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 😉
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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