Laura, Layla and I booked to have a tour with Bun, the tuk tuk driver.
We arranged a 10am pick up because we are lazy, and then he offered us the chance of going to a Cambodian wedding.
So at 0750 he’s picking us up from the hostel, stop off to pick up his mum, and head to the ceremony.
There was enough fruit so the bride was allowed out!
Time for a wedding breakfast feast!
Didn’t expect this this morning!
He told us they will be shutting the train down in two months even though it’s a huge tourist attraction.
At the end of the line is a tiny village where it’s main income must be tourism, as it’s all cold drinks, t-shirts, bamboo souvenirs and young girls selling cotton bracelets.
He gave us the choice of temple or see how foods are made. We unanimously chose food, rice noodle making first.
Noodles made from rice flour are squeezed out into a pan of boiling water, once they have cooked they are transferred to cool water, then drained then put into another bowl of water for these ladies to fish out and pack ready to sell.
Next we were taken to a village where they make bamboo rice. They stuff a section of bamboo with rice, coconut milk and black beans, stuff it with banana leaves and roast over a burning bamboo fire.
Fish paste making was the next stop. The malodorous breeze greets you as you come over the bridge, there are warehouses full of women chopping the fish into different sections and piling it high in mounds on the floor.
Holding our breath we walked through the sheds with the sound of knives hitting chopping boards, and the stench of fish in the heat.
The result of this work is this fish paste which is used in basically everything and is even referred to as ‘Cambodian cheese’.
One was silk worms, cockroaches, crickets, and rat.
Rat didn’t look very appealing.
Bun then bought us some traditional Cambodian cake, banana wrapped in rice wrapped in a banana leaf and barbecued.
I wasn’t able to eat this, the fish smell in my nostrils had enveloped and overwhelmed all my senses. I think we were all grateful to be moving onto the next place.
Dried banana chips/slices.
These bananas are tiny.
I am saving all this food now as I’m stuffed!
Next we are taken to a rice wine maker. Everything seems so natural in the way it’s produced. Starts with natural ingredients, and blended to create a very potent spirit.
I couldn’t bring myself to try this having had rice wine in the past and knowing how volatile it is!
Laura and Layla had a taste and reported back that it was decent apart from the heartburn it brought on!
No one wanted the snake infused rice wine!
Our next stop was rice pancakes that are used in making fresh spring rolls. I love these and it was good to know they are literally rice and water. The process to make them seems monotonous.
We were served one fresh and one fried, they were both amazing. Best spring rolls I’ve had!
This brought this part of our tour to a close. We had been with Bun since 0750 this morning and it was now 1500.
He returned us to our hostel and we face planted our beds for an hour or so. At 1740 he returned to collect us to take us to the bat caves.
This was pretty awesome. Thousands of wrinkle lipped bats flooding out of their cave creating this dragon-like formation across the sky.
Bun asked if we would like to return to the wedding to celebrate with the new couple, we had to decline as it was intended to be an all-nighter and we are moving on early tomorrow.
Last meal in Battenbang, we returned to the little food area on the water front, a bit done with rice after all the snacks we consumed throughout the day. We had a green curry (I ordered red but the owner basically told me it’s too hot for me!) it was nice, but all I could think of was the fact that I now knew they used the fish paste as a base for the curry, and that scent filled my nostrils once more!