure what to expect and I pushed back thoughts of 'amateur' performances to the back of my mind. How wrong I could have been! With a troupe of only around eight people and with few props used, the range of acts shown in the hour long show were fantastic. The performers were incredibly talented showcasing complex acrobatics to engaging acting, from diablo twirling and fire dancing to juggling; the scenes created were ingenuity at its finest and the whole audience from locals and tourists, young and old were captured in the moment, rewarding those on stage with rapturous applause. I felt an all over sense of goodness as we left knowing that not only had I thoroughly enjoyed myself but that the entry fee would be invested into the programme so it could only grow from strength to strength! 
Battambang was an impromptu stop over on our way to the capital Phnom Penh but it turned out to be a very worthwhile detour and a place I wish we could have stayed longer.