Ingenious bamboo trains in Battambang , Cambodia

One of my spontaneous, on-the-fly decision when in Cambodia was to visit a small river-side town called Battambang, around 5 hours journey from Siem Reap.  I will highly recommend Battambang to anyone who wants to experience a real slice of the rural Cambodia. Considerably less touristic than Siem Reap (which is literally flooding with tourists in every nook and corner), quieter and beautiful in a subtle way – Battambang was absolutely the right way to finish my 7 day Cambodia trip. I spent one day there and will share one of the highlights of my visit.

Bamboo trains (called as Norry)

A rickety 60 minute ride on a open air “vehicle” which is called a norry, a midst the Cambodian rural side – sounds like fun? It sure was! 🙂 First let’s take a look at some pictures to better visualize what I am talking about 😉

Me comfortably seated on the so-called Bamboo trains ;)

Me comfortably seated on the so-called Bamboo trains 😉

Getting comfy :D

This is all that is to the train.. just get comfy 😉

So, it is basically just a bamboo shaft on wheels, fitted with a motor and comes with a driver who operates it. How simple and ingenious! The tracks have a lot of bumps making the ride thrilling and truly unique. I could hear a few western folks wondering out aloud whether it was safe. It was definitely one hell of a ride 😀 What made the experience extra special was the lush and green landscape that we passed through. The rush of fresh air smelling of Earth and the visual treat of banana plantations on the side of the tracks – I just loved it! As fragile as they may look, surprisingly they can go upto a maximum speed of 50 km/hr. I tried to capture the speed and beauty through these pictures.

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If you are already impressed, here comes the most interesting part. These are single direction tracks running for 12km; now a days mostly used for tourists but the locals used them to transport goods & people between the rural areas. If two bamboo trains meet in the track coming from opposite directions, the one with the lesser weight should get off the track. It is as simple as that. Here is a visual demonstration of how they dismantle the train to make way for the opposite one.

New set of tourists carrying trains approaching as we are returning back the same track...

New set of tourists carrying trains approaching as we are returning back the same track…

First step - lift the base..

No need to fret..Just lift the base..

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And voilaaa.. once the wheels are off the track, the opposite vehicles can pass 😀

It was interesting to wait on the sides for the other trains to pass by, and then put the train together and travel again briskly. Sadly, these trains will no longer function in a few months because of the much-needed upgrade in the Cambodian rail tracks. So if you get a chance to visit Cambodia in the coming months, don’t miss this classic ride. For the others, I hope you were able to get the virtual experience of it through my pictures and words. 🙂

What did you think of the post? I’ll be so glad if you could share your thoughts through comments below =)

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24 thoughts on “Ingenious bamboo trains in Battambang , Cambodia

  1. It’s certainly innovative and adventurous.

    Great to see that you have enjoyed this joy ride 🙂

    Your photos really captured the essence of this ride, thank for sharing, Shmruthi 🙂

    • Wow. Move as in “move” or on a vacation? I was actually amazed when I met a few Americans in Battambang, who said that they regularly come there and relax for 2-3 weeks in an year! It’s clearly a favorite 🙂

      • They will be living there! Prior to moving to Cambodia, they spent about a year in China (that’s where we got to know them). For the past few months they’ve been living in Sihanoukville, Cambodia but they have decided to relocate to Battambang.

  2. Really awesome. The narration with your clippings gave me a virtual ride in the Bamboo train
    Thank you
    Keep going
    Next travel? In a space shuttle? Awaiting. Adios

  3. So quaint and yet functional too. Feel sorry train will soon become wonder of the past. Many thanks for this fascinating post Shmruthi 🙂

    • I agree with you too.. I read recently that they might be preserving a part of this trail for touristic purposes, so it might survive after all 🙂 Thanks a lot for your comment , Dilip 🙂

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