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Around the Tonle Sap Lake by Car: Siem Reap, Battambang

This is one of the few occasions that I am traveling Cambodia for work rather than pleasure, together with my Cambodian colleagues around the great lake. It is the first time that I am making a trip all around the Tonle Sap Lake. I tune out work related issues here and focus instead on impressions from the road starting from Phnom Penh via Kampong Thom to Siem Reap, Battambang and back to Phnom Penh via Kampong Chnang.

18.09.2005

This is when we cross the Japanese Bridge in Phnom Penh. It is obviously rainy season and most of the land is submerged in water. All along this trip it is not obvious where the river ends and the flooded land starts.

One of the brick production sides just outside Phnom Penh.

On the busy road from Phnom Penh towards Kampong Cham.

Girls are selling lotus seeds as snacks at the roadside.

There are some really nasty potholes in the otherwise superb road to Kampong Cham, shortly before you Skuon. Truck and car drivers claim the entire width of the road to avoid the potholes.

From left to right: Kidan, Dara, Phal, I and a random Cambodian man on a moto.

We have a break in a restaurant at a lake a few kilometers west of Kampong Thom town.

Some Cambodian tourists are going for a swim and have an excellent time.

We are driving behind a luxury Lexus SUV when we see an infant water buffalo starting to cross the road. A big truck is coming our way on the other side of the road and it is becoming obvious that either this truck will hit the buffalo and send it our way or the buffalo will avoid the truck by getting back on our part of the road. Yet the driver in front of us does not reduce his speed. The buffalo indeed turns around and is right in the middle of the road when the SUV hits it at fairly high speed, catapulting it dozens of meters. We can partly see how the infant buffalo is rolling over a number of times in front of the SUV. Surprisingly, it gets back on its feed next to the road and walks to its buffalo mother.

These are the fellows in the Lexus, inspecting their broken headlight.

We come across this bridge somewhere between Kampong Thom and Siem Reap. It is an ancient bridge without any obvious modern additions yet part of the National Road from Cambodia’s modern to its ancient capital and the nation’s greatest attraction Angkor Wat. Presumably hundreds of buses and trucks pass this bridge everyday, and the river water forcefully pushes through its gates every rainy season. It appears that a new bridge is being build a few hundred meters from here.

We come across many fields submerged in water and houses accessible only by boat.

In a market not so far from Siem Reap.

We reach Siem Reap town and briefly visit the gates of Angkor Wat.

As usual there are many people picnicking in the area around the main entrance.

On one of the following days we visit the provincial department of culture and get a chance to witness Apsara dancers practicing.

We visit a small temple in town, opposite the Royal Residence, before we head to Battambang. These are some sort of bats which live on a couple of trees around this place. These bats are rather big.

Along the way from Siem Reap to Battambang.

Only a few kilometers outside Siem Reap town the previously paved road turns into a dirt road with numerous, partly water-filled, potholes. This is remarkable since this is a national road connecting major centers of the country.

This town is famous for its stone carving. Unfortunately I have forgotten its name.

These men are working on two extraordinarily large stone lions. We hear these lions have been ordered by the governor of the province, presumably for a major bridge.

Then we reach a place with an enormous accumulation of big vehicles right on the road. It appears impassable from far.

A large truck got stuck in the middle of the road and heavy machinery was brought in to free it.

Another truck got stuck a few kilometers away.

Later we reach a town a few kilometers before Battambang. I forgot its name. It has a monument that houses what seems to be an ancient lingam (phallic object as a symbol of Shiva) of considerable proportions.

The place is also popular for the variety of foods served in local food stalls.

This is a major beetle, fried. I prefer it a number smaller and have some fried crickets.

Later we reach Battambang and visit one of the ancient temples close to town. I believe it is Ek Phnom.

Later we hit the road again, pass through Pursat, have diner in Kampong Chnang and finally arrive back in Phnom Penh.

  1. krista
    November 6th, 2009 at 01:34 | #1

    Looks like you had a good time!!! different, but beautiful in so many ways!

  2. jimmi
    November 24th, 2009 at 16:28 | #2

    dude, these shots are beatiful, i didn’t even get any shots like that when i was there in 06.
    i took that same route to siem reap tahn back to battambang, it wasn’t like that though,it was dry and very dusty. for some reasons i love it like that.

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