Battambang is a city in northwest Cambodia. It is in Battambang province which was founded in the 11th century by the Khmer Empire. In 1795 this province was annexed by neighbouring Thailand. It was under Siamese rule until 1907 when it was ceded to the French as part of their French Indochina colony. Today, it is a major rice producing region.
below: Teenagers are the same wherever you are!
below: Hundreds of fish drying in the sun.
below: Nothing is wasted. Fish paste, or prahok, is made from the “left over” parts of the fish. Fish bits are crushed, sun dried, salted and then fermented between 20 days and 3 years.
below: Like many parts of the world, the mannequins are very white.
below: How many monks can ride on one motorcycle?
below: Pop pop seeds.
Add a bit of water to the pods and they explode open, releasing the seeds.
below: The Sangker River flows through Battambang. The house on the riverbank is built on stilts because in monsoon season, the level of the river can get that high.
below: Sunset over the Sangker River, countryside beyond.
One of the legacies of the French was a network of railway tracks. Although many were destroyed by the Khmer Regime (Khmer Rouge), some tracks remain. There has been talk about replacing and updating the rail network but so far little has been done. In the area around Battambang, only the Bamboo Train runs and it’s only there for the tourists.
below: The ‘cars’ consist of a flat bamboo platform on two axles. They only go forward. If two cars meet going in opposite directions, one car has to be disassembled and removed from the tracks to allow the other to pass. It can then be reassembled in a process that only takes a few minutes
below: You can see the condition of the tracks. Sections are misaligned and tracks aren’t straight – it all makes for a bumpy ride!
below: Old pop bottles – a very common way to buy and store gas in Cambodia. Here, an engine on one of the bamboo train cars is being filled before setting out. The train near Battambang takes tourists to the site of an old brick factory that is no longer in production, and then it takes them back again. It’s about a 20 minute each way.
below: Wat Samrong Knong. The older, abandoned temple is in the foreground while the new, more lavish temple rises up behind it. The old temple building had been turned into a prison by the Khmer Rouge. Over 10,000 died here and were buried in mass graves on the site.
below: A stupa was erected to tell the story of those who lost their lives during the years that the Khmer Rouge were in power. Some of the bones that were exhumed from the mass graves are in the top part of the stupa. It sits on a base that has been carved with scenes depicting the story of the people who had to live under Khmer Rouge rule between 1975 and 1979.
below: Children were taken from their parents.
below: “The torturers split open their victim’s chests and abdomens, remove their livers and cannibalize their organs.”
In a park in the city is a metal sculpture, ‘Naga for Peace and Development’ by artists Toun Thorneakes, Ou Vanndy, Ouk Chim Vichet and Kim Samdy, and Sasha Constable.
From Wikipedia: “In a Cambodian legend, the nāga were a reptilian race of beings under the King Kaliya who possessed a large empire or kingdom in the Pacific Ocean region until they were chased away by the Garuda and sought refuge in India. It was here Kaliya’s daughter married an Indian Brahmana named Kaundinya, and from their union sprang the Cambodian people. Therefore, Cambodians possess a slogan “Born from the naga”. As a dowry, Kaliya drank up the water that covered the country and exposed the land for his daughter and son-in-law to inhabit and thus, Cambodia was created.”
This peace monument commemorates the commitment, efforts, and hopes of the Cambodian people in breaking away from the violent past and establishing a peaceful, non-violent society. It was created with weapons collected from Battambang Province. The weapons were destroyed in public ceremonies between 2005 and 2007.
below: Frangipani in bloom in a temple yard.