Visiting the village of Pheam Ek
This is never specified in guesthouses or in tuk tuk ads, but you can ask drivers to bring you to the village of Pheam Ek. Actually, with my French accent, the driver didn’t understand what I was asking for. Try to pronouce it properly to be understood.
Why should you visit the village of Pheam Ek?
It is a small village made up of many stilt houses, but what is really special is that you can discover how are made homemade rice wafers.
The tuk tuk stopped by the house of a family, where I could see how they were cooked. This family works all day at the production of these rice wafers. The dough is prepared beforehand. You then pour a small quantity on a pan, and once cooked, it is taken away to be dried in the sun.
I was able to taste some that looked like giant crisps and were a bit saltier than those you can find in supermarkets.
It was actually a bit too salty for my taste and I couldn’t finish it. Obviously, it is tastier when the dough is cooked, dipped into hot water and used for spring rolls. Yummy 🙂
The visit was very interesting and allowed me to see how the family was working laboriously under the sun to provide for their needs. What courage… would have I done the same in their situation? It is a question difficult to answer, as I live in France with parents who have immigrated and given me and my brothers the best comfort.
The life there is much different and really not easy. Cambodians tend to not show it. Thanks to them, I reflected a bit about myself and I can only admire this family. The little « extra » of this visit : even though the family is constantly productive, it was possible to exchange a few words with them, as the guide was speaking Khmer and perfect English!
Wat Ek Phnom
Happy with my visit of the this family, we then took the road towards Wat Ek Phnom.
Wat Ek Phnom is one of my favorite spot around Battambang and is located at about 15 kilometers of Battambang.
To get there, you can hire the services of a tuk tuk and travel around the exotic countryside of Battambang.
Once we got there, we were met by three Cambodians in charge of entry fees. I paid 1 US$, even if I thought the site was free. However, paying 1 dollar to visit Wat Ek Phnom is definitely worth it, considering all its richness!
Wat Ek Phnom is a derelict hindu temple dating back from the 11th century. Have a long look at a few decorated door lintels and climb on the ruins to go around. It is a great way to get a taste of temples before going to Angkor!
During this visit, I’ve met children smiling and full of life. We spent a good amount of time trying to communicate and it was quite fun ! Under the overwhelming heat, we stopped on a terrace to buy a few sodas for the children. It is not much for us, but quite significant for them.
They wanted to throw the cans on the floor, but I stopped them to explain how bad it was. Surprisingly enough, this moment was unforgettable for me. The children were really obedient and nice. Suprising, isn’t it? Even if I’m considered as a « barang » (foreigner) in Cambodia, they listened to me without begrudging.
After some refreshments, we went around the pagoda next to the temple. It is supposed to be a center of activities for the people of the village, but there was no one when we went and it was really peaceful…
A few meters from there, there is a school and a giant buddha statue. The school seemed abandonned… or was it only closed for holidays? Nevertheless, it was the first Cambodian school I had the opportunity to see from up close.
The visit was over and it was time to go back to Battambang, as we were quite hungry.
Where to eat ?
There are quite a few restaurants in Battambang and I have a superb recommandation for you, where I ate with no worries and where you will get an excellent value for money. I can still see pictures of it in my head, remininding me of this good memory…
However, the problem is that I have no idea of the name of the restaurant or where it is located! If you ever passed through Battambang and find this huge nom paw (steamed brioche), there is a good chance that it is acually the same restaurant. If you are curious and want to know more about the nom paw, I wrote an article about it on the blog here.
Let me know if you find it! The restaurant is full of locals and no tourist go there… but you will eat very well. I would be eternally grateful if you find and tell me the name of the place ! 🙂
Where to sleep ?
I stayed at the Lux Guesthouse, located in the center of Battambang. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. It’s not my favorite hotel, but it is located in the center of Battambang and is quite close to the market.
When visiting Battambang, if you want to do other activities than those listed here, here are a few other ideas: Shiva’s statue, the Killing caves, Ponleu Selphak Circus Lightouse, Battambang’s museum, the arts districts, bike tours…
What are you going to visit during your stay in Battambang ?