Battambang has firmly placed itself on the exclusive ‘places we could live’ list. There’s enough going on to keep yourself busy: the circus was fantastic; there are a selection of cooking courses to do; a couple of different markets to wander around; and most importantly of all – plenty of good cafés and restaurants. There is also a vineyard that does wine tastings – please see the additional blog on SE Asian wine. We didn’t even get chance to do a ride on the Bamboo train, or a bike tour into the countryside – both of which seemed extremely popular. We met some lovely people – a real mixture of locals, expats who generally work in one of the many charitable organisations, and tourists. Tom went into a school for a few days, observing some science lessons, and giving a talk to some students about our trip so far. The Beaut also had a makeover!
We stayed at Tomato hostel, which was ludicrously cheap at $4 a night for a double with a fan that worked when it wanted to… And used the money we saved on accommodation to further expand our stomachs.
Top of the list was Kin Yei cafe. I’m not sure what was better – the Flat White or the poached eggs and proper bacon! Regardless, we didn’t just go once!
A close second was Choco L’art Cafe. French owned, it was always a popular choice as an after dinner location, mainly due to the decent and reasonable value wine and the HEAVENLY puddings. Lime merengue pie. Wow. There’s even a tasting plate of three (or four on a good day!) mini deserts if you can’t make your mind up (or just want them all!).
Third prize goes to Coconut Water, which is a Fair-trade shop with a restaurant upstairs. It also organises school voluntourism ventures if you like that kind of thing. Anyway, the Khmer food was really good, and excellent value. We then spent hours just chatting to the waiter, and ended up going for a drink with him in the market after his shift was over, where he tried (with limited success) to improve our Khmer!
An honourable mention goes to the Flavours of India. Delicious – but not cheap. The set menu is definitely worth it however.
If you want a cheap eat, go to the market by the river (on the West Bank). A wide selection of Khmer dishes, including BBQ and good noodles, and everything less than $3.
With heavy hearts, after delaying departure for over a week, we said goodbye to Ping-Ping and Dancing Baby, and set course for one final round of poached eggs before getting back on the road. Next stop – the Mighty Mekong!