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Friday, 08 June 2007

Battenbang, Cambodia

Written by Ross Hilton
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The bus was delayed because there was a man trying to squeeze a bag of live cobras into the luggage compartment. The commotion went on for about twenty minutes until my throbbing head could take no more and I decided to get off and stay another night. I sat down in the café of the Chinese guesthouse and ordered a beer. Mr Ra was at the bar. “I told you you’d never leave” he smirked from his position across the room.



The bus was delayed because there was a man trying to squeeze a bag of live cobras into the luggage compartment. The commotion went on for about twenty minutes until my throbbing head could take no more and I decided to get off and stay another night. I sat down in the café of the Chinese guesthouse and ordered a beer. Mr Ra was at the bar.


“I told you you’d never leave” he smirked from his position across the room.


I lifted my bottle towards him in mock salute.


The previous night had been messy. Mr Ra, a diminutive Khmer moto driver and his friends had treated me to a typical Cambodian night out. Proceedings had begun predictably enough with the usual ‘lets see how much the foreigner can drink’ rounds of toasting and degenerated into a real crazy battle. Six of us, three to each moto, had sped off into the jungle to experience the real Khmer people. After fifty minutes on a single-track through moonlit deserted paddy fields I began to wonder if I had made the right decision. I did trust my companions but where the hell were we?


Soon enough I found out as we approached a group of lights on the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake. The floating village was reached via a reed causeway. On the artificial island there was a large bamboo building. Inside, about twenty Khmer families were glued to an imported Chinese King-fu movie blaring away on the far wall. We sat down at the bar and ordered tins of warm beer from the pretty girl that served us. Soon enough, the movie was over and the families filed out the open door, making a respectful effort not to stare at me as they did so. Mr. Ra jabbered away to the proprietor and turned back to me:


“You like karaoke?” he asked.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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