Where's Malcolm? travel blog

Making rice vermicelli by hand.

A monument at another of Cambodia's killing fields, just outside of Battambang.

A photo of rural life in Cambodia, taken during our rest stop...

Our bamboo train being disassembled prior to the return journey.

Putting the bamboo train back together.

Next we moved onto the quiet city of Battambang which has more than its fair share of faded French colonial-era charm, as well as being Cambodia's second largest city by population. The main reason for me to visit Battambang is take a ride on what Cambodian's call a norry, a small home made bamboo train used by some enterprising locals to make some not-quite-legal trips on the railways and thus taking fare-dodging to a new level in the process.

We signed up for what turned out to be a surprisingly interesting day excursion which showed us how rice-paper, rice vermicelli, fish-sauce and bamboo-fliied sticky rice were made. Each of these products was made basically in someone's house and requires a rather labour-intensive process to produce its end result; I couldn't help wondering what would happen to those working when mechanisation finally reaches rural Cambodia.

The day ended with our half-hour trip on the rickety norry which was made of a bamboo rack sat upon a pair of wheels, one of which is connected to a small engine. Suspension is considered an unnecessary luxuary and we certainly felt every joint in the rails as we buzzed along at 20k's per hour. Any worried about scheduled trains appearing in front of us were dispelled when we saw how quickly trhe train was taken apart and put back together, and we were told that Cambodian trains are very slow and toot their horns regularly anyway so we would get more than enough prior warning. Altogether a pleasant day out.

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