Battambang doesn’t have much, but what it does have is a bamboo train- which is really really fun to ride.

I first read about this in a Smithsonian article, which is also where I read about that Yangon art gallery (where I ended up participating in a performance art workshop. still have to blog about that.) and I knew I had to try it, mostly because it combines two things I really like: trains and well, trains.

Anyways, the gist of it:

  • In the 1920s, the french built a single railroad through Cambodia, intending to link it with the rest of southeast asia.
  • After they left in the 1950s, no one used it (because genocide, etc happened).
  • The locals have devised their own train. Which consists of two axles, a lightweight bamboo frame and a small motor. The frame rests on top of the two axles and the motor sits on top. The motor, which is hooked to one of the axles by a large bicycle chain, can be moved back and forth- tightening/loosening the chain and controlling the speed.
  • When two of these trains or norries come towards each other (remember its only a single railroad track), the one with less people disassembles the whole train and reassembles it behind the other one. This takes less than five minutes and is really fun to watch.
  • Add on to this the fact that you’re basically on an open air train, careening through the countryside, and you’ve got a great afternoon activity in Cambodia.


Off to Bangkok and Southern Thailand today. Less than 2 weeks til I come home.



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August 2011