In a Bus to Battambang

Some random thoughts popped up on my way to Battambang – the second largest city in Cambodia – after the dusty Phnom Penh. This is my 3rd visit to the land of Amok and turns out this quiet city succeeded to surprise me with its Khmer-ized simplicity. Different than the (IMO) industrial Phnom Penh and the touristy Siem Reap, Battambang runs in a more laid-back pulse. After a nice swag-bike tour, my day was concluded in a glass of an ice-cold sugarcane juice for a couple of thousand Riel and a sincere smile from the stall keeper – an old lady with wrinkles in her cheek. Go check the amazing circus, the delightful bamboo train and visit the cooking class.

Anyway, here are the random thoughts;

1. Indonesia tourism needs more integration. In most of SEA countries, you could book almost anything from the tiny front desk of any hotels. They (SEA countries tourism) have REAL system, which manage to serve tourist to get more connected to their needs; at least main tourism infrastructure; accommodation, transportation, tours, etc. While SEA countries develop moderate systems, we (Indonesia) still arguing between government and private facilities on tourist destination. Neither of them have the initiative to conversant effective solution to integrate many side of tourism.

2. I had a raised-eyebrows conversation about the deadly Khmer Rouge regime with Tony – my tuk-tuk driver in Battambang. If you don’t know anything about Khmer Rouge, please browse it for yourself. In a justified three years, about two million people was killed during the regime. The conversation with Tony was getting more interesting when he detailed the situation of Khmer people during the regime.

– There was no normal dinner/lunch/breakfast. Every meal was prepared for around 1000 people, includes children, elders and women.

– People were prohibited to show emotions; laughing, singing, even smiling. People were killed just because they tried to sing. The only song that allowed to be sung was the Rouge hymns, telling stories about communism and stuff related. Any other song would make you instantly killed.

– No clothes with any other color aside from black, black and black.

– This is sick; if you like someone from your opposite sex, you MUST tell the officer. You have to explain your feelings to the officer. If your explanation approved by the officer, he will tell your crush that you like him/her. If he/she likes you too, you are allowed to get married. Your wedding party will be held in front of people, where you have to give speech for around 1 hour, and then voila, you are officially married.

Photos: In the bus, I ate a plastic of fried insects. Khmer people treated those hairy blood-less insects as snacks. A lady with a big grin offered me, and surprisingly it tasted pretty good. Shiznit.

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