Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Bamboo Railway, Battambang, Cambodia

When I mentioned to a colleague that we would be visiting Battambang during our two-week trip around Cambodia, she told me about the Bamboo Railway and said it was worth a visit.  So, always keen to follow personal recommendations, we duly included it in our short stay in the city.

The railway was built across a rural area of central Cambodia to facilitate the transportation of rice, animals and other goods.  Now that roads and motor transport have superseded the railway for this purpose, it has become something of a bone-shaking tourist attraction.

Obviously, the narrow-gauge track isn't made of bamboo - that would be ridiculous - but the 'carriages' are.  These are flat bamboo platforms which sit on top of two sets of wheels.  The only concession to tourist comfort is a thin mat placed on the bamboo poles for you to sit on.  Each 'carriage' has a driver and is powered by a small motorcycle engine enabling it to reach a teeth-jarring 40km/hour.  When you meet an oncoming bamboo train, as you invariably will on this single-track railway, one of the parties has to 'give way'.  This means that the passengers have to get off whilst the drivers of the two trains lift the bamboo platform off the wheels and the wheeels off the track, place everything on the verge next to the rails, move the other train along the track, and then reassemble the original train so that both parties can continue on their way.  Time-consuming and not that practical as a mode of transport to rely on, but quite a novelty for the tourist!!

The whole Bamboo Train experience lasts for about an hour and costs $5.  You hurtle through paddy fields, over rickety bridges and across roads, sitting just a few inches above the tracks.  It's not the most comfortable ride you'll ever have, but nor is it as bad as I was expecting having listened to several accounts before embarking on the trip.

The journey takes you to a village where the people make a living from husking rice and supplement this by selling drinks, snacks and souvenirs to tourists.  After your pit-stop, you will return the same way you came.  A 'must-do' for the visitor to Battambang!

See some more photos here.

1 comment:

  1. great !!!! no pollution no rumours only nature

    kisses from the green Auvergne