Battambang is a town just on the cusp of development, you can feel growth in the air. It’s located between (with a slight detour) the city life of Phnom Penh and the sights of Siem Reap. It’s a quaint country town, that for us, was simply an overnight stopover. The tight expat community here is fond of it’s relaxed atmosphere in comparison to it’s counterparts on either side.
La Villa is a french colonial charmer. We didnt have much time to spare here, so this was really just someplace comfortable to retreat to after a day out in the heat. With a pool and air conditioning, I’m satisfied.
Surprisingly (to myself), I have really come to enjoy a bicycle tour around the countryside. Sometimes I don’t even believe myself when I say things like that, but give me a moment. This particular company, Butterfly Tours, is a locally-run students initiative, that seeks to introduce visitors to the rich yet often unseen interiors of life in the Cambodian countryside. All their tours are led by student leaders, a majority of whom come from the countryside themselves. Besides viewing local and off the beaten path sights, we were simultaneously supporting an eco-friendly and sustainable effort that directly benefits rural Cambodian communities. TRAVEL WIN!
Highlights included rice paper making at the home with two sister followed by a husband and wife making dried banana goods from their crop. It is an absolute privilege to be invited into these peoples homes to watch them work and see how they prevail.
Do NOT recommend the Bamboo Train or as I came to call it: deathtrap train/train of doom/bamboo nightmare. Adam thought this would be good fun. And if he was married to anyone slightly less risk averse, it may have been. But I got on that hellhole and lasted 10 minutes before having a complete meltdown. We turned that thing right around and wrote it off as not one of our best ideas. Hey, trips can’t all be travel wins. No one got hurt. And we’re still married. So it wasnt toooo bad.
A GIRLS GOTTA EAT
Dinner was booked for Jann Bai – a restaurant with a mission:
The restaurant, bar and gallery Jaan Bai (“rice bowl” in Khmer) is the brainchild of Tara Winkler, founder of the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT) in 2007, which supports children living in poverty; she was named Young Australian of the Year in 2011 for her work. Jaan Bai is backed by chef David Thompson, of Nahm Bangkok, and Sydney restaurateur John Fink, of Quay and Otto, who offer expertise and work experience for staff, including head chef Mohm Meah. Vittoria Coffee helped fund the restaurant and founded Battambang’s first barista training school at nearby Sammaki Gallery, another CCT project. “My hope is that Jaan Bai will not only create jobs for underprivileged youth but bring people to Battambang and boost the local economy,” says Winkler.
– Gourmet Traveller
The small-ish plates were delicous and the cocktails were inventive…or at least that’s what I hear. The six hour drive from Phnom Penh to Battambang was rocky and our driver was pushing his limits on the road. I felt carsick for the entire journey + an additional four hours after disembarking. I had the cute mouth sweats that kept me from taking part in my favourite time of day, dinnertime! Womp. Instead I got to watch Adam enjoy meals for two, licking his plate clean, telling me animatedly about how badly I was missing out. Whattaguy.