We left home 2 weeks ago and have cycled for 10 consecutive days. Even though that has included some short days, that is a much longer stretch than we would normally do. But was just the way the days fell. However, we really felt we ‘deserved’ our day off and had a bit of a holiday day. Battembang (there various forms of the translation of the word) is a fairly chilled city with some old French colonial architecture and a good place to relax without being tempted to do too much….or so we thought.
We started the day with an American breakfast. Whilst we love noodles and rice, it was great to have something different. Our usual cycling breakfast is instant oat porridge with fruit – quick and easy and great for cycling, but not the same as a good cappuccino! Next we successfully booked a boat to Siem Reap with our bikes for tomorrow. That means we won’t have to cycle back the way we came along the 70km of roadworks!
We had read about a small NGO supporting women by teaching them sewing and selling handicrafts. It was on the edge of town so we took briefly to our bikes and found it tucked away at the back of a house in a little street. The choice was limited but we felt we were supporting a good cause and involved putting money straight into their hands.
In the afternoon we subjected ourselves to a full body Thai massage. OMG those women have strong hands. The hour of pummelling was about 90% on the edge of pain. Perhaps this is because our muscles were tired and overworked or maybe it is always like this because they know just how much pressure to use for maximum effect. We were in side by side beds, face down with our faces in a hole in the bed surface, and at one stage the masseurs were both sitting cross-legged on top of us, pummelling our backs whilst they chatted away with each other in Cambodian. I suspect they were talking about the weather, their children or the increasing price of noodles, but it did not appear to distract them from their task. Then into the sauna, the hot and cold tubs, the steam room and the hot and cold tubs again. By the end our muscles felt fantastic.
Our evening extravaganza was to go to the circus. Phare Ponleu Selpak is a performing arts school. The show is put on by the students a couple of times a week. It was billed somewhere as the “Cirque du Soleil’ of Cambodia.
Maybe not quite as swish and techno as that but full of exuberance and skill with traditional dancing, music on traditional instruments as well as acrobatics, juggling, incredible contortions by the girls woven into a story of village life. Great fun. A quiet day then!