This morning, at the break of dawn (6:30), we awoke, and began to get ready for the day ahead. Bradley and I, excitement in our hearts and our steps, ran up to the top floor, ready to devour our meal, at 7:30… … not realizing everyone else would arrive at 8:00. Standing there confused, we soon realized the error of our ways, and proceeded back to our room, to experiment with our new speaker which we had bought from Siem Reap.
At 8:00, we attempted our trip upstairs for the second time that morning, and ate a lavish breakfast, an assortment of various products from the kitchen, arriving late, as is Cambodian culture. Baguettes, Fruit Salad and other delicacies for nourishment. Needless to say, it was delightful.
We packed our day bags, gathered and were briefed by the leaders on the events to transpire. We had perhaps the greatest activity to have been suggested thus far. The Battambang Bamboo Train. For those unaware of this gem in the countryside in the Battambang area, it is basically a glorified bamboo sheet over two sets of wheels, with a small engine powering the mighty steed. A local man accompanied each carriage, ensuring it would arrive at a “steady” pace, to it’s destination.
Each of us was, in turn, loaded into a Tuk-Tuk. At a speed best not known by those of a weak disposition, we motored towards the first station. At our destination, we were greeted by two officers of the law, who directed us towards the current money collector for the operation. We paid her, and then continued to, in small groups, offload onto a carriage in turn. We sat down, suddenly noticing the lack of belts, walls or anything that abided to the American or European transport safety guidelines. The only thing that resembled a train was the tracks, which seemed to have been cobbled together as a hobby. Not very promising.
We were suddenly propelled forward, and we could finally see why this was such a glorious activity. We were rushing through nature itself. As the track had been abandoned, trees, grass, bushes and bodies of water had taken over, slowly easing their way into the spots available to create an altogether enlightening experience.
Light streaming through, as we carried on through a clearing; we were heading 7 Km onwards, to arrive at a nearby village. On the horizon, however, and rushing ever closer, was the sight of another carriage. We hadn’t been informed that the trains there, and back, were on the same track. Scary stuff.
We halted our progress, and the other “train” was dissembled and removed from the track. How peculiar! We continued, and eventually got to the village. Barely worth mentioning, it was a small shanty town, with Bamboo Train t-shirts for sale. The highlight was when we were harassed into promising a young girl, that if we bought a bracelet, it would be from her.
As we arrived back at the original station, we were taken by the Tuk-Tuks. Our Driver quizzed us on cockney rhyming slang, and allowed us to take photos of the statue resembling Battambang Province.
We spent some time in the Jacuzzi, a thoroughly pleasant experience. Shortly after we left for Lunch. We arrived at the White Rose, our restaurant of choice, and continued to order and then demolish the food provided.
It was at this point we were informed of a challenge that we were going to have to complete…
Intrigued as to what was to lay ahead, we quickly ate our lunch to find out what this challenge was all about. With empty plates and full stomachs, Matt briefed us on how we were to fill our afternoon.
After we were split into two teams, (Anna, Kenneth & Bradley in team 1 and Ed, Cerys, Tom & Becky in team 2); each being given two lists, a map, and 20 dollars. Our challenge was to answer the questions on one of the lists and buy all the stuff on the other list (an apprentice come supermarket sweep style challenge). This consisted of carrot seeds, a brush, a shoe horn, an egg timer, a tent peg, a dictionary, a 13-amp fuse and 6 bananas, which to be honest, was a pretty random list. The winner was the group with most money left over with as many of the items we can find, buy, and the most questions answered.
Feeling confident, we set off looking for the answers to the questions, and the shops to buy our stuff. We had 3 and a half hours to find 17 things. When you think of it, that is plenty of time. It turned out to be surprisingly difficult! My team answered all the questions, but couldn’t find the egg timer, shoe horn, and the tent peg. The other team said that they found everything…. However with a closer look from the leaders they had been caught trying to pass of items as things they were not. We won because we spent less money, so that was good!
Tom & Bradley.