Betty Lou shopping the market amuses me greatly. Cambodia is a culture of bargaining. One never pays the first price and, while not mercilous, some haggling is expected. I enjoy this process; Betty Lou does not. While i play along with 'the whole, hesitate, walk away and name low prices as a starting point', she willinginly pays the first price, or, offen, she pays more. A shopkeeper asks $4 for a pair of earrings and Betty Lou pays $5, saying that they are worth more than the asking price. With this startegy in place, i am sure the merchants of Siem Reap were sad to see her go.
But go we did, after a couple meals sitting in the perfectly warm night air. The following morning we took a bus to Battambang. We were told the journey would be 3 hours and it was closer to 5, but the ride was very lovely, through the countryside. At one point we stopped for a break and we bought sweet rice and beans cooked in a bamboo stalk, which one peels back in order to feast on the contents. There were also roasted beetles and crickets for sale, but we took a pass on those.
Battabang is not a particularly nice looking city. It is dusty and the buildings are old and not particularly well maintained, aside from that though, there are some nice restaurants and cafes and some interesting, poorly kept french colonial buildings. The main reason for stopping here though is for the countryside, which is said to be some of the country's loveliest.
One of the welcome things about Battambang is that it is so quiet compared to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Here people are not constantly trying to sell us stuff or offer us services. People are moslty just going about their daily lives. It is nice to take a look at a regular city in Cambodia.
The first evening we went for a bit of a walk and had some amazing curries; i also visited a temple and saw many monks chanting before i settled down at a local restaurant for a cigar and a bit of reading. The next day would prove to be action-packed.