Saturday, April 4, 2009

Batta-bing, Battambang...

...said in a voice straight out of The Sopranos. OK not really but that's what popped into my head every time I said I was going to Battambang (pronounced: Ba-TAM-bong). Located in the Northwest region of Cambodia (not far from the Thailand border), Battambang is the second largest city in the country. After my glorious 10hr boat ride from Siem Reap, the monkey butt was most certainly back. It was OK because I was greeted by the nicest moto driver (Bun is his name) waiting to take me to my hotel. After the usual questions of 'what's your name' and 'where are you from', Bun almost drove us straight into oncoming traffic when he heard I was from the US. He was sooo happy to be able to practice his English and tell me all about his studies. The trip from the dock was only 10mins but I felt like I already knew everything about this guy. Upon arrival the drivers always try to get you to book the next day of touring with them. Usually, I say no thank you because I like to do it on my own BUT this time I couldn't resist. This guy was so excited to be able to better himself with both English and worldly knowledge how could I turn him down. It was such an amazing day of touring, teaching, and the end of the day Bun invited me to come meet his family that he told me so much about. His parents survived the Khmer Rouge regime and his father worked for the new government. Soon after having 5 children, his father died of malaria and his mother was all alone to support them. Bun tells me stories about his sister the nurse, his brother the mechanic, his other sister the hairdresser, and all about how they all gave up going to school because they knew Bun (the baby) was the smartest. They gave all the money they made so that he could go to Junior High and High School. Now he's finished his studies and working towards making enough money to go to University ($1000/year) so that he can be an English teacher. Bun and his entire family have an incredible spirit and are the warmest people I've met considering the difficulties they've endured. After dinner, Bun, 1 sister, and I went over to his Temple to attend the carnival that takes place for 1 month before Khmer New Year (April 14 this year). (It reminded me of the Greek Festival that I used to go to near my house). Food stands, games, music, a movie projecting on a white sheet. It was really wonderful to be able to join in the celebrations with Bun and his family! Battambang is a city filled with wonderful people, gorgeous views, and amazing spirits.


  1. bun is so coming home with you isn't he! love the picture of the girl behind the coke bottles, and of course the lovely cockroaches- ew.

  2. so weird!! i think either my mom or my dad grew up in battambang. sooo weird. btw, they're loving the photos i've been showing them of cambodia. they're in awe that you're travelling there :D

    i don't think i could do that... although i'm sure it would help revive the cambodian language regions of my brain...

  3. that was an amazing story. You look beautiful.