Today it really was our turn to leave Kamnet, his great family and the mighty town of Battambang which had been our home for the past week or so. Today we would be taking the coach west to our next destination of Siem Reap. Now on paper this did not seem too arduous a journey but once we had said our Goodbyes to his family, Kamnet then seemed to take an age to get us to trundle us along to the bus station, he was actually trying to show us new places and the like. Now I myself would like to think that his actions were because he was as upset at the parting of our ways as we were feeling and that perhaps he would miss us as much as we were going to miss him and his family who had been so very welcoming to us during our stay.
With Kamnet’s help we finally managed to get our bus tickets and board our transport though once inside the transfer bus it seemed the owners had a very strange idea about how to seat people but we were soon enough on the coach proper and winging our way to Siem Reap and all of the magic and mystery of Angkor Wat – Huzzah! We actually arrived at our destination much quicker than we thought we would and the place seemed a lot busier than we had become used to whilst on the outskirts of Battambang at Kamnet’s house, so it had our heads spinning somewhat.
As always happens at a new town, the Tuk Tuk driver that took us from Siem Reap’s bus station to our hotel offered to take us to the Angkor Wat complex in a couple of days time. I think that because everything had worked out so well with our last offering from a Tuk Tuk driver that we decided, after the usual bit of bartering, to take the driver up on his offer. The guy seemed nice enough and his English was very good too, so one excursion already booked, we then settled into our latest hotel. The place was very impressive and was all decked out in a very dark wood (mahogany) as was much of the furniture so it was all quite something to see. So after a short wait for our room to be readied we went up and settled down for a bit of a rest before then venturing out for a short walk.
The walk was simply that, a bit of a stroll down to the river whilst dodging the manic traffic and the town’s just-as-manic people! The river was a bit brown and looked very mucky so it was only worth a quick look before we turned around and went back to the hotel. Once there we booked our entertainment for the evening, a trip to the circus. It actually looked like no circus that we had ever seen before – no clowns, no animals even – so after a bite and a bit more extensive resting we were fully refreshed and ready for our trip to the circus, Cambodian style!
The show turned out to be totally brilliant and it even had Liz in tears in a couple of places due to it being so simply moving, it was such a powerful piece. The circus players told a story of the Cambodian lady who had founded the Phare Circus and her life which included the time the Khmer Rouge were in power. She had taken in orphans and then taught them the arts – painting, music and circus juggling and the like. These were the very things that the troop were enacting using these disciplines. The tumblers would be there gymnastically tumbling, balancing and juggling, whilst another of the performers would paint a scene of the events which the scene was portraying and the music would be going on in the background which added to the drama of the piece. Some of the paintings were even painted upside down and you did not know what the subject was supposed to be until the artist switched the painting over at the end. The portrayal of the time of the Khmer Rouge was particularly poignant especially after us managing to see Tuol Sleung and the Killing Fields.
After the performance we then went outside with the crowds and after searching through the Tuk Tuk drivers on the front we eventually found our guy who took us back into the centre of town so that we could have a bit of a wander about and take in the sights. The place was absolutely packed and unfortunately the tackiness somewhat reminded us of Blackpool back home. Once in the centre we did a bit of people watching whilst eating a Cambodian take on a Mexican meal, the watching was far more interesting than the eating to be fair but there you go. We relaxed further by having a few beers of our own whilst we gave the crowds a bit more watching, lots of small groups of gents and ladies were roaming about looking a bit worse for wear … lol, whilst we were doing our best not to join them.