Eating Our Way Through Battambang

We arrived in Battambang around midday after taking a mini van through the company 'Mekong Express' (the office is based just North of the night market in Siem Reap) and was surprisingly cushty. The seats were spacious and air conditioning was ON, although sleeping is advisable on these types of journeys because Jensen Button was at the wheel. It's certainly an experience, and it's safe to say I'll never complain about traffic back home ever again.

Prior to arriving in Battambang we booked ourselves in for a couple of nights at Ganesha Guesthouse, which is mentioned in the lonely planet and has great reviews online, for a very good reason. It's a super chilled backpacker hostel/guesthouse with dorms and private rooms pretty much in the centre of town. And although there's not really much to do in Battambang, we very much relished the opportunity to see the day to day life in a Cambodian town. Battambang is one of Cambodia's larger towns and is famous for the clear French infleunce in it's architecture which survived the Khmer Rouge regime (which I absent mindedly forgot to take any photos of - woops). Many of the buildings date back to the early 20th century, and honestly when you're looking around you could easily be in the South of France with all of the villa style buildings lining the streets.

In all honestly, we weren't massive fans of Battambang, due to the lack of much to do there but we did find huge solice in seeking out some excellent local restaurants with meals for about 7000 Riel, equating to about £1.25 for a huge plate of food, as well as many places offering up 75 cent beers. Our most favourite restaurant in Battambang had to be the 'Chinese Noodle Man' - just as a reference point, many of the local restaurants in Cambodia aren't named, and I'm not too sure why but it doesn't really matter. I believe this particular place is based on street 2.5, but I could be wrong but basically all you need to look out for is the man at the front of the shop hand stretching fresh noodle dough, all day and all night. It's quite something to watch and definitely a technique I'd love to try at home. Each dish is made individually so it's best to share plates here. In our days in Battambang we ended up eating here a few times, because it was that good. We had a couple of noodle dishes but the star of the show has to be the dumplings, steamed or fried, although fried ended up being our favourite.

What Shay and I both love about Asian cuisine is that it's totally acceptable and encouraged to customise your meal when it arrives on the table - there will always be a bottle of soy and hot sauce (and in this place vinegar) as well as condiment pots filled with salt, pepper, sugar (more in Cambodia), dried chillies and fresh chillies in vinegar (I think). Want more spice? No probs, take your pick. Want to make it less spicey? Add some sugar. Each flavouring has a purpose and I like that.

At this particular noodle house, you're each given a small saucer with chopped up fresh garlic, to which you can add different condiments to create your own dumpling dipping sauce. It makes the whole experience so much more interactive and gives you a lot more control over your food.

We did head down to the night market on the river one night, but neither of us were brave enough to try any of the local dishes - intestines and offal turn up quite regularly in Khmer cuisine, I hope you'll forgive us for that one. Other delights at the night market included boiled meat, rice and eggs, always eggs - which in my opinion adding an egg to a dish never hurt anyone.

Aside from the local Khmer food, something we loved to see in Battambang, and definitely down to the French influence was the amount of bakeries in town offering fresh bread, pastries and sweets. I didn't indulge but it was really nice to see the mix of culture in the town.

By the end of our time in Battambang we decided to head down to the coast; to Sihanoukville for some Sun, Sea and Sand and certainly some well needed respite from the town and city hopping we had done so far - spoiler alert, it's paradise.