|I chose Battambang for a stop to see the countryside and lush agriculture and farms. Jamie and I arranged for a guide and 2 motorbikes to show us around where we normally wouldn't know where to go. It's best to go around places like this with a guide because you never know where there could be land mines. Our guide was a survivor of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970's and in a refugee camp for 12 years. He lost his brother and sister to the terror that went on but was able to get away himself. He was a wealth of knowledge on the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia from 1970-present and politics in the country.
Driving by motorbike is the only way to go when through the countryside, mainly because you are able to go down narrow dirt roads that you normally wouldn't be able to with a car. We stopped at 2 farms, one being rice wine and the other a mushroom farm. Both showed us how they made their wine and grew their mushrooms. I even got to sample some of the wine and it was pretty strong! Along the way we drove through and past many small villages and various farms with rice patties, pineapples, bananas, oranges, corn, beans, etc..
Our next stop was the Phnon Sampeou Mountain where we climbed up to see an incredible view of the area and also to go inside a cave where the Khmer Rouge killed and dropped bodies into. There were still plenty of bones there, some on display and another pile in a big box type shrine. To hear about what went on here was pretty intense to say the least. I read a bit about it before, but that was over 10 years ago. I forgot how brutal the Khmer Rouge actually were and how they would kill monks just for not believing in religion and eat the people they killed.
We also went to another part where we walked up about 800 steps to an 11th century Ankgorian temple. We walked over a couple bouncy and narrow bridges over the Sengker River, the same one I was on with the boat yesterday. Saw a few monks bathing in the river while walking over the bridge, again something you don't see every day. Our last stop included a tree next to a big buddhist shrine that had these huge fruit bat. Biggest bats I've ever seen, something like a flying dog! Due to the dirt roads and traffic, a dust mask(surgical mask) was necessary and used by majority. By the time we were finished cruising through the countryside, our clothes, body, face and hair were covered in dust. Regardless of the dusty roads, it was a great experience. Being able to travel off the beaten path and see different ways of life and country that you normally wouldn't is always a treat. I feel very lucky to get a glimpse of this rural lifestyle that this part of Cambodia holds.