I'm still not sure what the big deal is about Battambang. The city itself is extremely uneventful, busy, pushy and unpleasant compared to Siem Reap or, infact, any of the other cities I have explored throughout Cambodia. There are 2, sometimes 2 things worth seeing. The first is the famous Bamboo train. It is quite interesting and VERY fun to travel on, through some beautiful rice fields, and very much worth the $4USD per person to travel 20 minutes each way along train tracks of varying quality.
The second is an amazing trip to the Killing Caves, where the Khmer Rouge would literally push victims down a massive hole in a limestone cave, where they would die on impact if they were lucky. If they were unlucky, they would sit there in a pile of rotting human bodies, with broken limbs, until they starved or bled to death. The bottom of the cave has an eery feel, with a small box full of the skulls of the victims, some of whom had their skulls bludgeoned before taking the fall. It was very interesting, but very morbid, with a similar feel to the S21 prison and the Killing Field.
On a lighter note, there was a beautiful, active pagoda at the top of the mountain, with a Hindu shrine and a Buddhist temple coinciding quite peacefully. There was also abandoned Khmer Rouge weaponry and a stunning view over to the Thailand border, and we were told not to walk in certain areas of the hill due to landmines. To be honest, we were so shaken from the haphazard moto driving to the top of the mountain along a clifface that we were hardly up for a landmine-dodging adventure anyway. Going down the hill on that motorbike posed a greater threat than any landmine. It was a genuine relief to be back on the tuk-tuk, where we stopped to take a photo of a world vision sponsored school. I think I will always have a soft-spot for World Vision, especially knowing that this specific area relies purely on rice farming, and I know what effect the global food crisis is having on rice farmers.
Every mention of the Khmer Rouge, especially such a clear reminder like the killing caves, makes me more and more enthusiastic about seeing his country repair itself.