Today we would be travelling from Kampot to Battambang but this is more difficult than you think as you have to go almost backwards from Kampot to Phnom Penh before then travelling onwards to Battambang. To be fair unlike the journey we had made the other way away from the capital to Kampot, where our driver kept stopping to be violently ill, this was a much more chilled out affair, that is until we reached Phnom Penh itself. Once here the turnaround was quite a bit longer than expected as the travel office our bus had dropped us at had actually closed for dinner! We used the time industriously, eating a noodle dish at the noodle cafe on the corner of the street. We expected good things from the place as it was packed with locals and to be fair the place delivered as we both had some really nice food. The only fly in the ointment being that we felt we had to keep looking over our shoulders to keep an eye on our elusive travel agents.
Well we finished our meal and after a bit of a wait around the agent finally opened and gave us the news that we had to walk back round the corner we had just come from to catch the bus. The journey to Battambang though was a good one both in terms of the scenery and the magnificent sunset that was taking place at the same time. At one point we stopped at a Cambodian example of a motorway cafe for a bite to eat and here they sold some quite unusual snack tidbits, consisting of various insects and bugs deep fried and served up with chillies, fish sauce and the like – not exactly a bag of cheese and onion crisps was it? When we arrived at Battambang it was now night time and although we had both had a double seat to ourselves to stretch out on, we still had not been able to sleep so we were just a touch weary. It was quite good therefore when after only five minutes or so our Tuk Tuk rider from the hotel had arrived to collect us and take us back to our hotel, or so we thought.
As it transpired though, our driver took us all of 100 yards down the road and dropped us off with a different Tuk Tuk driver – how very bizarre but inch by inch we were progressing towards our destination, Battambang. But apart from our transfer being somewhat strange it also turned out to be a very very amazing piece of good fortune. Our latest driver had brought his young son with him and introduced both of them to us. On the way he explained that he was the director of a school that taught English to local children as a charity. He explained that they took volunteers who had the chance of accommodation and food, so we asked him for his number so that we could look into it via his website and then contact him if we decided it would be good from our side of things as well. It may seem a bit strange to check him out but we just wanted to make sure that the help we would be giving was going to people who really needed it and that there were no hidden catches or costs.
We finally reached our hotel, called ‘The Royal’ which was really quite nice looking and once we had climbed the many flights of stairs we found our room was quite impressive. Okay, the hot water setting on the shower in the bathroom did not actually work but in its place we did have a balcony so quite a fair swap I thought, well that is until I needed a shower … brrr. We took the chance to have a look out from the balcony over one of Battambang’s many squares and from our vantage point the place looked scarily busy with traffic zipping in from all directions. Every different type of vehicle was coming in at speed from every possible direction, so rather than take a wander out, after relaxing in the room for a short while we we just went upstairs to the rooftop restaurant to decide on a ‘plan of action’ for the following days ahead.