Riding through the countryside

Riding through the countryside
Originally uploaded by ehurson
Despite the fury of the last post, the past two days on motorbikes has been fantastic. The Cambodian countryside is so beautiful! Cows, dogs, cats, roosters, and chickens meander along the rice fields and villages. Almost every house contained a few eager children that ran out, waved, and shouted "Hello!" from a beaming face. I even got a couple of high-fives from young kids as we drove past!

Along the way we asked our drivers questions about what we saw, they would point things out to us, and we'd just sit back and enjoy the countryside. We saw so many different things:

A crocodile farm where we saw some really big suckers. Erin's photo page has a good picture of me looking down on them.

Thin rice paste being made in to spring roll wrappers drying in the sun.

Mango paste being dried for fruit leather. We bought a kilo for $5, which was probably overpaying (they asked for $4). The stuff is so incredibly tasty and the extra $1 goes so far here... the happiness on their faces was easily worth far more. Check Erin's photos for a picture of the old lady picking out our mango leather for us.

We stopped at an old Angkorian temple that was next to a new Buddhist temple. We hung out here for the afternoon rains. And we saw a gaggle of kids sliding down some mud in to a river because of the rain.

That was in a few hours yesterday afternoon. Now for today!

Today we started off going to a mountain with a few temples on top and full of caves. These caves were used to dump bodies by the Khmer Rouge. The view from the top was wonderful, but the caves and the monuments to the dead full of skulls and bones in the dark was really, really grisly.

We then headed off to see another hill temple. It looked like a miniature Angkor Wat, and it came complete with two little girls that fanned us in the heat and then asked for money at the end. We gave them both some, and then they asked for more. Not so tactful, little girls.

After that we headed to a fruit farm to see how the local oranges, grapefruits, bananas, and pineapples are grown. And there was a wedding going on at the farm! It felt a little awkward but they assured us it was fine.

Following that we headed off to the Bamboo Train, where the locals have co-opted the train tracks using a contraption that's essentially a small, flat wooden cart powered by a lawnmower. Check Erin's photos for a shot of us on that.

The past two days around Battambang have been some of the most memorable by far. I'm really glad we decided to take this detour on the way back to Phnom Penh.

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