As promised today was the day where I would be shown a “Day in the Working Life of a Cambodian” according to my reliable driver and pseudo guide; Mr. Scorpio.
We began our day visiting women who make rice paper. The kind used for wrapping spring rolls in.
Not the fried kind; the fresh.
That white transparent covering that has a somewhat gluey texture. Ever wondered why when you buy them they have a crisscross pattern on them?
It’s because they are made by hand and dried for three hours in the sun laying on latticed bamboo beds.
The work is intense. One lady sits by the fire all day long mixing the paste, spreading it over the hot plate, removing it with what seems like a huge butter knife, placing it on a bamboo wheel. It is then the second member of the team who spins the wheel, removes the wet disc, and Continue reading Mr. Scorpio
Battambang is home to the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus School and NGO. The mission behind the organization is to provide opportunities for children from less fortunate backgrounds through the medium of performance art.
It started back in 1986 in refugee camps lining the Thai border, with simple drawing workshops. The experiment continued after the refugees returned to their homelands in Battambang and Phare Ponleu Selpak has blossomed to where it now has a worldwide reputation.
Every Monday and Thursday a show is performed for both locals and tourists to rousing applause and appreciation.
It is a Cirque du Solei type of circus. In fact several of the students have graduated and been accepted to Montreal where the holy learning grail of circus performers is located. Others have gone on to perform all over Europe and Asia in various disciplines.
It was an incredible show highlighting many of the skills taught here. Hand balancing, contortion, tumbling, dancing, acrobatics, and hula hooping. The kids were smooth in their transitions and there was a basic story-line to the show however, to be very honest, it was lost on me. Continue reading Monday Night Circus
First impressions aren’t always accurate. My first impression of Battambang was pretty much the complete opposite of what I was expecting. I had read about all the French era colonial buildings that adorn the river. I had read of the towns charm. I equated both of these to a more genuine Cambodian river town experience. Coming off of my love affair with Siem Reap I was expecting a lot.
I was expecting a town with a tree-lined river skirted by a promenade of colonial buildings. The town center would have a dining and drinking area that was well maintained.
I guess I was expecting Siem Reap. I know better than to expect a duplicate of something I have already experienced.
Travel is for new experiences.
As I walked around Battambang I couldn’t believe how wrong my expectations were. Equating it to a ghost town caught in the dust bowl of the 1920’s would not be inaccurate. Cars and tuk-tuks kick up a layer of dust that hangs in the air engulfing everything. Visibility is affected and everywhere Continue reading Battambang and the Bamboo Train
With a hotel pickup at 6:30am and a boat departure at 7am you would not be out of your mind in Asia to assume the real times could be pushed back as much as a couple of hours. You would also not be mistaken if you were to assume the opposite. That the boats would leave early and your absence, if you got left behind, would mean little to anyone.
In this case it was the former.
A minivan picked me up, traveled a couple of city blocks, went in a circle, and evicted me about 100 yards from where we started. Only now we had picked up an extra 5 people and their baggage.
On to a tuk-tuk where we were shuffled and squeezed. Bags piled high on laps. Not really knowing why to any of the obvious questions. At this point it is 8:30am and the boat could have conceivably left Continue reading Slow Boat to Battambang